An exercise in restore

The worst just happened. The Windows XP instance I use for development, the one with VS 2008 on it, just bluescreened, then did disk repair, then went into a bluescreen cycle. Can’t break out of it even with safe boot. This is the one instance I have my development source in, and the one instance I updated to SP3. I can hear you snicker already. I’ll try to shoot a movie of the rebooting so you can enjoy it fully. Plus it may give me a chance to see what the error code actually is. Click the image for the movie.

If you watch really closely, you’ll see the error message “the windows logon process system process terminated unexpectedly” (you also see it in the screenshot above, of course). Using “the Google”, I found an article on MS Support that seems to describe what’s happening. I really don’t want to go through the recommended steps in that article and since I presumably have a pretty good backup, I’ll try my backup first.

I have a full copy of the VM from 3 months ago, but that’s too old. I also have a snapshot of this instance from 4 weeks ago just before I installed SP3. Good of me. I also have my Retrospect update from yesterday noon. Yay!

First step in recovery is to copy the current non-booting XP instance, so I can try to recover files from it if all else fails. Parallels has a utility that allows me to mount the Windows system disk to get at the files, even if it can’t boot. We’ll see if I’ll need that.

Next step is to roll back the XP VM to the snapshot from just before the SP3 and see if that boots. This looks very promising:

Let’s try it… that was quick, less than a minute, and it runs:

Let’s try rebooting:

Yes! SP2 as you can see. And Parallels automagically upgrades the tools, since my current Parallels desktop is more recent than the one that saved the snapshot.

Time to do the restore from Retrospect. I’m running Retrospect for Windows, since it has more features than Retrospect for the Mac. Only one feature is missing in the Windows version and that is backing up to FTP, but I can live without it. The Retrospect I’m using came with the Netgear ReadyNAS NV+ I bought. I then bought a 5-pack of client licenses extra, so I can backup 10 clients with it. The ReadyNAS has 4 drives, each 500 Gb in an XRaid configuration (similar to RAID 5 but expandable on the fly), giving me around 1.5 Tb of backup space.

So, I start up the XP Pro instance I use for Retrospect (and nothing else). This one runs under VMware Fusion, for no particular reason.

Do you see that little yellow popup above the systray that says “Updates are ready for your computer”? Do you think I’m going to click on it? Do you? (Honestly, this instance is also upgraded to SP3, but since I also back up the backup instance, I can limit my sweating to the palms of my hands. Mostly.)

In Retrospect, after selecting the client, I can choose the snapshots I want to restore:

As you can see, each source in a backup script gives its own snapshot, so I’ll need to restore three snapshots separately (can’t multiselect). You see only one in the screenshot, but there are two more with the same date and time as the marked one. There’s several screens to walk through, like destination and type of restore:

I chose restoring everything, deleting what shouldn’t be there. I think that’s the right thing to do in this situation.

The restore of this snapshot took less than a minute. After that, I did the other two snapshots, but I’ll spare you the details. It all took another five minutes or so of time. After that, I rebooted the XP and started up Visual Studio 2008. Got one screen where it asked me to recover three source files, I clicked “yes”, then everything compiled and worked fine. Seems I lost about two hours of work from after the backup.

I gave the ReadyNAS, Retrospect, and Parallels each a wet kiss. And pulled an ugly face at Windows XP. It almost came to spitting, but I restrained myself.