Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Road to Windows 8.1 is feeling like the Baatan Death March

No disrespect intended. I believe it honors the men and women left behind when MacArthur slipped away by remembering the sacrifice and also the brutality. War crimes continue into the modern day just as we see acts of bravery and courage. Now, like WWII, is one of the turning points in US history where our freedoms are not only being challenged but being violated and it is having a global impact.

This upgrade path to windows 8.1 from Windows 7 is brutal. Is it really that different from the old service pack model. If you have a retails disk you would install and upgrade. Maybe the Window 8 line will have a similar roll-up as XP sp3. My biggest issue is all the keys. It is best to keep these keys in a file or email where they are tied together so you know what key is for what machine and for what product offering.

I started out with Windows 7 in various versions. I payed for the Windows 8.0 promotion for several machines. This was a upgrade ISO where a key is provided to upgrade windows 7 to windows 8 pro.
I was given a key via email and a receipt for my purchase from the windows store. Later I had to find an obscure link to apply to get a email that provides a media center upgrade for windows 8 which was free at the time. This media center key is the new key applied to the machine. This key will not let you do a clean install so you need to apply your first key if you run into a major issue then reapply the media center component. Then I'm guessing upgrade again. Well Microsoft has a clear end to the upgrade path. How is this going to impact people that fall along this path. If you have multiple machines for yourself or family then now is the time to buy everyone Macs. Since this is high tech on a budget maybe just let them buy their own MACs.

In reality most people get the OS with a new PC. If you are looking at this site then you already know that is a bad idea since a DIY PC should be about 50% the price of a boutique PC on the high end. On the low end with budget DIY PC the OS becomes a big percentage of the cost. So we are now in too deep and need a plan. It is always best to backup as a first option but if your anything like me backups are not as frequent as I would like and I can't remember if there is anything important I might loose. My backups tend to be more about content than disk images. This is even more important when I have so many machines to think about.

Now with windows 8.1 you can download a ISO as a upgrade only ISO from windows 8 to windows 8.1.

Here are the links:
This article spells out how to create the media:
In this Winsupersite article it is clear this disk is only going to help with the upgrade and not allow us to go from 7 to 8 to 8 with media center to 8.1.

This is for the purposes of a upgrade only since we don't have a retail 8.1 key at this point.
Finally microsoft's link with instructions:

So if I have issues with windows where it won't boot or I need to repair what disk should I be using?

To create recovery drive for Windows-8, please start (open) the "Recovery Tools" in Windows-8! 

press the key combination
[Win-Logo]+[R], then simply type the command
control.exe /name Microsoft.Recovery
(... see Image1-1).  

Use one of your old small USB sticks. The stick will be formatted so save whatever you think you might need. Label it Win 8.1 Recovery as well.

In "Recovery Tools"  click the text "Create recovery drive". 

This will start the "recovery drive wizard" for Windows-8! The drive must be able to hold at least 256 MB, and everything on the drive will be deleted. You can use DVD-R/RW, CD-R/RW, USB .... 

Well the plot thickens. I ran into more issues when trying to recover from a windows 8.1 disaster after I tried to completely remove Google and all Google services from my machine. There was a hidden locked database that would not go away without formatting my hard drive. Unfortunately for me the damage was already done. The OS failed to boot and I needed to attempt a repair. To make a long story short you need the Windows 8.1 ISO. Not the recovery disk and not your windows 8.0 ISO. They all say invalid disk on any attempt to repair or even start a new install. I had to move the drive to a second PC and reover the files then reformat then install windows 8.0 then the media center key then upgrade to 8.1. I was able to get a bit torrent version of the 8.1 ISO for future recovery efforts. I would hope Microsoft makes this available to paying customers because as it stands now if you get backed into a corner there is no escape. Windows 8.1 is not a service pak. It is 3.5 GB of data that is downloaded and installed over your windows 8.0 which also requires re-installing your start screen apps. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Best First Date Ever - Easy, Free, did what I told it to do, didn't complain, and made me so happy.

I needed to migrate my laptop SSD to a slightly smaller msata drive. I first used the Microsoft Disk Management to shrink a partition of the existing operating system drive. I then used a program that is the best backup and recovery program I have ever used. The learning curve is ZERO. This program is simple to use. intuitive, and fast. I don't see anything it can't do. Most of the application walks you through what you are attempting to do. It really is the complete package and just works no questions asked.

Why you pay for Norton Ghost when there is a free alternative?

Why pay for something that is likely going to frustrate you. Will become outdated with the next release of windows with the offer to buy their new version after you just bought the old version a month ago. No I'm not bitter but there is finally a beautiful alternative to Norton and Acronis.

The biggest issue is the software prompts you periodically through services and startup applications with a S.
Get the job done and uninstall or run it in a VM or dual boot to be safe.

EaseUS Free Backup Software

  • Efficient system backup & recovery. No need to reinstall OS or applications to get everything back.
  • Backup data, system, hard disk, partition or individual files to a safe destination for disaster recovery.
  • Disk clone, disk upgrade and SSD migration solution.
  • Directly recover individual files from disk/partition backup image, no need to recover the whole image.
  • Every free user also can enjoy free automatic updates and version upgrades.
  • Our technical support team is ready to answer questions and guide you to complete repair with 24/7 email support.

My migration from a 128G SSD to a 120G msata SSD was as simple as selecting the clone option and then selecting the target and destination.

Later I wanted to backup my 320G multi partitioned original OS hard drive. This had 3 partitions set up this way to allow for recovery of the original Lenovo image. This is typical for many PCs and Laptops to come with recovery partitions.

I simply selected the 3 partitions and then selected backup and all 3 were stored in a dated folder under a single backup image. The tool provides a data verification which would be most useful with a offsite backup via a network connection or to a wireless NAS. 

I was able to later mount that image where, once open in the tool, I could select which partition to mount. You also have the ability to explore files and folders.

Checkout the full list of features from the link about. The shorter list would be what can't this do.