Backup software and strategy needed

Discussion in 'backup, imaging & disk mgmt' started by WSFfan, Feb 14, 2013.

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  1. WSFfan

    WSFfan Registered Member

    May 10, 2012
    The Earth
    I have 50 GB of Data containing photos,video files and some documents in 320 GB SATA harddisk running Rollback Rx 9.1 in Win 7 OS.The hard disk has been partitioned into two sections one for OS and other for DATA.

    I am running Rollback Rx at the moment since i do not have external disk for imaging or backup.But i will get 750 GB WD Passport portable hard drive in a couple of weeks time by way of a gift for imaging/backup purpose.

    I am a newbie when it comes to imaging.

    1.Is it worthwhile to make a full sector to sector backup of the hard disk containing all snapshots of Rollback Rx?
    2.Just make a complete backup of the hard disk containing OS and Data without Rollback Rx.

    How long will it take for backup and restore for case 1 and 2 approximately?

    How much space will it occupy for backup for case 1 and 2 in my 750 GB WD portable hard disk approximately?

    Which backup software do you recommend for case 1 and 2?

    Doesn't matter if it is free or paid,i will buy one if needed.

    Also suggest good backup strategy for me.

    Awaiting your reply.

    Last edited: Feb 14, 2013
  2. whitedragon551

    whitedragon551 Registered Member

    Sep 30, 2008
    The way your hard drive sits now isnt a good idea for backups. If that HD goes out you lose all of your data plus your backups. They should always be stored on separate drives.

    Typically a sector by sector backup is useful to clone your drive onto another. It takes up alot more data because it even stores empty sectors.

    I always run a full backup and leave it at that. I dont mess with incremental or differential backups. If I have to do a restore I just want to restore my latest full image and be done.
  3. Fuzzfas

    Fuzzfas Registered Member

    Jun 24, 2007
    First, i agree with WhiteDragon.

    Second, IMHO, it's not worth it to backup the Rollback snapshots too, you 're wasting time, space and increase likelyhood that something goes bad and the image is screwed. So i vote for 2, but it's a matter of need/taste. Other folks like to image with the Rollback snapshots included.

    This depends on the program, amount of data and interface. If you backup to EXTERNAL (portable) hard disk, then your transfer rate will be limited to the one of the interface. For example, with USB2, it will be the USB protocol to limit the speed, not the hard disk. There will be a top speed of about 35 mb/sec at the best case. With USB3, things get more hard disk limited, but depends on the hard disk. USB3 transfer rate to external drive will be around 70 mb/s on average, provided you have modern drives. So, the bigger the data you image, the slower the backup and restore. esata will be somewhere in between.

    Again, this depends on the program, compression level and compressibility of the data. Videos for example, are already compressed. So the imaging software can't make miracles with re-compressing them to high levels. You must try and see for yourself, nobody can guarantee you how much compressible your data is. Usually, with high compression in software, for data, you get 1/3-1-4 of the original data size.

    I think for 1, the only reccommended here is Image For Windows. For 2, anyone you like. Macrium Free or Paragon Free, will do the job. Paragon allows differential backup too.

    There is no "good strategy". It depends on your needs. I usually prefer full backups with Macrium Free on demand. Other people like incrementals, others like differential, others prefer background backup.
  4. CyberMan969

    CyberMan969 Registered Member

    Apr 21, 2011
    This is going to be a very long post, I hope you'll have the patience to read it all and maybe print it for future off-line reference. First of all, +1 to whitedragon. Never trust a single piece of media for your files. Get yourself a couple of external hard disks and always make at least two copies of everything you value. Each copy should be stored on a different disk, one of which should always be stored away from the computer.

    Another solution would be to burn valuable files on good quality DVD+R or BluRay media. Verbatim are the only BD-R/BD-RW media I'm currently still using. They are of top quality; but once again don't entrust your irreplaceable files on a single optical disc: Make at least two copies of it on different discs, plus a third copy on a hard disk. This is not paranoia: I have seen many people get burned because they stored their files on a single piece of media which then died on them and they lost everything.

    This is my tried and tested "paranoid" methodology:

    Step 1:

    It would be best to move all your user folders from C: to your DATA partition first. There is no point for things like your photos, videos and music files to be placed on C:. If such files are on C: your RX snapshots and backups would be huge. Keep your Windows partition clean and lean and free of bloat and unecessary stuff. I assume you have already done that, and that your photos, music, documents and videos are all in your DATA partition already. Make a second copy of all those folders plus any other personal files to an external disk, or on good quality DVD or BD media.

