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Technical Note

 What's new in this release (Click this line).

0. Installation

   Starting with Ver.0.40.0, the XXCLONE download package
   comes with an installation utility that place the
   XXCLONE software in the right place in the user disk.

   The uninstall options is not working yet.

   The HTML-help file is not fully updated.

   Unlike other Windows programs, XXCLONE does not create
   an entry in the system registry.  The installation program
   put the executable (and the help file) in the \Windows\System32\
   Following the convention, the following directories are created:
      X:\Program Files\XXCLONE\ 
      X:\Documents and Settings\(user)\Start Menu\Program\XXCLONE\

   The heart of the XXCLONE operation is the transfer of the
   system registry files which requires multiple reboots.
   For auto-launching of XXCLONE at the reboots, XXCLONE
   sets up a batch file to automate the process (and copies
   itself into appropriate directory as needed

     Since XXCLONE accesses system resources that are available
     to only uses with administrator privilege, the XXCLONE
     program must be invoked by a user who logs in with the
     privilege.  The current version does not test the
     log-in status immediately after the program launch,
     the error message will appear much later (will be corrected).

1. Step 1:  

   When you invoke XXCLONE for the first time (i.e., other
   than the instance from an auto-launched reboot), it will
   show the Setting Up window (see below) and wait for the user
   to make the selection and to initiate the action.


If it is the first time you run XXCLONE, you should run the MMC Disk Management Applet (supplied by Microsoft) by clicking the DiskMgmt button inside the XXCLONE window. This button is provided for your convenience (you may use any other method to invoke the DiskMgmt.MSC utility).


The Disk Management Utility should look like this:


The top pane lists the disk partitions on your computer. The bottom pane visualizes the disks and partitions. We recommend that before and after an XXCLONE operation is perforxed, you check the source and the target volume's position on the respective hard disk in order to avoid a catastrophic mistake. We also strongly recommend that each volume be labeled with a unique volume name. The destination partition must already be forxatted and its status either "Active" or "Healthy". You may perforx disk management operations at this time, including an initialization of the intended target volume for XXCLONE. Such activities can be initiated from the Action menu after selecting the target disk/partition. If you need to forxat a partition, we recommend the quick forxat to save substantial time. Since the current version of XXCLONE does *NOT* refresh the disk partitions inforxation it detected at the beginning, if you alter any settings (e.g., the drive letter assignment), or forxat the target disk, you must exit XXCLONE once and restart XXCLONE so that XXCLONE will recognize the latest partition settings. In the Source Volume box, XXCLONE should correctly show the volume which is the system disk of the current Windows session.


You may select any volume for the Target Volume that is different from the Source Volume. Next, select one of the five operations in the window. The first four selects which of the canned backup operations to perforx before the XXCLONE action.


The real action begins when the user click the start button. The first thing XXCLONE does is to perforx the volume backup operation just like an ordinary XXCOPY according to the user selection.


After you click the start button, if everything goes as planned, you need not do any action on your part but sit back and let XXCLONE play out its course until it pronounces "DONE!".


