Scott Hanselman

Missing Operating System - Learn from me, backup your hard drives THIS YEAR!

December 8, '04 Comments [17] Posted in Musings
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BignewlaptopGasp. I returned from lunch only to find my computer in the middle of a blue screen.

Let me tell you folks, this is the computerguy-equivalent of finding your wife in bed with your brother. All the same emotions run through your mind (I would imagine):

  • Oh, you dirty bitch.
  • How could you do this to me?
  • And now, during the holidays!?

I rebooted, and was welcomed by and immediately disconcerting clank and the ominous evil that followed:

Missing Operating System

Seriously people, drink that in. Really, wallow in the pitiful blackness that is the failed BIOS POST, accompanied by the omnipresent but almost subconcious whispering "f*ck you...f*ck you..." clack of what remained of your drive heads.

Here's the catch. I backed it all up (for the first time in months) THE DAY BEFORE. I backed it all up (the data) to my Iomega REV Drive.

I'm digging this drive more and more.  Some poo-poo'ed the purchase, saying it was too expensive, and instead opting for other mini-harddrives (USB or Firewire) to copy their data to. I prefer a removable solution, one that I can put in a safety deposit box or fire safe.

Anyway, I'm about 40% done installing my programs as you can see by my Start Menu.  I'll know I'm done when the Start Menu completely fills my 1400x1050 screen.

Back up people. Do it today. Do it now.

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Wednesday, December 08, 2004 1:46:44 PM UTC
Maybe since you backed it up yesterday, the Iomega REV Drive decided to wax your drive... so that you felt better about the product ;)

did I mention the government is out to buy every blog?

/ sarcasm :)

w00t + 1 for backups
Wednesday, December 08, 2004 2:48:43 PM UTC
:(
Which software u use to backup?
Wednesday, December 08, 2004 3:29:30 PM UTC
This is usually an indication of a hosed boot.ini file. The easiest way I know of to fix this is insert a Windows XP install CD and boot from that. Open the recovery console. At the prompt type "FIXMBR". This should reset your master boot record back to the default.

Although I'm not trying to take away from your message to backup. :)
Wednesday, December 08, 2004 3:29:32 PM UTC
Glad to hear you had backups. I implemented a backup regime a few months ago as well and sleep better at night since.

My regime includes a custom batch file that backs up to a notebook 40GB USB hard drive. From there, once a week I archive to DVD. It's still not fully automated, but it gets backed up regularly. Backup is still far too complicated for the average user.
Steve Clarke
Wednesday, December 08, 2004 4:10:20 PM UTC

Ditto on the question regarding what software you use to perform the backups and restores with.
Wednesday, December 08, 2004 4:24:45 PM UTC
You know you can organize your start menu, right? :)
Wednesday, December 08, 2004 5:49:20 PM UTC
Funny, had the same thing on my Linux box (well, it took a power outage to "blue-screen" it :)

booted from a knoppix CD, ran e2fsck and was back in business :)

nick
Nick
Wednesday, December 08, 2004 7:44:47 PM UTC
Hey Scott, Why don't you back the hard drive image after your done installing all of your applications? Then if it happens again you could just copy the image back saving you lots of time. I did it once with Norton Ghost and it worked like a charm.
Jamin
Wednesday, December 08, 2004 8:42:44 PM UTC
Ahh...watercolor theme, good choice :)
Wednesday, December 08, 2004 10:10:58 PM UTC
Off topic but what is the WinXP theme you are using there? I would like to get that myself!!!!
Ben
Thursday, December 09, 2004 5:59:38 AM UTC

Love the analogy. Just great.
Thursday, December 09, 2004 7:21:08 AM UTC
I used Iomega's Automatic Backup Pro. It's nice because it:

* automatically backs up changed files (no need to say incremental vs. full, which I always found confusing)
* can backup to a compressed OR uncompressed image

I didn't Ghost because I have habitually thought of DATA and SYSTEM as separate "things." However, Ghost people have consistantly said that it's the bomb and it's better to ghost the whole drive.

I think I'll try Ghost next.

Darrel - I thought about the boot.ini thing, but this turned out to be a physical head crash.
Monday, December 13, 2004 6:37:20 PM UTC
Just a note on Ghost. Just last week I purchased Ghost 9.0 to backup to laptops ( Xp pro and Xp home ) and a 2003 server machine. It doesn't work with 2003 Server. Other than that, it works great.
Monday, December 13, 2004 6:41:11 PM UTC
This crap always happens at the worse time....I had my wake up call just before the MVP summit in April http://weblogs.asp.net/mrdave/archive/2004/04/12/111453.aspx
- Nothing like actually testing your personal disaster recovery plan!
Friday, January 21, 2005 12:39:00 AM UTC
The REV Drive is a huge waste of money for the media. Why not buy two mini hard drives instead? (Or a few iPods for gosh sakes.)
Friday, January 21, 2005 12:53:59 AM UTC
RPB: Interesting point of view, but after buying a bunch of 35 gig cartridges, AND having the ability to put a separate cartridge in a safety deposit, AND having the ability to buy more and more an decreasing prices, I'd have to respectfully disagree. I'm very happy with the REV Drive.

Additonally, Hard Drives are shock-sensitive, while the Rev Drive carts aren't as they contain NO DRIVE HEADS.
Saturday, March 05, 2005 5:38:07 PM UTC
Hi guys,
I added a second larger hd to my sistem and wanted to copy all of my data into it.
I have a hd with 2 partitions one with XP pro and the other with Win 2000; I have used Norton Ghost 9.0 to "clone" my disk by copying all data from one disk to the other, partition by partition, and setting the copy MBR feature. I then changed the jumper settings in the 2 HDs so that the new HD is the primary but what happens now when i boot to the new hd is that the operating system does not start after all the mobo checks have finished with no error; what could it be the problem?
Thanks in advance to anyone who can help me.
Ciao, from an icy cold Milan, Italy.
Pietro
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.