Proper PC Disaster Recovery Testing and Windows 8 Licensing

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Proper PC Disaster Recovery Testing and Windows 8 Licensing

Postposted on Sat Feb 02, 2013 4:24 pm

As noted in one of my other threads, I've been using Macrium Reflect for backups now for over a week. I think it's top-notch, but before I purchase it, I need to be able to prove that I can recover the system if my SSD boot drive were to die.

My critical need comprises two possible scenarios:

I. I take clone backups about every 3-to-6 weeks. I need to verify that cloned disks can be installed and immediately booted from.

II. I have daily, weekly, and monthly backup scripts running. I need to verify that I can re-assemble any of my hard drive partitions from any full+incremental backup set that I might have laying around, including the SSD boot drive.

I am concerned that doing the actual tests, even for the clone test in "I" above and then replacing it with my production drive, I could get tripped up with Microsoft's authorization/activation methodology and that a simple "disaster recovery" test could end up screwing up my Windows 8 Pro license on this machine, or at least on this machine with the original SSD that I installed it to.

Here's what I want to do for my first two tests:

Test #1 - Boot from a clone:

1. Clone my current "production SSD" to a blank SSD of same or different size
2. Pull the production SSD out of the system and boot from the test SSD
3. Test for basic functionality of Windows and some apps
4. Shut down; remove and wipe the test SSD
5. Boot from production SSD and confirm functionality

Test #2 - Boot from images recovered to a blank SSD:

1. Recover a "-1" or "-2" full+incremental backup set to a blank SSD
2. Boot from test SSD
3. Test for functionality of Windows and some apps
4. Shut down; remove and wipe the test SSD
5. Boot from procuction SSD and confirm functionality

This plan entails swapping boot drives that contain the same Windows 8 "build". Can anybody tell me if there's anything I need to do to be sure I don't invalidate my Windows 8 Pro license or otherwise cause myself a hassle with Redmond?
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Re: Proper PC Disaster Recovery Testing and Windows 8 Licens

Postposted on Sat Feb 02, 2013 5:07 pm

You should be able to verify proper operation of the cloned drive without reactivating. (Well, at least that's what I'm guessing, based on how Windows 7 behaves.)
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Re: Proper PC Disaster Recovery Testing and Windows 8 Licens

Postposted on Sat Feb 02, 2013 5:48 pm

I forgot to say:

Windows 8 does not allow you to choose when to activate. If you're online, the process happens immediately.

And I need to be online in order to test my network, web browsers, etc. for proper functionality.
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Re: Proper PC Disaster Recovery Testing and Windows 8 Licens

Postposted on Sat Feb 02, 2013 6:19 pm

slmgr.vbs -dli
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Re: Proper PC Disaster Recovery Testing and Windows 8 Licens

Postposted on Sat Feb 02, 2013 7:11 pm

Ryu Connor wrote:slmgr.vbs -dli

I don't understand how that helps.
technet wrote:By default, /dli displays the license information for the installed active Windows edition. Specifying the [Activation ID] parameter displays the license information for the specified edition associated with that Activation ID. Specifying the [All] as the parameter will display all applicable installed products’ license information.
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Re: Proper PC Disaster Recovery Testing and Windows 8 Licens

Postposted on Sat Feb 02, 2013 7:55 pm

It would tell him if the OS is licensed (activated) or not before he plugs the network cable back in for software testing. This deals with his concern that it would activate as soon as the image finished firing up, leaving him ignorant as to whether or not the backup displaced his activation.
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Re: Proper PC Disaster Recovery Testing and Windows 8 Licens

Postposted on Sat Feb 02, 2013 8:08 pm

Ryu Connor wrote:It would tell him if the OS is licensed (activated) or not before he plugs the network cable back in for software testing. This deals with his concern that it would activate as soon as the image finished firing up, leaving him ignorant as to whether or not the backup displaced his activation.

Ahh, OK. That makes sense. So it covers the case where Windows doesn't want to re-activate, but doesn't help if Windows decides a re-activation is needed.

IIRC Win7 ties activation to the motherboard's UUID; do you have any idea whether Win8 does the same? If so, then it probably won't try to re-activate if the test is done using the original motherboard.
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Re: Proper PC Disaster Recovery Testing and Windows 8 Licens

Postposted on Sat Feb 02, 2013 8:28 pm

I find it unlikely that he'll have an issue. I've transitioned a backup to the same system, even the same system with a different disk seamlessly a ton of times.

