In need of rescue!


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lilyflower
lilyflower
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My desktop computer just stopped functioning this afternoon, and I'm hoping that Macrium may save the day. I have a 4 yr old Dell XPS 8600 that suddenly started processing verrrry slowly and then went to a black screen that said "No boot device available."  In case it helps to know, SATA 1 is listed as my hard drive, and SATA 2 as my bluray drive. I've run the diagnostics which should have revealed any hardware problem, and everything was clear. So, I'm thinking it either had to do with a recent Windows update or maybe the headphones I had plugged in for the first time to record a screencast.

I set up my Macrium backup quite a long time ago and have never once accessed a backup file. I also located a CD I created that is labeled as being my Macrium Rescue Disk for the desktop. Can these things possibly save me in this situation? These are the notes I have about my backup system:
Full once a month (keep 13)
Incremental once a week (keep 4)
Differential daily (keep 14)

Am I supposed to be able to use the rescue disk to somehow turn back time to Feb 13, when my computer was functioning just fine? I was already on the phone with Dell for hours, yielding nothing useful, and am hoping Macrium could be my solution.

I will be so grateful for any help!


Edited 15 February 2018 5:39 AM by lilyflower
lilyflower
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In case this is relevant, my backup files are stored on my server.
jphughan
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If that "No boot device" error was preceded by very slow performance, another possibility is that your hard drive is dying, and drive diagnostics do not always detect that.  In that case, you may need to replace the drive before you restore anything.  But either way, in your case yes you would need to boot your system from the Rescue disc (press F12 while the Dell logo is displayed to access the one-time boot menu option), and from there you would go to the Restore tab, click "Folders to search", add your network share path, and then you should be able to see your backups and select the one corresponding to the time you wish to roll back to.

However, the fact that your Rescue Media may be from a years-old version of Reflect could be a problem. Macrium has issued a few updates in that period even for V6 where the release notes say, "We recommend updating your Rescue Media after updating to this release" because they fixed a bug that affected that environment. If an old Rescue version becomes a problem, then you'd have to build current Rescue Media on a different system, but you may as well try with what you have for now. If the restore succeeds, then lucky you. If you encounter problems, post back with the details of the problem for further assistance.

Once you're out of the woods though, I strongly recommend being more diligent about keeping your Rescue Media current (which might be easier if you dedicate a $10 flash drive to this purpose rather than constantly burning discs), including actually testing your Rescue Media after you build/update it to ensure that it works and can access your backups on the network.  Also, the Reflect V6 User Guide is very illuminating if you've never read it and available both as article pages for online viewing and as a PDF for download. Smile

Edited 15 February 2018 4:35 PM by jphughan
lilyflower
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Thanks for your help. My desktop computer is connected to my server by ethernet, with backups stored nightly on the server. I successfully booted from the Rescue Media CD and the Macrium Reflect Windows PE program launched.

In the Restore tab, in the Image Restore section, I selected Folders to Search. In the Recent Backup Destinations section the path to my server was already listed with a checkmark in the Include box (\\SERVER\backup\desktop c and d\). That is the correct location of my backups. I am able to use that path on my laptop to view the backup files that I need. However, when I click ok, there is a short progress dots-circle next to the words “Images that contain drive” but then nothing is displayed on the screen. If I try to Browse for an Image File, when I click on Network I get a blank screen.

I tried clicking over to the File and Folder restore instead of the Image Restore section, but if I try typing in the server path above, and then click Add to List, I get a message that the specified folder does not exist.

Should I try copying my backup folder from the Server to an external hard drive that I could plug into the desktop via usb? Would that help in some way?

In case this is relevant, I have the licenses installed on a couple other laptops in my home.

Will be grateful for any advice!

Edited 16 February 2018 7:07 AM by lilyflower
jphughan
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Newer Reflect versions have had some adjustments to how network access in the Rescue environment works, so it's possible that using an older version is responsible for the behavior you're seeing.  The File and Folder Restore tab is to view a completely different type of backup that you may not even be using if you're performing image backups, and if you're trying to restore your whole system, you want the image backups anyway.  But in the interest of getting you back up and running, yes if you have an external hard drive available, copying your backup files onto that drive and connecting that drive via USB while in the Rescue environment would certainly work.  Just click the "Folders to search" link and this time add the folder located on your external hard drive.  At that point the available images should be listed underneath, and then it's just a matter of selecting the image you want to restore and clicking Restore Image.  Once your PC works again, just to make sure you'll be able to restore the way you intended in case there's a next time, I would update Reflect (if needed), then update your Rescue Media, and then try booting into that updated Rescue Media to test whether network access now works and you're able to see images hosted on the network drive.  If you still can't even after the update, then I have some additional ideas, but I figured you'd rather get your backup restored first. Good luck!

