Disk imaging for your DAW

PC Configurations, motherboards, etc, etc

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valis
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Disk imaging for your DAW

Post by valis » Sun Jul 07, 2019 9:41 pm

Back in the XP era, Clonezilla and Norton Ghost came along and made doing drive images possible. Between then and now, things have changed quite a bit. Clonezilla is still around, and can clone whole disks just as well as always, and tools like Macrium Reflect (free) seem to offer windows native functionality as well. Also many SSD makers offer migration software that can be used for free with their products (like Intel & Samsung).

It's been a few years since I did heavy disk imaging on the Windows side, as there were complications in my previous outings. The last go I had with disk cloning showed that companies like Arturia & Paragon would virtualize the file system and that caused me issues with workloads in excess of 90% cpu usage (on dual Xeon rigs and normal multicore installations).

I do know Windows 8 on up have a better HAL, which means it's more agnostic to system changes than it was in the XP & Win7 eras, and it makes migration easier than ever. Windows 10 made this even better in several ways, and much of these changes for Win8/10 are targeting the Enterprise level to make system images a bit more agnostic so hardware can vary more for system image rollout. However this also improved tools like the User State Migration Tool (USMT) which gives end users reduced a feature set version called "Windows Easy Transfer". MS finally has a migration assistant similar to what MacOS has. That's not as important to me, and certainly would NOT migrate the bulk of our Scope configurations, but was interesting to note. I presume with a 'Microsoft login' much of this is synced 'to the cloud' for the average user now anyway (ie, people that never live outside their downloads folder, desktop and documents folder).

In any case, it is my hope that by the time I'm done, I'll also have a process to:
  1. Migrate/backup/restore my ancient P4 era Xeon rig to an SSD to IDE adapter for the main installation, and an IDE to SDHC adapter for pagefile & temp file usages. Right now the machine is running on 3 10000rpm SCSI drives that I would love to retire (noise & power reasons).
  2. Have a backup/restore process that's seamless my other custom built machines (of which there are 3). All 3 boot to SSD's, though otherwise have a mixed drive configuration that I eventually need to migrate to a NAS.
  3. Document this routine well enough that it's simple to deploy new machines for live/stage use, and keep them in a state where there's always a duplicate drive ready for recovery from major issues on the road.

To start this off, my primary goal is to migrate an existing 'prebuilt' machine to an SSD from a 2TB SATA HD. For this machine, I have an off the shelf Alienware (Aurora R7) system here which was a gift, outfitted with an i7-8700, GTX1080, 2TB boot drive + Intel Optane 32GB module (setup in RAID for the Optane to accelerate things), and of course 2 additional SSD's now and an RME HDSPe card. The Optane SSD was supposed to be similar--in theory--to a Fusion drive on a Mac, but I have always had issues with it. When it works, the system feels like any other SSD boot drive based system, but when it doesn't the software that doesn't like it will have issues well beyond what even a standard SATA HD would have (it will sometimes lag Dropbox for MANY minutes, when just trying to bring up the tasktray interface, for instance). I upgraded the Optane NVMe SSD to the largest capacity, and still notice many tools experience issues with it enabled, like dropbox, VLC and even window's own Photo viewer.

So my goal is to not just migrate to a 2TB SSD in the Optane's NVMe spot, it's to create a complete system image so that the SSD has the same system restore & bios functionality the system ships with, and so I can simply image the windows partition BACK to the 2TB SATA spinning drive on a weekly basis. I will also determine if I can do this externally as well as internally...

And of course, I'll update this parent post and the placeholder immediately below to update this process for others to replicate. I am open to the thoughts of our community as well.

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Re: Disk imaging over the decades

Post by valis » Sun Jul 07, 2019 9:42 pm

***Placeholder for future information***

fraz
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Re: Disk imaging for your DAW

Post by fraz » Sun Jul 28, 2019 7:05 pm

Hello Valis,

I've done a lot of PC installations of Windows 10 for me and others - I did try Macrium Reflect (free)_it needs to be registered though via an email address, then a pass code is generated for installation on multiple machines for the purpose of backup / clone - I've even used to clone from HDD (mechanical) to SSD (of different sizes) and the process worked like a charm.

