Saturday, June 6, 2015

Not photos - problems with Windows Backup

On Friday, my Windows 8.1 PC began giving me errors about "bad image" for a file called wtsapi32.dll. So began my adventure down "oh where are my backup folders?" and "I hope this lasts long enough to get my user directory copied over." It did, and a windows refresh largely fixed my problems, much to the chagrin of the router, which needed to serve my steam library, creative cloud applications, and various other archives and executable installers.

That didn't quite fix my problems - my main drive kept reporting errors through the Windows action center, so I set about trying to fix that. That's when I noticed BIOS taking forever to finish POST. I cleared to defaults with no benefit, then had the bright idea to flash back to an older version. At some point, though, Asus made it so that the flash utility won't go backward. I had to then dig up instructions for USB BIOS flashback, which included "make sure the CPU and memory are unseated."

Yeah okay.

PROTIP #1 - Asus USB BIOS flashback does *not* require a bare motherboard for my specific combination of Z97-PRO/4790K/2x4GB Crucial Ballistix Sport/2x8GB Crucial Ballistix sport. I would imagine this is true for other Z97 and X99 boards (the X99 instructions don't mention removing components, while the Z97 instructions did).

So now with the 1304 BIOS reflashed, CMOS cleared, and things reconfigured, the computer stopped complaining. On to the backup problems.

When trying to use the system image backup option in Windows 8.1 pro, I would get started down the path and get an error about either the drive being unavailable or inaccessible. Neither of those things were true; I was able to copy hundreds of gigabytes over eSATA, Firewire 800, and USB2.0. After a lot of searching on errors 0x807800C5, 0x80780081, and 0x8078004F, I found a post at answers.microsoft.com (click here if you want it) that went through some stuff, then someone mentioned EFI system partitions and Mac OS. 

Bingo.

Infosphere, my external backup drive, had been used previously on Mac OS X as a time machine drive. I don't know if that specifically causes the problems, but I do know Windows tends not to like drives with 200MB EFI partitions very much, as I had a bunch of flash drives that I had to gparted back to life after I jumped ship last summer. I didn't think there was any problem with the external HDD, though, as it had functioned just fine and I even remember it having worked as a system image backup destination before. That may have been something changed in an update at some point, but I think what is more likely is that I don't have Paragon HFS+ drivers installed right now. Regardless, I was able to use diskpart to nuke the existing NTFS and EFI system partitions and create a new single partition setup that immediately accepted a system image backup.

      THE OPERATION WAS
COMPLETED SUCCESSFULLY.
         CLEAR TIME 16:50

PROTIP #2 - always nuke your drives fully when changing platforms. I was up until 3am last night working on this and I'm fleshing out this post at 1am, having finished up downstairs about an hour ago. gparted, diskpart, doesn't matter - get rid of that stupid EFI partition on any disk upon which it has inserted itself.

PROTIP #3 - I have no factual evidence to base this one on, but all of my trouble started when I used Windows Movie Maker to produce video game footage. Learn premiere pro instead if you have CC.