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[Discuss] How do Linux guys back up Windows?

Looking more at Dave's situation, IMHO, Dave might be better off running
Windows in a virtual machine. The advantages are:
1. The VM can  be backed up during normal Linux backups and easily
2. You can take snapshots to reduce boot time.
3. VMs are portable. You can stick a VM on a USB drive and run it from
another computer. You can take a Virtualbox and move it to VMWare and
vice-versa with a bit of effort.
4. As in Mark's #1, since the physical system is the virtual container,
it does not care about the physical world.
5. VMWare and VirtualBox provide methods to convert an existing physical
machine to virtual. (PtoV). This way you can take your physically
installed Windows and convert them to a virtual container. VMWare has a
free tool you can use for this.

There are some disadvantages of virtual machines.
1. Graphics is limited, so if you are using Windows for a high
performance graphical system, then VM is not for you
2. Performance of a VM is going to be less than that if it is native.
With today's multi-core processors this is not muc of an issue.
But this makes a much better backup solution

On 12/27/2012 01:27 PM, Mark Woodward wrote:
> Backing up Windows has gotten more and more problematic over time.
> (1) The OS keys itself to the physical system
> (2) The "system" software maintains too much information about the
> application software.
> (3) Software can not be generally be run on a system in which it was
> not explicitly installed.
> Windows probably won't run, without difficulty, on a new system after
> a restore.
> If you are replacing a hard disk, you may need to get one with the
> same disk layout.
> If you are adding space,  you should just add a volume and back that
> up as a set of files.
> There are tools out there that claim to work, and probably do with
> some subset of restoration activities, but "system" level backup of
> Windows is unreliable. The only acceptable "guarantee" you can give is
> that you can protect the data. Even that is questionable as
> applications are starting to use file system "extended attributes" in
> the NTFS file system and those are not typically backed up by generic
> file back-up programs.
> On 12/26/2012 07:43 PM, David Kramer wrote:
>> I am now in the odd situation of having two computers that are dual
>> boot, and that I use under Windows more than I have in the past (which
>> is to say a couple of times a YEAR).
>> Under Linux, I know that I can always reinstall the OS without hassles
>> and the update it, so I usually use scripts to just back up the
>> configuration files and documents and mail, etc.  A big server takes in
>> the neighborhood of 17GB to back up this way, which is great.  Windows,
>> on the other hand, is more than a collection of files.  It has magical
>> things in special places, and a registry that Must Be Right.  It also
>> can't be taken as a given that if my system dies, and I need to (say)
>> replace a hard drive, that I'll be able to use install media to
>> reinstall the OS.
>> My normal MO is to back up to external USB hard drives that are normally
>> disconnected and sitting in a drawer.  In preparation for this I bought
>> a 1TB one to supplement my current 500GB one.  I'm thinking I'll use the
>> 1TB one for Linux and the 500GB one for the two Windows instances.  I'm
>> not sure if that will be enough, though.  I did a test Windows Backup on
>> my desktop Windows instance and it took about 180MB, which was a pretty
>> big surprise.  I later learned it does diffs after that so it shouldn't
>> grow very fast.  Still I don't know if 500GB will be big enough for
>> both.  Maybe I can switch to a program that stores backups compressed,
>> since I'm not really worried about speed.
>> Let's say I already have my personal documents backed up through
>> synchronization, but I would like to not have to reinstall all my apps,
>> especially Office.  Given all that, how would you recommend I back up?
>> Are there any good (free|cheap) programs that will back up Windows to
>> external hard drives?
>> Thanks.  I know this isn't really about Windows, but I know a lot of you
>> are SysAdmins that work with both.  I also wanted a Linux perspective on
>> this, because a lot of the Windows-only SysAdmins I've spoken to left me
>> with the impression that they don't think about it very much and just do
>> what they're told by Microsoft.

Jerry Feldman <gaf at>
Boston Linux and Unix
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