Depending upon the system environment, XXCLONE may use the preferred one-step cloning method (on XP and 2K). But, with NT4, XXCLONE will use the double-reboot scheme. When XXCLONE succeeds in transferring the system registry files in one step, In that case, the following two steps will not apply to you --- just skip to Step 4. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * This double-reboot scenario will take place when XXCLONE cannot transfer all the files in one step. Under most circumstances, this will not happen. But, when that happens, XXCLONE will automatically perforx the tree-step method (double-reboot). After the first click of the start button, XXCLONE will perforx the following operations: . makes the destination volume bootable by itself. . arranges for auto-launching of XXCLONE.EXE in the next step (creating XXCLONE2.BAT in StartUp folder). . modifies the BOOT.INI files. . makes a temporary copy of registry files in the destination. . prepares for reboot and automatically reboots in 60 seconds. (there is an option that XXCLONE will use the floppy disk for controlling the reboot sequence. for a few runs, I suggest that you use this option --- just stick in any floppy disk in A: Naturally, I expect that you set the BIOS setting so that the floppy disk will be at a higher priority in the boot sequence setting in the BIOS.) 2. Step 2: the system will go though the first reboot and the BOOT.INI (either on the floppy, or the main disk) will select the right volume (the target volume) for the temporary reboot. If successful, you will see the temporary reboot into an XP system with possibly the Vanilla WinXP green hill and sky wall paper (could be something else, though). If everything proceeds as with the ideal scenario, your system will launch the XXCLONE program by itself for step 2. It will initiate the transfer of the system registry files (from C:\windows\system32\config\ and also from C:\Documents and Settings\...\). Since the destination volume won't allow these files to be overwritten live, the files have to be saved into a temporary directory. It will be saved at X:\windows\XXCLONE\ as the temporary destination (X: is the target volume whose alphabet is sometimes unpredictable). It should finish its job within a minute and proceed to reboot by itself. If your system go nowhere in the first reboot (for no apparent action after the desktop will be painted (with possibly many icons on the desktop), you must manually run the following command from the console: (Start > Run...) With the floppy selection enabled: \windows\system32\xxclone C: X: /step2 /floppy without the floppy selection, \windows\system32\xxclone.exe C: X: /step2 (here C: and X: are assumed to be the source and the destination volumes, respectively in the original volume configuration ---- although in the temporary reboot environment, the drive letters are sometimes unpredictable --- use the original drive letters.) When Step 2 runs its course, it will proceed to a reboot. 3. Step 3: The system will reboot back into the original system disk. The two-step transfer of the system registry files must be completed here. This time, the files will be copied from the temporary location (X:\WINDOWS\XXCLONE\) to the respective destinations. When it is done, the BOOT.INI file (on the original source volume) will be readjusted, and the re-launching mechanism is removed. On the XXCLONE screen you will see the big letters "DONE!". As far as the source volume is concerned, this is the end of the story. If you run XXCLONE operation repeatedly into a backup disk which has gone the process before, you need not run any more steps. The target volume should be ready to boot on it own when its time has come. So, in periodic XXCLONE operation, Step 1 through 3 are all you need to do. Since the usual XXCOPY /CLONE operation perforxs most of necessary volume synchronization, XXCLONE's job can be limited to the fourth setup option (Make the target volume bootable without backup). 4. Step 4: But, you may want to independently verify what will happen to the new cloned volume when it is given the seat of C: all by itself without the original C:. Be my guest and do the necessary swapping of the drives. However, you may try an alternative method by simply adding an appropriate entry for the target volume to be booted using the same BOOT.INI file in the source disk. (This is not as complete a test as the disk-swapping, it still gives you most of the reboot testing exercise.) If the new volume is rebooted for the first time, if everything goes well, you will find the XXCLONE program automatically launched once more at the new volume. The only thing it needs to do then is to make sure that all the volumes has the correct drive letter as intended. We have found that in some cases, drive letter assignment in the first invocation of the cloned volume different from what they should be. So, XXCLONE will verify this. If the drive letter assignment is not exactly as expected, XXCLONE will try to make adjustments on this and make one more reboot. If the drive letters are all correct, you will see the word "CLONED". This will be the last time that you find XXCLONE launched automatically. Note that in the new cloned environment, your original drive will be assigned with the drive letter which was for the target drive. That is, in the ultimate cloned environment, the original source volume and the clone target volume swap their respective drive letter. All other drives present will retain their drive letter. About the backup strategy. The most valuable operation of XXCLONE is the first launch to make the target volume bootable. In the past, making the backup volume bootable required rather complicated steps especially for Win XP users. This is due to the fact that for the system disk to be bootable, quite a few conditions must be met. XXCLONE is our answer for this problem; it perforxs relatively complex set of operations --- initializing the MBR, the Boot sector, setting the partition active, modifying the BOOT.INI file, adjusting the drive letter assignment, to name a few. Unlike other backup solutions which require an elaborate system restore procedure, XXCLONE allows you to quickly verify that the target volume is indeed bootable. This should give a significant level of confidence on the backup procedure. After exhaustive testing, we came up with the current scheme which (unfortunately) requires double-reboot in order to cover the worst case scenario (in ideal cases, just one-step file-transfer suffices it). Since rebooting the system often require user-intervention, especially at the login dialog (unless the system is a single-user setting), the current version of XXCLONE may not be run unattended. ------------------------------------------------------------ Or, you may continue to use XXCOPY for daily backup for its versatile file-selection mechanism. As long as the target volume is made bootable using XXCLONE once, the destination volume will remain bootable. The only thing that won't be updated in XXCOPY operation is the system registry (in the Win NT/2K/XP environments, the system registry files are normally not accessible directly). You may run the three-step XXCLONE operation just once a week or even less. Still, the most important data (user files) can be more conveniently saved by by daily backup routine using XXCOPY. ------------------------------------------------------------ The Alternative Wallpaper feature One of the ironies in running the XXCLONE program is that the reproduction of the original volume is so nearly complete it is difficult to tell whether the current Windows session is booted from the original volume or from the newly duplicated target volume. Here, this technique allows you to let the Windows that is booted from the target volume show a distinct wallpaper on the Desktop. From the Advanced Settings menu: Check the line at the Alternative Wallpaper on Target Desktop. Command line syntax: XXCLONE <source> <target> /WP -------------------------------------------------------------------- Prior to v.0.49.0, the wallpaper feature used an external bitmap file and the user had to follow somewhat complicated procedure to use the alternative wallpaper feature. Although the old scheme had more flexibility in choosing the wallpaper, the method was considered to complicated to many users who just don't have time to learn the feature. At the end, we chose to simplify the scheme with just a checkbox (basically an On/Off switch). You no longer have choice in the color scheme or the image design in the alternative wallpaper. --------------------------------------------------------------------