Edited 16 February 2018 7:21 AM by jphughan
lilyflower
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jphughan - 16 February 2018 7:12 AM
Newer Reflect versions have had some adjustments to how network access in the Rescue environment works, so it's possible that using an older version is responsible for the behavior you're seeing.  The File and Folder Restore tab is to view a completely different type of backup that you may not even be using if you're performing image backups, and if you're trying to restore your whole system, you want the image backups anyway.  But in the interest of getting you back up and running, yes if you have an external hard drive available, copying your backup files onto that drive and connecting that drive via USB while in the Rescue environment would certainly work.  Just click the "Folders to search" link and this time add the folder located on your external hard drive.  At that point the available images should be listed underneath, and then it's just a matter of selecting the image you want to restore and clicking Restore Image.  Once your PC works again, just to make sure you'll be able to restore the way you intended in case there's a next time, I would update Reflect (if needed), then update your Rescue Media, and then try booting into that updated Rescue Media to test whether network access now works and you're able to see images hosted on the network drive.  If you still can't even after the update, then I have some additional ideas, but I figured you'd rather get your backup restored first. Good luck!

Thank you for your kindness in helping me. I set my server backup folder to backup to an external hard drive overnight, and saw a message in the morning that the backup failed due to lack of space. It is a 4TB drive, but I guess I have a lot of backup files.

It seemed like I should try to create new Rescue Media in case that helps. I thought I was supposed to do that from the version of Reflect running on my desktop from my existing Rescue Media (Macrium Reflect - Home Edition Windows PE (UEFI). However, I see no option in any menu to create Rescue Media. Under Other Tasks, there is not an option to Create Rescue Media. There are only: Network Config, Keyboard Layout, and Screen Resolution. 

I just finished creating a Rescue Media DVD on my new laptop that also has a licensed version of Reflect 6. However, I have no idea if using Rescue Media created on my laptop is something that would be useful in booting my desktop.

Would love to hear any more advice. Sure wish I could pay someone to fix this. Thanks!!
jphughan
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Ok, a few things to clarify here:

What do you mean when you say you "set your server backup folder to back up to an external hard drive"?  Are you using some backup application in order to achieve that?  You do NOT want to package your desktop PC's backup files inside some other backup file generated by a backup application running on your server.  You just want to copy your desktop's backup files onto some folder on your external hard drive so that you can connect that drive to your desktop and immediately browse to those files when you boot into your Rescue Media.

Ideally, Rescue Media would be created from the system it will be used with.  That isn't a requirement, but it helps because the Rescue Media wizard automatically adds any drivers necessary to run that PC's hardware into the Rescue Media.  That means that when you use Rescue Media from another PC, such as your laptop, its Rescue Media not be able to work with the network card in your desktop -- unless the desktop's network card is natively supported by the Windows PE environment that Reflect Rescue runs on. But honestly at this point if you have an external hard drive available, I would focus on getting your backup files onto it and performing this restore that way.  Then once you've got the desktop PC running again, you can build updated Rescue Media on it, which will definitely include the drivers your desktop needs, and then we can examine the network connectivity issue to be prepared for future cases.  But trying to address that now using Rescue Media that wasn't even built onto that PC will just add another complication here, so that should only really be considered if the external hard drive workaround is completely off the table, i.e. you can't free up enough space on that drive to temporarily store your desktop's backup files.

In terms of how to create new Rescue Media, you have to do that from Reflect running within full Windows.  The Rescue Media environment does not have an interface for creating new Rescue Media, and in any case that would just be duplicating whatever you were already using, so if your current Rescue Media wasn't behaving as desired, new Rescue Media created from it wouldn't behave any differently.  The wizard built into Reflect under full Windows allows you to do things like add drivers, change the Windows PE version the Rescue Media uses, and make other adjustments.

Edited 16 February 2018 8:18 PM by jphughan
lilyflower
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jphughan - 16 February 2018 7:58 PM
Ok, a few things to clarify here:

What do you mean when you say you "set your server backup folder to back up to an external hard drive"?  Are you using some backup application in order to achieve that?  You do NOT want to package your desktop PC's backup files inside some other backup file generated by a backup application running on your server.  You just want to copy your desktop's backup files onto some folder on your external hard drive so that you can connect that drive to your desktop and immediately browse to those files when you boot into your Rescue Media.

