"Caveat emptor" - buyer beware

Discussion in 'Acronis True Image Product Line' started by thomasdahl, Aug 17, 2007.

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  1. thomasdahl

    thomasdahl Registered Member

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    I have just enjoyed a wonderful 24 hours with Acronis True Image 10.

    If you are interested in my assessment and if you are sitting comfortably I will begin...

    - Last Friday I had my rental car broken into in the UK and my laptop was stolen (and Credit Cards, Passport etc.) A total disaster but I was able to sleep that night knowing that I had created an image of the Hard Drive back in my German office. Phew.

    - So I order a new, ABSOLUTELY identical lap-top. It arrived yesterday and I sat down with a brand new copy of Acronis True Image 10 and got quite excited about recreating my hard disk.

    - In went the CD and after some wirling up came the option to run Acronis in RAM (with or without drivers) or to simply go ahead and run the pre-installed windows XP.

    - After a few seconds a friendly little message came up saying "Loading, please wait". So I did. And some more. After 1 hour I figured I had waited enough... I retried the load. More waiting. Again. And Again. What does one do now I think to my self. I start to read the hand-book. Nothing there. OK, so I am in a hurry. Let's call Acronis Support. After 10mins in the cue at 69 cent per minute I get a friendly but rather bored tech guy who tells me I have to press F11 while the program boots and start to mess with Linux core variables as there are know issues with the program with some hardware.. Ok, I'm starting to get a little nervous now. I mess with parameters for another hour. I recon I am now up to 20-30 in support costs.. Not only that but I am really getting worried.

    - Nothing seems to work. I am now told that I have to create an image of my windows xp using something called BartXP... So now I am essentially being asked to compile a working version of True Image and to burn a new bootabe CD.

    - Ok, 4 hours later I have completely lost it and have put the box away.

    What have I learnt from this:

    * True Image 10 may be a good program, but it does not run on all systems that run window XP. Excuse me... but that is not what it says on the box.

    * The program does not include any time-outs to trap and correct and loading faults. No was should the program sit and say "Loading, please wait" for 1 hour. This is simply BAD programming. The program should have come back and offered to try to install differently and mess with its own parameters until it either works or tells the user to get the big hammer. Also, why use Linux? I can see no reference to this on the box. It says "Windows XP" compatible... But we all know that Linux is not compatible on all and every piece of hardware. They are having us on.. surely.

    * Acronis have the ultimate get-out... They state that all users should test their back-up images and that they are not responsible if they do not work unless the user has tested them first. Now here is the thing.. If the image will not install without problems, the user has likely already corrupted their CURRENT installation. Trashed Hard Disk and Trashed Image. This seems like a very significant issue with the whole image making concept. This is a conceptional issue for which I cannot see a resolution.

    * So I went back to my friendly computer store and asked for my money back. Oh no sir. We cannot take back an opened software program.. but sir, I have not registered it and I have proven that it does not do what it says on the box... No matter sir, maybe we can hang it in the window and someone will buy it for less than you paid and we can give you the money... I told him to keep the program and put it where there is little daylight.

    * It seems to me that the whole image industry is suffers from some significant design problems... For the casual user using this type of image back up software makes no sense. It is better to accept that a system crash (or a virus attack) is an excuse to upgrade the hardware. (boy I wish knew earlier this week as I would have ordered a faster sexier machine - but I wanted to be able to recreate my hard drive...). The user should make sure that all loaded software CDs are always available for a fresh install and regularly back up user data on a network drive or USB drive using Total Commander or similar. Most email programs have great tools for backing up their databases... This is faster and safer than any image making. It is also going to create a faster safer system as windows likes a fresh install once in a while, and all the junk that is filling the hard disk gets dumped at the same time. It used to be that windows likes to be reinstalled from scratch about once a year, things are better now, but it is still good practice.

    So where does True Image fit in all this?

    * If you are running an IT department and have to recreate computers regularly, then the "setting up" and "going through the pain" of getting True Image to work makes sense. It will save time and is good for the users. For home use it makes little sense as a better strategy is to simply back up the user data and keep a stack of programs CD handy. After all, a hard disk crash is always waiting around the corner.

    I concede that some gamers may not be happy to loose their "top scores" but they should maybe think of this a part of the game...

    I am curious if I am alone with this experience or if I may have lost the plot somewhere.. I for one will tell my colleagues do start to use Total Commander. And frequently. Creating an image takes too long and may not work. It takes sooo long that the user will only bother to do it infrequently and this rather defeats the object of doing so.

    Thoughts..?

    All the best
    Thomas

    PS. I just noticed the statistics in this forum that state that 33% of all users have had "10 out of 10" restore failures using imaging software. I sure wish I had known this earlier. 33% is not acceptable and completely invalidates the product.
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2007
  2. davekolb

    davekolb Registered Member

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    Not to diminish yours or anyone's problems but it is a good idea to verify backups as well as have restore tests. Dave
     
  3. SloPoke

    SloPoke Registered Member

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    I understand your frustration, but you cannot place the blame entirely on Acronis for the situation. People that backup without testing the restore are asking for trouble at the most inconvenient moment.

    The second step you should have performed after buying the software was to ensure that your backups could be restored. Short of doing an actual restore, that means testing that you could boot from the recovery CD, seeing that all your drives were visible, and the backup image could be read and verified. These simple steps should be done after every hardware change. If all that worked, you could be reasonably assured that a restore would work properly.

    And you cannot draw any conclusions about the validity of the software from this forum. A very small percentage of people who use TI post in this forum, and the majority of the people who do are the ones having problems and asking for help. So the statistics are skewed.
     
