Drive image/clone backup recommendation?

Discussion in 'backup, imaging & disk mgmt' started by Stilez, Apr 25, 2012.

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  1. Stilez

    Stilez Registered Member

    I've read the usual forum posts and narrowed down a shortlist and what I need it to do. As backup is so important I thought I'd post my shortlist and criteria and see what people reckon :)

    Home use, Win7 x64
    Primarily for (1) manual partition create/restore compressed image on local drive or LAN file share, (2) partition cloning between local hard drives.

    • Reliable and widely compatible - no weird driver compatibility issues or sudden "refuse to work" problems; doesn't try to take over Windows; compressed images using Shadow Copy are reliably self-consistent; bugs ironed out/mature; when a restore's needed if the image is valid restore will "just happen" :)
    • Decent support forum if there's issues, good responses to concerns
    • Partition clone, create/restore compressed image between local disk partitions (resizing capability important)
    • Windows 7 64, Windows 7 32, and windows 7 PE (linux optional but bonus)
    • GUI based with decent ui/options/config
    • Imaging running system or active data drive in Win 7 (not always convenient to shut down system or dismount DB for partition backup)
    • Image/clone auto-verified at creation/restore, re-verify on demand for stored compressed images
    • Explore compressed image and extract files/folders. (Read-only is fine)
    • Some kind of note or comment capability as part of compressed image (so years later one can be sure of "things to remember about this image")
    • Will mainly be run on demand/manually, ie without requiring a schedule. So should not require a resource-hungry service to be running and when scheduled won't bring the system to a halt
    • Restore to different partition size (probably implies some basic partition manager)
    • GPT handling (mostly using MBR now but likely to change)
    • Speed not such an issue if not stupidly slow (ie not in the bottom 20%)
    • Cost not such an issue though obviously preferred low/free
    • Compressed images preferably created as one (or a few) large files for ease of management and hash verification.

    "Bonus features" (optional but not essential):
    Differential backups, "sector-by-sector" and exclude hibernate/pagefile options, hardware independent restore (may not be needed as Win 7 is mostly able to handle that or use repair install?), linux version, fully mountable compressed images.

    It can take a while to find out about packages so I am hoping users will chime in to say what packages have the features I'm after or suggest compromises. My current shortlist is: Paragon (but which one?), Macrium, Storagecraft ShadowProtect, and Image for Windows (edit: = Terabyte). All seem to be perceived as mature, reliable and well featured.

    Skipping Acronis (not planning to reconsider this) due to questionable reliability, and also possible bloat or resource overuse - other packages exist with fewer questions on these. Probably skipping Drive Image XML as the above 4 should have at least one that's better for me and usability issues raised here and there.

    All suggestions appreciated!
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2012
  2. Brian K

    Brian K Imaging Specialist

    The TeraByte Bundle.
  3. Stilez

    Stilez Registered Member

    Thats IfW isn't it? It's on the shortlist. From your experience how well does IfW match the functions I'm after? Are any things on my "features" list lacking or only part-supported in IfW? Which version do you suggest?
  4. Brian K

    Brian K Imaging Specialist

    The TeraByte Bundle includes IFW, IFL, IFD, BIBM and TBOSDT. They cover everything on your list. And more.
  5. Stilez

    Stilez Registered Member

    Thanks, and do any products I've shortlisted have question marks for me as far as you know or is what I need stuff they all do (ie perfect shortlist)? If you can suggest some of them won't do what I need or having possible issues for me, would be really helpful too.
  6. Brian K

    Brian K Imaging Specialist

    Your list looks like a summary of the TeraByte web site. I can't see any negatives.
  7. Stilez

    Stilez Registered Member

    Thanks, that's IfW/Terabyte worth looking at. You don't know any of the other 3 (Paragon's s/w, Macrium, SC) that well, or able to give me points that might rule them in or out too, by any chance? :)
  8. TheKid7

    TheKid7 Registered Member

    Yes. The Terabyte Bundle.
    :thumb: :thumb:
  9. Brian K

    Brian K Imaging Specialist

    I haven't used these apps. (Paragon's s/w, Macrium, )

    I've used SC. It is very much like Ghost 15. Has its fans here but I gather it can't restore to smaller partitions without a bit of messing around. I can't remember much else about it. Not sure if it can handle Linux partitions.

    Edit... Not SC, I meant Shadow Protect.
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2012
  10. The Seeker

    The Seeker Registered Member

    Image for Windows is what I'd recommend. I use it often and have never had it fail me.
  11. pandlouk

    pandlouk Registered Member

    I agree with the above opinions. IFW(IFD/IFL) or the bundle (in case you ever need a partition manager and/or a multiboot manager) is the way to go mainly for 3 reasons:
    1. a great product (the most flexible in the market) with great support.
    Once I asked them to add a feature and they did, in the following update; and this for a customer that holds only 1 lisence of IFW and 1 of BootitBM.

    2. for home users the license is good for 3 machines.

    3. they add new features all the time but do not change major version/or name every year (like acronis,paragon,norton,etc.) and this makes it even better investment on the long run.

  12. napoleon1815

    napoleon1815 Registered Member

    Well said...I will throw my vote in for IFW/IFL/IFD with 100% confidence. You can't go wrong! Good luck!
  13. TheKid7

    TheKid7 Registered Member

    Me Too! :thumb: :thumb:
  14. Stilez

    Stilez Registered Member

    Very very useful information - thank you!