    If you value your data don't go cheap on optical media. You can't go wrong with Verbatim media. If you are buying those in a shop make sure to avoid Verbatim DVD+R that are made in China. You have to check the actual pack for the country of manufacture. Verbatim DVD+R media which are made in Japan, India, Taiwan, Singapore and the UAE are all good quality. With Verbatim BD-R/RW media the country of manufacture is not such a problem.

    When shopping online for Verbatim DVD+R discs, search for the media code MCC 004. This is the media code for the dye used on those discs, it is one of the best quality DVD+R dyes out there. Do not go by brand, the brand means nothing where optical media are concerned: You could get Philips, Sony, TDK etc. discs which may have inferior dyes and that would result in inferior burns which wouldn't last long. Bottom line: With DVD media the brand on the box means nothing: The dye's media code and country of origin is what makes the difference.

    More info on DVD media quality:

    When burning optical discs use a slow burning speed: x12 at the most for DVD+R, and x6 for BD-R. Use a program like ImgBurn (freeware) to burn your data on them and make sure to tick the box that verifies each disc after the burn.

    Step 2:

    Buy Acronis True Image 2013. There are other decent backup programs out there (Macrium, Paragon, Todo, to name a few) but for me Acronis is the best. Install Acronis in Windows, reboot your system, activate the program, then create a couple of Acronis start-up CDs and also two start-up USB sticks. These Acronis start-up media will enable you to boot from them and perform backup/restore operations outside Windows, ideal for cases where Windows is really screwed and won't boot. Once again use Verbatim CDs and good quality USB sticks for this purpose. A couple of good quality SanDisk, PNY, Transcend, Corsair etc. 2GB sticks would be perfect for this. Here's a list of recently tested decent brands:

    Why a couple of CDs plus USB sticks? Once again it's best to have backups of such media. USB sticks can die on you without warning at any moment, and the same applies with optical media whose dye can fade or crack with time. Some computers have no optical drives (e.g. netbooks) and you would need to run Acronis via a start-up USB stick on such systems. Imagine that your Windows installation is screwed and then you realize that your sole copy of Acronis start-up media is lost or damaged. Or that a friend asks you to backup their netbook and then you realize that you only have an Acronis CD available and no USB optical drive to run the disc from... Always think of the worst case scenario, this way you will be prepared for most eventualities. You don't have to get burned and learn the hard way.

    After your Acronis start-up discs/sticks have been created it is essential to test them all, in order to make sure that your computer can actually boot from them into the off-line version of Acronis. Boot your PC with each one of those discs/USB sticks and see if Acronis boots OK. After all the media have been tested you can then proceed to restore an older snapshot in order to undo the Acronis installation if you want to. There is really no point to have Acronis installed in Windows after creating the start-up media - unless of course you want to schedule daily automated incremental backups. In your case this is not recommended because you have RX installed so all your backups of C: have to be raw, sector-by-sector images in order to preserve your snapshots. Restore an older snapshot in order to get rid of the Windows version of Acronis, and use the program off-line, via its start-up media.

    Step 3:

    Once you have copied/moved all your personal files to external media and have created and tested all the Acronis start-up media, the first thing to do is run a program like CCleaner in order to delete any junk files from C:. Reboot the system afer that, access the RX boot console, and delete any RX snapshots you may not need. Also make sure to defrag your snapshots at this point, before booting back into your latest Windows snapshot. Plug in your Acronis USB stick, restart the system again and boot into Acronis True Image. Perform a full sector-by-sector backup of your Windows partition only. It may not be designated as C: when working with Acronis outside Windows, make sure you select the correct partition. Also make sure that the sector-by-sector option is selected in order to preserve your Rollback RX snapshots. Click Next and select your external hard disk as the destination for your backup. Never backup directly to optical media. Selecting an optical drive for the backup will take ages, will require a crapload of discs, and even if a single one of those discs is burned badly then your whole backup set will be useless and wasted.

    Once you select your destination and before proceeding with the backup make sure to click the options button. Click Next, make sure full backup is selected, then click Next again and you will be presented with a screen similar to this:

    This is a screenshot from the Windows version, some options won't be there on the off-line version. Leave compression at the default standard level. Selecting high compression will not save you much space and your backup will take ages to complete. You only need to worry about two of the options here: Under the archive splitting section type in 4480 MB. This will split the image file to DVD sized chunks which you can later burn to DVD+R media when back in Windows. Selecting a custom size of 4480MB for the splitting means that almost all the available optical disc space will be used when you burn those chunks on DVD+R media later on. There will also be a verification option there (it is not shown on the screenshot), make sure you most definitely tick the verification box so that your backup will be verified for corruption after it is created. Click Next again and you will be presented with the last option, a box where you can add your own notes to the backup. Make sure you add the date and a detailed description of what the backup contains. I usually put things there like " First Win7 x64 sector-by-sector backup of C: partition only. Includes all Windows updates up to this date, nVidia driver vXXX.XX, Avast vXXX Comodo Firewall vXXX, CCleaner vXXX and Rollback RX with X number of snapshots." It would be helpful if you have written these details on a piece of paper in advance so you can type them in at this point. Putting a detailed description for any software you have installed will be handy if you want to restore this backup some months down the line, as you will be able to see at a glance what this backup contains.

