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Questions and Answers : Windows : Backups - How to, and why

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Les Bayliss
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Message 24282 - Posted 14 Sep 2006 4:05:14 UTC

    Last modified: 4 Dec 2006 21:36:43 UTC

    Why make a backup?
    Because, for the vast majority of people, this is the largest, most complex program that you�ll have on your computer. And a lot of these computers are �minimum entry level�. That is, they have just enough resources to run �normal� household programs.
    Which often means minimum memory, often no separate graphics card, (just a few chips on the main board, which use some of the system memory), minimum cooling, (and often no �case fans� at all), and a minimally rated power supply.
    So you need to do everything possible to decrease the very real risk of crashing a climate model over the months it will take to complete.
    This post is about just one of the ways to improve your chances.
    There are other �stickies� explaining other aspects. (A �sticky� is a post that is �labeled� with a special mark that makes the forum software keep it near the top of the list of posts, no matter how many there are.)

    ********

    There are several ways to make a �backup�.
    One is with Windows Briefcase.
    Another (on the BBC project), is to use Richard Rodway�s automatic backup program.
    (Documented and linked to from this post.)

    ********

    This post is about using a simple �Copy and Paste� process.

    To make a backup:
    1) Somewhere on your hard disk outside the Climate Change Experiment (or BOINC) folder, make a new folder with a name suitable to label it as a backup folder. (Or several folders if you want to keep several backups.)
    2) In the menu, click on Suspend. (The location varies with different versions of the Manager, AKA BOINC.)
    3) Watch what it says in the Status section of the Tasks tab, until it SAYS Suspended.
    4) In the menu, click Exit.
    5) Wait until the manager has disappeared, and also the small round B icon in the system tray. (Bottom line of screen, right hand side.)
    6) Using Explorer, select the Climate Change Experiment (or BOINC) folder.
    7) In the explorer menu, click Select all.
    8) In the explorer menu, click Copy.
    9) Go to the new folder created in step 1), and right click in it.
    10) Click paste.

    To restore:
    A) Using Explorer, select the CCE (or BOINC) folder.
    B) In the explorer menu, click Select all.
    C) In the explorer menu, click delete.

    All the contents of the folder(s) should now be gone, leaving only the CCE (or BOINC) folder.

    D) Go to the backup folder and click on it.
    E) In the explorer menu, click Select all.
    F) In the explorer menu, click copy.
    G) Go to the CCE (or BOINC) folder and right click in it.
    H) Click paste.

    The older copy of the experiment should now be restored to its original location.

    I) Reboot computer to remove anything in ram that may cause a problem, and to also restart the CCE (BOINC) Manager.

    Addendum, 22 Sep 2006
    There are indications that a Windows System Restore can scramble working models, and perhaps, backups.

    It is therefor safer to store backups on a separate drive, either physical or logical. If you must store backups on the C: drive, placing them in My Documents seems to offer most protection from Windows System Restore, though we have not tested this.

    [B^S] darkclown
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    Message 24506 - Posted 3 Oct 2006 0:06:32 UTC

      If you\'re backing up and restoring your entire BOINC folder, what will that do to other active projects when you restore them - take them back as well? This could be a major headache, esp. if some of that work had been submitted, etc.

      Les Bayliss
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      Message 24507 - Posted 3 Oct 2006 0:50:43 UTC

        Last modified: 3 Oct 2006 0:51:08 UTC

        People who run multi-project need to read my posts on this subject on these boards, or this page in the BOINC Wiki.

        [B^S] darkclown
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        Message 24511 - Posted 3 Oct 2006 4:30:58 UTC - in response to Message 24507.

          People who run multi-project need to read my posts on this subject on these boards, or this page in the BOINC Wiki.


          Ah, thanks. Bit of a pain, but eh, nothing is easy in life :)

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          Message 24774 - Posted 18 Oct 2006 18:32:18 UTC - in response to Message 24506.

            Last modified: 18 Oct 2006 19:31:40 UTC

            If you\'re backing up and restoring your entire BOINC folder, what will that do to other active projects when you restore them - take them back as well? This could be a major headache, esp. if some of that work had been submitted, etc.