Ideally, Rescue Media would be created from the system it will be used with.  That isn't a requirement, but it helps because the Rescue Media wizard automatically adds any drivers necessary to run that PC's hardware into the Rescue Media.  That means that when you use Rescue Media from another PC, such as your laptop, its Rescue Media not be able to work with the network card in your desktop -- unless the desktop's network card is natively supported by the Windows PE environment that Reflect Rescue runs on. But honestly at this point if you have an external hard drive available, I would focus on getting your backup files onto it and performing this restore that way.  Then once you've got the desktop PC running again, you can build updated Rescue Media on it, which will definitely include the drivers your desktop needs, and then we can examine the network connectivity issue to be prepared for future cases.  But trying to address that now using Rescue Media that wasn't even built onto that PC will just add another complication here, so that should only really be considered if the external hard drive workaround is completely off the table, i.e. you can't free up enough space on that drive to temporarily store your desktop's backup files.

In terms of how to create new Rescue Media, you have to do that from Reflect running within full Windows.  The Rescue Media environment does not have an interface for creating new Rescue Media, and in any case that would just be duplicating whatever you were already using, so if your current Rescue Media wasn't behaving as desired, new Rescue Media created from it wouldn't behave any differently.  The wizard built into Reflect under full Windows allows you to do things like add drivers, change the Windows PE version the Rescue Media uses, and make other adjustments.

Thank you for your thorough, helpful reply. You are right that I was using the server's backup software to backup to the external hard drive. So, if I continue with that strategy, I will need to do a straight copy as you say.

But, I am now considering abandoning my desktop. It's 4 yrs old and I use it for my job (I am a professor and work from home primarily). If the problem is something that could reoccur (which seems possible since I have no idea what the problem is, although the diagnostic process seemingly ruled out a hardware problem), I can't live with that. Also, the hard drive was running out of space. And, I need it to be snappy when I do online video screencast recordings for my classes (it seemed to be running slow when using Camtasia, and I bet the processor I could buy today would render faster than what I have now). If you care to weigh in one whether replacement makes sense, feel free.

But, what I definitely need to figure out is (1) is my backup on the server a complete backup of my desktop files (did I set it up correctly, etc); (2) if I buy a new desktop, will it be a seamless process to move the content to my new computer using the backup on my server.

I would be really grateful for your feedback on those things. Thank you so much!
jphughan
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In terms of whether this problem would reoccur on your current desktop, there isn't enough information available to make that prediction.  As I mentioned above, the behavior you described can occur when a hard drive is close to failure, even if diagnostics look ok, but it's also technically possible that the slow performance followed by this error was a coincidence.  However, I personally would bet the former, and in a situation such as yours, given that hard drives are fairly inexpensive (even SSDs have come down significantly), I would probably decide that my time is worth more than the cost of a drive, and therefore that I'd rather just replace the drive than risk wasting time restoring onto the existing drive only to have it fail again, at which point I'll still have to spend the money on a replacement drive and have to run another restore.  If you're contemplating replacing the entire PC though, that's obviously a higher cost proposition.  If you'd prefer to avoid that but you're not confident swapping the drive yourself, any local PC repair shop would be able to do that for you, and they would probably even help you restore your Reflect backup onto that drive if you brought your Rescue Media and the external hard drive containing your backups with you.  Or if as you say you were thinking about get a faster PC anyway and this is just the impetus, then the cost of replacing the entire PC may be acceptable to you.

In terms of checking the state of your backups, the simplest way to do that would be if the server where those backups are located has Reflect installed on it.  If so, launch Reflect (or download and install Reflect Free), go to the Restore tab, click the "Folders to search" link, and add the folder containing your desktop's backups.  For simplicity, you may want to uncheck any other folders in that list so that you'll only be looking at your desktop's backups.  Click OK and you should then see your desktop's backups listed with the date of each backup shown. For any backup you want to inspect, select it and click "Browse Image", which will allow you to select one or more drive(s) contained in that backup to be mounted on your server under the drive letter you select.  At that point, you'll be able to browse those backups in regular Windows to see what's in them and even copy individual files and folders elsewhere if you need to access some of that data immediately.  When you're finished browsing, go back into Reflect, select the Restore tab, and in the upper-left corner, click the "Detach images" option to unmount those backups.  Then click the "Folders to search" link and put everything back the way it was.