There is a feature (that is not free) called a rapid delta clone (I hate jargon) that copies the difference between the source and destination drives aka (also known as) "differential".

Paid ware is costly - £550 GBP for the first year - then year 2 is a bit cheaper £380 or something like this - It is expensive but all the competing software of which I've forgotten the names of have similar or greater pricing for unlimited machines.

Acronis True Image was always plagued with problems on the forum (this may have changed)__maybe due to complexity of the features of the software and is limited to 4 machines or less per license although they may have another version for un-limited machines now???

Anyway Macrium Reflect served me well for lots and lots --- and has not let me down.

I'm not an IT PRO, repeat NOT - But have learned lots and this has helped.

When I'm due to do some more overclocking and updates on existing installs - learning more boards and platforms ---- and installing software on machines for Scope / UAD etc.....and VEP slaves etc...... I will probably try the Macrium for a year or two as the Rapid Delta Clone (not free) would be great to copy the difference between source and destination drives in the event of NEWLY INSTALLED SOFTWARE / ammendments etc...............................

Sorry for the long post ----But Macrium FREE has proven great ---

Example --- Lets say I have an AsRock Z97 board ---- for Scope PCI cards --- there is an installation of Windows 10 32 bit on an original drive HDD machanical ---maybe some updates --- and also a clone drive --- of the same ---- then say I wish to install Scope etc.......this can be done on the slave drive -----then when the HDD is A OK --- along comes a SSD ---- and another clone --- wam bamm thank you mam.... (sorry for the enthusiasm) :)

But the point is I feel confident using this which is a big one for a non PRO :)

The interface is easy to understand as they're isn't much to it, a one trick pony if you like --- which minimizes stress.

Aside from rapid delta clones, I thought it may be best to manually backup any projects etc.......on a separate drive which may involve audio files too but this would ease the worry of constantly backing up "the clone" (possibly?)

For the paid ware there is a support telephone line - I spoke with a rep of this company and the person I spoke with was very helpful and explained how Macrium started off - Someone wasn't happy with what was available for cloning and backing up a computer system so created some software for it - :)

There are one or two other titles that would be as good / maybe better - with prices to match or exceed - but I've not tried these so can't comment.

I may have made a mistake or two here and there and one or two HDD's were "corrupt" but it always worked - :)

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Re: Disk imaging for your DAW

Post by valis » Sun Jul 28, 2019 10:00 pm

Forgive my lack of responses to my original post, I have been waiting for a 2GB NVMe SSD to fall into the price range that I want for the system I was going to migrate.

However I concur in regards to cost with what you said above, and in regards to differential cloning (basically, updating the clone image without a full re-image).

I did install Macrium Reflect on 3 machines, check out the interface, set up some basic options for the systems in question and create a bootable USB drive for Clonezilla. I'm with you on Macrium Reflect 'free' being more user friendly. I will need to determine if it can handle all of the partitions that the Windows drive has for some of my systems (specifically the Dell system with the restore image it has built in).

I'll check back again once I've made progress, thanks for your input. :)

fraz
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Re: Disk imaging for your DAW

Post by fraz » Mon Jul 29, 2019 4:02 pm

Hello Valis,

When I've done the backups - it isn't with a view to restore (my angle was to have master original & cloned backups for an original install of Windows and drivers.

If there was lots of music apps installed over a period of time then it would make sense to re-clone (ticking the box for only copy the differences)__only available on paid version.

Then when the system is totally to liking = re-clone and set to one side as a DIY restore then save all projects manually etc...

When cloning from HDD to SSD >>>>Macrium performs a special operation (Ii forgot the name) but it works.....I've done it on version 6 or 7

>>>As far a restoring goes I'm not sure how this would work in Macrium

Macrium sees all the relevant partitions of all attached disks, again to the best of my knowledge and real world use.


other users comment that it has not let them down

My angle written above is a bit different maybe in the form of wanting a finished clone set to one side in case disaster strikes but taking the responsibility of backing up manually but with a paid version, regular rapid delta clones (differential) could be performed on the ACTUAL INSTALL and repeated on the finalized clone set to one side just in case a recover option is either not available or does not work.....

