Question Want to do bootable usb backup of my SSD but can't figure out how

Raena92

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A couple days ago, my wired mouse on the XPS 8930 stopped working. Just no action at all. Oddly enough, the wireless mouse for my laptop also quit its job. On the desktop, I tried plugging the mouse into different ports, and then got a message (official) to reinstall windows. So I did.

Something unexpected happened: The entire OS ended up on my HDD, while the new installation went to my SSD. I'm find with that, but I have a lot of things on the SSD OS that I'd like to put on a bootable USB. I know about Macrium Reflect and AOEMI, but (confession) I'm unable to understand what they're telling me to do.

Also, I have the GTP format, and I haven't found an option for changing it to MBR (which the clone programs use).

Isn't there a command prompt method for this? Someone would have to write it all out for me, but I just don't feel like can use the clone software.

Any help is appreciated. Thanks much.
 

Aeacus

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AFAIK, you can not make bootable Win on USB thumb drive. :unsure:

You can, however, make bootable GNU/Linux distro (any distro) on USB thumb drive. I've done it, as a backup, just in case my Win decides to hit the bucket and i need to access my drives.

Here's link to the tool to create live bootable GNU/Linux USB drive,
link: http://www.pendrivelinux.com/universal-usb-installer-easy-as-1-2-3/

It isn't hard to set it up. Though, you'd need at least 4GB USB flash thumb drive. Oh, you can use almost any GNU/Linux distro you like.

On the above link, there is also a full list of supported distros ("supported ISO files").
If you don't know which GNU/Linux distro to use, then you can go for Linux Mint (i have it installed on my USB flash drive and i prefer it over other GNU/Linux distros i've tried).
Linux Mint distro download: https://www.linuxmint.com/download.php

Just download GNU/Linux distro, plug in your USB flash drive, start the Universal USB Installer and follow on-screen instructions. Once the installation is complete, reboot your system and after POST, select you USB drive as bootable drive. So that your PC boots into GNU/Linux. Once GNU/Linux starts to load, it presents you several options. One of them is installing GNU/Linux to your disk drive, another is to boot into GNU/Linux from USB flash drive. Select the one that boots into GNU/Linux without installing it. This way, data on your disk drives is safe and entire OS is loaded to RAM (which makes it slow, but still bearable).
 

Raena92

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Thank you, Aeacus. Could I just leave the entirety of the backup on the USB, without putting into RAM -- and then boot from the USB only if necessary?
 

USAFRet

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Because if something horrendous happens, I basically want to do a clean install. Right now, I have everything on the SSD that I would want to end up there again, if I would do a clean install.
You wish to be able to recover your system, in the state it is in now. with all of your software, etc?

No problem.

Macrium Reflect.

Create an Image on some other drive. An external of sufficient size.
This will be a single file of xxxx.mrimage.
You can use the rest of the space on the drive as desired.

Create a Macrium Rescue USB.
On the toolbar - Other Tasks - Create Rescue media

This is your bootable USB.


In case of need, you boot from that Rescue USB.
Recover, tell it where that Image is, and what drive to apply it to.
Click the Go button.

If this were done in the case of a physically dead drive, you'd of course put a new drive in the system to recover to.
 

Aeacus

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Could I just leave the entirety of the backup on the USB, without putting into RAM -- and then boot from the USB only if necessary?
The above GNU/Linux distro live bootable OS operates in a such way, where once initiated, OS is loaded into RAM, as temporary storage, giving you full access to the GNU/Linux distro you picked. Once you log-off from Linux and shut down the PC, or even make a reboot, RAM is cleared and all GNU/Linux is wiped from it.

Now, you can save stuff in GNU/Linux as well (e.g download image from the net, save it on main partition), which is then placed on the USB flash thumb drive. But limit is quite small, which you can define.
I have 128 GB USB flash thumb drive and if i recall correctly, i set my storage limit to 20 GB, which is more than enough for personal file recovery (important documents/pics).

This method also works when there is no storage drives connected to PC. E.g you can test if CPU, MoBo and RAM are working fine.

--

USAFRet above, describes Win recovery method, which also works. Diff between Win recovery and GNU/Linux bootable, is, that with Win recovery, you can't access your OS or other data, until you've successfully recovered your OS drive image. Also, recovering image will overwrite the OS you currently have, with "old" data (time when you created your image).

For example: Lets say you create your image today + rescue USB. You use your PC for 27 days, download new stuff, add new family pics onto OS drive etc. But after 27 days, your OS gets corrupted and you can't boot into it anymore. Now, with rescue USB, you can reinstate your OS, from 27 days ago, in working order, but everything new you added since then, is lost.

With GNU/Linux distro, you can access your now corrupt OS drive and copy/paste all the new data, you got within 27 days, over to USB flash thumb drive. And once you've recovered your data, then it would be good idea to use the rescue USB to recover your old OS image. Or you can do a clean install, if you don't have much issues of installing all of your programs again.

--

All-in-all, using both, bootable GNU/Linux distro and rescue USB, is the best option.

Oh, if you have 2nd PC, where to plug in your drives, then you don't need to use bootable GNU/Linux distro at all. Then, you can just remove the drives from one PC, hook them up to 2nd PC as data drives and just copy/pate the data over. Bootable GNU/Linux distro is great when you only have one PC.