    Step 4:

    Once this backup has been verified you can then go back to Windows and make a second copy of your backup on a different disk, then boot back into Acronis and verify this backup copy as well. You can also burn the chunks to DVD+R, or even better, to BD-R or BD-RW media. Make sure you verify each burn after it is created and don't delete the original backup chunks after you burn them, this will be a backup of the backup. Verification of the discs by ImgBurn doesn't mean that your backup chunks have been burned without problems: At this point you need to create a folder on your external hard disk and copy all chunks from each optical disc into that folder. Once all discs have been copied that way you must boot back into Acronis, browse to the folder where you copied your optical disc chunks, and verify this backup copy as well. If Acronis verifies the backup without errors this means that your backup chunks have been burned correctly. You could always verify your chunks straight from the DVDs/BD-Rs but this will take longer and you'll have to keep swapping disks. Copying them to the hard disk first and then verifying them would be preferable. Once they verify OK store those discs in a drawer somewhere, they will be your lifeline that will bring your system back from dead in the case of a sophisticated malware infection, or if the hard disk that holds your original backup chunks kicks the bucket.

    As an added precaution I would load Acronis and re-verify all backup copies once every few months, just to make sure that no corruption has crept in...
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2013
  5. aladdin

    aladdin Registered Member

    Jan 9, 2006
    1. You don't need to backup all the snapshots of Rollback Rx.
    2. You don't need to do sector to sector backup as it is a waste of time.
    3. Divide your hard drive into three partitions. One small 60GB partition for your OS and programs. This will be your main "OS" Drive which will be "C" Drive
    4. The rest you can keep for your documents and so forth. This will be 100GB as "D" Drive for your "Imaging" Drive and 160GB as "E" Drive for "Data" Drive for your documents.
    5. Protect only "C" Drive with Rollback Rx and not "D" Drive, "E" Drive or any other Drive at all.
    6. Move all your "User Files" to this "E" Drive. Right Click on "My Documents" Properties and move it to E:\My Documents. You can do this for all your "Users Files".
    7. Use Macrium Reflect FREE to image your "C" Drive, while Rollback Rx is installed. Image it to "D" Drive. Once a while copy this image to the Portable Hard Drive as a backup in case of your Hard Disk failure.
    8. Use SyncBack Free to Mirror all your "User Files" from "E" Drive to your Portable Hard Drive. The first time it will take very long time. After that only changed files / deleted files / new files will be Mirrored.

    Best regards,
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2013
  6. CyberMan969

    CyberMan969 Registered Member

    Apr 21, 2011
    As you can see CSK, different users bring in different methodologies that work well for them, plus a variety of opinion on what software to use. Follow your gut and do what is best for your needs and your level of paranoia...:D
  7. TheRollbackFrog

    TheRollbackFrog Registered Member

    Mar 1, 2011
    The Pond - USA
    You SHOULD be running imaging regardless of whether you have an external disk or not.

    While I agree with WhiteDragon that it won't protect you against HDD failure, it will protect you against the more incidious attacks on your primary system partition... malware, Rootkits, MBR failure (due to malware), bad software installs, etc. These are much more common, statistically, than HDD failures. Due to these facts, you should be imaging your primary partition (C:\) to your secondary partition (D:\) while you decide when and where to obtain an external storage element.

    If you're running a fairly sophisticated Rollback-based system that uses many operational forks for different efforts/workflows, yes... it could be very important.

    If you're using Rollback only for backup purposes only, then the current system state is all you really need to get back to... and that can be done with a "careful" imaging of your current system partition, not a full sector-by-sector backup.

    It's a philosophical thing at this point. The basic optimal (for me, at least) system structure is as you currently have it... a system ROOT partition containing only the OS and your running applications, and a secondary DATA partition containing any and all data structures (documents, music, videos, etc.)

    The system partition should be fully imaged ("used" sectors, not RAW or sector-by sector) and regularly... this to protect your system against HDD failure and the more common types of system failures due to extraneous tampering.

    The DATA partition should be examined for organization, and decisions should be made as to exactly what kinds of files are important and should be saved. This is usually not the entire partiton, although you could deal with it that way... it's usually just identifying the absolutely "have to have" file set and where they live, then select a good file backup program (not necessarily an imager) and save just those files to an external volume or in the CLOUD somewhere.