            I have an alternative suggestion to the method shown in the wiki.Anyone is welcome to copy this post over to thewiki / other threads if they feel my suggestion is good.

            Backup the whole BOINC folder/directory: same instructions

            Before restore, run all other projects out of work: same instructions as for multiple project in wiki

            Restore BOINC folder - same as for single project. At this point you will have restored the obsolete work for the other projects, so add new step at end:

            Restart BOINC. Go into BOINC manager, and reset every project that has work (apart from CPDN!).

            This is easier than detach/attach, and you keep your hostids on the other projects as well. I think this procedure is easier to follow -- it is for me, and I believe it would be for newcomers too.

            It has been tried and tested on a Linux host that is still running two sulphurs.

            Hope this is useful to someone. Only use it if it makes sense to you!
            River~~

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            Message 25307 - Posted 26 Nov 2006 20:41:01 UTC

              My model just crashed after running to over 6.3%. Maybe someone could explain what happened by reading my result id:
              http://bbc.cpdn.org/result.php?resultid=897954

              I backup up my entire BOINC directory yesterday but noticed my BBC CPDN experiment showed 100% today. I think my backup was made useless by pressing update on my BOINC Manager project page. I\'m now running a new model.

              If I can figure out what killed this latest experiment maybe I could actually finish one.

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              Message 25308 - Posted 26 Nov 2006 21:29:20 UTC

                The crash was caused by: exit code -1073741502

                The error code number is one of several that look similar, and they are all Windows \"stop\" errors. Usually related in some way to a display problem.

                Something which often works is to update the drivers for the graphics card from the card maker\'s website, and also the DirectX driver.
                And Suspend the program (in the menu bar), before doing anything that uses a lot of graphics.

                As for making backups, did you exit from the program first?
                If you didn\'t, then the copy process will miss several of the files, which will still be \"in use\".

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                Message 25309 - Posted 26 Nov 2006 23:13:07 UTC


                  As long as you backed up when everything was shut down you should be able to restore OK, despite having pressed \'update\'. The only problem is that the web server will continue to display \'error\', but this is ignored by the project (albeit irritating when you see it!).
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                  Message 25311 - Posted 27 Nov 2006 3:42:20 UTC


                    I consider myself an advanced user of Windows yet it still took me over an hour just to update my video driver. NVidia was less than helpful. Once I deleted my old driver I was updated through Windows on reboot. I had to delete all NVidia video software before Windows would upgrade my original driver.

                    My DirectX update was a little quicker by going through here:
                    http://www.microsoft.com/directx/

                    I suspended the model and exited before backing up and I am only running the one project.

                    Suspending the model before graphics intensive programs is a little more difficult as I have children using this PC. I have asked my son to suspend before running Sims2 (don\'t have any more intensive games) but can\'t be sure he will. Can\'t BOINC be made more safe for these?

                    Now, I find myself with a backup and a running model. What next?

                    I\'m not sure I understand this comment:

                    \"The only problem is that the web server will continue to display \'error\', but this is ignored by the project (albeit irritating when you see it!).\"

                    Does this mean that after restoring I would get an error but the BOINC experiment would continue and still be able to finish with the data intact?


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                    Message 25312 - Posted 27 Nov 2006 4:44:21 UTC

                      It\'s a problem when young people use the computer, but it\'s not BOINC, it\'s this climate program.
                      It\'s a million plus lines of Fortran, which normally runs on the UK\'s Met Office\'s supercomputers. Getting it to run stably on desktop computers took a couple of years, and it\'s still a bit touchy unless the computer is VERY stable itself, and the other software running at the same time doesn\'t clash with it.
                      (e.g. Norton and some other virus checkers lock files while checking them. If this happens to a file that the programs wants to use, it doesn\'t wait until Norton is finished, it just crashes.)

                      Apparently Fortran and Windows don\'t quite speak the same language in some cases, and Windows gets huffy and produces an error message.

