Friday, March 12, 2010

Geek post: The floppy disk is mightier than the USB thumb drive

Yes I said it! Geek speak follows so you have been warned. I have a 2 floppy disks (Win98SE boot disk and WinXP boot disk) that I would be lost without. I am a tech support person and they are part of my arsenal. Yesterday I simulated a meltdown of my hard drive and had to erase one of my spares and bring it back up to full functionality. Why? Because I am in disaster recovery / continuity planning and like to make sure that I am prepared. I wrote a blurb on Personal Computer Recovery here which you can take a peek at.

For those who are wondering why no CD usage is mentioned, I wanted to test a USB recovery scenario. If I hadn't I'd have been done in 5 hours tops (that's how long it took me last summer).

The test took me almost 12 hours to complete which is wayyyy too long. 6 of those hours were me trying to figure out why my laptop couldn't see the USB drives (I used an external Maxtor backup and a stick) and where the back-up sticks were. Turns out the Kingston thumb drive was not boot friendly, something I did not find out til after the test. At hour 8 I switched tactics and broke out the floppies. 30 mins later I had wiped clean the corrupted disk and reformatted it. I broke out the backup thumb drive and fired up the laptop, reset boot sequence so that the stick was seen first and the external Maxtor seen second. I use Macrium Reflect to create backup system images and it can be booted off of a CD or USB (if you use a minor ISO hack). I went USB.

What took me the longest time once I got going was the reimaging from the external drive since I was using the laptop with USB 1.0 not USB 2.0.

All in all an excellent test with lots of lessons learned, #1 of which is thou shalt use a USB stick that your machine agrees to boot off of. Can wait to try it again over the summer.

I'll post the weekly rundown over the weekend.

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