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  • Computer Recovery and System Restore

Computer crashes are time-consuming, costly and inevitable. To help alleviate the complexities and frustrations of rectifying a system failure, most manufacturers now include a system restore disk with each machine. These disks are relatively quick and effective in restoring a system to its initial state. However, this leaves administrators and users with an essentially "clean slate" with all of the user's data, program settings, bookmarks, documents and other important files erased. Reconfiguring your system back to working order takes additional time, but an even more critical challenge is recovering your lost data. Damaged hard drives can be salvaged up to a point - and the larger the disk, the longer it will take. But invariably, some sectors are irrecoverably damaged or corrupted, which means some of your data may be lost forever.

The entire process of recovering lost data, restoring a system to its initial state and reconfiguring from scratch can amount to hours or even days of lost productivity. The best way to mitigate the disastrous loss of time and money to a system crash is by regularly backing up the computer's system along with the most critical project files and data. Working from a backup will not only safeguard your valuable data, but it will also allow you to bypass the disk recovery process, which is the most intensive part of recovering a system. This article will show you how to use R-Drive Image to create regular backups which will allow you to quickly and safely restore your system and important data after a system crash.

R-Drive Image Computer Backup Features:
* User-friendly Wizard Interface. The wizard-style user interface walks you through the entire process, making both routine and complex data backups incredibly simple. The task-oriented wizard ensures that all important parameters are accounted for, even if a user isn't sure what each one means.
* Multiple backup media format support. Choose from external USB, flash memory card, CD or DVD; Particularly useful for netbooks, which typically lack optical disc drives. Thumb drive backups are now large enough to accommodate both the startup disk and the backup image file, allowing for quick system restores on-the-go.
* Time and space saving features. Differential and incremental backups, image file compression and other features help keep disk space requirements low and backup times quick without compromising the consistency of the data for long term storage.
* Access to individual files and folders stored in an image file. Disk image files can be mounted as read-only drives that can be accessed by Windows Explorer or any other file exploration tools.

Before you begin, make sure that R-Drive Image is already installed and registered on your machine.

The system recovery process consists of three steps. The first two steps should be performed in advance, before a potential crash occurs:

  1. Create a startup disk. This will be used to start the computer in order to recover the system disk from an image file.
  2. Backup the system disk to an image file.
  3. After a crash, the system can be started using the startup disk and then recovered from the backup image file.

Create a Startup Disk
(More information is available in the R-Drive Image help: Create Startup Disk.
Startup disks can be written to a removable USB drive, or a CD or DVD disc. For this tutorial, we'll use a USB flash drive.

1. Connect a FAT/FAT32-formatted USB flash drive. Note: Existing data on the device will not be overwritten.

2. Select Create Startup Disk on the Action Selection panel.
Action Selection panel.
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3. From the Create Startup Disks panel, choose your target disk. Click Next.
Create Startup Disks panel
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4 Click the Start button on the Total operation list panel
Total operation list
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R-Drive Image will begin creating the startup disk on the selected USB drive. When it is finished, you'll see a message notifying you that the startup disk was created successfully.

Backup The System Disk to an Image File
(More information is available in the R-Drive Image help: Create an Image).

1. From the Action Selection panel, click Create an Image.
Action Selection panel
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2. Select the entire disk on the Select disk(s) to create image panel.
Select disk(s) to create image
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3. Specify a destination and file name for the image file on the Choose destination of new image panel. In this example, we are saving the system disk images to the external USB Drive labeled Image.
Choose destination of new image panel
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If an image file already exists in the folder your selected, the Imaging Mode option will appear. You can either replace (overwrite) the existing image file with a new one or append changes to the existing image.
Imaging Mode panel
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Imaging Mode Options

Differentially Appended changes will be those between the saved full image and the current state. If there is no full image, it will be created instead. Differential files work as standalone backups-only one differential file is needed when restoring data. Each differential file restores your data completely to the current state at the time of the backup.
Incrementally Appended changes will be those between the last saved changes and the current state. If there is no full image, it will be created instead. Incremental files rely on all previous backups-you will need all incremental and differential backup files created up to the instance to which you want to restore.
Full All data in the image file will be replaced with the current one.

