jdxtr
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Datasafe Local Premium Fails to Restore After Hard Drive Failure

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I have a 7 month old XPS 9100 that I really like(d).  I opted to purchase the premium version of Datasafe Local as my disaster recovery vehicle.  Figuring that it would be crazy to store backups on my C: drive, in the event that it should fail, I have a second drive of the same size on my system that I use for containing the backups produced by Datasafe.  I faithfully and blissfully backed my system and files up to it.  My C: drive failed hard - couldn't even boot.  No problem, thinks I, I'll just call Dell, they'll install a new drive, and I'll recover from my backup.  Dell's technician installed a new hard drive, supposedly containing all the software I had originally from Dell.  Actually, It only contained Windows 7, but it got the system running again, minus all of my applications and data.  Oops, no Datasafe.  I found a place to download Datasafe Basic, installed it,  and upgraded it to Premium with my purchased key.  So far, so good.  But guess what?  Datasafe hasn't a clue that I have backups on my separate data drive and provides no options to look for them.  Next, I attempted using the Recovery Disks I made back when I first got the system.  That reinstalled Windows 7, but did not find the Datasafe backups.  Apparently, Datasafe kept the vital information needed for recovery on the drive that failed, rather than on the backup drive.  I got on Dell support chat.  Tech tells me he is not trained to deal with software like Datasafe, and I must pay Dell to get support from Dell Solution Station, AT A FEE.  I paid extra for Dell software to protect against a Dell hardware failure.  I faithfully backed up my files.  Now the software fails to carry out its primary function, and Dell expects me to pay them some more to correct their problems with their hardware and their software.  Outrageous.  Formerly happy and loyal 12 year Dell customer will now shop elsewhere.

 Is there any kind and knowledgeable soul out there who can tell me how to recover my data from these backups, and maybe rescue Dell's reputation?

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jdxtr
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Re: Datasafe Local Premium Fails to Restore After Hard Drive Failure

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Solution.  OK, here's the deal: 

I later discovered I was wrong about Datasafe not knowing there were any backups on the second drive.  Interestingly, after the drive was replaced and Windows restored, I tried to do a new Full System Backup from Datasafe to that drive.  Datasafe refused to do it, saying that the drive already contained backups from a different computer and Datasafe does not support more than one computer.  I set up the same Computer Name, so there must be something else in the backups telling Datasafe this doesn't match some arbitrary identification it assigned.

How to get around this?  Here's what worked for me in the specific situation of total C: drive failure when I had Datasafe backups on a separate drive.  In my case this was an internal drive (F:).  Presumably, it will also work for an external eSATA or USB drive you've used to store your Datasafe backups. (If you used your C: drive for your backups, you're just plain out of luck.) You'll need the System Recovery DVD's or USB flash drive you made when you first got your system.  (You did do that, didn't you?)  You will also have to have done Datasafe Local Full System Backups, not just File Backups.  And, of course, you need to have the Premium version of Datasafe Local.

1. Get your failed C: drive replaced with a new one containing the Operating System.  If Dell does this under warranty, the technician will start the system up and it will go through the process of setting up Windows. (Windows 7 in my case).  If you just replace it with a bare new drive and do not install Windows on it, the process outlined here may work but I haven't tried it.

2. Skip this step if you do not have Windows running (bare drive).  If you have Windows running, browse to the drive on which you have your Datasafe backups.  You should see a directory (folder) named "System Recovery".  (If there is no such  directory, then there are no backups on this drive.)  Open that directory and you will see a directory named the same as your Computer Name when you did the backups.  Open that directory and you should see one or more directories with names in the form "USERDIFF.n", where n=0, 1, 2, 3, etc.  Check the Date Modified column to decide which backup you want to restore from and write it down.

3. Boot your system from your recovery media (DVD or USB).  On my system, I pushed the F12 key many times as soon as the Dell logo came up to give me boot options to choose to boot from my DVD drive.  If you let Windows boot from your C: drive, this process will not work.

