Backup app roundup?

Discussion in 'backup, imaging & disk mgmt' started by Tuxy, Dec 14, 2008.

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  1. Tuxy

    Tuxy Registered Member

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    Hello folks,

    I've been around this forum for a couple weeks now and I've witnessed TI experiences on both of the scale, some extremely happy, some extremely frustrated, and along the way some that recommended alternative backup programs.

    Off the top of my head, here is a list of programs I've seen mentioned:

    ShadowProtect
    Macrium Reflect
    Paragon Drive Backup
    TeraByte Image for Windows/Linux

    Has anyone here done an extensive unbiased head-to-head comparison of these?

    I'm particularly interested in the comparison of TI to the first two in the list, ShadowProtect, and Macrium Reflect.

    Although I'm currently pleased with TI 2009, I am quite curious at the discrepancy between these products. It's uncanny how similar Macrium Reflect appears by the official website's feature list. I would really like to know what it has that TI doesn't (and vice versa) as well as how they rank in terms of stability.

    I'm not expecting anyone to say "XYZ is the best program and here is why" - because realistically there are pro's and con's to each. It's rare that one program is superior across the board in its particular market sector, but I would like to understand these deltas.

    So if anyone has done a highly objective evaluation of any of these, I would be very interested in your feedback and wisdom.

    Please share!
    Thanks.
     
  2. presrc

    presrc Registered Member

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    I've been silent long enough. THE ABSOLUTE BEST BACKUP PROGRAM AVAILABLE TODAY IS 'SYMANTEC BACKUP EXEC SYSTEM RECOVERY'. Questions?
     
  3. guest

    guest Guest

    Active@ Disk Image.
    i think it is the best
     
  4. jhwker

    jhwker Registered Member

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    ShadowProtect gets my vote.

    Set it up and forget it.
     
  5. pandlouk

    pandlouk Registered Member

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    Ok, let's go again. :D

    Take a look here.
    The products that you should absolutly check (all of them are very,very reliable):
    Free
    Drive Image xml
    Paragon Drive Backup 9.0 Express
    Non Free
    Drive Snapshot
    Paragon Hard Disk Manager 2009 Suite
    StorageCraft ShadowProtect
    Symantec BackUp Exec System Recovery Desktop
    Terabyteunlimited Image for windows
    If you are interested in incremental backups go for either storagecraft or symantec.
    If not, every single one of them will do the job and will do it well.
    Go for the one that you can afford, understand and like the best. You cannot go wrong with any of the above. ;)

    Panagiotis

    ps. As for the speed do not listen to anyone. I found that the results differ (a lot) from machine to machine. I have tested all of them on very different machines/configurations. On one the fastest is Image for windows, on another drivesnapshot, on another storagecraft, on another one symantec.
     
  6. raakii

    raakii Registered Member

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    The winner from the tests conducted by pandlouk and my own tests show that drive snapshot is far superior than anything else.
     
  7. pandlouk

    pandlouk Registered Member

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    Yes drivesnapshot was overall superior especially at the speed, but last friday I bought a license for Image for windows, I couldn't resist at the discount offer.:D

    The thing that impressed me the most is their support. I reported a bug with the schedules and got a responce in less than an hour. :thumb: :thumb: :thumb:
    They won a new loyal customer. :)

    Panagiotis
     
  8. raakii

    raakii Registered Member

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    Among reliable imaging apps , speed and portability wins the contest for me , thats where image for windows loses ,since its not portable(though its great imaging app)
     
  9. pandlouk

    pandlouk Registered Member

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    You are wrong at this one. Image for windows is portable.
    (Although is a pity it cannot lock a drive in use without PHYlock. I hope that in a new version they will make it full vss compatible.)

    Panagiotis
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2008
  10. Tuxy

    Tuxy Registered Member

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    pandlouk,

    I see that Acronis True Image isn't on your list.
    Can you elaborate on why?

    I've been using True Image for a few weeks and have no major gripes, just a few minor quirks that I can tolerate.

    As for performance - this is not a major concern to me. 30min versus 20min is insignificant to me. I have no reference but Acronis seems to get the job done moderatley fast considering that my HDD is a crappy 5.4k Laptop drive with a benchmark maximum of less than 40MB/s. Dividing my C: drive size by the time it takes to run, it comes out to about 35MB/s which is plenty fast for me. Extra 10-15 minutes doesn't bother me, I don't sit and wait in front of the screen anyway.

    And clearly, with this type of operation you can only go as fast as the disk will. Furthermore, when you're working on a single spindle, the amount of alternative I/O processes running can be a major factor by creating disk contention. Even with relatively low bandwidth, if the disk head is constantly seeking out of sequence to facilitate other processes, the backup process performance suffers.

    It is tough to objectively & realistiically messure performance for backup. Only scientific way is to run the test backup where the source disk is not being used at all (i.e. not your C: drive, but some media drver) and your destination drive is yet another drive too.
     
