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Re: Mac conversion from PC

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You are completely correct that there are fully bootable solutions for Windows as well (in fact Casper is another great one). My point about the transferability of bootable backups was mentioned intentionally, and AFAIK, this is not possible due to Windows activation, registry, and general dependency on the specific hardware profile of the machine it's installed upon. Macs have no problem booting from backups (USB, FireWire, or SD Card, now) from any other contemporary Mac, and Parallels images don't either. 

One of the main problems that I was trying to solve with the switch to the Mac was in response to something that had actually and recently happened in our small engineering office.

That morning, the engineer got to the computer (a PC) bright and early because we had a deadline at 5pm that same night. Moving his mouse to jitter the monitor awake (the computer is always on for the late-night backups, virus checks, etc.) - nothing happened. It was frozen, so like anyone else, the engineer did a hard-reset. The computer turned off, and didn't turn back on. It wasn't the hard drive that had failed, but something had happened between when he stopped working the night before, and the morning that basically killed his computer. 

We've all been there, and luckily the after a sweat-drenched hour, the computer decided to turn back on, but the moral of the story was this: for a self-employed engineer facing an impending deadline - this is deadly. Sure, he could switch to his laptop, retrieve the most recent backup of his files from the external, and start slowly working, but this would require significant additional time that he simply did not have. Therefore, the question became: how, barring having to purchase and maintain two identical PC's, could that office ensure almost uninterrupted uptime?

After researching networked solutions, server-based solutions, RAID arrays, etc, the solution became clear - a switch to the Mac operating system (in addition to the other aforementioned benefits which are vastly important), will allow this or any other office to have a current bootable backup at all times, which can be plugged into pretty much any other Mac (for example, purchased in 15 minutes at the local Apple store or borrowed from a friend) and used without interruption. This, transferability, in addition to boot-ability, is the simplest way that we have come up with for solving this problem, especially with Parallels.

Do you have any other suggestions for this type of situation? I was personally amazed at the lack of solutions to such a simple question.


Eugene Gordin, EIT
Doctoral Student
Civil and Environmental Engineering
University of California, Berkeley
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Thursday, August 27, 2009 14:41
Subject: Re: Mac conversion from PC

I won’t quibble with much, but I will quibble with some.

Your old PC runs at full speed (it has direct  access to your Mac's processor) and you can allocate how much memory you want  it to take up”

Yes and no.  While for the most part, you will get full speed running Windows through a VM program like Parallels, there IS a performance hit.  It is not anywhere near as bad a performance hit as when you ran Windows in an emulation program (like Virtual PC) on the older PowerPC platform, but there is one.  You will notice it most when going graphically intensive programs.  Prior to Parallels Desktop 4 (i.e. Version 3 and earlier) you did not even consider doing an real gaming in Windows running in Parallels...and this would have also largely effected things like AutoCAD, especially if you do 3D modeling in AutoCAD (or I would expect Revit).  This is supposedly a lot better in version 4 of Parallels, but it is still not the same as running Windows natively in Boot Camp.  Now, I am not saying that you cannot run the likes of AutoCAD in Parallels, but just be aware that you will take a bit of a performance hit, especially if you are trying to do some sort of a large 3D model.

As to Superduper, yes, it is a great program.  I use it as well for my Mac as my primary backup method (I use secondary and “thirdary” (is that tertiary?) methods as well).  But, you can nominally do the same thing on a PC.  I use True Image to clone my boot drives of my Windows boxes.  While it is tougher to do such a clone backup to a bootable external drive (because not all PCs have the ability to boot off USB...and even if they do, Windows can be a little finicky at times booting from USB), it can be done (I do it by way of an eSATA connection).  But, frankly for this type of backup, it is no problem to put the backup drive internally if the main drive hoses (you can clone to a USB drive just fine...just tend to have issues trying to boot from it on a PC) as you will likely be needing to replace the hosed drive anyway.  And I will note that generally speaking the cloning process on my PCs is WAY faster than on my Mac for a brand spanking new clone (Superduper can do “smart clones” were it updates the clone you have previously done, which can dramatically speed the process up).


Adrian, MI