2008/12/02

Drive Snapshot: Restore Remote Image

Drive Snapshot is the program I prefer to backup my system partitions, like Windows Vista in my desktop PC and Windows XP or Linux Mint's home and root partitions in my laptop.

I tried using Clonezilla but Drive Snapshot works faster, renders smaller images and does not require the patition where you save the image to be bigger than the original partition.

The problem was that, since I don't have enough space in my laptop to keep backup images, and Drive Snapshot bootable CD buggy network stack is unable to access a remote image in a network share, I had to plan a rather uncomfortable scheme to restore Windows XP or Linux Mint in my laptop.

If I wanted to restore the Windows XP system partition, and its image size fit in my Linux Mint home partition, first I had to make an image of this home partition from Windows XP and copy that image to my desktop PC; then I formated the home partition as FAT32 and pasted a copy of Windows XP partition image there and finally booted the laptop with Drive Snapshot CD and restored XP from that local image.

Of course, after having Windows XP restored, I still had to copy the Linux home partition image back into the Windows XP partition and restore the home partition from there.

All this could have been avoided if Drive Snapshot boot CD could connect to my desktop PC and access a share where I keep a backup image, but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't establish a connection with my desktop PC through the router or directly using an Ethernet cable.

That's where BartPE comes in, it's a streamlined Windows XP live CD, which you can customize with appropiate hardware drivers and additional software to run live without installation into the hard drive. It comes with Drive Snapshot preinstalled, so I just had to figure out that I needed to add the right network and storage drivers for my laptop into BartPE to be able to access my desktop shares and the local partitions in the hard disk when running Windows from this CD.

So, after booting my laptop into BartPE, a fast process except for the loading of the network drivers which takes 3 minutes here, I enter the fixed parameters of my network, mount the desktop share containing the image I want to restore, and finally launch Drive Snapshot and browse that remote share and select the image.

Just a couple of things to watch, when entering the network parameters, keep in mind that the workgroup name is case sensitive, so if your desktop PC workgroup is called "WORKGROUP", type it in capital letters, else the file browser in BartPE will show two workgroup trees having the same name, though this does not cause any problem. Finally, keep in mind that the network parameters will be different depending on how you connect to your desktop PC, via a router or directly via an Ethernet cable between both network jacks. For speed purposes, I suggest to choose the later option.