Benefit of FirstDefense-ISR over or alongside Acronis True Image

Discussion in 'FirstDefense-ISR Forum' started by q1aqza, Aug 10, 2006.

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  1. q1aqza

    q1aqza Registered Member

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    I am planning to download the trial of this as it seems to get mentioned so much, but I have a few questions about its benefit over and above Acronis (or a similar image product).

    A bit about my use of Acronis TI:
    I currently have a multiboot/multi-partition Win XP Pro set-up, one partition is my main ‘everyday use OS’ with email, MS office apps, and security software etc. The next partition is a very lean XP build with no security apps running, which is used for digital video and photo editing and gaming (not online) and I have a third boot partition that I use for my app testing.

    The first two partitions hardly change but the test partition changes a lot. I use Acronis True Image and have various images of each partition, generally a totally vanilla fresh build before any apps are installed, an image with my core apps appropriate to that partition, e.g. MS Office, Adobe Premiere, Games etc. and then a third with a layer of security apps and any other utilities. From the third image onwards for all of my partitions but mostly my test partition, I just create smaller incremental Acronis images before I install any new software. Every so often, if I’m happy with all the added apps, I will then create a full image that incorporates all these incrementals. I can then delete the incrementals freeing up some diskspace and the cycle begins again. All my images are stored on the second hard drive and core images backed up to DVD and external USB drive.

    For system recovery I use the Acronis boot CD and just select which ever image I want from the second hard drive or external USB, etc.

    My questions:
    1. What can FirstDefense-ISR do for my set up that TI can’t, or isn’t already doing, for me?
    2. I’ve read that many use it alongside something like TI or Ghost – to me they seem so similar so why would you use both?
    3. Are the snapshots similar in size to TI or are they much smaller?
    4. Creation speed, on my system TI will create a complete image of a 7GB partition at high compression in 6-9 minutes and restore in about 5 or 6 mins – how does FDISR compare?
    5. In a multi-partition/multi-boot set up like mine I assume I would need to install it on each of the partitions and treat each one independently?

    I currently have no knowledge of this program and I am asking from an inquisitive point of view to enhance my PC use, I’m not in anyway questioning the usefulness of FDISR. I’m sure when I do trial it I may end up answering most of my own questions but it would be useful to know more beforehand.

    Thanks.
     
  2. Acadia

    Acadia Registered Member

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  3. wilbertnl

    wilbertnl Registered Member

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    Welcome q1aqza,

    So, you have a setup with three independent partitions with different purposes, maintained by ATI.
    FirstDefense-ISR is offering the same and more, but as a multi boot/single partition solution.
    If you have C:\, D:\ and E:\ as your three Windows partitions, then you will find advantage when using FD-ISR.
    The reason is that all snapshots are C:\, so when you decide that some test is successful, you are able to simply copy that test snapshot to your production snapshot. No imaging needed.
    And you are able to maintain up to 10 snapshots concurrently, only limited by diskspace. The amount of archives (which is more like the ATI image) is unlimited.

    I bet that you will find that FD-ISR is more flexible for your purpose: imagine that you are testing antivirus software and have test#1, test#2, test#3, test#4 all configured with different solutions. You are able to test all of them almost at the same time, when you are just a reboot away from switching to a different setup. And all the test setups continue to be available, meaning going back and forth has never been easier.

    2. In case of disaster that requires disk replacement, you can't easily recover with FD-ISR, since it needs Windows to run.
    That's why ATI is still used, for bare metal recovery.

    3. Snapshots are in size equal to your current installations, for now that means partition#1 + partition#2 + partition#3 = total snapshot size.
    But you can merge the partitions, right? And each snapshot takes as much as a regular Windows installation.
    Archives are smaller, but larger than ATI images.

    4. Creating snapshots/archives will seem slow and disappointing, but updating them is faster. So it may be faster after all.

    5. Multi-partitions are not supported and not needed at all. You will find that you are using your diskspace more efficiently. Think of the free space in each of your partitions that is not used. Now you can combine that!

    So, maybe you are not able to test FD-ISR in your test partition, you are required to test FD-ISR in the C:\ partition.
    No big deal since you have an image and a second similar partition, right?
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2006
  4. q1aqza

    q1aqza Registered Member

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    Thanks wilbertnl, that has given me a much better understanding. And thanks acadia for the link, i've read the FAQ and parts of the user guide.

    It looks very interesting and I can now see why TI will still be needed.

    I think I'll give the trial a go at the weekend. Presumably the trial is fully functional?
     