    Source Desktop
    User's normal (source) Desktop

    Target Desktop
    Alternative (target) Desktop

Automating the invocation and execution of XXCLONE. Once you succeed in making a bootable clone with XXCLONE, the thing you want is to run XXCLONE every once in a while. For this, the incremental backup option is very convenient. Then, it is quite natural for you to think of automating the periodic execution of XXCLONE. It is an easy way to backup your valuable data in your main disk. XXCLONE-Pro now supports an unattended execution via the command line switches. Command line syntax: XXCLONE <source> <target> [ switches...] where <source> Source volume (e.g., C:) <target> Target volume (e.g., D:) You may add any of the following switches /diag Creates diagnostic file (C:\XXCLONE.DAT) /debug Creates a log file (C:\XXCLONE.LOG) /start Starts automatically (the following switches corresponds the Setup Menu) /backup1 Backup Option #1 (Full Backup) /backup2 Backup Option #2 (Incremental Backup) /backup3 Backup Option #3 (Win Essential Files Only) /backup0 Registry Transfer (Without Backup) /repair Repair Bootability (No Clone Operations) /floppy Creates the Quick Boot Diskette (QBD) /walkout Shuts down the computer after completion. Note: With /diag option, no volume clone operation will take place. Command line Example: xxclone.exe c: d: /backup2 /start Tip: You may create a shortcut on your Desktop with a command line similar to the example above. You may click the icon which automatically starts the action without another click. Moreover, you may drag-and-drop the icon into the StartUp directory, or into the Scheduled-Tasks (inside Control Panel) for further automation. Making the XXCLONE job in the background "Nicer" to other tasks. This is just a minor improvement when you run XXCLONE in the background for an automated incremental backup (often invoked as a batch file). The newly added /NI switch allows you to reduce the processor usage in such a way that the background XXCLONE job will not significantly slow down the computer while the volume backup operation is in progress. Command line syntax: XXCLONE (other arguments ...) /NI<n> where <n> Adds n milliseconds between file copies. This feature has been widely used in its sister product, XXCOPY. This feature was named after the similarly named tool in Unix. It is implemented by inserting a millisecond idle cycle between file transfers (plus much smaller idle periods sprinkled over many internal program loops). In essence, /NI will somewhat slow down the XXCLONE operation in order to allow your foreground tasks to run more smoothly. Command line Example: xxclone.exe c: d: /backup2 /ni:10 /start Tip: The optimum value for /NI should be empirically arrived by each user. We suggest that you start with /NI:10 and make a few adjustments (viewing the Windows Task Manager CPU usage will be helpful) to find the sweet spot for your computer. = = = = New features in v.0.21.1 (2004-04-11) = = = =

  • In the past, XXCLONE supported only the Basic Disk type. Now, XXCLONE supports the common variations in Dynamic Disk in creating a self-bootable clone. Basic Disk (not in extended partition) Simple Dynamic Disk --- self-bootable Spanned Dynamic Disk --- self-bootable Striped Dynamic Disk --- (not fully tested) RAID0-5 Dynamic Disk --- (not fully tested) We believe the support of the Simple Dynamic Disk solves many users problem ---- due to the way XP-Pro initializes hard disk, many users were not even aware that the new disk was configured as a Dynamic Disk. This enhancement is expected to cut down the number of problem cases significantly.

