Just to update this thread with notes from the field. Over the last few days, I have conducted a number of mock backup/recovery procedures in order to establish which one I have most confidence in adopting. All my tests were conducted inside the BartPE environment.
First up, ImageX
. In short, the backup WIM files were successfully generated and the default fast compression gave a decent file size of ~45GB on a ~70GB NTFS partition. However, it took a very long time - around 9 hours - to generate the WIM file. As I planned to store the WIM file on a FAT32 external USB disk (FAT32 for cross-platform compatibility), I needed to convert the WIM files into split WIM files - SWMs - because of the 4GB FAT32 file size limit. Because this cannot be done as part of the image creation (it has to be done afterwards as a separate process), this increased the amount of time it took to create the backup by about an hour. The next step was to perform a mock restore of the SWMs to an internal drive. Having partitioned and formatted the drive, extracting took around about an hour. No need to add an NT bootsector with bootsect.exe - it booted straight into XP after a restart.
Next up DriveImage XML BartPE plugin
by RunTime software. This worked flawlessly. Backing up gives an option to split the files as it goes, though fast compression resulted in ~60GB of backup files, significantly more space than ImageX's file. Having said that, DIX took a lot less time to backup - around 3.5 hours. Restoring to another drive was simple. First, using diskpart, I created a new primary partition, made it active, launched DIX and restored. The only bit that I was unsure about was when a message popped up at the end of the restore:
Your original boot record reports 16 heads while your new target drive reports 255 heads. Do you want to force the new target volume to the cloned volume? Yes No
Yes was the preselected default so I rather blindly chose that option. Then I restarted and it booted straight into Windows XP without a hitch!
My final test was to see whether I could simply create a spanned zip or 7zip
archive of my entire system, and successfully restore it to another disk. Well all I can say is it works for me! The gist of what I did was:
- Add 7z.exe and 7z.dll to BartPE %system32% folder
- Boot into BartPE
- If using an external drive to back up to, you need to assign a drive letter to it in Disk Management.
- From the command prompt, create the archive:
7z a -r -y -email@example.com "dest:\Windows_XP_backup.7z" source:\* -v3g -mx=1 -mtc=on
(dest: is e.g. your external drive's drive letter and source: is the drive letter of the drive you want to backup)
- Attach the disk to restore to, and boot into BartPE
- From a command prompt, launch diskpart:
SELECT DISK 0
CREATE PARTITION PRIMARY
SELECT PARTITION 1
FORMAT C: /FS:NTFS /V:PATA-1 /Q
- Restore the archive with:
7z x -y "source:\Windows_Xp_backup.7z.001" -oC:
(source: is e.g. your external drive's drive letter and C: is the drive letter of the drive you want to restore to)
Notes for the 7zip method
- I used the fastest compression (mx=1). For 70GB data, this took only 3.5 hours using ZIP compression but about seven hours using 7Z compression. ZIP files amounted to 42.5Gb, while 7Z amounted to 39GB.
- For reason unknown, when extracting from the ZIP archive, the folder dates are - for some folders - set to the date of extraction, not the date the folder was originally created, although viewing the archive in 7zip file manager does show that the folder creation date is recorded. Having perused the SourceForge 7Zip forum, this seems to be a common problem.
- One nice feature of 7Zip is the ability to define an exclusion list so you can avoid archiving particular folders. You can see I have done this with firstname.lastname@example.org
My preference is the 7zip solution; the disk space consumption is considerably less than DIX and ImageX, and - using ZIP compression - backup creation time is quite low. ImageX is just way too slow for my liking. Also, its lack of on-the-fly splitting is, for me, a show stopper. DriveImage XML is a useful tool and I would recommend it to anyone looking for simple GUI based drive image backup tool. I hope this helps some people in deciding which backup method to adopt.
This post has been edited by edadat: 16 January 2011 - 07:56 AM