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valis
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Re: Disk imaging for your DAW

Post by valis » Mon Jul 29, 2019 9:18 pm

Well, my workflow in general with new installs typically is:
- Get basic install done of OS, make image for stable starting point to roll back to when doing the next step
- Once mainboard drivers and all peripherals are sorted (and in the old days, any address sharing etc between onboard devices) image again, this is my 'clean slate' image now before Apps
- Now I roll forward with installing everything else. Once that's stable & solid, I again re-image.
- From this point forward, it's a monthly re-image for a stable point to roll back to in case of major failure

That being said, a good deal of this isn't as necessary as it used to be. My machines post 2010 haven't really needed any onboard sharing of resources resolved (Win7 and modern ACPI/DSDT machines resolved most of this). Combine that with the ease of making USB install media and the first 2 steps aren't as onerous as they used to be. And for the last steps, well it's been a while since I had an OS drive fail.

Still, when I'm on Mac using SuperDuper (or CCCP) this overall workflow is so fast it's still my habit (all 4 steps above are followed) and I still make weekly backups. And I did have 1 of my 5 Macs lose an OS drive recently, so this saved me some headaches and made me realize i have 5 windows machines in my house (1 is a laptop for wife) that could still use this workflow.

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Re: Disk imaging for your DAW

Post by valis » Thu Oct 24, 2019 4:03 pm

So I finally had time to clone my boot drive on my Z370 based system. Again, this is an Alienware system given to me in return for doing a VR commercial for Intel, and came with a 2TB HD + 16GB Optane accelerator SSD. I had previously upgraded the Optane to a 32GB model (highest capacity avail when I got this), and have added 2 additional 1TB SSD's to the spare SATA slots.

I disabled Intel RST's Optane accelleration, swapped the Optane for a Samsung 970 EVO (non-Plus), cloned all partitions on the 2TB HD, swapped the boot partition out in the EFI boot sequence for the new 970 SSD and everything worked almost immediately. This was just about as easy as SuperDuper/CarbonCopyCloner on Mac. Much much better than the early Norton Chost/Clonezilla days from a boot CD.

The only caveat was that to use Optane, the intel chipset was in 'RAID' mode and swapping to AHCI required a workaround, which was very simple. Use a CMD line command to flag the drive to boot into safe mode on next boot, reboot into BIOS/EFI and set it to AHCI, then on next boot (to the SSD) it automatically swapped drivers for me to AHCI. After next reboot (back into normal Win10), I also installed Samsung's NVME driver over the stock MS one (no speed differences here, as Win10 has much better support in this year's version). After removing some unnecessary software that's been installed over the last year, and cleaning up temp files and some other odds & ends, I completely cloned the WIndows partition on the SSD back to the 2TB HD (to ensure that the AHCI mode & NVME drivers are updated there, among other things). From here forward I will simply do differential updates to that drive, and have a failover should this SSD ever have an issue.

Oh, I also put the Optane into a PCIe board that supports dual NVME/SATA M.2 SSD's (the SATA requires an onboard SATA header available), which I picked up on Amazon for about $15. I was originally thinking of using this for Windows swap, but it's half the read speed of the 970 EVO, and considerably slower on writes (even though technically it should work better at high queue depths, it doesn't seem to be that way in practice). So I'll just use it for temp files when using graphics apps, as the other SSD's in the system are limited to SATA6 speeds, and maybe swap it for another Samsung (or one of the newer PCIe 4.0 NVME's) later on. I can sell this Optane 32GB on ebay for almost as much as a 256GB PCIe 4.0 drive goes for new....but I'm too busy with work to care about that right now.

Once I am through my next 2-3 projects, I'll completely reinstall windows from scratch to kill Dell's crapware, and repeat the imaging process to the internal HD all over again. All in all, this only took about 15 minutes to pop the case open, and about 30 mins to perform the image, another 20 to resolve all the drivers/AHCI issues and so on. Not a bad time investment for a considerably more responsive system, and a backup process to boot!

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