Note: If you wish to only backup the latest instance, use the Differentially option and delete all previous differential files to keep file sizes small. If you intend to keep all instances, use the Incrementally option for the smallest file size.

Important: If a differential file is damaged, only the data for that instance will be damaged. On the other hand, if an incremental file is damaged, all subsequent backup instances will also be damaged until the next full or differential backup, since incremental files rely on previous backup files.

4. If necessary, configure your settings on the Image Options panel and click the OK button. See below for an explanation of the image options.
Image Options panel
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Image Options

Image compression level You can compress the image data to reduce the file size. Higher image compression ratios create smaller file sizes but take longer to process while lower image compression ratios process faster but create larger files.
Image split size Choose Automatic to let Windows decide how to split the image file according to the file system on the destination disk. Alternately, you can specify the split size or select the Fixed option to choose a preset split size based on the type of device or removable storage you are using.
Password protection You may protect your image file with a password. Note: This feature provides a relatively moderate protection against conventional unauthorized access.
Image description You may attach a text description to the image for annotation. Maximum length of the description is 255 characters.
Validate image when completed Select this option if your want R-Drive Image to verify that the newly created file image was created successfully and without errors. This may be useful for storing image files with critical data. Please note that this operation requires additional time.
Shutdown computer when completed Select this option if your want R-Drive Image to shutdown your computer when the image has been created.

5. If necesary, configure your settings on the Backup Options panel and click the OK button.
Backup Options panel
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Backup Options

Snapshot providers A snapshot provider is a service R-Drive Image uses to read the disk content while creating its image. R-Drive Image uses the snapshot providers in the order specified on the tab. If it fails to use the first one selected, it will attempt to use the second one, and so on.
Windows Volume Snapshot Service If this check box is selected, R-Drive Image will try to use the Windows native snapshot provider. This snapshot provider is able to notify system applications that a snapshot is being taken. If this option is selected, pagefile.sys and hibernate.sys files are excluded from the image of the system disk and Windows will create them from the scratch during its first startup.
R-TT Volume Snapshot Service If this check box is selected, R-Drive Image will try to use R-TT snapshot provider. This snapshot provider is not able to notify system applications that a snapshot is being taken.
Notify system applications If this check box is selected, the snapshot provider will notify system applications that a snapshot is being taken. This option is only available to snapshot providers which support this feature.
Process priority These options specify how much computer resources R-Drive Image will consume during a backup process.
Backup Process Priority Specifies the priority of the backup process. Similar to that specified in Windows Task Manager.
Use CPU cores Specifies how many processor cores R-Drive Image will use for the backup process.
Limit I/O rate Specifies the rate limits for reading/writing data from/to disks
Limit read The rate limit for reading from the source disk
Limit write The rate limit for writing to the destination disk
Backup AUX applications R-Drive Image is able to make applications run before and after all backup operations. Please note that these applications should return a 0 exit code. If you are unsure what this means, leave these fields blank.
Before This allows you to choose an application for R-Drive Image to run before the backup operations begin. If you need to start several applications, you may use a command file. Example: "cmd.exe /c example.bat"
After This allows you to choose an application for R-Drive Image to run after the backup operations complete. If you need to start several applications, you may use a command file. "cmd.exe /c example.bat"
Snapshot AUX applications R-Drive Image is able to make applications run before and after taking the snapshot of one or several volumes. Please note that those application should return a 0 exit code. Leave these fields blank if in doubt.
Before An application R-Drive Image runs before it takes the snapshot of one or several volumes. If you need to start several applications, you may use a command file. "cmd.exe /c example.bat"
After An application R-Drive Image runs after it takes the snapshot of one or several volumes. If you need to start several applications, you may use a command file. "cmd.exe /c example.bat"
Ignore disk read errors (bad sectors) If this check box is selected, R-Drive Image will ignore possible read errors when it tries to read data from bad sectors.
R-Drive Image works with disks with bad sectors in the following way:
It reads a certain part of disk (predefined by Windows) and
* If read errors are ignored, the entire part with bad sectors will be filled with zeros.
* If read errors are not ignored, R-Drive Image reads that part sector by sector and shows a warning message for every bad sector with two options: skip the sector or try to read it again. In this case only the bad sectors will be filled with zeros, but all that requires manual actions and extremely slows the imaging process.
Please note that R-Drive Image is developed for the work with normally functioning disks. If you need to image a malfunctioning disk, use R-Studio, a data recovery utility. It has more controls for imaging, and can create R-Drive Image -compatible images even in its demo mode, that is, without registering.

