How can I speed up my backup/reformat process?

Discussion in 'Windows Desktop Systems' started by allbusiness, Jul 14, 2004.

  1. allbusiness

    allbusiness on drukqs

    Messages:
    48
    I like to reformat every 4-6 months, timing this to when my system starts to overall slow down. But each time I reformat, I run into a mammoth task: backing up 80+ gb of music, movies, photos, text, ect. I'm also burdened with a single IBM 180GXP 180gb hard drive, meaning I can't put things on a second one. My only options are to put things on my iPod, then on another 20gb hard drive in a different computer, then put more things on my iPod, then burn CDs and DVDs. The trouble is, a 4x DVD burner moves verrry slow, just like the iPod's Firewire. My reformats generally end up taking multiple days if I'm out of DVDs, and at least a full 8 hours of work if everything is going well. Then add reformatting a 180 gb HD, reinstalling windows, then unloading all my backups, then reinstalling all apps... you get the picture.

    So, reformatting gurus: What are my options to speed up this task, or at the very least make it more convenient? Spare no suggestions.
     
  2. Lee

    Lee OSNN Proxy

    Don't format, spring clean your system of all the crud and optimise and clean registry with a good registry tool!

    I like the one from IOLO, called system mechanic pro!
     
  3. NetRyder

    NetRyder Tech Junkie Folding Team

    Messages:
    13,256
    Location:
    New York City
    I agree. Unlike Win9x, XP doesn't need reformatting every few months. Just uninstall things you don't need, make sure the startup folders are clean, and check the registry's software section for obsolete entries. It takes much longer to reformat and reinstall everything as compared to doing these few simple maintenance tasks regularly.

    However, if you still feel the need to have that fresh XP feel every few months, I'd recommend using disk imaging software like TrueImage, DriveImage or Norton Ghost. What you can then do is create two partitions on your physical drive - one for Windows and all your software, the other for things that need to survive formats, like your documents, music, downloads etc. Then install Windows and only the software that you use very often. Create an image of this partition and burn it to a DVD (or multiple DVDs if that's necessary).

    That way, when you feel the need to reformat, you can just pop in your DVD containing the image, and restore it. It takes less than 20 minutes to restore an image, and you'll avoid the hassle of reinstalling all your software, not to mention activating XP too. You don't have to worry about your data either, since that will remain untouched on the second partition.

    I've been using this method for a couple of years now, and it's worked really well for me, although I rarely ever reformat my XP installations now.
     
  4. Petros

    Petros Thief IV

    Messages:
    3,038
    Location:
    Pacific Northwest
    First of all, I sympathize with Lee and NetRyder, and that reformatting every 4-6 months is excessive. Your computer should be able to be stable and clean far longer than that, and it takes less than thirty minutes to do a thorough registry/start menu cleaning. And instead of wasting all those DVDs, you could make a large partition at the end of your drive, either with Partition Magic, or as you install Windows. Then it's like having two hard drives, only not.

    That being said, a resource you might find useful is an unattended installation. You can custom install programs, games, apps, DirectX, drivers, Windows updates, registry settings, or pretty much anything else you can think of.

    You know how Dell computers install all their crappy apps that leave twenty shortcuts on your desktop and make your start menu three columns long? Well, you can do the same thing yourself, only with your apps and settings instead. A nice thing about an unattended installation is that when a new version of a program or XP security updates come out, adding it to the install is really easy. For example, if I have Power Midgets 3.4, and Power Midgets 3.5 comes out, I have the installation file on my unattended install called "powermidgets.exe" that I just copy over.

    It takes a little work to learn, but it's really nice once you get there. Ooo and don't you know I'm there :) I had my wife download my unattended XP from me back at home, and I talked her through the formatting and partitioning section over the phone (the only part I chose not to automate for obvious reasons), and she was able to walk away from the computer less than five minutes from when she turned it on. Forty minutes later, she came back to a nice, clean desktop with Nero, Avast Antivirus, all windows updates, Spybot, Sygate personal firewall, and a custom wallpaper and theme. Pretty nice huh?
     
  5. ElementalDragon

    ElementalDragon The One and Only

    Messages:
    3,159
    Location:
    Lehighton, PA
    i never liked backups. i always reformat, because the main reason i do so is because either a) running out of room on my first partition, or b) don't like a lot of programs that i installed out of my shear boredom. my only note is, if you do decide to do a full format and reinstall of windows, use another program like partition magic or something to format your drive first. trust me, it saves a LOT of time.

    Normal routine:
    windows format before install = around 30-45 minutes or more + around a half hour for installing XP.

    Alternate routine:
    PartitonMagic format before booting from xp cd = about a minute or less for a 60GB partiton + around a half hour for installing XP.

    literally cuts your time in half. wish i knew about it sooner.
     
  6. Glaanieboy

    Glaanieboy Moderator

    Messages:
    2,626
    Location:
    The Netherlands
    I agree with Netryder, twice :p
     
  7. Petros

    Petros Thief IV

    Messages:
    3,038
    Location:
    Pacific Northwest
    lol :D
     
  8. dreamliner77

    dreamliner77 The Analog Kid

    Messages:
    4,702
    Location:
    Red Sox Nation
    I must also concur with NetRyder about partitions and imaging. This is how I do it. Can be back to full glory in under 30 min.