                      If you get a Windows popup saying something like: \"There is a problem with this program and it needs to be closed\", with some choices on which to click, try to open the Manager (gui) first, and click on Menu/Suspend. When the model IS suspended, (look in the Tasks tab), click on File/Exit.
                      This will shut down the model and the program, so when you then click on the popup, the model should be safe.


                      Does this mean that after restoring I would get an error but the BOINC experiment would continue and still be able to finish with the data intact?

                      As for the Error message on your Results page, this is a BOINC \"feature\".
                      The other projects don\'t use/need backups, so BOINC has no provision for changing the \'labels\' on the Results page of a model.
                      So the first message to get to the server stays with the model.
                      (The server software is also BOINC.)

                      But the data is on a different server and the researchers don\'t look at the user\'s pages to see what the data is like.
                      They have their own programs for working with the data, a lot of it statistical, which looks at the data in large clumps of models.

                      The latest version of the server software has even more stringent checking than the previous versions, (all to do with the other projects), and will issue a message at the end to the effect that: The final data has been rejected because of previous errors.
                      Ignore this. The data will be OK and acceptable.

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                      Message 25340 - Posted 29 Nov 2006 2:19:46 UTC

                        I restored BOINC as described at the top of this post and after rebooting checked BOINC\'s Messages and found this:

                        11/28/2006 9:05:55 PM|BBC Climate Change Experiment|Generated new host CPID:


                        So I checked Results by hitting the button on BOINC. Today I now show two computers, one last contacted two days ago and one today. The model seems to have picked up right where it left off.

                        Thanks for all the help!

                        Hopefully I can finally finish one of these.

                        Now you can add kids and high power games to your list of reasons to backup.


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                        Message 25341 - Posted 29 Nov 2006 2:27:50 UTC

                          Normal boinc operation. There is a parameter in the client_state file that boinc recognizes as lower than it was previously, because of the backup. No problem. Simply go to Your Account and use the option to merge the computers.

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                          Message 25342 - Posted 29 Nov 2006 2:30:32 UTC

                            Last modified: 29 Nov 2006 2:33:10 UTC

                            Okay, I merged the computers to keep my credit together.


                            MikeMarsUK said:
                            The only problem is that the web server will continue to display \'error\', but this is ignored by the project (albeit irritating when you see it!).


                            I am not seeing any error displays anywhere yet. Client State shows \"New\" and Server State \"In Progress\", so everything seems normal to me so far.

                            If I do run into problems I will post them here.

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                            Message 25344 - Posted 29 Nov 2006 3:13:25 UTC

                              Last modified: 4 Dec 2006 21:42:51 UTC

                              Why make a backup?
                              Because, for the vast majority of people, this is the largest, most complex program that you\'ll have on your computer. And a lot of these computers are \'minimum entry level\'. That is, they have just enough resources to run \'normal\' household programs.
                              Which often means minimum memory, often no separate graphics card, (just a few chips on the main board, which use some of the system memory), minimum cooling, (and often no \'case fans\' at all), and a minimally rated power supply.
                              So you need to do everything possible to decrease the very real risk of crashing a climate model over the months it will take to complete.
                              This post is about just one of the ways to improve your chances.
                              There are other \'stickies\' explaining other aspects. (A \'sticky\' is a post that is \'labeled\' with a special mark that makes the forum software keep it near the top of the list of posts, no matter how many there are.)

                              ********

                              There are several ways to make a \'backup\'.
                              One is with Windows Briefcase.
                              Another (on the BBC project), is to use Richard Rodway\'s automatic backup program.
                              (Documented and linked to from this post.)

                              ********

                              This post is about using a simple \'Copy and Paste\' process.