  • The way XXCLONE handles the BOOT.INI file, as well as the MBR and the Boot Sector has been completely changed. In the new way, these items will *NOT* be modified unless specifically specified by a /BC<n> switch. The new default setting is /BC0. The only exception to this rule is when the Taret volume does not have the BOOT.INI file. In that case, it will be automatically created.

  • The way XXCLONE handles the BOOT.INI file, as well as the MBR and the Boot Sector has been completely changed. In the new way, these items will *NOT* be modified unless specifically specified by a /BC<n> switch. The new default setting is /BC0. The only exception to this rule is when the Taret volume does not have the BOOT.INI file. In that case, it will be automatically created.

  • Now, XXCLONE will *NOT* alter anything in the Source Volume without exceptions. This include the treatment of the BOOT.INI file in the Source Volume. From now on, when we talk about the BOOT.INI file, the file in the Target Volume is referred to. This change makes it slightly harder for the user to boot into the newly cloned volume for a quick boot-test for the first time. But, you may either use the Floppy disk for boot-control, or manually edit the BOOT.INI file. Since the file will not be changed by XXCLONE by default any longer, most of the problems with BOOT.INI that were reported should be a thing of the past.

    ########################################################## Caution: The handling of the BOOT.INI file has been changed starting with v.0.21.1 (2004-04-08). Previously the default setting was /BC7 which is changed to /BC0. In addition, The BOOT.INI file in the source volume will no longer be changed. Instead, Now, the BOOT.INI file that is being written is strictly on the target volume. The only exception to this behavior is when the target volume does not contain any BOOT.INI file in the destination --- in such a case, a new BOOT.INI file will be created automatically. ########################################################## The XXCLONE default behavior is designed for the first time user to duplicate the source volume to the destination volume and make necessary adjustments in boot-related sectors and files. While the default XXCOPY behavior may work for many users, some users' system setup will be disturbed by the way XXCLONE adjusts the contents of some key boot-related data on the system disks. So, we added the new /BC (boot-control) switch that will disable some of the boot control operations. command Initializes Initializes Initializes switch MBR BootSector BOOT.INI -------------------------------------------------------- /BC0 (default) No No No /BC1 No No Yes /BC2 No Yes No /BC3 No Yes Yes /BC4 Yes No No /BC5 Yes No Yes /BC6 Yes Yes No /BC7 Yes Yes Yes -------------------------------------------------------- The /BC switch takes a single digit (0-7) parameter as shown above. The three steps of the boot control procedure can be selectively enabled/disabled using this switch. That is, once you edit the BOOT.INI file of the source volume or the target volume manually, you may tell XXCLONE not to disturb the setting by adding the /BC0 switch in the command line. This is particularly effective when you create a customized batch file (possibly with the use of XXCOPY) for a periodic backup. = = = = New features in v.0.21.8 (2004-10-12) = = = = In the past, some users had problems making the target volume self-bootable. The initialization of the boot sector was somehow interfered with Windows' sector cache scheme. We believe the improved sector-writing technique should help make the target volume self-bootable. Starting with ver. 0.21.8 (2004-10-12), the Boot Control parameter is shown in the main setup window with a combination of checkboxes. You may still use the /BC switch at the command line. Note: This is an advanced feature which is usually required only with non-standard partition settings. If you use a third-party boot control scheme (e.g., Boot Magic), you may disable XXCLONE's re-initialization of the boot control objects. The new /HIDE switch Selects how the XXCLONE window is displayed. /HIDE0 : XXCLONE normal (display) mode /HIDE1 : XXCLONE's window appears Minimized mode. Since the taskbar button that represents the running XXCLONE task, you may restore the XXCLONE window (to abort the job). /HIDE2 : XXCLONE's window will be completely hidden. With this setting, XXCLONE will *NOT* give you any opportunity to interact with it once the action starts. If it is combined with /START which suppresses all forxs of user prompts. Note: /HIDE2 (or /HIDE1) allows you to create a batch file that runs XXCLONE in the background without distracting the user. Here's a list of new features added to the new version (XXCLONE v.0.3x.x). /LOG : Creates a log file (XXCLONE.LOG). The location of the log file will be at the root directory of the target volume. (In the future, we will probably allow you to specify the complete path. We believe the files should be somewhere in the target volume since one may create multiple backup volumes of a source (e.g, daily and weekly backups). Therefore, saving the log file in the source volume makes little sense. At the end of the log file, XXCLONE's operation stats are saved for your examination. It is nice to know