Activation technically uses a combination hardware hash, but it has a threshold designed to require multiple hardware changes at once to trigger it.

Link

Microsoft wrote:•You make a significant hardware change to your computer, such as upgrading the hard disk and memory at the same time. If a major hardware change requires activating Windows again, you will be notified and will have three days to activate your copy of Windows.


One also shouldn't look at activation as sharing the same behavior as say flavors of SecuROM (where you have a hard caps of activations and can have to waits days for support to assist you). All that happens after you Internet activate too many times, which isn't a low threshold, is that you have the extra first world difficulty of calling a phone system. You even have three days to piddle around and get that done.

The "penalty" for not doing it is pretty tame too. The background turns black, a watermark appears in the lower right hand corner of the screen (just shows the build number of Windows), and after a login you get a simple dialog informing you that someone might have ripped you off with counterfeit software (click OK and it goes away). Contact Microsoft and IIRC they give you a key if you really did get ripped off.

Testing a backup is something everyone should do. When it comes to activation though: don't panic.
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Re: Proper PC Disaster Recovery Testing and Windows 8 Licens

Postposted on Sat Feb 02, 2013 9:01 pm

Ryu Connor wrote:I find it unlikely that he'll have an issue. I've transitioned a backup to the same system, even the same system with a different disk seamlessly a ton of times.

Activation technically uses a combination hardware hash, but it has a threshold designed to require multiple hardware changes at once to trigger it.

Yeah, I agree it will probably be OK. I've expanded the system drive on Windows 7 VMs by doing block copies to a larger virtual disk and swapping the disk image, which would look like a new disk drive to Windows. No re-activation required.

I was aware of the hashing; IIRC XP used to give the NIC (model and MAC address) the most weight. More recently they have started using the motherboard's UUID as part of the hash. I believe a change in motherboard UUID on a Windows 7 system is guaranteed to trigger a re-activation.
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Re: Proper PC Disaster Recovery Testing and Windows 8 Licens

Postposted on Sat Feb 02, 2013 10:23 pm

Ryu Connor wrote:All that happens after you Internet activate too many times, which isn't a low threshold, is that you have the extra first world difficulty of calling a phone system.


Which probably takes less time than it did to create this thread.
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Re: Proper PC Disaster Recovery Testing and Windows 8 Licens

Postposted on Sat Feb 02, 2013 11:51 pm

LOL at Absurdity's response and userid, together they made me laugh! :lol:

Ryu and JBI, thank you for the discourse in my absence. I am relieved and will proceed with my testing as soon as I secure a spare SSD (hopefully in the next week or two).

The reason I was away was to buy some new ethernet cables and other odds and ends. My local TigerDirect store (formerly CompUSA) had M4 512 GB SSD drives for $350-ish (well, looked like they were out of stock). With a couple of those, I would be able to move the remainder of my performance-sensitive data off of spinning disks! But, with the good comes the bad. The M4, at 9.3 millimeters thick, is about TWO millimeters too thick to fit in my SSD hot-swap trays. :(

I also noted that Tigerdirect is selling an Asus 24" IPS monitor for $350 (before MIR). Yes, IPS! I forget the model number, but it has tilt, swivel, pivot, and supports Displayport with a resolution of 1980 X 1200.

No, I didn't buy either the SSD or the monitor, but I did think about it! That monitor, not being a 27" or 30", might actually be a perfect fit off to the side for use as a small graphic design monitor or VST instrument programming station. For now however; I will be happy thrilled to see that TigerDirect is starting to carry some equipment that is a little better than crap.
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Re: Proper PC Disaster Recovery Testing and Windows 8 Licens

Postposted on Sun Feb 03, 2013 12:21 am

BIF wrote:My local TigerDirect store (formerly CompUSA)

Only sort of. AFAIK TD only acquired the rights to the name. The one near me went from being called TigerDirect Outlet to CompUSA and back to TigerDirect over the span of a few years, while the "real" CompUSA down the street was shut down. TD has a habit of acquiring the rights to the names/trademarks of other defunct electronics retailers (e.g. Circuit City)... try going to circuitcity.com and see what comes up! :lol:

Edit: They're not bad these days... as Newegg's prices have gone up and TD's (previously abysmal) customer service has improved somewhat, the local TD store has become a semi-reasonable place to go for "instant geek gratification". Kind of like a disorganized, smaller version of Fry's.
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