                              To make a backup:
                              1) Somewhere on your hard disk outside the Climate Change Experiment (or BOINC) folder, make a new folder with a name suitable to label it as a backup folder. (Or several folders if you want to keep several backups.)
                              2) In the menu, click on Suspend. (The location varies with different versions of the Manager, AKA BOINC.)
                              3) Watch what it says in the Status section of the Tasks tab, until it SAYS Suspended.
                              4) In the menu, click Exit.
                              5) Wait until the manager has disappeared, and also the small round B icon in the system tray. (Bottom line of screen, right hand side.)
                              6) Using Explorer, select the Climate Change Experiment (or BOINC) folder.
                              7) In the explorer menu, click Select all.
                              8) In the explorer menu, click Copy.
                              9) Go to the new folder created in step 1), and right click in it.
                              10) Click paste.

                              To restore:
                              A) Using Explorer, select the CCE (or BOINC) folder.
                              B) In the explorer menu, click Select all.
                              C) In the explorer menu, click delete.

                              All the contents of the folder(s) should now be gone, leaving only the CCE (or BOINC) folder.

                              D) Go to the backup folder and click on it.
                              E) In the explorer menu, click Select all.
                              F) In the explorer menu, click copy.
                              G) Go to the CCE (or BOINC) folder and right click in it.
                              H) Click paste.

                              The older copy of the experiment should now be restored to its original location.

                              I) Reboot computer to remove anything in ram that may cause a problem, and to also restart the CCE (BOINC) Manager.

                              Addendum, 22 Sep 2006
                              There are indications that a Windows System Restore can scramble working models, and perhaps, backups.

                              It is therefor safer to store backups on a separate drive, either physical or logical. If you must store backups on the C: drive, placing them in My Documents seems to offer most protection from Windows System Restore, though we have not tested this.

                              Addendum 2, 5 December 2006
                              People who run multi-project need to read my posts on this subject on these boards, or this page in the BOINC Wiki.

                              Basically, if you run multiple models/projects, EVERYTHING gets copied in both directions. So some work is needed before copying back.

                              Les Bayliss
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                              Message 25457 - Posted 4 Dec 2006 21:45:46 UTC

                                Last modified: 6 Aug 2008 1:48:05 UTC

                                You can post questions, etc in this thread.

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                                Message 34527 - Posted 6 Aug 2008 1:58:48 UTC

                                  When people upgrade to BOINC version 6, it will only be necessary to make regular back ups of the data directory.

                                  A back up of the program directory to AN EXTERNAL DEVICE soon after upgrading to BOINC version 6, and also soon after getting a new version of a climate program, will help in the event of serious hardware failure.

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                                  Message 34600 - Posted 11 Aug 2008 0:09:25 UTC

                                    Note:

                                    Windows XP hides the data folder by default, so you\'ll need to set the flag in the Windows options to show all folders/files before looking for the folder.
                                    I don\'t know the situation with Vista.


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                                    Message 47697 - Posted 1 Dec 2013 0:21:26 UTC

                                      These days, with multi core processors being the norm, backups are less useful.
                                      This is because ALL the work for ALL the processors needs to be backed up.

                                      They're most useful to guard against power failures that crash a model, and hardware failures. For the latter to work, (and it can't hurt to take that extra step against power failures either), the backup needs to be to a device that's external to the computer.

                                      Backups made with BOINC versions 5 & 6 CANNOT be used to restore on version 7, and vice versa.

                                      One of the problems with restoring a backup, is that BOINC numbers it's contacts with the server, and if it sees an ID number that's already been used, it'll change the computer ID.

                                      To avoid this, you need to know the most recent contact number. (A bit difficult if a hardware failure has killed the HD.)
                                      The item that's needed is called <rpc_seqno>, and is in the <project> section of client_state.xml for each project being run on each computer.

                                      Knowing what the server "knows about", from the current client_state.xml, one can edit the client_state.xml file in the backup, to bring it up to date. Only then should BOINC be restarted, and allowed to contact the server.

                                      *******************

                                      And there's a very important file on everyone's computer that should be saved somewhere ASAP:

                                      This is: account_climateprediction.net.xml
                                      It has the information that the project needs to identify you.

                                      Please make a copy (or several), and keep it in a safe place for when hardware problems occur.

                                      Keeping the equivalent for ALL of your projects is a good idea for the same reason.


                                      Questions and Answers : Windows : Backups - How to, and why




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