My reason for not backing up

Somewhat of a cynical post, but there’s always a bright side to even the darkest of corners. So here’s a “glass half full” reason why not to do a backup, or at least not to do a backup in the way I tried yesterday.

I run Windows Server 2003 on my main laptop (as many of you are probably bored of me reminding you). Unfortunately, certain vendors and their external USB/Firewire disks (who shall remain nameless) bundle badly skinned and functionally half backed software (IMHO) for backing up machines “easily”. (Yes, there was supposed to be a hint of bitterness.) However, if you want to run their software under Windows Server, you’re pretty much out of luck and have to do backups the harder or more conventional way (such as the ever present NTBackup.exe program built into Windows directly).

Me being me, I just had to try to run their bundled software anyway. I didn’t do too badly with a bit of app compat, orca and sheer determination thrown in. Unfortunately, I ended up at a blue screen. Doh! Plan B was to install, on a spare 3GB partition, a bare minimal installation of Windows XP just to use their backup software. Dead simple – pop the disk in, install, reboot, SP2 it, patch it, add drivers for all the hardware, anti-virus, join the domain and you’re there. Until, that it, you want to boot back to Windows Server 2003. No chance – no safe mode, hangs in logging startup mode, reboots continually.

Here’s the bright side to this story and a valuable lesson should any of you attempt to install XP for dual boot AFTER Windows Server 2003 is already installed. Rule number 1 is to always put XP on first (or at least the oldest OS depending on what media and level of slipstreaming you have to hand). If you break rule 1, rule 2 is the fix up and detailed below.

– Boot into the working XP partition
– Start/Run cmd.exe
– N: (where N is the drive for the WS2003 installation)
– attrib -s -h -r ntldr
– attrib -s -h -r
– copy ntldr ntldr.sav
– copy
– Pop the WS2003 media into your cd/dvd

– copy e:i386ntldr c:   (Confirm overwrite and replacing e: with your DVD drive)
– copy c: (Confirm overwrite)
– attrib +s +h +r ntldr
– attrib +s +h +r
– Start/Shutdown/Restart
– Boot into Windows Server 2003 :-)

In my case, this was only half the answer (in fact it still is – I’m in the middle of restoring 50GB of data as I write this and destined to wait at least another couple of hours), but if ever you try to dual boot, make sure you take the above on board first!!!

Oh yes, one other thing. Partition mirroring software is extremely worthwhile as a tool to have in your arsenel once you’ve dug an industrial sized hole to bury yourself in. But, you’ve probably guessed this one, the version I bought a long time back doesn’t run under Server….  Sound familiar???

Comments (4)

  1. Anonymous says:

    So what else good has come out of my "downtime"  (yes, the restore is still running – 13% and counting…

  2. Dan E says:

    Couldnt you have run a Repair option on the 2k3 install?

  3. jhoward says:

    Sadly it wasn’t an option from the state it was in.

  4. Eileen_Brown says:

    So why, oh why did I trust your very valid reasoning about what a good idea it was to install the 3rd party drivers for the hardware and to actually cancel my own very valid NTbackup 70% of the way through? Then to install the drivers on my own machine and get blue screens for the rest of the day! Grrrrr!