In terms of moving to a new PC, that depends on a few factors.  Reflect does have a feature called ReDeploy (you'll see an option for this along the left-hand column of the Rescue environment) that is explicitly intended to facilitate restoring a backup from one PC onto a different PC.  Basically, you restore your backup onto the new PC, then before rebooting, you run the ReDeploy wizard, and it tweaks the restored image to boot properly on your new hardware.  It works well, but in your scenario there may be some pitfalls:

If your desktop was running Windows 10, then you're in the best position.  Just make sure that the new PC you buy comes with the same edition of Windows 10, i.e. Home vs. Pro, that your desktop was running so that your old Windows installation will reactivate on the new PC's hardware. At that point, you may also need to install drivers and/or software appropriate for the new PC, since you will have erased the Windows installation that it arrived with and the Windows installation from your previous PC that you just restored onto it would not know about this new PC's hardware -- but sometimes Windows Update takes care of everything, so you may get lucky there.  Lastly, some of your applications may also need to have their licenses reactivated if they detect they're now running on a physically different PC.

If your desktop was running Windows 7, most PCs on sale right now explicitly do not support Windows 7, even if you install it manually, for a few reasons.  First, Microsoft basically said they would not support running Windows 7 on CPUs newer than a certain generation, so any issues that arose from trying to do so would not be addressed.  And second, some PCs use newer hardware designs that Windows 7 simply doesn't work with, and even for cases where that coud be addressed by installing appropriate drivers, the PC vendors aren't bothering to provide Windows 7 drivers because again, Microsoft isn't supporting that configuration anyway.

If your desktop was running Windows 7, 8, or 8.1, another issue that can arise pertains to Windows license activation. Basically, your restored Windows environment will notice that it's running on a new PC, and since Windows licenses are typically tied to a specific PC, it may not reactivate.  Sometimes you can go through a phone-based activation to resolve that by explaining what happened, and sometimes Windows stays activated all on its own.  This isn't really an issue if your desktop was running Windows 10 because your new system would also be licensed for Windows 10 -- again, just make sure you buy the new system with Home vs. Pro as appropriate, based on whatever your desktop was running.  But as mentioned above, you may need to reactivate the licenses on some of your other applications.

Recommended prep and worst case scenario: If after all of the above you decide to attempt to restore your entire backup onto your new PC, before doing so, I would boot into Rescue and capture a backup of the new PC's current state (Rescue Media can be used for backups in addition to restores).  That way if you can't get your entire backup restored in a way you'll be able to use, you will at least be able to restore that new PC back to its "factory state" so that it becomes usable just as it was when you first received it.  At that point, then as long as you do in fact have an intact backup from your desktop PC, your best bet would be to mount the desktop's backup on the new PC and copy your data files out of it, as I described earlier in this post.  You would however still have to reinstall your applications manually, though.

Edited 17 February 2018 2:11 AM by jphughan
lilyflower
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jphughan - 16 February 2018 11:29 PM
In terms of whether this problem would reoccur on your current desktop, there isn't enough information available to make that prediction.  As I mentioned above, the behavior you described can occur when a hard drive is close to failure, even if diagnostics look ok, but it's also technically possible that the slow performance followed by this error was a coincidence.  However, I personally would bet the former, and in a situation such as yours, given that hard drives are fairly inexpensive (even SSDs have come down significantly), I would probably decide that my time is worth more than the cost of a drive, and therefore that I'd rather just replace the drive than risk wasting time restoring onto the existing drive only to have it fail again, at which point I'll still have to spend the money on a replacement drive and have to run another restore.  If you're contemplating replacing the entire PC though, that's obviously a higher cost proposition.  If you'd prefer to avoid that but you're not confident swapping the drive yourself, any local PC repair shop would be able to do that for you, and they would probably even help you restore your Reflect backup onto that drive if you brought your Rescue Media and the external hard drive containing your backups with you.  Or if as you say you were thinking about get a faster PC anyway and this is just the impetus, then the cost of replacing the entire PC may be acceptable to you.

In terms of checking the state of your backups, the simplest way to do that would be if the server where those backups are located has Reflect installed on it.  If so, launch Reflect (or download and install Reflect Free), go to the Restore tab, click the "Folders to search" link, and add the folder containing your desktop's backups.  For simplicity, you may want to uncheck any other folders in that list so that you'll only be looking at your desktop's backups.  Click OK and you should then see your desktop's backups listed with the date of each backup shown. For any backup you want to inspect, select it and click "Browse Image", which will allow you to select one or more drive(s) contained in that backup to be mounted on your server under the drive letter you select.  At that point, you'll be able to browse those backups in regular Windows to see what's in them and even copy individual files and folders elsewhere if you need to access some of that data immediately.  When you're finished browsing, go back into Reflect, select the Restore tab, and in the upper-left corner, click the "Detach images" option to unmount those backups.  Then click the "Folders to search" link and put everything back the way it was.

