Posted by: qyot27 | May 19, 2009


Sometimes I hate my computer. For the last week, I’ve been trying to get everything properly restored because a power surge knocked my ancient desktop dizzy, requiring me to unplug and replug the thing just to get it to power on, and last Monday then refused to boot Windows – just an endless cycle of the machine’s boot screen. The thing, though, is that the power surge happened on the previous Saturday morning, and worked fine for the following 48 hours or so. And then, on Wednesday evening, after I got the bulk of my programs restored and Windows updated, another power surge goes and does it again (although thankfully, it didn’t result in the boot loop or other weirdness, knock on wood).

With this I decided my best option was to look for a way of making an updated restore disk rather than relying on the nearly 8-year-old ones that came with the computer (yes, you read that correctly – my main setup is a 2001 eMachines T1110 that runs Windows XP, and when I don’t have a bunch of crap taking up extra space, whatever the current version of Ubuntu is).

So in my search I happened upon PING (Partimage Is Not Ghost), an open source alternative to Norton Ghost. I’d originally hoped to find a trial of Ghost itself to use, or see if one of my relatives had a copy they weren’t using that I could borrow, but no dice. So I figured I’d try my luck on this. It wasn’t nearly as painful as I thought to be able to back up all my essential system files and configuration and make a bootable, spanned, 2-disc restore set. Let’s hope it actually works when I need it to – as my comp is working fine now, they’re going up on the shelf for the next time I need this.

The only thing that slightly annoyed me wasn’t anything about PING itself, it was that my files just didn’t compress enough to either fit snugly on one DVD, or to actually make good use of the second disc. Using bz2 compression, it compressed to 4.40 GB (and that’s what Windows reported) – that one I had to delete because I’d forgotten to fix some of my configuration choices before doing it, and also because I mis-named the archive and ended up making a folder with a \ in its name, and Windows couldn’t access it. The second time around I chose gzip so that the compression wouldn’t take 5 hours to perform (it took about 1h40m or thereabouts instead), and it came out to 4.48 GBs. The original files were 8.53 GBs, which means that if I’d chosen ‘no compression’ I would’ve been stuck with 2 filled discs and a 3rd that was barely filled (my DVD-R drive won’t read DL discs anymore, fyi). And instead of that, I went with the more efficient options that resulted in 1 filled disc and a 2nd that was barely filled.

But at least it’s done now.


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