View Full Version : Backing up Computers Before a Format. How to speed the process up?

Bryce W
07-05-2007, 11:38 PM
How can I speed up moving data from one harddrive to another?

A job I come across fairly frequently is doing backups, formats, install XP and reload backed up files. In most cases the client has only a few gig that needs to be backed up and I use my external USB harddrive. However, occasionally I come across the client (usually with teenagers) who mass download music and movies that fill up hundreds of gigs. The USB drive is too slow to backup to due to the speed limitations of USB so I use another hard normal harddrive and connect the two via IDE cables. This is still really slow when lots of files are involved.

Does anyone know any good way to speed up this process? without cloning the harddrive? (seeing the XP on it is infected/damaged). Or if cloned can leave behind the OS and pick out the users files?

07-06-2007, 04:35 AM
There really isnt a much faster way than that. You can cut down on time by letting a tool like Fabs Autobackup do most of the backup and restore work for you (it is included in the ubcd4win, or you can google it and download the PE plugin and put it in your own PE disc.)

As for the USB solution. Thats what I normally do. I always carry a couple spare NEW usb 2.0 4 port pci cards with me. When I have to do a backup of a machine that is 1.0 or 1.1 I offer to sell the customer the usb 2.0 card for $35. It costs me $14, so I made a good parts sale and I probably saved the customer at least an hour on the copy of data (if not more.) The $21 I made on the part doesnt make up for the over $100 I usually lose for my hourly time, since I just made it go faster. But the fact that I explained it to the customer so they understand that I just saved them a big chunk of money does make up for it. The customer loves to hear you say your saving them money.

You could also think about an eSATA card and external eSATA drive. Sure SATA II drives can only actually do 300mb/sec and USB 2.0 supports up to 480mb/sec. But most people using USB drive enclosures are doing so with IDE drives. The fastest IDE drives (ata133) only do 133mb/sec, so who cares if the USB 2.0 can handle 480mb/sec?

03-07-2009, 08:43 AM
Time to dig up an old thread I think..

Any new thoughts over the last 2 years on this??
It is a pain in the ass to transfer files from a slow ass PC. 'Specially a computer that has hundreds of gigs worth of data..

03-07-2009, 09:34 AM
TBH it's probably a cheaper option to install a new HDD and slave in the old one. Another option would be to repartition the HDD to create a new primary partition for the OS and leave the data intact where it is and just delete all non-user data folders from that partition.

It's because users tend to hoard masses of data on their systems that I try and avoid reinstalls wherever possible.

03-07-2009, 04:44 PM
When USB 3.0 comes out in consumer products we'll see if thats a good solution to this problem. The theoretical speed of 3.0 is supposed to be 10 times faster than 2.0 and almost twice as fast as eSATA.

Comtech Solutions
03-07-2009, 05:11 PM
Hey Greg and Methical,
Not trying to be a pain in the ass here....
Why would it matter how fast the customer's computer is if you are doing backup and reinstall? The customer's hard drive will be plugged into your enclosure, or your ide/sata cable anyway????

If the machine is in such bad shape that you are reinstalling, I'd say your wasting a lot of your time if you are doing backup with an infected or corrupted windows system. Use your own Windows, your own faster computer, your own faster connection (anything that is faster than the customer's 1.1). Standard approach for me....

@ Bryce - I think that a customer who wants 100GB of data copied understands you can't do this onsite. So take the customer's drive home, start Unstoppable Copier and come back in a few hours after you've had a chance to have your dinner, do your dishes, wash the floors, dust the house, do your laundry, milk the cows, cut your firewood etc. Being cheeky a bit, but you get my point - the customer will understand an additional day in down time. Maybe a good chance to upsell them on an external HD?

@ Bryce - since this my first post directly at you - I'll take the opportunity to thank you for the grass-roots work you do for us computer techs. I, and many others, appreciate it. This is agreat site. I was a lurker for a long, long time before I started posting recently. I go out of my way to make sure I answer at least 3 legitimate troubleshooooting questions every time I have a problem of my own. Karma in this community comes and goes around.

Now enough sucking up and back to my ususal cyncial and sarcastic self ;)

03-07-2009, 10:21 PM
While I know that the 100gb number is pulled out of thin air, I believe anyone playing with that much irreplaceable data and not having backups or whatnot should have a swift slap across the face as part of the backup/reinstall terms and conditions.

03-07-2009, 11:54 PM
Try transfer via cmd line instead of explorer.

03-08-2009, 05:09 PM
I find the best thing is an external hard drive however with hard drives increasing in size nowadays i will soon have to buy a few 1tb external hard drives because i also keep customers data on them for atleast 30 days just incase they find anything missing or have accidently deleted it, not that i get many Reinstallations.

03-08-2009, 10:37 PM
I carry a hard drive external conversion kit. And my Core 2 duo laptop with vista 64bit and 4 gig of ram. I take out the clients hard drive plug it into the kit.
Plug the kit into my laptop and make a special folder to just copy the files to.
The added speed of my laptop with my extra ram and the 64bit allows the transfer rate to be the fastest I can get. After the transfer is done to my machine.. Its actually easier to just have a separate external drive to copy the files directly too. It saves me hours!

03-09-2009, 12:18 AM
I usually transfer the files by IDE/SATA cable as a slave drive. I dont know of any faster way.

03-09-2009, 02:46 AM
1 is the physical connection. (IDE/SATA slave drive; USB 2.0/3.0?; Firewire?)
Wouldn't it be fastest to have one drive on the Primary Channel as Master and the other drive on the Secondary Channel as Master rather than putting both drives on the same channel as Master and Slave?

2 is the configuration of the hard drives (Enable Disk Write Caching under the Policies tab of Device Manager entry. Is the BIOS entry set to the fastest connection?)