  11. pandlouk

    pandlouk Registered Member

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    Hi Tuxy,

    Acronis is good, but not good enough. I'm not talking about their imaging technology but about the decision to exclude files from the image. A bear metal backup should copy all the files (visible and not) that are in the partition and should restore them at the exact position where they resided during the backup. And unfortunately I found (from various tests) that Acronis excludes some files even when you have selected to not exclude anything.

    On most systems this will not make a difference but in some configurations it can lead to an unbootable OS. And this is why I do not reccommend it. If they review the excluded files and do a true bear metal backup, it will re-enter in my list of reliable image applications.

    I know, that is why I told you to test them all. For finding the one that likes better your ring.

    Panagiotis
     
  12. Tuxy

    Tuxy Registered Member

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    I understand your perspective on this subject, but I don't think it's fair to penalize a program if it gives you the option. Acronis doesn't "force" you to exclude files. The only files Acronis forcibly "excludes" is the pagefile and hibernate file (doesn't really exclude them, but creates dummy files to save space).

    Other than that, it doesn't force you to exclude/alter any other files. It contains 4 excludes by default (.bak, .tmp, .tis, .~) but you can easily turn that off when you define your backup policy. So once you disable those excludes, the only alter is the 2 files I mentioned above, which I consider acceptable. I don't think these warrant negative marks.
     
  13. pandlouk

    pandlouk Registered Member

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    You are wrong on this one.
    Acronis does exclude files and I am not talking about (.bak, .tmp, .tis, .~). I do not know if it is by design or if it is a bug.

    An example:
    Driveclone Pro 3.5 allows you to transfer and boot windows xp from a usb hard disk. If you image the usb hard disk with acronis and restore it, it will become unbootable.
    If you do the same with drivesnapshot, image for windows and paragon it will boot fine.

    Anyway, if acronis works fine on your pc you should use it.

    Panagiotis

    ps. Personally, I do not like to gammble with my images. The first and most important priority of an image application should be the successfull and exact restoration of the data. A bear metal image should be an identical image of the partition and not an approximate one.
     
  14. Tuxy

    Tuxy Registered Member

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    I understand and respect your personal opinion. Not trying to convince you that this behavior is appropriate or not.

    So apart from this, what else did you find displeasing in Acronis? It seems like you dismissed it pretty quickly from your list of "qualified" candidates and I wonder if you had other reasons. Other than mentioning that it was the most feature-rich (which seems like a major pro to me) you don't say much about Acronis. The comparison is very brief to begin with, wish it was a little more in-depth. A table of features head-to-head would be terrific.
     
  15. pandlouk

    pandlouk Registered Member

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    No that, was not the reason of not including it in the reccommended ones.

    The problem is that it was not reliable. Out of 30 complete images/restores (10 on machine) it gave me 4 failures. And a 90% of success is not good enough for me (especially when the verification reports that the image was completed successfully).

    Acronis 9 was a superb product. 10,11 and 2009 are not.
    If you want to go with acronis I reccommend Acronis True Image Echo Workstation. Far more reliable than the home versions and in the long run cheaper than the home edition.

    Panagiotis
     
  16. andb

    andb Registered Member

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    I don't have anything to backup my claims but i did some testing for myself when i wanted to get a back-up program for my wife's computer. And from that testing i came to the same conclusion as stated above, that acronis was very unreliable.

    For me a back-up application has to be reliable, fail once and it's out.

    The most reliable applications i came by was paragon and shadowprotect. I started to use paragons free version to see if it was enough, and i was so happy about the performance so i ended up buying the full version.
     
  17. Tuxy

    Tuxy Registered Member

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    Please describe these 4 failures... why did it fail?
     
  18. layman

    layman Registered Member

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    I'm a long-time Acronis user (w/several licenses) but I've chosen not to update since vn. 10. The problem with Acronis is that they don't have their act together, in terms of software development process. They do a particularly miserable job of quality contol. TI v10 is reasonably stable, but nothing since has been. Even then, I stopped using the file backup features of TI because they are buggier than alternatives. The other problem with Acronis is that defects can go uncorrected in the product for years. The product is driven by an arbitrary annual release cycle and the most lame-brained product management imaginable. They could put their products on a subscription support basis and imrove quality of the base functions (as opposed to twiddling with idiotic feature kickers in the hope of selling a new version each year). They've pretty much lost me as a customer due to this mind-boggling stupidity, and I'm sure I can't be the only one!

    I've evaluated many of the imaging products, and they all have strengths and weaknesses. The most critical aspect for me, as the owner of home business, is what they provide in terms of recovery options and whether or not the recovery disks they offer support the network adapters on my various machines (which back up to repositories on a server.) Sure, I could go the BartPE route, but I can't afford the time it would require.

