Backup is working!

So guys, I have got some lessons learned about restoring from a backup this week!

Every computer geek shames for his backup strategy. Most of us know we should backup our data, but we don’t do it. Those who do backups regularly, haven’t ever tried to restore from a backed up file to check if it is really working. And only the geek gods like Umputun backup into several locations and probably also check their backups regularly.

Until this week, I’ve belonged to the minority above: I was making my backup, but never tried to restore from it. This is a kind of interesting psycological trap. On the one hand, you think your backup software is working properly (because if it isn’t, it makes no sense to backup at all), but on the other hand, you are scared to restore from a backup file, because if that will go wrong, it will both destroy your original data and leave you with an unusable backup file.

And it also doesn’t add trust that my backup software has been developed by AOMEI, a chinese company (no, having a chinese wife doesn’t make you to trust just any chinese software more than before).

People who work as IT admins don’t have this problem, because they can always use a spare drive to restore from backup into there and to check if the backup is working without the risk of losing the original data. Or else some of their server drives will die and they are forced to restore to a new drive anyway.

The latter scenario has finally happened to me this week. My booting drive (128 Gb SSD) has died. But don’t worry, I’ve had it backed up (sectorwise) using the AOMEI backup into my small Sinology NAS.

So I have ordered and recevied a new SSD (thanks Amazon Prime). Now, how would I restore my backup file on this new drive? Even if I could attach it to Sinology (I would probably need some adapters for that!) I don’t think that Synology can read the AOMEI file format, or that AOMEI has developed an app for Synology. Also, I cannot even login into the Synology Web UI, because it requires credentials, and I have stored the credentials on KeePass, which is luckily for me on a separate drive, but it is not replicated to my other devices. And also, Synology doesn’t allow to restore password by sending it to me via E-Mail. I only can reset it by pressing some hidden reset button with a needle. My NAS is physically located in a place I could hardly reach, so it would be yet another adventure.

Lesson 1: store your backup NAS IP, username and password not on the same PC you would need to restore.

So I have attached a DVD drive to my PC (for all of you Gen-Z: this is a cool technology from last century, where you would store data on disks, but no, the disks are not black and from vinyl, but rather rainbow colored and from plastic) and installed a fresh Windows 10 onto my new SSD system drive.

After booting I was happy to see all the data from my second drive are still there, including the KeePass database. I just didn’t have KeePass to read it. No problem, I will just download it! I went to the KeePass web site, but the download didn’t want to start, probably because I was using some old version of the Edge browser. Okay. So I needed to download and to install Chrome first. Thank God Windows 10 installation has automatically recognized all my drivers including the NIC (for all of you Gen-Z: in the past, Windows didn’t have access to the Internet after the installation. You would need to spend some time configuring your dialup connection).

So, downloaded and started KeePass, copied the NAS credentials from there, now I can see the backup file. Cool. Next step will be to restore it. Okay, need to download and install AOMEI. Thank God, the company is still in business and they still have a web site and their newest software is still compatible with my backup file.

Lesson 2: download a portable version or an installer of your backup software and store it not on the same PC you would need to restore.

Installed and started AOMEI and pointed it to the backup file. It said, I need to reboot into a system restore mode. Okay. After a restart, the AOMEI app has booted instead of Windows and after some scary warnings started to restore the system. Also, at this point I was happy I didn’t need some special drivers for NIC or something. I could have forced me to copy the backup file into USB-Stick first though, and I am grateful it hasn’t.

The restoration process took several hours, but after it has finished, the PC has rebooted again, into my old Windows, with all software installed and old data on the system drive restored!

Summary: I am happy! And I am less afraid of restores now!

Question: are there any home NAS on the market that allow you to restore sectorwise system backups directly onto a new drive (you don’t need to attach it to your PC, just insert the new drive directly into the NAS)?

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