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rfajman

Odd problem creating Disaster Recovery Disk

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Recently I was trying to create a disaster recovery disk with Retrospect Desktop 16.6 on Windows 10 Pro.  The WinPE documentation says that if you want to have files larger than 4GB on a larger USB disk (mine was 32 GB), then you should create a 4 GB FAT32 partition first, then an NTFS partition on the rest of the drive, if you need to have files larger than 4 GB..  The first problem I ran into was that Retrospect would not accept the 4 GB partition, so I increased it to 4.25 GB, which seemed to be acceptable.  But then it said that it could not use the disk, perhaps because it's GPT.  It's not, it's MBR.  It gave no other explanation.

Then I tried making an ISO file, which went OK.  Then I tried to use Rufus to put the Retrospect DR ISO file onto the USB disk.  Rufus insists on changing  the USB disk to a single partition.

I guess I'll just give up.  I don't know what I'd use the other partition for anyway, at least for nothing very big.  So all FAT32 should be OK.  Anyway, the USB disk is only 32 GB, so FAT32 is fine, as long as no file is larger than 4 GB.  I was just trying to keep things as flexible as possible.

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I can't offer you any suggestions, but I'd like to describe a problem that I had when I tried to create a recovery USB drive for my laptop. 

The Retrospect windows that control the creation of the recovery USB are simply too tall to fit within the WinPE environment.  it has everything to do with the native display parameters of my laptop, which is a Lenovo T560. 

If anyone has any suggestions, I would appreciate them.

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My suggestion is that both rfajman and x509 file Support Cases for feature requests.  Here's why and how to do that.

rfajman's request would be making the placement of the Disaster Recovery Disk more flexible.  x509's request would be making the Retrospect windows that control the creation of the recovery USB be short enough to fit within the WinPE environment display parameters of his laptop.

If you folks submit these Support Cases right now, I see a possibility of getting the requests acted upon by this fall.  StorCentric top management should be smart enough to realize that the forthcoming launch of the "backup server" variant running on beefed-up Drobos etc. will fall with a big thud ☹️ if new-to-Retrospect administrators trying to use the Drobo variant discover that they can't create DRDs.  Don't forget to mention that in your Support Cases.

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In the past I've never gotten this to work well at all, but things may have gotten better.

In a corporate environment we don't backup Windows laptops/desktops at all.  For every model being used we prepare an imaging USB such that if there are issues with a machine requiring a restore we just re-image it to "factory", let SCCM deploy the application suite and then let the user login.  All corporate data is on various shares and user's homes (i.e. personal data, configurations, etc) are "networked" so its accessible from any machine one authenticates on.  Laptops will sync "homes" to the local drive such that any offline changes will be synced back to the server when next on the LAN.  Home drive quotas are enforced to reduce sync time and discourage storing personal stuff on corporate servers.  If appropriate Onedrive is encouraged for storing large amounts of personal data.  Backup is all about the server farm and being able to quickly and reliably restore data to shares or replace failed VMs.

In a small business environment we try to achieve similar by focusing data on servers or cloud services and just replace or rebuild user devices as necessary.  If user accounts are local to the "personal" machine we will leverage client-server backup strategies but don't stress about a DRD apart from having something which can put the OS back, then put the core applications back, the backup client, the user account and finally user data.  Small businesses tend not to buy desktops/laptops in batches so its generally not possible to have a common imaging USB and SCCM is rarely available.  In general we have found that the time invested building and testing a specific DRD simply isn't worth it.

Personal/Home machines ... that may be a different issue as you may have more motivation to have a DRD to recover your machine should it crash and burn.  None the less, I've not had much success making it work when actually needed.  I have wasted many hours trying to get it to work only to find that it would have been faster to just do a fresh install.  The Windows 10 provided "Recovery" partition sort of encourages this strategy by restoring Windows and leaving your "personal" data in place, but that isn't going to work if the disk is dead.  I recommend taking a similar/simplistic approach and focus on storing your data on reliable network storage or in the cloud, having a backup strategy for stuff on your machine, archiving your application installers so apps can be reinstalled and build a generic Windows 10 installer USB rather than a purpose built DRD.

Its not just the Retrospect DRD, I've had issues with every alternative solution I've tried.  For me the issue always stems from dissimilar hardware.  Well may it be the same machine but in these situations its the HD or SSD which has needed replacement.  All works when you restore to the original "disk" but minor changes like disk manufacturer or a 250G SSD rather than a 256G SSD tends to kill the restoration even before you get to "restore" the backup and you won't know this until you actually need to do it.  Then you want to make it work, because you invested the time building the DRD in the first place and waste more time.  

I focus on my backup strategy and being comfortable with "typical" restores, then if/when disaster strikes a Windows box I just download the latest Windows 10 media from Microsoft and install from scratch, then move forward with apps, backup client and restore user data.  Never encountered problems doing a clean install with standard install media.

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