    The ideal imaging product would allow you the option of an exact restore or a restructured restore, but many do just one or the other. The ideal product would also image to a virtual drive that you could mount and access using standard OS facilities. This is the main drawback of the Terabyte Unlimited products. Also, the ideal product would decouple its recovery disk from the imager. Macrium does this, Acronis does not. You can only get updated driver support from Acronis if you pony up for a new version.

    For file backup, I am currently using Titan Backup, which takes some getting used to, but works well. They have announced that they are working on an imaging capability, so I'll be interested to see what they deliver. I dislike the fact that vendors are trending toward packaging imaging and file backup in the same product, and I hope they won't do that. Some of the file backup programs nowadays (and Titan is one of them) work like an imaging product in that their sensitivity is to the recording layout rather than to the file system. What do I mean by that? Well, a file is considered to have been modified if its location on the disk has changed, even if its contents have not been altered. This approach doesn't play well with defragmentation when using an incremental file backup scheme.
     
  19. Tuxy

    Tuxy Registered Member

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    Thanks for the feedback, layman. Great job at summarizing in layman's terms... had to say it ;-).

    All your points seem perfectly logical to me and I do notice this trend of poor QA with Acronis having been reading the Acronis forum section here. However, I like the features Acronis offers and it would be a pain to pick up different backup apps for different backup policies as you do. I'd like a single solution for all backups (and I use image backups with exclusions, as well as file-based backups).

    Right now everything appears to be working for me with v12/2009 but I wonder if I don't change the way I use Acronis today, is there risk of backup corruption due to "random" bugs?

    I know Acronis has some visual/GUI bugs - those I can live with. What I can't live with is bugs in the internal backup process. Has Acronis had such bugs in the past? E.g. backup says "Success" but fails to restore or fails to verify, etc?

    Thanks.
     
  20. Tuxy

    Tuxy Registered Member

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    Okay... maybe I'll give Paragon a shot...

    Does Paragon Disk Manager contain everything that Paragon Drive Backup offers?

    I don't really need the extras offered by PDM but if it is 100% the same (and only more) than PDB then I may pony up the $10 (after my trial).
     
  21. pandlouk

    pandlouk Registered Member

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    I do not know the reason. It simple reported a failure during the restorations. (I tried to restore more than once, those images).
    Paragon Hard Disk manager = Drive Backup + Partition Manager + Disk wiper

    Panagiotis
     
  22. layman

    layman Registered Member

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    True Image files are notorious for turning out to be corrupt at the worst possible moment, but I don't personally believe this is any fault of Acronis. That said, I stopped using TI for file backup because of bugs. Not terrible bugs, mind you, but an aggravation, nevertheless. Without going into a lengthy description of my backup process, suffice it to say that restoring from an incremental backup set can sometimes result in multiple instances or versions of the same file. So, after a restore, a directory that should contain a single instance of a file named 'example.bug' will also contain spurious duplications or versions with name variations something like 'example@.bug' and 'example@@.bug'. Doesn't happen all the time, but, hey! And, as with many file backup programs, TI is weak about how it treats deletions in an incremental backup scheme. [To be clear: I'm talking about incremental file backup here, not incremental imaging. Acronis does just fine with the latter, in my experience.]

    Titan, by contrast, is much better (though not perfect) in doing restores from an incremental set. It stores file backups in standard zip archives, but has a mechanism for noting deletions. It also has a mechanism for recording critical OS and application (e.g. Outlook) states. So, I've rather stopped doing incremental imaging of my machines. I'll do a full image, then rely on the Titan file backups when I need to recreate an interim state. Unfortunately, given that Acronis restores are restructured, and Titan keys off the disk map rather than the file system, when I restore a TI image and then update that from the Titan backup, Titan insists that every friggin' file has changed and replaces them all. The end result, however, is virtually perfect - the state of the machine at the point the Titan backup was cut. I use the qualifier 'virtually' because the handling of deletions isn't perfect. For example, I use an application that is configured to keep three-deep backups of its database. These backups are uniquely named, and when the app creates a new one it deletes the oldest. Although Titan records that these older ones have been deleted, for some reason they ALL wind up present following restoration. Sometimes the deletion mechanism works, sometimes it don't.
     
  23. Mrkvonic

    Mrkvonic Linux Systems Expert

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    Hello,

    I think it is quite difficult to make an objective assessment, because most of use backups for critical data, so this can get quite personal. And for this reason exactly, you should use what suits you the best. Because it should backup your data correctly and not someone else's.

    Backup / imaging, you must try for yourself. And only when you're convinced that it works for YOU, on YOUR machine, will your task be complete.

    Mrk
     
  24. layman

    layman Registered Member

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    Maybe they've gotten this problem corrected, because I just did a restore that worked perfectly!
     
  25. Defcon

    Defcon Registered Member

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    That doesn't make any sense o_O Are you saying TI itself works but the images get corrupt due to something else?
     
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