I have 3 PCs, bootable GNU/Linux distro, two main PCs have their OS cloned over another Samsung SSD (that i keep as offline storage) and i even have bootable Win7 OS, for both PCs (prior to upgrading to Win10) on storage drives as well (again, as offline storage).
 

USAFRet

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For example: Lets say you create your image today + rescue USB. You use your PC for 27 days, download new stuff, add new family pics onto OS drive etc. But after 27 days, your OS gets corrupted and you can't boot into it anymore. Now, with rescue USB, you can reinstate your OS, from 27 days ago, in working order, but everything new you added since then, is lost.
And that is why I have my systems write an Incremental or Differential image every night (or every other night, depending on the system).
I can go back to its condition on any day in the last 30.
Each individual drive, or all of them.

Mine write the Images to a folder tree on my NAS.
5 systems, 30 days worth each, currently consuming 3.4TB drive space.

And I have had to recover from a dead drive.
960GB SanDisk SSD, 605GB data on it.

Slot in a new one.
Click click
Wait
All 605GB data recovered, exactly as it was at 4AM that morning when it ran its nightly Incremental.
 

Aeacus

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And that is why I have my systems write an Incremental or Differential image every night (or every other night, depending on the system).
Yeah, with this automatic image backup you have in place, there won't be any data loss (if only for the past ~12 hours). But setting up this automation can be complex (e.g, i, personally, don't know how to do it).
 

USAFRet

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Yeah, with this automatic image backup you have in place, there won't be any data loss (if only for the past ~12 hours). But setting up this automation can be complex (e.g, i, personally, don't know how to do it).
Actually, Macrium makes it pretty easy.
No more difficult than any other scheduled procedure.

It can look daunting, but once you read through the options once or twice...easy.
 
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Raena92

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You wish to be able to recover your system, in the state it is in now. with all of your software, etc?

No problem.

Macrium Reflect.

Create an Image on some other drive. An external of sufficient size.
This will be a single file of xxxx.mrimage.
You can use the rest of the space on the drive as desired.

Create a Macrium Rescue USB.
On the toolbar - Other Tasks - Create Rescue media

This is your bootable USB.


In case of need, you boot from that Rescue USB.
Recover, tell it where that Image is, and what drive to apply it to.
Click the Go button.

If this were done in the case of a physically dead drive, you'd of course put a new drive in the system to recover to.
Thank you so much for your response -- and thank you for your service. I'm USAF, too, but not retired; just a vet. I'm going to look at Macrium Reflect again. Something about it just scared me, but maybe I overlooked something. Thanks again so much.
 

Raena92

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The above GNU/Linux distro live bootable OS operates in a such way, where once initiated, OS is loaded into RAM, as temporary storage, giving you full access to the GNU/Linux distro you picked. Once you log-off from Linux and shut down the PC, or even make a reboot, RAM is cleared and all GNU/Linux is wiped from it.

Now, you can save stuff in GNU/Linux as well (e.g download image from the net, save it on main partition), which is then placed on the USB flash thumb drive. But limit is quite small, which you can define.
I have 128 GB USB flash thumb drive and if i recall correctly, i set my storage limit to 20 GB, which is more than enough for personal file recovery (important documents/pics).

This method also works when there is no storage drives connected to PC. E.g you can test if CPU, MoBo and RAM are working fine.

--

USAFRet above, describes Win recovery method, which also works. Diff between Win recovery and GNU/Linux bootable, is, that with Win recovery, you can't access your OS or other data, until you've successfully recovered your OS drive image. Also, recovering image will overwrite the OS you currently have, with "old" data (time when you created your image).

For example: Lets say you create your image today + rescue USB. You use your PC for 27 days, download new stuff, add new family pics onto OS drive etc. But after 27 days, your OS gets corrupted and you can't boot into it anymore. Now, with rescue USB, you can reinstate your OS, from 27 days ago, in working order, but everything new you added since then, is lost.

With GNU/Linux distro, you can access your now corrupt OS drive and copy/paste all the new data, you got within 27 days, over to USB flash thumb drive. And once you've recovered your data, then it would be good idea to use the rescue USB to recover your old OS image. Or you can do a clean install, if you don't have much issues of installing all of your programs again.

--

All-in-all, using both, bootable GNU/Linux distro and rescue USB, is the best option.

Oh, if you have 2nd PC, where to plug in your drives, then you don't need to use bootable GNU/Linux distro at all. Then, you can just remove the drives from one PC, hook them up to 2nd PC as data drives and just copy/pate the data over. Bootable GNU/Linux distro is great when you only have one PC.

I have 3 PCs, bootable GNU/Linux distro, two main PCs have their OS cloned over another Samsung SSD (that i keep as offline storage) and i even have bootable Win7 OS, for both PCs (prior to upgrading to Win10) on storage drives as well (again, as offline storage).
Thank you again, Aeacus. I appreciate your response.
 
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USAFRet

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Thank you so much for your response -- and thank you for your service. I'm USAF, too, but not retired; just a vet. I'm going to look at Macrium Reflect again. Something about it just scared me, but maybe I overlooked something. Thanks again so much.
And thank YOU...👌

Macrium is the basis for my whole backup routine. Have used it for several years.

Modified a bit since I wrote this, but the basics:
 

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