3 is the software used to perform the copy (See below)

4 would be to exit out of all other software during the copy


TeraCopy or DriveImage XML or Unstoppable Copier -- depending upon the situation.

TeraCopy was mentioned by mortisult in Febuary 2008:

It has been mentioned in a few other threads as well. The commercial version is presently 14.95 € or $19.00.

Copy files faster. TeraCopy uses dynamically adjusted buffers to reduce seek times. Asynchronous copy speeds up file transfer between two physical hard drives.
Pause and resume file transfers. Pause copy process at any time to free up system resources and continue with a single click.
Error recovery. In case of copy error, TeraCopy will try several times and in the worse case just skips the file, not terminating the entire transfer.
Interactive file list. TeraCopy shows failed file transfers and lets you fix the problem and recopy only problem files.
Shell integration. TeraCopy can completely replace Explorer copy and move functions, allowing you work with files as usual.
Full Unicode support.

DriveImage XML (First mentioned by Greghh in June 2007) does a great job of copying an entire drive, or just a logical drive. Once copied, any file in the backup may be accessed and restored individually.

Unstoppable Copier (First mentioned by Bryce in December 2006) copies even damaged files.
Recovers files from disks with physical damage. Allows you to copy files from disks with problems such as bad sectors, scratches or that just give errors when reading data. The program will attempt to recover every readable piece of a file and put the pieces together. Using this method most types of files can be made useable even if some parts were not recoverable in the end.

-- Patrick B.

03-09-2009, 02:49 AM
Can it ignore/strip/replace NTFS permissions on the fly?

03-09-2009, 04:12 AM
@arrow runner

I have not had any difficulties copying files, but then, I am typically logged in as the local user-of-interest with Admin rights. Do you know of any Windows file copy utilities that are able to ignore/strip/replace NTFS permissions on the fly? I have seen no option like that in DriveImageXML or in Unstoppable Copier.

-- Patrick B.

03-09-2009, 12:49 PM
No, I've seen no copy utility like that, which is why I was asking. I've been using cygwin and chmod to workaround ntfs permission and then copy them to my laptops Fat32 partition.

The Windows take owernship/change acl tools rarely work how I would like them to, if at all. One day I thought I'd try running chmod o+rwx on a profile and it worked beautifully. I think I had to take ownership of the parent folder first, but it was much quicker and error-free unlike subinacl, cacls, or xcacls.

03-09-2009, 03:14 PM
I have heard of Cygwin and found it at http://www.cygwin.com/, but have not used it. In addition to changing rights, how else do you find it useful?

Thanks arrow runner,
Patrick B.

03-09-2009, 03:37 PM
cygwin is 'kind of' a Linux emulation terminal on your pc.

It works like this. If you go to start and type in 'cmd', you'll get a Windows Command prompt and you can run windows commands from the prompt.

With cygwin installed, you can open it and you get a BASH prompt, which is the linux equivalent for the Windows Command prompt. You can then run many linux commands and programs that were compiled under cygwin.

Chmod and chown are both linux commands, but with cygwin, it's very easy to run them. Chmod changes the 'mode' or permissions of a file and chown changes the ownership of a file. So you can run these linux utilities on your computer and they work with NTFS like you would expect a windows utility would.

For example, the following command will give all users read, write, and execute writes to the files for the admin account on my computer. Although for typical use, you would change the 'c' to something else like whatever drive letter was assigned to the client's hard drive.
$ chmod -R o+rwx /cygdrive/c/Documents\ and\ Settings/Administrator/


I just tried this with the cp and rsync commands to copy from a folder I didn't have access to get into to a folder on a fat32 to partition and it worked just fine. I don't know why I didn't think of that sooner.

08-05-2009, 04:48 PM
Has anyone had an issue with restoring with Fabs autobackup 3 ?

The program is obvious in its nature on how to use but when I go to do a restore it the next key stays grey not allowing me to continue regardless of which one of the files I choose that were backed up with the program. Any ideas?


08-05-2009, 09:32 PM
When you copy images and songs, it takes ages.
Try this:
Compress all images into a zip/rar archive
Ditto with the songs

Now you will copy only 2 files not hundreds/thousands.

Archiving might take a bit of time, but less then it would otherwise take to copy them.

I have never actually monitored it, but I know for sure it copies a hell of a lot faster (zip/rar archives).

Doctor Micro
08-06-2009, 05:40 AM
you guys are too busy trying to make mountains out of molehills. No matter how you slice it, what method you use, what software, the simple fact is that mega gigabytes of music and video files are going to take a long time to transfer. Archiving them to a ZIP or RAR file, transferring that then unpacking them on the target is a waste of time and in the aggregate, takes longer than just transferring the files file by file in the first place.

Turn off or temporarily disable your active antivirus/antispyware file checking and start the transfer using standard windows shift-drag & drop. Monitor just long enough to answer "Yes to All" when it asks you to confirm copying/moving read-only and system files (like desktop.ini and thumbs.db). Go to bed, sleep tight and when you come back in the morning, it will be done.

08-06-2009, 05:46 AM
Xcopy or ubuntu to the rescue! Just set it and forget it! Do something else while it's copying.

Doctor Micro
08-06-2009, 05:52 AM
Xcopy or ubuntu to the rescue! Just set it and forget it! Do something else while it's copying.

Exactly... it's really a no-brainer. :)

08-06-2009, 02:39 PM
Take a look at Roadkil's Unstoppable Copier:
http://www.roadkil.net/program.php?ProgramID=29 (http://www.roadkil.net/program.php?ProgramID=29)

-- Patrick B.

08-06-2009, 07:30 PM
If it was an old and slow pc, I would take the drive out and mount it in my bench pc which is pretty fast. Then I would use autofab's backup to copy the file to a new drive or a usb 2.0 drive.