When Geeks Cry (Part 3)

(A little technology rant about how it has recently let me down.)

Part 1

Part 2

I’m big on backups.  I backup incrementally every few days, and a full backup once a month.

Of course, I wasn’t always like that.  Backups were more of a chore when trying to backup your PC to 50 floppies, or 20 CDs.  Man, what a pain!  It was worse than going to the dentist.

So backups were very few.  And I had that uneasy feeling that if my little hard drive encountered an errant alpha particle, I’d be sunk.

ghost Then, on the advice of a fellow geek, I found Norton Ghost 9.  Previous versions of Ghost required that you boot off a CD, but version 9 could create a hard drive image while you were still running in the OS.  And it could do it automatically on a schedule.

So I bit the bullet, bought an external hard drive case (EIDE to USB), a copy of Ghost, and a 150 GB hard drive.  And my worries were over.  I didn’t have to worry about losing photos or documents (or the OS for that matter).

One time I had to restore an image when a Microsoft update went south.  I was a little nervous about it, but after a couple of hours my PC was back up and working with no problems.

Acronis Then we got a laptop, and the 150 GB hard drive started feeling a little tight.  So I bought a 500 GB hard drive and a copy of Acronis True Image 10 because the laptop ran Vista, and I had heard that Norton’s version of Ghost didn’t work on Vista.  Also, Acronis was a little cheaper.  I tried it out and it worked great. It seemed even more reliable than Ghost and seemed to be less flaky.

All was well until the hard drive crashed on the laptop.  But since I had my image backup, I thought that I’d have no problem.

So once the new hard drive came, I installed it easily.  I booted the PC off of a Acronis True Image boot CD (which I had to burn, myself).  (This was a little strange to me, because I could just boot off of the Norton Ghost CD directly.)

But it booted up, but then started acting flaky.  The mouse (track pad) wasn’t working right and it couldn’t find the external USB hard drive which contained the restore image.

Again, and again I tried, even booting into a “safe mode” where it didn’t load certain drivers.  I finally got it to start restoring the image (which it said would take 8 hours to complete), to find out that it had locked up a couple of hours.

Reboot, reboot, reboot.  I growing increasingly frustrated and desperate.  I had the image. I had a new hard drive.  But I just couldn’t get one on the other. The Acronis Boot CD did not like the USB drive at all.

Finally, I used a GParted disc (a Linux live CD that partitions hard drives) to create another partition on the new hard drive.  Then I used the Vista Restore CD to get a command prompt, and did an XCOPY of the drive image onto the second partition.

Now I could boot up and restore the image from the 2nd partition.

(I learned later from reading the Acronis support forums that I’m not the only with such a problem. The Acronis boot CD is based on Linux and doesn’t play well with some drivers.  They recommend building your own CD based on BartPE.  I don’t recommend this unless you have some serious geek cred…and a Windows XP installation CD.)

Finally, after hours of pulling my hair out, I got the laptop up and going again.  It was back to its old self (minus the hard drive problems).

I was battle weary from fighting technology.  Wiping off the blood, sweat and tears, I went to bed.

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