During a recent conversation with Charles Kozierok, webslave of The PC Guide, the subject of using XCOPY to clone Win95 systems came up. He indicated that John Navas (a highly regarded professional and usenet regular) had provided him some info about short file names being ‘lost’ as a result of this activity (originally online at http://www.aimnet.com/~jnavas/tech/clone_copy.htm).
Curious, I asked for more information and was able to recreate the situation with his supplied directions. My initial take on this was that as long as an application is referring to a file by it’s ‘long name’, there would be no problems, however Charles immediately pointed to the Registry, where numerous ‘short name’ entries exist. Well, this concerned me, since Microsoft puts most of these entries there themselves!
After doing some research on my own, and consulting with some much more familiar with the internals of NT, I came to the conclusion that this is not only a serious problem for Windows 95 and 98, but for NT as well. While data loss is no laughing matter even for the typical end user, it can be extremely costly for a large corporation relying upon a server to handle many thousands of transactions from hundreds of users every day.
For the details regarding the problem, and to find out if it affects you please read the Special News Report called No Rest(ore) for the Wary!. This title was chosen because after you have read and understood the issues, you will undoubtedly realize that the very restore operation that is intended to save you from disaster, may actually cause more serious problems!
What is particulary amusing (and disconcerting) is that while Microsoft is trying to convince corporations that NT is an ‘enterprise level’ operating system, they have completely overlooked one of the most important requirements of any IT shop – reliable backup and restore operations. Even though they have put out a knowledge base article acknowledging the issue, they don’t appear to have addressed it very well. It seems that Microsoft still has a ways to go to fully understand what is necessary to ensure reliability and data integrity for mission critical applications in the enterprise. IT professionals should take a very close look at the applications their NT systems are going to be running, determine exactly what is necessary to ensure data integrity, and ask Microsoft if they can guarantee NT can provide for it both under normal operation, and after recovery. Only in this way will NT be able to truly become an operating system for the enterprise.
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