4. You will be asked if you want to continue recovery from the hard drive Recovery Partition or from your System Recovery USB flash drive or DVD.  Choose to continue from USB/DVD.  You must do this to get the right options later.

5. Click Next.

6. Select "Other System Backup and more options".

7. Click Next.

8. Select "Restore My Computer".

9. Click Next.

10 Click on "Browse for more System Backups".

11. Go to the drive location where you had Datasafe save your backups and navigate down through System Recovery\(ComputerName to see the backups.

12. Click on the backup you chose in Step 2.  If you skipped Step 2, I suggest just choosing the backup with the highest number - that worked for me.

13. Click Next to restore that Full System Backup to your new hard drive.  Don't believe the "% complete" display.  It will go to 99% in 5-10 minutes, then stay there for hours.  Be patient.

14. When this recovery process is complete, the system should boot up and be in the exact state it was in when you did the Full System Backup you chose to restore.

I make no claims to being any kind of expert on Datasafe.  I have the same (lack of) information as everyone else.


If anyone from Dell reads this, I ask you to please include this kind of documentation on your web site, add it to the Datasafe Local Help function, and make the information available to your hardware technicians so they can help customers recover from this kind of hardware failure.  Customers pay extra for this software and deserve to get the information necessary to make it work.

 

4 Replies
Mary G
5 Iridium

Re: Datasafe Local Premium Fails to Restore After Hard Drive Failure

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Where is the second drive--internal or external? What is the drive letter? Does it still show up in Computer and Windows Explorer? Also check Computer Management, Disk Management to see a visual of your drive. When did you install the second drive? Are you sure it is/was a distinct second hard drive and not just another partition on the main hard drive? Many computers last year came with a D Data Drive that was actually only a partition on the C drive--not a separate drive. If that's what you had, your backups are gone. You can download your installed purchased software and some factory installed programs from Dell-- My Dell Downloads.

Windows 7 has a fine Backup and Restore program that you can use to backup to a separate hard drive. It will make a system image and guide you to make a repair dvd disk, too. You should backup to an external hard drive and make a system repair disk on a dvd disk that will let you access the backup in case of disaster. Make sure you use that. You can also use Datasafe.. Never hurts to make more than one backup. Datasafe requires a repair disk to access the recovery partition and your backups. Did you try using your repair disk to find the backups on the second drive? The new installation of datasafe will not find them since it didn't make the backups. I'm not sure, but if you did not make a repair disk, maybe you can make a repair disk on the new data safe and see if that will see the old backups. It's worth a try. Boot to the new repair disk and see what happens when you point to the second drive--if it exists.

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jdxtr
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Re: Datasafe Local Premium Fails to Restore After Hard Drive Failure

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Mary,  Thank you for your response. 

Second drive is internal, 1TB, same as 1st drive.  Installed it myself the day I got the system.  Drive letter is E:. It is visible in explorer, and contains a directory D:\System Recovery\(Computer_Name)\... which contains 8 files with names in the form "USERDIFF.n", where n=0,1,2,3, etc.  These are the Datasafe backups.  It is healthy and accessible, according to Disk Management and according to my ability to read and write other files on the drive.  The drive is physically present and operational and contains the backups.  Interestingly, I tried to do a new Full System Backup from Datasafe to that drive.  Datasafe refused to do it, saying that the drive already contained backups from a different computer and Datasafe does not support more than one computer.  I set up the same Computer Name, so there must be something else in the backups telling Datasafe this doesn't match some arbitrary identification it dreamed up.

As I indicated before, I did try the Recovery Disks, and that process had the same problem - it could not find, or refused to use, the existing backups.

<Begin rant> It seems utterly insane to me that a backup and recovery utility is incapable of restoring backups that it created in a previous incarnation when it lived on a disk drive that died.  That makes the software incapable of its intended and advertised purpose, which is to survive and recover from disasters like the failure of a drive.  If there is anyone on this planet who recovered all their programs and data using Datasafe after a C: drive failure, I would be surprised and anxious to learn how they did it.