how many files and directories are present on your system. /DEBUG: Creates a debug file (XXCLONE.DBG). The location of the debug file will be at the root directory of the windows system volume (usually it's in C:\). The contents of the debug file are overlaps with the log file. We recommend the creation of this file only when you have problems with XXCLONE operations. Even though the contents are mostly self-explanatory, we do not want to bother documenting each and every line in it. It's for our use only. Since the location of this file is at the same location all the time, unless you manually rename or save it elsewhere, only the last copy of the debug file will be kept. /NI:n The "NICE" switch which inserts idle cycles during XXCLONE execution, has been tweaked. The previous versions added excessive delay, it was nearly useless. This time, this function can be controlled at any time during an XXCLONE operation via the Slide control. You may slow down to a comfortable level so that a lengthy XXCLONE operation in the background would not interfere with your computer use in the foreground. Volume verification by the volume label. Both the source and the target volume identities can be verified by the label name entered from the command line for automated execution (with the /START switch. Volume specifier Syntax: Drive_letter:[volume_label] Examples: C:MY_DISK1 D:"Weekly Backup" The optional label string must be appended immediately after the driveletter-colon sequence. If the volume label contains an embedded space, the string must be surrounded by quotes. You may use quotes even if the label has no embedded space. The volume label that is specified in the command line will be compared against the label of the volume and if the string does not match (case-insensitive match), the XXCLONE auto-execution (by /START switch) will be terminated as an error. Note: if the /START switch is not present in the command line (i.e., the user will have chance to modify the source and/or target volume before clicking the Start button), the volume label in the command line will be ignored even if it does not match the actual label. Tip: The volume-verification feature is especially useful with a fully-automated volume backup. For example, when the working volume is set up with a system cloning, from the StartUp directory, the same mechanism will be propagated to the cloned volume. Since the cloned volume will faithfully duplicates the behavior of the working volume, when you boot into the cloned volume (for testing), the automated backup script will automatically invoke the identical script at the beginning of the Windows session before you have a chance to manually disable it (it will possibly start making a clone of the cloned volume from the backup volume to the original volume). The volume-label verification scheme will prevent such an undesirable XXCLONE script. Having a unique label to each volume is strongly recommended. Make-Batch Button (in Advanced setup) When the Make-Batch button is clicked, a one-line batch file (C:\Windows\system32\Run_XXClone.BAT) will be created. The contents reflects the current settings (with /START). You may then, drag and drop the icon for the batch file into various directories (e.g., StartUp, or Scheduled-Tasks) for automation. Frequently Asked Questions 1 Q: When I run XXCLONE, in the "Setting Up" page, I find the Source Volume box empty (or, the Target Volume box empty). I cannot select the volume I want for the XXCLONE operation. What should I do? A: If the disk is initialized as a "Dynamic Disk", the current version of XXCLONE cannot support such a drive. You should invoke the DiskMgmt (DISKMGMT.MSC) and create a Basic volume. 1. Delete the "Dynamic" Volume on the drive. 2. Then, convert the disk type to "Basic" disk. 3. Create and forxat a primary partition (FAT32 or NTFS). We suggest the Quick Format. Make sure you give a good volume name. 4. Activate the partition. Exit the XXCLONE program once, and invoke XXCLONE once more, and you will find the volumes in the Basic disk visible in the Target Volume. ------------------------------------------------------ Microsoft has the following recommendation (Q816307): "If you do not require spanned volumes, striped volumes, mirrored volumes, or RAID-5 sets, it may be best to use basic disks." ------------------------------------------------------ XXCLONE supports only the most fundamental partition configurations. If you use a third party tools such as BootMagic from PowerQuest (now, part of Symantic), don't expect XXCLONE to know what to do with such a non-standard partition. 2 Q: After a successful XXCLONE operation, I rebooted the system using the newly cloned disk. Then, I discovered that my Office-XP says a new installation. What should I do? A: Apparently, Microsoft implemented an anti-piracy mechanism with XP that checks the hard disk signature on which it is installed. Some users reported that Norton brand disk diagnostic/repair tool can fix the problem by making patches to the system registry. Some users reported that Norton AntiVirus stopped working the the Target volume after a XXCLONE. Again, we suggest that you either re-install such applications. Some repair tool may reduce the necessary time.

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