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Old 06 January 2013, 19:39   #1
fitzsteve
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Tutorial:- Fast backup and restore (cloning) of Amiga CF's =D

Hi All,

I've been testing today a method for quickly reproducing Amiga CF cards and have found WinImage really useful for this:

http://www.winimage.com/winimage.htm (Works fine on my Win7 64bit PC)

I created my 4gb CF in WinUAE as per normal, setting up Classic Workbench and fully loading my CF with WHDLoad Games/Demos.

Using WinImage I was able to make a complete image of my CF in less than 20 minutes and restore another CF as an exact replica in about the same amount of time. The actual speed will obviously depend on the specification of your PC.

It is however much faster than recreating in it WinUAE from scratch (this process normally takes me a couple of hours, mostly waiting for WHDLoad Games to copy!)

It's definitely a great way to back up your CF's and restore them should you have any unfortunate accidents


Here are the steps to backup your CF:

  • Download and install WinImage
  • Remove your CF card from your Amiga (carefully!)
  • Plug the CF into your PC's USB Card reader
  • DO NOT let Windoze format the CF
  • Open WinImage
  • In the menu bar at the top choose 'Disk/Create Virtual hard Disk Image from Physical Drive'
  • Select the Disk you wish to backup from the list
  • Choose a place and name for your CF HDD Image File
  • Make a Coffee and wait whilst the progress bar makes it's way from left to right...

Here are the steps to restore your backup file:

  • Insert your blank CF card into your PC's USB Card Reader
  • Open WinImage
  • In the menu bar at the top choose 'Disk/Restore Virtual Hard Disk Image on Physical Drive'
  • Choose the Disk you want to restore to *Be very careful not to choose the wrong Disk as you could erase another drive by mistake!* You have been warned
  • Browse to your backup folder and choose the image to be restored
  • Now it's just a case of waiting for the image to be written to the CF Card.

I found that even a brand new CF card without any Amiga RDB was able to have the image written to it and works like a charm. No need to use Diskpart to clean it first!

WinImage is a Shareware program and the unregistered version is only usable for 30 days. After that you need to register

Thanks for reading!

Enjoy
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Old 06 January 2013, 21:29   #2
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Nice one Steve - thanks for the guide mate - did it back up and restore all partitions correctly, DH0, DH1: (System & Work) etc...?
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Old 06 January 2013, 22:12   #3
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Thanks for that, Steve!

I'm a registered user of WinImage, and I'd never have thought of using it for that!
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Old 06 January 2013, 22:32   #4
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Hi guys, yes it is an identical restore in every way, everything is exactly as the original

I assume the CF's need to be the same size so if you have a couple of different brand of CF with slightly different capacities it might not work, I used all identical CF's for my tests.
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Old 06 January 2013, 22:39   #5
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This is a nice tip. I normally use 'dd' from a Live Linux installation for this purpose which also works great, except that it required me to reboot my machine to do it. Would be nice to be able to do it from Windows.
I keep a backup of all my Amiga CF cards on my NAS, since CF cards aren't very reliable.

I think if the destination CF card is bigger than the source, then it should work fine, except that you will not be able to use the extra space until you repartition it (don't think you can do it without losing data).
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Old 06 January 2013, 22:41   #6
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If you have several different-capacity 4GB CF cards (say), you could partition the smallest one as you want. Then you could restore/copy the saved image file to the other cards and they should still work fine. The extra sectors on the larger cards wouldn't be used by the Amiga.

By the way, if anyone has a registered version of WinImage, you might like to suggest to the developer that they implement a "write sparing" feature. That can greatly speed up writing an updated image to CF, and increase your CF card life.
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Old 06 January 2013, 22:44   #7
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For the Linux-using guys, I highly recommend using ddpt instead of dd. That supports write sparing and can create sparse image files (which can save a lot of disk space if your CF card isn't full).

Plus you can use a program like rdiff to massively save on disk space used by multiple image files. Say you backup your Amiga CF card to your PC every week. There might only be a few tens/hundreds of megabytes of changed data since the previous backup. Using rdiff you can store only the changed parts on your PC rather than the full 4GB (or whatever) image.

I can write more about how to use those programs if anyone's interested. (Maybe in a separate thread?)
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Old 06 January 2013, 22:55   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mark_k View Post
By the way, if anyone has a registered version of WinImage, you might like to suggest to the developer that they implement a "write sparing" feature. That can greatly speed up writing an updated image to CF, and increase your CF card life.
It will improve the speed yes, but I'm not sure it improves the life span a great deal. Since each individual cell can only take a specific number of writes (1000?) and that this is independent of the neighbor cells since there's no wear leveling, a few cells will worn much faster than the rest. The data file area is probably not the main area to get worn first, and I'd guess somewhere in the filesystem table will be the first to die. Some place that is updated every time a file is written to for example? Log files are also a thing to avoid on flash storage without wear leveling.