  5. ErikAlbert

    ErikAlbert Registered Member

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    TI and FDISR are good friends on my computer, no problems with restoring the system partition, the snapshots and the MBR.
     
  6. Acadia

    Acadia Registered Member

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    Yes, the trial is fully functional. :cool:

    Acadia
     
  7. q1aqza

    q1aqza Registered Member

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    A quick question, would the installation of FDISR 'mess' up my current multiboot set up? For the trial I obviously want to keep everything as existing
     
  8. wilbertnl

    wilbertnl Registered Member

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    You didn't reveal how you handle the multi partition boot.

    In case your first partition is always active and you select from the Windows bootmanager (boot.ini) the partition to boot, I don't expect a problem for now.

    In case you have some boot manager running (ATI OS selector?), you will find that this conflicts with FD-ISR, since both rewrite the MBR.
    But you are able to easily disable the FD-ISR pre-boot, after which the OS selector dominates again.
    I have tested this, and at first it might seem scarry when you loose your multi-boot selector, but FD-ISR handles it gracefully by rewriting back the MBR as it was before installation, as opposed to writing back a standard MBR.
    It's a matter of disabling the FD-ISR pre-boot, just one click in the menu.

    -> Make sure that your partition has enough disk space for at least two or three times the current used space, since that is how FD-ISR works.
     
  9. q1aqza

    q1aqza Registered Member

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    I'm only using the windows boot.ini that was created on the C: drive which was updated each time I installed the OS in the subsequent partitions. So I asume that wil be OK then?

    Unfortunately my C drive partition doesn't have enough free space for even two times it's current used space - it's a 10GB partition and I use about 7GB. I've read that I can store snapshots on elsewhere i.e. my second HDD but I realise I can't test the immediate recovery doing it that way.

    My other option is to roll back to a vanilla ATI image that only had clean windows installed. That will only be a couple of gigs.

    I don't think my C drive ATI will have the MBR so do you think I should do an ATI disk image before I go ahead and install FDISR as I know that will definitely include the current MBR in the image? Or will disabling the FDISR pre-boot automatically restore my MBR which means I can then restore my original C drive image once I've finished trialing FDISR?
     
  10. wilbertnl

    wilbertnl Registered Member

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    Snapshots are similar to your system partitions, in order to boot into them they have to reside in C:\. Nowhere else will work.
    Archives on the other hand can be stored anywhere, second disk, DVD, USB drive, etc.

    I think you have two options:
    First you backup all your Windows partitions (if they occupy your first harddisk, then it makes sense to image your whole disk)
    1: Restore a small Windows installation and test from there. Like you suggest.
    2: Remove all your partitions, create one single partition and restore your C: image. Test from there.

    I suggest the second option.

    If the test is successful and you like to continue using FD-ISR for your testing purposes, you need to know that your D:\ and E:\ installations will render useless. You will need to rebuild them in empty snapshots, by doing a fresh installation of Windows. That might be somthing you want to test too this weekend?

    Concerning the MBR, I don't expect a problem in any way you go, ATI will always write a standard MBR (like you have now) when you tell it to make the restored partition active. Don't worry about it, your rollback after the test will work just fine.
     
  11. q1aqza

    q1aqza Registered Member

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    :thumb:
    I had a bit of a play over the weekend and I really like it. I need to spend more time using it to understand it better my initial thoughts are that this is a really useful tool and I’m sure I will end up buying it.

    The only minor disappointment so far is the amount of time it takes to create a new snapshot but I’m thinking that once I have set up my own optimal quantities/configurations of snapshots I’ll probably end up archiving any new ones to my 2nd HDD which is obviously a lot quicker.

    Wilbertnl, I haven’t yet tested creating a fresh install in an empty snapshot, but what I did do was create an archive of a new ‘vanilla’ build that had a few core apps/configurations that would be the common basis to any installation that I would use, e.g. static IP (for firewall port forwarding for P2P), autopatched, wireless drivers installed/configured, Nero, zip program, etc.). I can then copy this to a new snapshot whenever I need to create a ‘fresh’ install. But I will give it a try though out of curiosity!

    As I said, I need more play time but so far I’m really impressed. :thumb:
     
  12. wilbertnl

    wilbertnl Registered Member

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    Absolute true, but you also will find out that copy/update to an existing snapshot is amazingly fast.
    You might end up leaving snapshots and archives in place and just update them as needed. Even when you update a bulky bloated snapshot with a lightweight snapshot, it's faster to update that than to remove/create new snapshot.

    I have my archives on a second disk, and I use them like templates for snapshots.
     
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