    As mentioned earlier, your backup device is in control of this effort... if it's USB2 based, it will be slowish (25mB/sec), if it's USB3-based it will be much faster and if it's eSATA-based it will run at system disk speeds (60-125mB/sec).

    Even using some sort of lossless imaging, a typical system partition will compress to the 60% level, assuming you don't have the least compressible data (music, video) on that partition. That makes your typical system partition (mine is appx. 30gB at the moment) come in at about 18gB for the backup image.

    Using similar compression techniques with data file backup only, I suspect it'll be a bit more due to the non-compressible nature of all those videos and music but you only need the most important data (what you CAN'T lose). This type of data should come in at about 85% of original size.

    That's a tough one... everyone has opinions. There is a lot of really good imaging applications out there, some slower than others, some not quite as extensive as others, some FREE, some paid... it can get complicated depending on how deep you wanna get into the bowels of the application.

    I personally use IFW... it has been flawless for me. On non-Rollback systems, just about all the imaging software is fairly successful, both in HOT imaging (from a LIVE system) and COLD imaging from a recovery style disc. This would be the most uncomplicated use of imaging systems.

    Systems using Rollback RX are in a different ballpark. Successful HOT imaging (used sector or sector-to-sector) appears to be done by only one application (IFW), and even using that, requires some serious tweaking at the OS level following a careful installation sequence. Successful COLD imaging on RBrx system can only be done in a sector-to-sector mode if you want your current system image returned, otherwise you'll get only your BASELINE image which may be pretty old at that time. Personally, I would stay away from imaged Rollback systems unless your a tech geek by nature... they require some sophisticated knowledge of Rollback and the OS itself.

    Feel free to peruse Wilders... there's tons of discussions/experience with almost all imaging tools available.

    Well, to each his own... it all depends on what's needed by the user and what's most important to him/her.

    Imaging your primary system partition for disaster recovery is very important. If you have a very dynamic system configuration, you should image multiple times per day... ask yourself the question, "How much work am I willing to lose?" That will answer your imaging repetition question for your primary system partition.

    As far as data is concerned, file backup may be done many ways. The most important files can be backed up almost in real time using a sync type of dynamic backup, other data types may be done periodically (hourly, daily, etc.). These types of backups usually only occur if there's been a file content change so often backup schedules don't necessarily generate a lot of work for your computer to do at file backup time.

    You need to understand your needs completely before deciding on an absolute approach.
  8. Sully

    Sully Registered Member

    Dec 23, 2005
    I have given this topic a lot of time over the years. I have used many different strategies. They all work, some are easier than others though.

    For long term storage I use optical media. I guess this would be a "failsafe backup".

    I don't really backup any more though per se. I bought a Synology NAS device. I put two WD 1tb Black drives in it, in a mirrored raid array. That is where I put anything I want to keep. I can access it from any pc in the house, and because it includes ftp, I can access my data from anywhere remotely as well. Since this is a mirrored raid array, I can lose one drive and the data is still safe. I am betting that I won't lose two drives at once.

    If one of my drives goes out, I will then backup to usb drive or dvd/bluray the data on the remaining drive. I will then go out and buy two more new drives, and "rebuild" the array. This basically means I stick a new drive in with the old, and the new drive will be "built" to match the old. I then remove the old drive and stick the other new one in, and repeat the process. Now my two new drives have all the data from the old drive.

    Thats how I do it. I don't trust single drives for storage any longer, and I don't like backing up gigs and gigs of data.

    The bonus to this is that my OS drive, an SSD, is only 80gb. I don't need all that storage any longer. And, as long as I have copied anything new from my SSD to the NAS, I can reformat/reimage my SSD as I please, since I don't have much of anything to backup any longer.

  9. bgoodman4

    bgoodman4 Registered Member

    Jan 13, 2009
    What can I say that has not already been said. Not much thats for sure. I image my drive weekly and upload critical files to an on-line storage site nightly. RollBack Rx takes care of the rest. I do not concern myself with capturing the snapshots but if this is of concern to you sometime in the next 3 or 4 weeks Horizon supposedly will be releasing a new version of Drive Cloner Rx that will accomplish this. In the meantime get one of the free imaging programs and back up with that until DC Rx has been released and has proven itself.
  10. Keatah

    Keatah Registered Member

    Jan 13, 2011
    I rarely image a data disk - photos, music, docs, vids, and so forth. I use a filesync program instead. Absolutely no need to re-build an image if all you've done is added weekend photos that are maybe 500 megs. Just add them to your existing 2nd copy.

    Never rely on RBRX for backup purposes. And if you do, you still need to do a sector-by-sector image anyways.
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