Acronis are missing a BIG opportunity

Discussion in 'Acronis True Image Product Line' started by Tabvla, May 10, 2006.

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  1. Tabvla

    Tabvla Registered Member

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    I think Acronis are missing out on a real opportunity to resolve one of the biggest issues that PC users have to deal with on a daily basis.

    In terms of files, almost every system consists of two types of files - data and applications with the latter including the OS.

    Backing up data files is a simple process that even a novice can easily master in a very short time. All it really needs is a responsible and consistent attitude to the value of data. Technically it is a no-brainer and does not require complex software to manage it. Windows Backup and Scheduler do the job just fine. To recover lost or corrupted data files using Windows Restore is a simple, well-documented process that even those with limited technical ability can accomplish quite quickly.

    Therefore data backup and restore is NOT a problem. The only advantage that 3rd-party applications can bring to this process is to have a friendlier user interface. But what happens in the background can stay as is. (Acronis really need to take this comment onboard if they are to understand what the market requires).

    The REAL problem in the REAL world is when the system disk goes down because the system disk contains the OS and the applications. And in a production environment these are what you need to "earn the daily bread". For the technically competent this is always an "accident waiting to happen" and for the computer novice it is a no-go area.

    Reinstalling Windows and applications is not a job for the faint-hearted. And in my experience it is almost impossible to get your system back to the way it was prior to the crash. You may have spent many many hours over many many months tweaking your system to get it to behave just the way it suits your style of work, and you will never get that back again - and if you try you will probably go bust in the meantime because you won't be doing any productive work.

    That is where software like Acronis True Image SHOULD come to the rescue, but I am not sure that it does. So why does TI not fulfil the role of a knight in shining armour... ? In my view this is where Acronis have not really understood the needs of the users. So let us take a quick tour of TI...

    1. True Image Data Backup.

    I don't need Acronis TI for this. Windows backup does the job spot-on. If TI wants to provide a pretty and friendly user interface for backup and restore of data files then that would be a "nice to have".


    2. True Image Disk/Partition Imaging.

    This is a very cumbersome way of trying to achieve the objective. It is a multi-step process that is too complex for the novice and too scary in a production environment. The biggest problem with "Imaging" is that you cannot test it. Yes you can verify it, but the problem here is that the same program that created the image is testing it. It does not prove very much if TI says that the image is OK what I want to see is that the OS says the image is OK. There is a VERY BIG difference between an OK from TI and an OK from the OS.

    Imaging in my view is an outdated procedure that is far too complex, is untestable by the OS (until it is too late) and is too dangerous to be of any real practical value in a production environment.

    (REMEMBER : Very Important... Image Restore is a DESTRUCTIVE process. If the image is corrupt you will lose everything because the first thing that image restore does is destroy the contents of the disk where it is going to be restored to).


    3. True Image Cloning

    Now this is why I bought TI. Disk cloning may sound simple but it requires some very clever algorithms to make it work "first-time, every-time".

    Think of it this way. How often do you radically change the information on the system disk? Even Microsoft only brings out patches once a month now. And perhaps you install one new application every month. So in reality all you need to do is take a new "Clone" of your system disk once a month (and backup your data files daily or weekly).

    And the big advantage of "cloning" is..? It can be TESTED immediately by the OS. Whip out the system disk, stick in the clone, boot. Either you will see the "blue screen of death" or your login. The big plus is that if you do see the "bsod" you simply stick in the system disk again and do it over. No sweat, no heart attack, no phoning 999 - just another cup of coffee.

    So what should Acronis be doing..? OK, so it is easy to throw rocks. This is my constructive advice to Acronis......

    Dear Acronis Developers

    Get the "Cloning" part of True Image right and you will have the killer-app of the decade. Include standard backup functionality with a pretty interface for daily backup of data files.

    "Cloning" should always be done outside of Windows, from a bootable CD that is probably running Linux or some bespoke OS. The system (e.g. Windows) should be "at rest" during the "cloning" process. "Cloning" should never be a concurrent process, it should always be the only process that is happening.

    "Backup" of data files should always be done inside of Windows and should always run as a background low-priority process so that I can continue to earn my income during backup.

    I want to go out there and tell all my customers that Acronis True Image is better than sliced bread. At the moment I can't do that.

    Regards

    Tabvla
     
  2. mark3

    mark3 Registered Member

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    Very interesting reading and thought provoking. You mentioned ..

