[CentOS] Backups solution from WinDoze to linux

Tue Jul 14 15:53:38 UTC 2015
Chris Murphy <lists at colorremedies.com>

Whatever you pick, test the restore to make sure you're getting the
system back to the state you expect it in. Without clearly
understanding the restore liabilities, the backup strategy is

Starting with Windows 8, the system supports a fairly stateless
system, so the system itself doesn't need a full backup. Short of a
dead drive, the built-in recovery volume can boot and fix pretty much
any problem, including wiping system and boot volumes and restoring
them to factory state. For a dead drive, then you need recovery media
on something like a USB flash drive or external hard drive.

Be sure to find out if the backup utility you pick actually backs up
everything on the drive. Most of them will only backup and restore the
boot and system volumes, not litany of partitions now on contemporary
UEFI Windows 8.x computers: EFI system partition, OEM diagnostics
partition, recovery partition, boot partition, system partition, and
an IRST swap partition.

My suggestion is to create USB recovery media using either the OEM
tool for this purpose, or a decrapified install media from Microsoft:


The Microsoft one arrives as an image. The OEM one usually doesn't
create an image, it creates a USB stick, so you'll have to image it
yourself and then keep a backup of the image. If you write zeros to
the USB stick first, that image will be more compressible, if you
intend to back it up with dd. I've also tested using dosfsck -v
(fsck.vfat) to get details of the FAT file system the OEM tool creates
and writes its files to. So I have a readme.txt that tells me how to
format any USB stick properly, and then a tar of the recovery files
which I untar onto the stick - and of course I've tested this
recreated recovery stick all the way to a completed reinstallation of
the OS. It saves some space and time in the end, but dd is fine too.

>From this point my Windows backups are terribly unsophisticated
because I don't have any really important data on it. But I think it's
a model to start from because it's so brain dead easy. It depends
entirely on an Outlook account. By default, Windows 8 wants you to
create you user login with an Outlook account. You can lie and say you
don't have one, lie again and say you want to create one, and then at
the bottom there's a way to opt out and create a local only account
that isn't Outlook based. But if you do create an Outlook based
account (or use AD I presume), all the relevant settings are backed up
to the Microsoft cloud automatically. And when I do a completely clean
install and sign back into this same Outlook account, all of it gets
restored: settings, documents, pictures, everything.

Problem A: lockin, proprietary, it's Microsoft dependent. So you could
use SAMBA 4 and AD all of this to avoid the Outlook part.

Problem B: It's a single point of failure. But if you could figure out
a way to backup what Outlook is backing up to the cloud, and also
figure out how to restore that - you'd work around this and not have
to do these crazy monolithic backups and restores.

I did a pile of these when doing Windows 8 + Fedora dual boot testing
back in January and it's very much like doing an Android/Cyanogen
reset and restore from (cloud) backup if not easier and faster. I got
the entire reformat, reinstall, restore down to less than 30 minutes.

One could probably argue that only backing up the user directly in a
conventional manner is sane, and just expect to never have to restore
it unless the cloud backup-restore doesn't work.

Chris Murphy