    What I will probably have to do is a full install when SP2 goes final. And then make a new image. I did this when SP1 went final.
     
  9. ElementalDragon

    ElementalDragon The One and Only

    Messages:
    3,159
    Location:
    Lehighton, PA
    Dreamliner, just remember what i said, unless you already do it. makes it a lot less of a pain in the ( | ). :)
     
  10. Hipster Doofus

    Hipster Doofus Good grief Charlie Brown

    Messages:
    5,920
    Location:
    Melbourne Australia
    Once you have your hard drive set up I have found xcopy the simplest way to do a clean install. Takes about ten minutes.
     
  11. ElementalDragon

    ElementalDragon The One and Only

    Messages:
    3,159
    Location:
    Lehighton, PA
    all you're doing with Xcopy is having a fresh install of XP on a second partition..... to me that's just a waste of space.
     
  12. NetRyder

    NetRyder Tech Junkie Folding Team

    Messages:
    13,256
    Location:
    New York City
    Hehe, silly wireless connection on campus suddenly decided to die right when I was posting it, then came back on a minute later.
    Duplicate post deleted. [​IMG]
     
    allbusiness likes this.
  13. Hipster Doofus

    Hipster Doofus Good grief Charlie Brown

    Messages:
    5,920
    Location:
    Melbourne Australia
    You don't have to use the same operating system. Any windows based one will do. So you can dual boot with XP & '98 if desired. And as for a waste of space I think with the size of hard drives it is not an issue. With earlier operating systems you could easily get away with a partition under 1gig.
     
  14. ElementalDragon

    ElementalDragon The One and Only

    Messages:
    3,159
    Location:
    Lehighton, PA
    yeah.... but how many people would say "oh no, i screwed up my installation of XP. time to restore my backup of '98 on it." 0.o if you don't put the same thing on the other partition, it's not technically a "backup" it's just a dual booting system.
     
  15. vern

    vern Dominus Political User Folding Team

    Messages:
    1,571
    Location:
    Minnesota, USA
    Heres my take. Every 6 months seems a bit excessive, unless you have major hardware changes. Second, have you thought of having a computer with lots of major storage which just acts as a file server? Thats what I do with my Linux computer, all the important stuff is on it. This also includes my music, etc. Music plays fine on a 100mbit LAN. Storage drives are all mapped locally, so it's as if they were just local drives.

    If you do reformat often, then as some might have already mentioned, it is well worth setting yourself up with an unattended install. A good read on it is at http://unattended.msfn.org.

    Another idea is that instead of doing a full backup, have you thought of incremental and differential backups? More often, but more up-todate, and takes a lot less time since you are only backing up the files that have changed.

    Again, this is all so much easier if you have a network computer somewhere where you can dump all your files. My personal Samba Server has over 600 gigs of storage. A lot ... but thats just so I don't have to worry about it in the future.
     
  16. Hipster Doofus

    Hipster Doofus Good grief Charlie Brown

    Messages:
    5,920
    Location:
    Melbourne Australia
    First you have to know how using xcopy works in this way. (read the guide)

    If you trash your xp installation you then boot into '98, delete the entire xp install then use xcopy to restore it. Ten minutes later you boot out of '98 & are back with a fresh install of XP.

    Like I said originally it is for me the simplest way of doing it. No money for 3rd party programs. It works for me & is another option. That's all.
     
  17. allbusiness

    allbusiness on drukqs

    Messages:
    48
    Thanks for all the help, guys. I really appreciate it.

    I cleaned out my registry with jv16powertools, deleted some extra stuff and now am running noticeably faster. But NetRyder's solution has piqued my interest. I'd like to know how I could arrange repartitioning my drive in PartitionMagic, without losing any data, so I can image it in DriveImage. Partitions have always vaguely scared me =P
     
  18. NetRyder

    NetRyder Tech Junkie Folding Team

    Messages:
    13,256
    Location:
    New York City
    If you'd like to set it up the way I mentioned it in my earlier post, you'll need 2 partitions:
    C:\ - Windows and applications only
    D:\ - Any data that needs to survive a C: format, including documents, music etc.

    Right now, I assume your physical drive has a single large partition. Partition Magic has the option to resize partitions without losing data. Resize your existing partition to the size you want your C: to be. This depends on how much software you install. Be sure to leave plenty of room for expansion, in case you need to install large applications like Visual Studio, Office etc. later.
    Once you've resized your partition, you will be left with unformatted space at the end of your drive. You can now create what will become your D: in this space, again using Partition Magic, if you like.
    Finally, move over all your data that needs to go on D: from C. Be sure not to forget anything so that you don't lose anything important the next time C: is erased. Also try to move as many things as possible to D: so that the image you create of C: using DriveImage is not very large. As I said, try keeping it to a minimum - a vanilla Windows installation, along with all the software that you most commonly use.

    That's it. [​IMG]
    Once you have your partitions set up, go ahead and create an image of C: using DriveImage, and burn it to a DVD or two, depending on how large the image is.