Best way to back up your boot drive?

Just for the sake of argument, let’s say you had your boot drive on Raid 1, on NVRaid. And also for the sake of argument, let’s say that a BIOS flash totally wiped your NVRaid settings and you don’t really know how or if they can be restored. And finally, let’s say that this whole experience has turned you off to Raid 1, especially crappy underdocumented motherboard Raid 1 that is waaaaay too much fucking work to install from CD/DVD, not to mention totally undocumented on NVidia’s own site.

But you still want a way to have a second drive in your computer that is a total copy of your main C: drive. Ideally it is a BOOTABLE copy, so if the C: drive bites it, you can just swap in the backup and be good to go. Especial huge bonuses if it is incrementally updatable so you don’t have to re-image it every week or something.

What are the options? Can you image it once to get the boot block etc. all set up, and then just use an ordinary backup tool after that? Anyone else do this kind of thing? Or is it not worth it and is it best to just resign yourself to the whole thing needing a from-scratch rebuild?

Just as a note of commiseration, one might say (for the sake of argument) that a person might end up re-installing windows and starting from scratch because incorrectly diagnosed memory errors caused that person to think there was a problem with his NVRaid. Of course, one might argue that said person should’ve noticed the lockups and read fails and failed scandisks and unsuccessful Raid rebuilds as memory errors, but by then the raid seemed pretty messed up. One might say…

External drive cages can offer solutions for this, and some are even hot-swappable. eSATA is becoming a nice solution compared to internal and external SCSI RAID setups that were among your only resiliant options until fairly recently.

ciparis, I don’t understand. Are you saying, put the C: drive on an external SATA cage?

That’s nice but not really what I want. I don’t want an external cage, my chassis can fit four SATA drives just fine. I just want a way to have one of the internal drives be a bootable C: drive, and have another of the internal drives be a bootable ghost of the bootable C: drive. (OK if it’s only backed up every week or so.) So if the C: drive suddenly dies, I can swap boot order and be back in business in seconds.

Failing any other ideas, I will probably just rsync to the backup drive on a periodic basis, and use Windows Repair to make it bootable if the main drive bites it.

soundnfury, yes, I feel your pain. The other thing that has turned me off of this motherboard RAID is just the crappiness of the diagnostic tools. The “NVRaid Control Panel” has to be one of the flimsiest and least informative UIs I’ve ever seen. It engenders no confidence whatsoever that if I tell it to “rebuild” it won’t pick the wrong drive to rebuild from, or will avoid any bad sectors on a failing mirror, or any other damn wrong thing Murphy might inflict.

Oh, sorry; I meant a solution to have RAID without having to depend on a crappy motherboard implementation, and being able to replace any of the drives without having to screw around with it. If you really want something to work regardless of what the OS/mobo/etc does, that’s the easiest way. Otherwise I think you’re limited to software utils like Ghost, etc. With Ghost, you can do a full image once, and have it only update what changes periodically (incremental backup). Other tools offer similar capabilities.

I don’t know which or if any make images that are directly bootable on the Windows side (rather than having you boot a util CD to restore the image); on the Mac side carbon copy cloner does that, among others. Sorry not to be more helpful.

I would suggest making the OS partition non-RAID and get into the habit of
installing ALL software and games on the RAID mounted elsewhere. If you’re
a paranoid git like me, you’ll even want to put Documents and Settings folders
on separate drives ;)

EvilIdler, that’s a good idea. The main problem is that frickin’ Windows sticks so much crap in the registry that if your boot drive dies you might as well reinstall everything anyway, because nothing is runnable without its registry settings. Unless you put the registry file on another drive… in which case THAT drive becomes the vulnerable one.

I’ll try an incremental Ghost and see how it goes.

You’ll probably need to fdisk /mbr the backup drive, if your boot disk fails, but otherwise this should work.

Personally, I’d stick with the onboard RAID 1. It does work just fine. Of course, if you flash your BIOS, you actually have to remember to check the settings next time.