    I would like to point out that the image can be tested easily by restoring the image to another disk.

    When I first used an imaging program, the thought of losing my OS setup delayed any thought of restoring, until such time as I had acquired another hard disk.

    A second hard disk is required for cloning purposes and yes, it does give an instant result of the excercise. However, it is not a simple process and at present, difficult to accomplish, judging by the posters' problems on this forum. I have not tried to clone using TI.
    (Even with an old Ghost program, it is easy to make a mistake and clone the other way).

    Also note that cloning a disk limits the use of that disk to one specific purpose while imaging allows for numerous disk backups and kept constatnly up to date.

    I have a clone sitting in my desk draw and it is way out of date. I suppose it is a lot easier to create an image than to fiddle with wires. (You have made me realise that I need to update the disk).

    I do agree with you on the following...

    but it would also be nice if their whole package was foolproof. It will never be, of course, simply because of competition where each product tries to out do the other.

    To date, TI has worked well for me, as far as imaging is concerned, but it appears that some users are experiencing problems.
     
  3. Chutsman

    Chutsman Registered Member

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    Nicely put Tabvla.

    Your #1. I agree that using TI for this is overkill. Windows explorer does the job for me, and if some compression is needed to save space, the built-in winzip is available.

    Your #2. You *can* test the Image by doing the Restore to a third disk. For peace of mind, a third disk is cheap.

    Your #3. The Cloning works for some and not for others. Personally I use another program for cloning which works where TI doesn't. But I have gotten TI to work under the right hardware conditions.

    I have often said that with TI one needs to be part geek to get things working. This shouldn't be.
     
  4. NAL44

    NAL44 Registered Member

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    RE Cloning - have found it works reliable only if the drive you are cloning is not the "booted from" or active drive. If I want to clone my C drive and trust the cloned disk, I move it to the D position, boot off another bare bones disk in C, and then run the cloning operation.
     
  5. Menorcaman

    Menorcaman Retired Moderator

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    The functionality of True Image seems to have grown like topsy over the past 12 months or so - probably because of external market forces and this forum's "Acronis True Image Wish-List thread". Indeed, I voiced my concerns about this Wish-List as can be seen in this much earlier thread titled <Hope Acronis Sticks to Knitting>.

    Personally, I feel robust Disk/Partition imaging is probably more useful to more people than Disk Cloning. I have often used disk/partition imaging and restoring, and have even used it a couple of times to migrate to larger replacement hard drives. However, I have never, ever, used the Clone function in anger. Besides, I have have a feeling that cloning isn't very convenient (or possible) for owners of laptop computers and/or folks who's systems are covered by restrictive warranty conditions. Mind you, that's not to say that current cloning feature doesn't need to be made more robust!!

    Regards
     
  6. Xpilot

    Xpilot Registered Member

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    Oh dear Tablva you really do not appear to have got your finger on the pulse in any way at all.
    I will only comment on a few of you mis-representations.
    1. Cloning is in truth not one of the best features of TI and I for one do not use it at all under any circumstances. Imaging is far superior, be it to move to a new drive or to perform a backup or restore.
    2. You do not appreciate that many users do not separate or perhaps even understand the difference between systems and data. One of the features of TI is that no such distinction need be made. The technology is such that a complete HDD containing all ones worldly goods and posessions can be backed up in and restored from an image.
    3. One of the best features of TI is that an image of the whole of a system can be done automatically in the background at a chosen level of priority and the user can continue to use the computer whilst the process is running.4. Do you run a car? if so I bet it carries a spare wheel. Any computer system should have to hand a spare replacement drive for when disaster strikes. Some people are content to wait and get a replacement when they have a breakdown. I always have one handy and from time to time use it to test the effectiveness of the backup images.

    Xpilot
     
  7. profitxchange

    profitxchange Registered Member

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    I'm with tabvla

    I only clone as my rescue tool its simple and straight forward - needs no pile of cd's/dvd's. I am far from it savvy and cloning seems so logical.

    Duplicate HDD hard wired as the slave (jumpers etc) and clone my working drive as I feel fit.

    It also allows me to play with software downloads on the spare drive before risking them on my working drive. I can restore the spare drive any time by cloning over any disaster.

    Despite Acronis warnings I have not disconnect the "spare" drive and had no boot problems. I just choose via F11 to boot to the spare if I want to play.

