Introducing AX64 Time Machine - hybrid imaging/snapshot software

Discussion in 'backup, imaging & disk mgmt' started by Isso, Jan 18, 2013.

  1. Isso
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    Isso Developer

    Update - May 2014: A v2 Beta is running which involves significant product changes. Here is a direct link to the post in this thread that started that beta:

    http://www.wilderssecurity.com/threads/ax64-time-machine-v2-beta.339999/page-308

    Ongoing testing and development discussion proceeds from there. Please use that link if you want to send anyone into the Beta testing.

    @LowWaterMark, Admin, May 31, 2014




    Original post contents from start of thread in January 2013 follows

    Alright guys, I'm ready to present our new imaging/snapshotting hybrid program I promised in this thread before. It's called AX64 Time Machine.
    First let me recap what we have on the market right now:

    • Imaging programs (Acronis, Macium etc)
      • Proc: Stable operation, minimum interference with the OS
      • Cons: Long restore time, need to use of a recovery environment, difficult to find a particular version of file/folder back in time
    • Snapshot programs (Rollback RX etc)
      • Proc: Fast snapshot and restore times, very easy to use
      • Cons: Cannot survive disk failures, mess with OS / MBR, make OS slower, occupy space on the system drive, impose limitations (like no defrag etc)
    • Backup programs (file based)
      • Proc: Stable, no interference with OS, easy to find a particular version of file/folder
      • Cons: Slow, cannot restore the entire system

    Some of you use both snapshot and imaging program together, to overcome their shortcomings. Some even use all 3 types of software. But this often causes new problems.
    So we thought - let's create a Rollback RX-type program that is based on imaging. So it has very fast backup and restore, allows to save the backups to external media, doesn't mess with MBR, and can actually be used as backup in case of disaster.
    Also we decided to make the searching through backups very easy and fast - to compete with 3rd type of programs. So rather than "backup mounting" feature that imaging programs offer, we created a Backup Browser that virtually mounts all backups at once, and allows to instantly switch between any point in time without even leaving the directory that you are viewing.

    Here are the main features of the program:

    • Fast backup and restore - speed is comparable to snapshot programs
    • Very easy to use - just like a snapshot program
    • No need to use recovery environment - restore works directly from the running system
    • No messing with MBR, no disk writes redirection
    • Uses internal, external or even network drives for backup
    • Allows to easily find and recover old versions of files using Backup Browser with instant switching between time points (this is my favorite!)
    • If the OS is not booting, or disk has failed, there is a fallback method to restore from a recovery environment
    • Recovery environment is created in seconds (USB stick, CD, or ISO) with no need for WAIK or other download, and works even from XP
    • Support for all Windows versions from XP to 8, support for SSDs
    You can download the program here: www.ax64.com. Also you can find some screenshots and screencasts there. Please note - the program is in the alpha stage and use it with caution.

    Looking forward to your comments, thanks!

    PS: I'm adding known issues and limitations of this release:

    1. Checkdisk fails to run at OS boot - this is the fault of our driver that holds its tracking file open. Checkdisk expects no one to hold any open files at boot.
    2. If you modify the drive externally (for example if you boot into secondary OS and make changes to the drive), the subsequent incremental backups will be corrupted.
    3. Restore to smaller or bigger partition is not supported - we only restore to the same sized partition at the moment
    4. Restore to empty disk is not implemented yet - so you need to create the original partition table if restoring to a new disk
    5. Backup from WinPE isn't supported
    6. Recovery environment creation doesn't work in Vista

    We are working on these issues and I'll be updating this post as soon as they get corrected/implemented.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 31, 2014
  2. wtsinnc
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    wtsinnc Registered Member

    Hi Isso, and congratulations on the program release to Alpha.

    Question;
    Will AX64 Time Machine be freeware ?
  3. Jim1cor13
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    Jim1cor13 Registered Member

    Congratulations indeed Isso. Thank you for starting this thread. This has serious potential and is totally NON intrusive which, in itself, is an accomplishment when so many apps of this style today typically demand so much intrusion/invasion into ones system.

    Impressive potential and speed without bloat. Recovery environment creation is a breeze and straight forward operation as it should be. Well done! Look forward to seeing this mature :)

    Thank you...now back to testing :)

    Jim
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2013
  4. aladdin
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    aladdin Registered Member

    Excellent!

    Best regards,
  5. zfactor
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    zfactor Registered Member

    isso i tried many times to send you a pm and i could not. just wanted you to know. i was waiting till you came back on to let you know. it may have on my end not sure though. congrats on getting it out there.
  6. Isso
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    Isso Developer

    Thank you very much folks!

    wtsinnc:
    There will certainly be a paid version of the program (there are 3 developers besides myself, and I need to pay them). But I'm thinking that a free version would be a good idea. Not sure which functionality to include into it though - will appreciate any input.

    Jim, Mohamed - I do appreciate your feedback!

    zfactor: thank you and sorry to hear it, I have no idea what might be the problem. Anyway you could use info@ax64.com for private communication.
  7. Isso
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    Isso Developer

    I would also like to mention the current known issues. Those are:

    1. Checkdisk fails to run at OS boot - this is the fault of our driver that holds its tracking file open. Checkdisk expects no one to hold any open files at boot.
    2. If you modify the drive externally (for example if you boot into secondary OS and make changes to the drive), the subsequent incremental backups will be corrupted.