In terms of moving to a new PC, that depends on a few factors.  Reflect does have a feature called ReDeploy (you'll see an option for this along the left-hand column of the Rescue environment) that is explicitly intended to facilitate restoring a backup from one PC onto a different PC.  Basically, you restore your backup onto the new PC, then before rebooting, you run the ReDeploy wizard, and it tweaks the restored image to boot properly on your new hardware.  It works well, but in your scenario there may be some pitfalls:

If your desktop was running Windows 10, then you're in the best position.  Just make sure that the new PC you buy comes with the same edition of Windows 10, i.e. Home vs. Pro, that your desktop was running so that your old Windows installation will reactivate on the new PC's hardware. At that point, you may also need to install drivers and/or software appropriate for the new PC, since you will have erased the Windows installation that it arrived with and the Windows installation from your previous PC that you just restored onto it would not know about this new PC's hardware -- but sometimes Windows Update takes care of everything, so you may get lucky there.  Lastly, some of your applications may also need to have their licenses reactivated if they detect they're now running on a physically different PC.

If your desktop was running Windows 7, most PCs on sale right now explicitly do not support Windows 7, even if you install it manually, for a few reasons.  First, Microsoft basically said they would not support running Windows 7 on CPUs newer than a certain generation, so any issues that arose from trying to do so would not be addressed.  And second, some PCs use newer hardware designs that Windows 7 simply doesn't work with, and even for cases where that coud be addressed by installing appropriate drivers, the PC vendors aren't bothering to provide Windows 7 drivers because again, Microsoft isn't supporting that configuration anyway.

If your desktop was running Windows 7, 8, or 8.1, another issue that can arise pertains to Windows license activation. Basically, your restored Windows environment will notice that it's running on a new PC, and since Windows licenses are typically tied to a specific PC, it may not reactivate.  Sometimes you can go through a phone-based activation to resolve that by explaining what happened, and sometimes Windows stays activated all on its own.  This isn't really an issue if your desktop was running Windows 10 because your new system would also be licensed for Windows 10 -- again, just make sure you buy the new system with Home vs. Pro as appropriate, based on whatever your desktop was running.  But as mentioned above, you may need to reactivate the licenses on some of your other applications.

Recommended prep and worst case scenario: If after all of the above you decide to attempt to restore your entire backup onto your new PC, before doing so, I would boot into Rescue and capture a backup of the new PC's current state (Rescue Media can be used for backups in addition to restores).  That way if you can't get your entire backup restored in a way you'll be able to use, you will at least be able to restore that new PC back to its "factory state" so that it becomes usable just as it was when you first received it.  At that point, then as long as you do in fact have an intact backup from your desktop PC, your best bet would be to mount the desktop's backup on the new PC and copy your data files out of it, as I described earlier in this post.  You would however still have to reinstall your applications manually, though.

You continue to be so helpful, and I really appreciate it. The current desktop was running Windows 10 home, so that's good at least. Sorry I hadn't included that information. Although it may have been running Windows 8.1 at the time that the Rescue Media was created, if that's relevant. It is a Dell XPS 8600 purchased in 2014. I just placed an order tonight for a new Dell XPS 8930. It will have Windows 10 home. Don't know if this is relevant but both PCs have dual-drives, including a SSD.

Best case scenario is that I manage to get my current PC running because it sounds like it would be ideal if I could do a direct copy of all my content to an external drive or to my server to move it to the new PC instead of relying on Reflect to move my backup files from the server to the new PC. But, if I fail in getting the current PC to ever boot, then at least I feel like it should work to use Reflect. I'm not concerned about programs because I'll purchase new Office software through my university and the other programs are downloadable (although I may have to email individual companies since I didn't deactivate the license on the current PC). The only thing that is a pain is that I think I'll want to purchase a new version of Camtasia, which is pricey, but since it was the program running so slowly I am sort of worried that the old version I have isn't stable in Windows 10.

So, here is a question.... Is the process possibly simplified given that I can live without having the programs installed onto the new PC using Reflect? If I plan to install programs separately/directly, and all I want are all my precious files, would Reflect allow those to be moved from the server backup to the new PC quite seamlessly once I have Reflect installed on the new PC? I actually even have a spare license code for Reflect 6 I could use on the new PC.

So, I think what I need to do is:
1. Check my backup on the server to see if it's complete and that I had set the thing up properly. I don't have Reflect on the server where the backup is stored. But, I do have it on my laptop and believe I can access it there in the way that you describe.
2. Try to get my backup files from my server moved to an external drive using direct copying of files and not my server's backup process. I should be able to accomplish this. Then see if when I connect the external drive to my current PC, the Rescue Media Reflect is able to "see" my backup files.

Thank you for your generous help!
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