Image vs File backup

Discussion in 'Acronis True Image Product Line' started by tumbi, Sep 19, 2008.

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  1. tumbi

    tumbi Registered Member

    Sep 19, 2008
    I am just starting an evaluation of True Image and am looking for an answer to a very simple, basic question. I can't find the answer, probably because it is so simple, everyone else already knows the answer to this one!

    I see there are two main options for backup: Image and Files. Can I combine these so I have just one backup disk with everything on it?

    That is, I would like to do:
    1 - a full Image backup (Clone, Sector by Sector, Partition, or whatever that is called) to a second HDD. (To get a bootable backup system disk)
    2 - Then on a daily basis, add changed files (Incremental?) to the cloned disk. (Faster than doing a full Image every day)

    That would give me a bootable system disk with all my data maintained up to date by the daily file backups. I realise the daily file backups might not be written to the same sectors as the original and that would result in the backup disk no longer being a true sector by sector image of the original, but that doesn't matter if I can still boot the backup and run with all my data intact.

    So far all I can see are two separate options - EITHER a cloned disk OR a backup of selected files to a separate disk.

    Can I use True Image to maintain just one genuine, up to date backup copy of my system?
  2. seekforever

    seekforever Registered Member

    Oct 31, 2005
    Actually 3 general methods and it is important to understand Acronis' terminology so we all talk about the same thing.
    Image - normal image, all in-use sectors written to an archive file or several files (you can split the archive to say fit on a DVD if you wish). This is the most common form of image and is the archiving method for a bootable retore. Very fast to create and restore.
    Sector-by-sector image - the entire partition is written out to the archive. Handy for partitions that might be encrypted or if TI can't make sense of the file system. Tend to be very large because it is the entire partition, both used and unused sectors.

    Files and Folders- intended to archive data files only and will not likely result in a bootable restoration to a HD. Slower to do than an image because it makes more extensive use of the file system.

    Clone - intended to make an identical copy of a drive on another drive, typically a new one. You have to clone a whole drive not selected partitions. Obviously, the clone can be used as a backup but it is limited because you can have only one backup on the drive. With images you can have as many backups as will fit on the archive media. Some users do use clones for backup since all they have to do is plug in the clone if their disk fails.

    You can make a Full image archive and then do an incremental image backup based on the Full. Incrementals must be based on the full or the last incremental. Unless you do a sector-by-sector image TI will not necessarily restore each sector to its original location and you are right, it doesn't really matter since the file system is adjusted. If you do the sector-by-sector image it will but it isn't worth the time and space if you don't have to do it.

    Doing an image incremental will capture all of the data file changes in the imaged partition. You do not have to do a Files and Folders archive for data files.

    The backup wizard lets you make an image or a Files and Folders data file archive. The cloning is likely a separate entry on the main menu.

    Yes, although I don't know what you are implying with "genuine". To be a bit literal, you don't really want just one backup copy. I let them accummulate on the backup media until I need to free up some space. You never know when you just might have a problem reading one.

    I personally only do Full images of my OS/Apps partition. I prefer to backup data files in their native format, not by sticking them into a big proprietary container file but that is just my preference.

    It is very important that you do a test restore to ensure you can get your system running in case of a disk failure. Create the rescue CD using TI first. The absolute best way is to install a spare HD and restore your image to it. It is always important to do a test restore with any backup program. A weakness of TI is that its rescue CD which must be able to run to do a restore of the active partition, is Linux. Sometimes the Linux implementation does not have good drivers for all hardware, especially if it is quite new.

    If you don't want to restore to a spare HD then the next best thing is to boot up with the TI rescue CD and validate one of your archives. If that works then go through the restore wizard selecting your archive, etc but cancel out when you get to the screen that asks you to PROCEED.

    You must do this. Too many users don't and the first time they find it won't restore properly is when they really need it.
  3. Long View

    Long View Registered Member

    Apr 30, 2004
    Cromwell Country
    As an alternative:

    Have C: for OS and programs
    Have D: for data

    Make full images of both when appropriate. You will then be able to restore C: without having to worry about your data. Imaging is much faster than backing up files. You should be able to make or restore and image of c: within minutes.
    I find that I am imaging C: and restoring on a regular basis. ( eg everytime a new program is loaded to test). Unless you are unlucky you may never need to restore D:
  4. GroverH

    GroverH Registered Member

    May 10, 2006
    Massachusetts, USA

    In addition to the good help already received, perhaps my guides can also help. Check line 2 of my signature below. My restore guide illustrates a disk option backup and it will provide all you need to recover your system to an old or new drive or recover any of your files.
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