I know there are other good products out there, and I will obtain one, or I will use the facilities in Windows 7.  I just mistakenly assumed that Dell would offer a decent product.  I will not repeat that error in judgment.  I would ask Dell for a refund, but that would be like putting toothpaste back in the tube.  No point in irritating myself further.  <End of rant>

I appreciate your effort and would welcome any other ideas you might have.  Meanwhile, I'll work on reinstalling my applications and scrounging what data files I can from the dead drive while it can still read  some of the files.

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jdxtr
1 Nickel

Re: Datasafe Local Premium Fails to Restore After Hard Drive Failure

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Solution.  OK, here's the deal: 

I later discovered I was wrong about Datasafe not knowing there were any backups on the second drive.  Interestingly, after the drive was replaced and Windows restored, I tried to do a new Full System Backup from Datasafe to that drive.  Datasafe refused to do it, saying that the drive already contained backups from a different computer and Datasafe does not support more than one computer.  I set up the same Computer Name, so there must be something else in the backups telling Datasafe this doesn't match some arbitrary identification it assigned.

How to get around this?  Here's what worked for me in the specific situation of total C: drive failure when I had Datasafe backups on a separate drive.  In my case this was an internal drive (F:).  Presumably, it will also work for an external eSATA or USB drive you've used to store your Datasafe backups. (If you used your C: drive for your backups, you're just plain out of luck.) You'll need the System Recovery DVD's or USB flash drive you made when you first got your system.  (You did do that, didn't you?)  You will also have to have done Datasafe Local Full System Backups, not just File Backups.  And, of course, you need to have the Premium version of Datasafe Local.

1. Get your failed C: drive replaced with a new one containing the Operating System.  If Dell does this under warranty, the technician will start the system up and it will go through the process of setting up Windows. (Windows 7 in my case).  If you just replace it with a bare new drive and do not install Windows on it, the process outlined here may work but I haven't tried it.

2. Skip this step if you do not have Windows running (bare drive).  If you have Windows running, browse to the drive on which you have your Datasafe backups.  You should see a directory (folder) named "System Recovery".  (If there is no such  directory, then there are no backups on this drive.)  Open that directory and you will see a directory named the same as your Computer Name when you did the backups.  Open that directory and you should see one or more directories with names in the form "USERDIFF.n", where n=0, 1, 2, 3, etc.  Check the Date Modified column to decide which backup you want to restore from and write it down.

3. Boot your system from your recovery media (DVD or USB).  On my system, I pushed the F12 key many times as soon as the Dell logo came up to give me boot options to choose to boot from my DVD drive.  If you let Windows boot from your C: drive, this process will not work.

4. You will be asked if you want to continue recovery from the hard drive Recovery Partition or from your System Recovery USB flash drive or DVD.  Choose to continue from USB/DVD.  You must do this to get the right options later.

5. Click Next.

6. Select "Other System Backup and more options".

7. Click Next.

8. Select "Restore My Computer".

9. Click Next.

10 Click on "Browse for more System Backups".

11. Go to the drive location where you had Datasafe save your backups and navigate down through System Recovery\(ComputerName to see the backups.

12. Click on the backup you chose in Step 2.  If you skipped Step 2, I suggest just choosing the backup with the highest number - that worked for me.

13. Click Next to restore that Full System Backup to your new hard drive.  Don't believe the "% complete" display.  It will go to 99% in 5-10 minutes, then stay there for hours.  Be patient.

14. When this recovery process is complete, the system should boot up and be in the exact state it was in when you did the Full System Backup you chose to restore.

I make no claims to being any kind of expert on Datasafe.  I have the same (lack of) information as everyone else.


If anyone from Dell reads this, I ask you to please include this kind of documentation on your web site, add it to the Datasafe Local Help function, and make the information available to your hardware technicians so they can help customers recover from this kind of hardware failure.  Customers pay extra for this software and deserve to get the information necessary to make it work.

 

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jdxtr
1 Nickel

Re: Datasafe Local Premium Fails to Restore After Hard Drive Failure

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And my deep appreciation to the person, who shall not be named, who took the time from his weekend evenings to research and provide me with this solution.  Thank you!!

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