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recovering a pc, recovering a license + german-english


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A brief tale here, in case it helps someone else. Also, there is a polite request at the end.


This is all concerning English Retrospect 6.5 on XP SP2 German, which i think does matter though felt it should not. And because I didn't know any better until I really needed Retrospect to come through. There was a way, and it did.


Here is the story.


- an otherwise fine if deeply installed machine suddenly bluescreens, due to added driver apparently; on fifth time it smears the boot partition so it won't boot. First thing I do is disconnect very completely from the Internet, wireless, etc., as there will be no firewalls to protect during all the recovery. This is completely critical as you may know, otherwise you will have a virus in seconds.


- I drag out my trusty Retrospect backup, having depended on R since early Dantz-Mac days.

- the Disaster Recovery CD won't boot. Neither will any others up to two years ago. They actually boot, but fail while initializing the recovery. One and one CD will boot properly: made on an English XP. Except it doesn't work as it is done on an XP upgrade, and there is no original because this notebook has the usual erase and restore disk itself.

- I try to run Retrospect manually, and realize my license key is needed before it will run. Which is inside the backup.


You can imagine the situation, and how many paths I took to resolve it. If any of these help, good for you. Absolutely nothing would crack the Recovery CD not booting, but see later.


- I chose one of my spare disks, and put it in the notebook, putting the disk with bad partition in a USB2 case. I then used the notebook PC recovery CD to wipe the spare, and put their version of XP on it. German again, but that part doesn't matter.


- As I had a backup within the week, I went through important areas and copied off files since then, including Quicken accounting, etc. which are well hidden unless you are used to this. Outlook mail databases, for example. Take the whole directories, as you are not sure what you might need. I missed only one, the crucial Natara Daynotez for my Palm, which keeps its database in its own Programs folder. Luckily nearly everything there was on the Palm itself, and nicely re-replicated once all was back to normal.


- How did I get my license back? Briefly, I had installers for old versions of Retrospect, back to 5.6. I could finally find a license code for that. So I installed and used it against a recent Retrospect 6.5 backup. Not the crucial one, just in case. And...5.6 could read the 6.5 backup, well enough at least for me to recover an old email program and its files (Eudora) so I could find the 6.5 license email. Thank you Retrospect for not changing that file format, at least irreparably. So finally installed and licensed 6.5 retrospect again, matching my backup.


- I then used XP tools to format the bad partition. Be careful, as you will not get it back (hence my forgetting Daynotez not recoverable). Be sure you know what you do with the XP tools.


- I then did an Entire Volume Restore of the formatted C partition. This ran overnight (actually from 8am when I slept until noon), and actually took only about an hour. On waking, I verified it ran, shut down, swapped the original disk back in the PC notebook, and started the notebook. It booted to the restored C drive. It ran! Wonderfully. After booting came Retrospect's message about restoring the registry, etc.. One more restart, and everything was there. Even my licensing for a big Adobe package of applications on another partition.


- The first step beyond this was Norton 360 having noticed it needed to reauthenticate. I _very_ carefully set the Windows firewall to be on for LAN and wireless, and connected the LAN. It took a failed attempt, and then telling 360 to try again, at which point it smoothly reauthenticated itself. I think the second try was to manage that Windows firewall setting, but I am very glad to have it need to do that. Norton's instructions are shockingly blasé, telling you you're not protected, and then telling you you must connect the internet to get their protection working. After this game, it wants to run some checks, and i let it.


- Other software seems to be very smooth about re-authenticating, with just some small delays and once in a while a re-fired registration request (not reauthenticate with serial numbers). Even Microsoft's office 2003 stuff. Things are better in the world than they used to be.


- I put in the post-update documents etc. which had saved off before formatting the bad partition. This was smooth but complicated, and a list saved me from forgetting a thing or two. When I read it.


- Ok, now that everything is up and running, smoother than before, and with the problem software de-installed as a very early step in recovering (_why_ does Microsoft not make installers that will run under Safe Mode, I ask you??), a return to the story of the Disaster Recovery CDs that won't completely boot. All of them. Save the one.


Well, what I read searching through the tech notes and forum seems to say this, from Dantz/EMC:


IF you make a recovery disk for a 'foreign' version of XP on an AmerEnglish version

of Retrospect, IT MIGHT NOT RUN. Indeed. It doesn't, and you are very exposed.


So I have been operating for 3 years with a faulty set of backups, and never discovering it because I normally just needed a file or folder or two. When the real crash happened, I nearly couldn't recover.


I have found now, with difficulty, German language versions of my Retrospect 6.5 and its security upgrade. I think these could be used with my recovery diskpack to pull a bootable recovery disk out of current backups, but I am not going to tear this laptop apart for a sixth time literally to try it. I am considering when to change over to German Retrospect installation on the main PC to see if that clears up the failing of the Disaster Recovery CD generation. I guess it will.


How I wish Dantz/EMC had gone the extra mile here, and made the Recovery CD process work without what are probably just some mistakes in two or so directory paths. Microsoft gives the opportunity with their %pathname% tokens, would be one way. There are others.


I am so happy to have survived, and in knowing that a good bit of that survival is down to the deeply refined structural approach of Retrospect, that it's hard to make a tough voice for this problem. But I do beseech you, Retrospect developers, please fix it. And put up the patches for earlier versions. I am very frightened of moving off a software version I know works, across company changes etc., as I am sure you understand. This Disaster Recovery for all languages should be a very modular update, and I am hoping it seems so to you.


Again, I appreciated the work from the early beginnings. That's why I bought into Retrospect to rest my business on in recent years. I hope what I'm suggesting would fit with the past ways, and the senses in which a professional backup program needs to be very wide in its protection, for we who must be protected by it.


Kind regards, and may the New Year bring you much of personal happiness, and thanks again that you saved me,




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