You may leave these settings unchanged it you are going to create a simple backup of the system disk.

6. Verify that the information on the Total operations list panel is correct and click the Start button.
Total operations list panel
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R-Drive Image will start creating the image file.
Processing panel
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The Progress bar will show the progress of the current operation and the overall process. When the process is complete, you will be notified that the image has been created successfully.

Recover the system from a backup image file
(More information is available in the R-Drive Image help: Restore Data from an Image.)
Only the startup version of R-Drive Image can be used to recover the system disk of a computer.

1. Make sure that the first startup device in the system BIOS is the required drive. Refer to the computer's documentation for details.

2. Connect the external USB drive with the startup version of R-Drive Image and turn your machine on. The following text will appear on the screen:
Computer startup
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Next, R-Drive Image will launch. The first screen you see will be the License Agreement.
License Agreement
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3. Read over the License Agreement and click Agree or press the Enter key on the keyboard. This will bring you to the Select an action panel.
Select an action panel
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Navigate through the program by using the mouse or keyboard. Use the Tab key to switch between the control areas and the arrow keys to select options within the control areas. Press the Enter key to activate the selected button.

4. Click Restore Image.
Restore from an Image
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5. On the Select image file panel, choose the backup disk (the external USB drive). This will be the image file from which the system disk is recovered.
Select image file panel
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Locate the system disk image by browsing the external USB drive. Recall that the image file was saved as System_Disk.rdi. Select it and choose OK.
Image File
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If the file is password-protected, R-Drive Image will ask for its password.
Password Prompt
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If the file contains images of several dates, select the date to which you want to recover the system disk and click the Next button.
Select Image Date/Time
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6. Drag the entire disk from the image to the destination disk.
Select source object panel

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7. Select a copy method to recover data from the image. Leave the default method for most cases.
Select copy method
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Before the process begins, a warning message will appear notifying you that all data on the disk will be overwritten and lost. This message appears even when writing to a corrupted disk.
Warning
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Click the OK button.

8. Verify that the information on the Total operation list panel is correct and click the Start button.
Total operation list panel
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R-Drive Image will start recovering data to the target disk.
System restore
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When the process is finished, you will be notified that the Operation completed successfully.
Operation completed successfully
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Now we've finished recovering our system. Let's restart it into the recovered system.

1. Select Exit on the menu.
Exit item
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2. A warning about system restart will appear.
Warning
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Click the OK button.

3. Remove the startup device and click the OK button.
Confirmation
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Your computer will restart into the newly recovered system and you may resume use of your machine.

As you can see, the entire process of backing up your system and restoring your system from a disk image is a relatively quick and easy. The wizard-style user interface walks you through each important step to ensure that all parameters are correctly configured. By using presets and defaults with R-Drive Image, you can streamline the process for quick, regular backups of your system. Because backing up your system with R-Drive Image is so simple, we recommend doing so on a weekly, monthly or quarterly schedule as well as before and after any major changes to your system. By keeping several instances of your machine backed up, you can ensure that all of your files are secured and stored completely without manually recovering each corrupted or lost file.

You may read more about R-Drive Image online:
Online Help
Downloadable manual
Discussion forum

Drive Image Feedback
65 feedbacks
Rating: 4.6 / 5
R-Drive Image is an awesome product that works flawlessly, every time.
Thanks
tried many backup products all failed and crashed. this backup made it easy and trouble free highly recomend it for simple easy use
Hi, we own r-drive image.
Clonning a hard disk feature works great. but is it possible to schecule the clone option? will be great improvement and ease and fast option to restore a computer.
I`ve just about used them all. I recently ditched Acronis. Most have failed me when I needed them to work. Only R-Drive Image has been consistently dependable.
Leon
I Have been using R-Drive for more than eight years. I had my file server wiped out two times in the past 2 weeks due to ZEPTO virus. (Both came from an email attachment). I do an R-drive full image backup each night. Both images rebuilt the hard drive perfectly. I have rebuilt several times over the years but I was in a real situation here and R-drive saved the day.