    One question, something I didn't think of on my wish-list. It's possible at times a disk operation fails or interrupts (power fail, disk cable pulled, OS crash). In the past that's exposed the problem of disk left in interminate (unreadable) state, eg when doing a partition convert/move. Does IfW or any software have "safe" recovery for that so it tries to resume or leave the partition in readable state? Just curious if this is something any software does?
  15. noons

    noons Registered Member

    Agree with everyone IFW is probably the most reliable solution and its very reasonably priced. I have been using it for years and have yet to be required to pay for an upgrade. Constant updates too!
  16. TheKid7

    TheKid7 Registered Member

    Terabyte's Home use Licensing is for 3 PC's. This is detailed in the Terabyte Unlimited License Agreement.
  17. pandlouk

    pandlouk Registered Member

    You 're welcome. :)

    I don't think that BootItBM has a safety meccanism to protect from interruptions/power fails.
    The only partition manager, that I know, that does provide this safety meccanism is Partition Wizard, but have not really tested it to see if it can really continue after a power cut.

  18. zapjb

    zapjb Registered Member

    EaseUS® Todo Backup Free 4.0

    I use it. I've used ATI, Paragon, Ghost & many more. And I like EaseUS® Todo Backup Free 4.0 best.

    Why choose EaseUS Todo Backup Free?

    It is the world's first all-in-one backup & system disaster recovery software only for home users. It performs complete backup & recovery with multi-ways, such as one-click backup system, incremental disk and file backup, network shared file backup, dynamic volume backup, and automated schedule backup, etc.

    New Highlights of EaseUS Todo Backup Free
    New! Support Windows 8 Consumer Preview.
    Improved! Brand-new interface backup process with backup type display.
    Support GPT disk for complete backup, recovery and disk cloning.
    One-click to back up system, including photos, music, videos, documents, and applications.
  19. Palancar

    Palancar Registered Member

    I just downloaded "EaseUS Disk Copy". Really small ISO around 35 meg. I want to play with it doing sector by sector on fully encrypted partitions. All runs in RAM to get the best image/clone.

    Normally I use DD in linux but this should be a fun experiment.

    Anyone here ever use Disk Copy on a fully encrypted OS? I'ld love to hear how it went. I have access to several paid products and linux live, but this will be a fun way to play with the solution.

    Planning on writing out 120 Gig over the weekend. I'll let you know how it goes.
  20. Stilez

    Stilez Registered Member

    Thats nice, but it's mainly a copypaste of Easeus marketing info ("NEW! HIGHLIGHTS! IMPROVED!") plus a personal "I like it" with no specifics. Useful content for this purpose, zero.

    If inclined to help or to suggest Easeus, maybe consider carefully which needs (see first post) Easeus fully covers and which ones it doesn't? That would be useful and your experience may cover it. If you have tried "many other" software such as Paragon (which version?) can you comment whether Paragon, Macrium or StorageCraft's current backup software will do the things listed, or maybe missing something I need, that'd be very helpful to hear.
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2012
  21. Stilez

    Stilez Registered Member

    For what its worth, just trialled it in VM, took 5 minutes to find the first issue from a cold standing start. Doesn't mean it's 'bad' but a good example why careful checking is needed even with mature products if crucially relied on. "Description" lets you enter description/notes of any length (good) but after you enter it, it's silently (very very bad) truncated to 128 chars (too small) and only that length is saved in the backup. So important notes won't fit in or could be silently lost (does anyone manually count characters entered?).

    Apart from that IfW does seem to do all that's needed functionally though. Is IfW the only program on my shortlist that does the things I'm after?
  22. oliverjia

    oliverjia Registered Member

    I've been using the image for linux/image for dos boot cd for several years and it never failed me.
    I bought the licence 4 years ago and since they don't change their software's major version number yet, I've been using this great software for 4 straight years without paying any more money.
  23. Brian K

    Brian K Imaging Specialist

    I don't use "Description". In one of the TeraByte tutorials on IFD I found....

    :: Note that a DOS program can only receive the first 126 characters
    :: + of the command line parameters provided to it. This limit includes
    :: + the space between the program name and parameters. All characters
    :: + beyond the 126th are truncated by DOS. This means you need to may
    :: + need to use short file paths and/or short file names to ensure the
    :: + command operates as expected
  24. zapjb

    zapjb Registered Member

    Well, well, well. Never claimed authorship. Gave the link. Said it worked better than all that I've tried. Not enough? This program is too easy to use, so it's not worth elaborating.
  25. Stilez

    Stilez Registered Member

    Yeah :oops: The description is passed by the GUI to the IfW engine as a command line argument (cmd.exe not DOS; limit may differ for IfD). Microsoft says the total limit for command lines for XP onward is 2k-1 or 8k-1 characters. But IfD wouldn't have that, meaning there probably isn't an easy workaround for them to support it on IfW/IfL/IfD/PE unless an option is added to pass cmd.exe the name of a file containing the description. Unfortunately (see original post) entering a good description as part of the backup is a crucial feature for me so IfW is probably ruled out at this moment for me. If they add it, then it's great :)

    Do any of the others (Paragon, Macrium, SD) meet the fairly basic needs I have, as far as your experience goes?
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