    We are working on these issues, and I'll let you know when they are fixed. Thank you
  8. andylau
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    andylau Registered Member

    Just a few questions to ask,

    1. Can it restore image to smaller partition? (e.g. source partition is 50GB, 10GB used only, target partition is 30GB)
    2. Can it backup in WinPE?
  9. MarcP
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    MarcP Registered Member

    I'm just replying to subscribe to this thread. Isso kept his promise and came back with a product. :)

    I'm very curious about this new product. I definitely want to follow its evolution.
  10. Isso
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    Isso Developer

    andylau,

    Good questions, thank you. No, sorry, we don't yet support restore to smaller partition, in fact we don't support restore to bigger partition too :) But that's a temporary limitation, we just didn't pay attention to partitioning yet. Soon we'll add both options.

    For backing up in PE - we didn't implement this feature too. In fact, I never thought of it. But if there is a demand for it we can add it.

    I think it makes sense to update the original post adding these limitations and known issues. Thank you for pointing these out.
  11. Isso
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    Isso Developer

    Hey Marc, I remember you were warning me that I better deliver this product, and I can tell that your threat was my greatest motivation :D
  12. Feandur
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    Feandur Registered Member

    VMware flashed up on the Video walk through of the restore function...Is that it?

    In otherwords: is the OS virtualised all the time, and restoration is just to another virtualised OS?


    PS: The video looks very promising.

    good job!

    - cheers
    feandur
  13. kupo
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    kupo Registered Member

    Does your program supports running in a Standard User Account? This program is very promising indeed. :D I hope you continue to develop it. (I've seen many programs being "left" by the developer)
  14. andylau
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    andylau Registered Member

    I think I should say more detail in some points.

    As for restoring image to smaller partition, I mean restoring to smaller partition without resizing or compact both source and target partitions, just likes Acronis and Symantec. (It is one of the reasons that I give up Image for Windows)

    For me, I will only do cold image(both backup and restore) in WinPE or linux bootdisk. Because most of imaging apps doing hot image need to install both program and drivers in current OS and I do not like this. Of cource, I will do hot image only if imaging app is portable.:p

    P.S. it is just my point of view only, you may not need to follow my view
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2013
  15. Isso
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    Isso Developer

    Feandur, thank you! No, I just used VMWare to get a screencast of the reboot phase. Otherwise the program doesn't have any connection to VMWare.

    kupo: no, sorry it runs only under admin. I just didn't want to add a service (service is needed if you want to run as a user). Thank you!
  16. Isso
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    Isso Developer

    andylau,

    For restoring to smaller partition - yes, that's exactly what I meant. We'll add that feature into one of the upcoming releases.

    As for your offline imaging strategy - it makes perfect sense. But I'm positioning AXTM as a replacement for snapshot programs. And you can't get any close to a snapshot program using cold imaging, just because it's very slow. Hope this makes sense.

    PS: I'll edit the main post to reflect this, because I'm afraid I didn't explain the program purpose correctly.
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2013
  17. Isso
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    Isso Developer

    OK I've edited the initial post to explain the program purpose more detailed, and I've highlighted the most important points. Hopefully this will be more clear. Basically we rather compete with snapshot and backup programs, than with imaging programs; although the program itself is based on imaging technology.
  18. MarcP
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    MarcP Registered Member

    Anybody tried it yet? Please, post a review. I'm too chicken to be first.. LOL ;)
  19. aladdin
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    aladdin Registered Member

    Dear Isso,

    I agree with you that it should be a paid program. You need to eat and others too, who work for you.

    However a paid program like Image For Windows (IFW) to be used with at least three computers. They keep their eyes closed if it is used in home environment with more than three computers. Or, like Sandboxie, can be used as many computers in a home environment.

    And, more importantly no activation. IFW requires no activation and Sandboxie activation is simple and hassle free. Look at both of these methods of activation.

    Trust your customers. And, they will repay your trust and more. BTW, one can easily use pirated Rollback Rx. Who suffers? The paid customers of Rollback Rx, who have to send an email and in some cases wait more than 24 hours for activation.

    Best regards,

    Mohamed
  20. sukarof
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    sukarof Registered Member

    Great! I have been trying this alpha for a couple of weeks now on Windows 7 and it has worked nicely. I see now that you have windows 8 support which is great!:thumb: Now I can test in my regular environment.
  21. Isso
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    Isso Developer

    Mohamed,

    I completely agree with you. There is absolutely no point in using a complex protection/activation schemes. All they do is affect the legit customers.

    So when we go commercial I'm planning to use a simple key-based registration with no online checks, and no tying to hardware.
  22. Isso
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    Isso Developer

    sukarof, I'm happy to hear it, thank you!
  23. sukarof
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    sukarof Registered Member

    I have now installed it in Windows 8. I removed Macrium to avoid any conflicts. I guess that can happen with this kind of software...
    I try to do a recovery media on USB but AX64 doesnt see the mounted USB stick. It finds my CD drive but not the USB stick. No problem making the recovery .iso though.

    btw Isso, shall I make posts here of my findings or do you want email?
  24. kupo
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    kupo Registered Member

    So no plans in making it compatible with a Standard User Account? :D
  25. Isso
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    Isso Developer

    sukarof,
    For the USB stick - is it by any chance less than 1 GB in size? From the code I can see that we set the requirement to be more than 1 GB. I think we can make that limit less, as PE takes only about 200 MB.

    As for our communication - I think whatever may be of interest to Wilders folks we better discuss here, and the rest via email. Please use info@ax64.com, because PM here seems to work unstable and is hard to use. Thank you!