    I have lodged a wish list item to have the facility to have auto cloning but heard nothing.

    Cloning was the only reason I purchased TI9.
     
  8. thebigdintx

    thebigdintx Registered Member

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    i recently cloned a 40gb drive to a larger 80gb drive using t.i. 9.3567, and it worked just fine.
     
  9. Xpilot

    Xpilot Registered Member

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    I would not feel happy with just one clone taken at a point in time as my main backup. Have you considered this scenario :- You are playing happily with your spare drive trying out some new wares and it crashes so you want to go back to your main drive and it also crashes.
    I know it is a remote possibility but it is a good reason to consider imaging for backups. At any one time I have a set of whole images covering several days on a slave drive and to be double sure I have another upto date set, prepared separately, on a USB HDD. Another advantage of images is that they can be scheduled to run automatically and can be arranged to manage themselves.
    I agree with you about CDs and DVDs. I use CDs for music and DVDs for watching films with glorious surround sound :))

    Xpilot
     
  10. Cintra

    Cintra Registered Member

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    I have XP and a bunch of Linux distros on my 2 disk system, and have been using True Image disk/partition backup for years.

    For me the strength of TI lies both in its flexibility to restore a single partition - my usual need when all else fails - and in the opportunity it provides to resize a partition as its restored!

    I have in the last week replaced my 160GB 2nd drive with a 320GB one. I didn't just do a disk restore, because I wanted a disk containing only logical partitions - TI made that a simple task.

    I restored only those partitions I wanted to retain, got rid of two primary partitions in the process, and added four new logicals. All ten of them were resized to suit future needs, and they work perfectly.

    All I needed to do was change my Grub setup..

    Thank you for this fine tool Acronis :-D
     
  11. seekforever

    seekforever Registered Member

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    I agree with your approach and it makes me nervous to even think about experimenting on my "backup". Cloning is for setting up a new drive and I even do that with images or image C and use XP to copy the data partitions. Gives an opportunity to clean up some garbage to minimize copying:D

    Even though I have used DI through various versions and now XP I have never bothered with the clone function.

    For experimenting, I work on the drive and then restore the image of C. Has to be faster than working on the clone and then recloning the entire drive to recreate the backup. That's really not the biggest deficiency, which is only having one backup copy with no history to fall back on in the case of some obscure problem being discovered. On a 160GB drive you can have 1 clone or many images of your OS and data.

    Even though optical disks are not my first choice for backup media they can be burned for extra insurance and historical purposes with reasonable security by using the 2-step and verify process.
     
  12. Brian K

    Brian K Imaging Specialist

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  13. Acronis Support

    Acronis Support Acronis Support Staff

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    Hello Tabvla,

    Thank you for choosing Acronis Disk Backup Software.

    Please accept our apologies for the delay with the response.

    Thank you very much for your comments. Our team worked hard to create a good and reliable software that works fine on many computers in the world. A lot of customers wanted to have the opportunity to back up and restore individual files and folders. Therefore, this feature was added into Acronis True Image. If you do not need this feature you are free to not use it.

    Please note that if you would like to can test the created image by mounting it as a virtual drive with help of Acronis True Image and try to restore some files/folfers from it. Also as Chutsman suggested you can restore the image to another hard drive for test.

    Please also note that the main purpose of "Clone Disk" tool of Acronis True Image is to transfer the system to another (most often higher-capacity) hard disk and use this new cloned drive as a replacement of the old one. The current version of Acronis True Image does not allow you to schedule the clone procedure. Therefore, if you would like to "update" the cloned hard drive you will need to perform the clone process once again. The Backup approach is basically dedicated for the complete data backup and disaster recovery purposes. Please take a look at this FAQ article explaining the difference between Clone Disk and Backup approaches in more detail.

    Moreover, there are several advantages of creating an image over the disk cloning procedure such as: you can create an image without rebooting your PC, image creation can be scheduled for the particular point in time, Acronis True Image allows you to create incremental and differential images, image archive contains only the actual data and so it has a smaller size, images are ordinary files and so they can be stored on any type of the supported media, etc. However, the final choice is always up to your needs.

    If you want us to change the behaviour of Acronis True Image in any way or add some new features to this product, please feel free to post any of your suggestions in Acronis True Image WISH-LIST thread.

    Thank you.
    --
    Aleksandr Isakov
     
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