Edit: I think a guide in a separate thread could be useful. Would it be possible to use dd(pt) in Cygwin? This would mean it could be used within Windows.
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Old 06 January 2013, 23:17   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mark_k View Post
By the way, if anyone has a registered version of WinImage, you might like to suggest to the developer that they implement a "write sparing" feature. That can greatly speed up writing an updated image to CF, and increase your CF card life.
I have a registered version of WinImage, as I said above, but I concur with demolition:

Quote:
Originally Posted by demolition View Post
It will improve the speed yes, but I'm not sure it improves the life span a great deal. Since each individual cell can only take a specific number of writes (1000?) and that this is independent of the neighbor cells since there's no wear leveling, a few cells will worn much faster than the rest. The data file area is probably not the main area to get worn first, and I'd guess somewhere in the filesystem table will be the first to die. Some place that is updated every time a file is written to for example?
Quote:
Originally Posted by demolition View Post
Would it be possible to use dd(pt) in Cygwin? This would mean it could be used within Windows.
That would indeed be very useful as an alternative to active@diskimage software, for example.
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Old 07 January 2013, 23:12   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by demolition View Post
It will improve the speed yes, but I'm not sure it improves the life span a great deal. Since each individual cell can only take a specific number of writes (1000?) and that this is independent of the neighbor cells since there's no wear leveling, a few cells will worn much faster than the rest. The data file area is probably not the main area to get worn first, and I'd guess somewhere in the filesystem table will be the first to die. Some place that is updated every time a file is written to for example? Log files are also a thing to avoid on flash storage without wear leveling.
The idea that CF cards don't use wear levelling isn't (always) correct. Almost all modern CF cards must use wear levelling, otherwise they would wear out very quickly due to some parts being written very often. For example the root block for Amiga FFS, or the FAT areas for FAT16/32. (Perhaps some older CF cards which use SLC flash with very high write endurance don't incorporate wear levelling?)

For example, take a look at the SanDisk CompactFlash Memory Card OEM Product Manual 3.0. From page 6:
Quote:
Defect and Error Management
CompactFlash Memory cards contain a sophisticated defect and error management system. This system is analogous to the systems found in magnetic disk drives and in many cases offers enhancements. If necessary, the cards will rewrite data from a defective sector to a good sector. This is completely transparent to the host and does not consume any user data space. The CompactFlash Memory Card soft error rate specification is much better than the magnetic disk drive specification. In the extremely rare case a read error does occur, CompactFlash Memory cards have innovative algorithms to recover the data by using hardware on-the-fly Error Detection Code/Error Correction Code (EDC/ECC), based on a BCH algorithm. These defect and error management systems, coupled with the solid state construction, give SanDisk CompactFlash cards unparalleled reliability

Wear Leveling
Wear Leveling is an intrinsic part of the erase pooling functionality of SanDisk CompactFlash using NAND memory. The CF WEAR LEVEL command is supported as a NOP operation to maintain backward compatibility with existing software utilities. Advanced features of dynamic and static wear-leveling, and automatic block management are used to ensure high data reliability and maximize flash life expectancy.
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Old 10 February 2013, 00:49   #11
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best way to backup/image a CompactFlash Amiga HD ?

I have been thinking about doing backups of my Amiga's CF cards, which I have set up as Amiga harddisks in my A-600 and A-1200.
I spent quite some time first getting the CF card to work properly in the A-600 (damn problems with the transfer rate!), but meanwhile it is filled up with lots of Amiga stuff.

What is the best way to do an image of these cards on the PC ? They are both 4GB.
I have experiences with Ghost, but I am not sure if it can deal with Amiga file format ? I think it can only image FAT and NTFS disks...?!

Thanks for your help!
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Old 10 February 2013, 01:10   #12
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Here you go

http://eab.abime.net/showthread.php?t=67293
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Old 10 February 2013, 20:19   #13
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Thanks, Steve! Threads merged.
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Old 11 February 2013, 00:42   #14
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Cheers for this Steve

I sussed out a 4gb CF card a few days back and was wondering if there was a quick way to clone it.

Excellent stuff
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Old 11 February 2013, 01:01   #15
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You're welcome, I hope it helps. Just bare in mind the CF needs to be as large as or greater than the image file, I found some CF brands like Transcend(and Kingston flower) smaller than Sandisk so you can't copy the image from a Sandisk to a Transcend for example. El cheapo generic CF's I bought have the same size as Sandisk Ultra's
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Old 11 February 2013, 10:53   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mark_k View Post
For the Linux-using guys, I highly recommend using ddpt instead of dd. That supports write sparing and can create sparse image files (which can save a lot of disk space if your CF card isn't full).
I've always used dd to clone my amiga drive, wasn't aware of ddpt. That looks much better!

I also discovered you can clone a drive using WinUAE, under harddrives section, select your card and choose make HDF. WinUAE will clone the drive to a HDF file. I assume these are similar or the same as image files?
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Old 11 February 2013, 11:00   #17
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Originally Posted by demolition View Post
This is a nice tip. I normally use 'dd' from a Live Linux installation for this purpose which also works great, except that it required me to reboot my machine to do it. Would be nice to be able to do it from Windows.
There is always WinDD
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Old 11 February 2013, 11:44   #18
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There is always WinDD
According to the comments, it works nothing like the Unix dd command, as this one can only clone from one drive to another.
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Old 11 February 2013, 12:59   #19
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According to the comments, it works nothing like the Unix dd command, as this one can only clone from one drive to another.
Yes, I see that now. Too bad, however this might be of interrest.
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Old 11 February 2013, 13:28   #20
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Yes, that one could be useful. I guess a suitable block size should then be 1E6, not 1M for CF cards or it might not get the entire image? I know my Sandisk 4GB cards holds exactly 4000000000 bytes, not 4GiB.
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