  4. seekforever

    seekforever Registered Member

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    I agree with SloPoke . Until you have tested your restore you haven't done the full job of installing the software. See what they do in large data centers when they install a new backup program - strenuously tested for a long period of time and then often run in parallel with the old one for a few cycles.

    Having said that, you do point out the Achilles heel of TI which is the Linux recovery environment. It is probably this component that is responsible for most of the user frustration. Why a Windows environment is not used such as WindowsPE is likely due to licensing ($$$) issues. An active partition cannot be restored with regular Windows running.

    Another point I'll concede to you is that I would never recommend TI to a non-technical user unless I was there to set it up and confirm proper operation.

    Imaging is very fast, given the amount of data backed up, and it is the only way to restore an OS and installed applications.

    Ihave high confidence in TI after it is tested and never have any problems with TI doing a restore of an image apart from a couple of failures that were due to marginal SATA disk cables.
     
  5. zapjb

    zapjb Registered Member

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    Otherwise it's just wishing & hoping.
     
  6. Long View

    Long View Registered Member

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    when you created the image back in Germany what version of Acronis did you use ? I assume you installed Acronis on the old lap top ?

    did you try yet to install Acronis on the new Identical Lap top ?

    In went the CD ? which CD ? the acronis installation CD or the emergency disk
    made on your old lap top.

    If Acronis installed on the old laptop and the new one is identical it will install and then you can try to restore that way. Sorry if I'm missing something here but do not see why you appear to have tried to use the emergency disk.
     
  7. jmk94903

    jmk94903 Registered Member

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    Thomas is long gone having left his rant, returned TrueImage and moved on.

    I can't blame him for being angry. After all, he never bothered to do any testing of his backup solution before he needed it. He just assumed it would work. I'd be angry with myself too if I had made such an assumption. I'm sure that I'd also blame everyone else except myself for the consequences of such an assumption if it proved false.

    And, I'd probably go away mad without waiting to have someone explain how an alternative boot disk, BartPE with the TI plug-in, would restore my backup and get my system and data back again. Or how just mounting the image on my new computer would get all my data back again even if I didn't want to make a BartPE disk.

    I wish I wouldn't be that quick to go away mad, but I probably would be.

    What a shame to miss out on the help that a little patience would have brought. I feel sorry for Thomas, not much, just a little. Afterall, he wasn't here long.
     
  8. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

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    Sad part, is he will likely make the same mistake again with a new solution. An image not test restored is not an image, it is a wish and a prayer.
     
  9. jmk94903

    jmk94903 Registered Member

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    Amen!
     
  10. jaymac

    jaymac Registered Member

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    Hold on Guys how do you test ? as far as i've got you are led to believe verifying is sufficient. Woiuld appreciate any info on how you can test it on a pc that is running ok
     
  11. foghorne

    foghorne Registered Member

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    There are two ways.

    - You restore to your original disk (not really recommended, but still a valid test)
    or,
    - You restore to a spare disk.

    F.
     
  12. thomasdahl

    thomasdahl Registered Member

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    Ah, lots of replies. Thank you.

    Ok, I guess I did leave out some information.

    * I created an image using Acronis 7. This was installed and running in windows XP. I asked the program to verify the image. All seemed to be fine. I put it in a safe place in a NAS Raid Server. I updated it once in a while. Time consuming and totally pointless as it turns out.

    * When the new laptop arrived I could not find the original True Image disks. I installed this program about 1 year ago. I had to rush out and buy a new copy as it was panic time. Hence the new copy of True Image 10. Incidentally, I was trying to use the disk (Emergency) that came with the program to boot the machine. Is there any other way to boot into the Linux distribution other than using this disk?

    * So here is the point. The single hand wringing, table pounding and cold sweat raising point. I COULD NOT EVEN GET TO TRY TO REINSTALL THE IMAGE. True Image simply would not recognize my laptop when running in RAM and using its own Linux environment. But Acronis 7 had NO problem running on the same hardware (2 Core Duo etc.) in Windows!

    * The message I received from the above is I should have tried to re-install my image a year ago when I first created it. I should have risked the current install at the time and should have let True Image 7 try to recreate the hard drive and risk me loosing everything if it did not work. Guys you cannot mean that every school boy and hobby user should do this? Surely not?

    * Not that it really matters as True Image 10 would not even boot, but I am afraid to even ask if True Image 10 would be backwards compatible with True Image 7.

    * Actually, I have a second equally depressing point. The box seems to suggest that this is an easy to use piece of software. I can see Housewives putting in their shopping basket thinking that they are doing themselves a great service. Oh dear.

    I still think this software has a place in IT departments and in customer support at the local computer emporium. However as jmk94903 points out, I seem to have reacted perhaps a little rashly by not waiting to have it explained to me how create "an alternative boot disk, BartPE with the TI plug-in". I am sorry, although I consider myself a little computer savvy, and I could probably have fumbled my way to get this whole thing to work out, I simply consider this to be too much of a trip into "geek world" and NOT what the product is advertised to be able to do for me out of the box.

    After all. I had accumulated 100's of unanswered emails and dozens of business phone calls that had to be returned.. and I am being asked to fix problems with True Image that simply should not have been there in the first place. The product simply is NOT fully windows compatible. It just is'nt. I did not have any more time to invest in this.

    Anyway, I managed to install enough software to get my email and database replica to work so that I can now get on with my job. This in far less than the time I spent failing to get True Image to work. Thank goodness I also had application data backed up separately using regular back-up tools.

    My advice remains the same. Back up your application data and emails databases very regularly and keep your application software in a safe and accessible place. It saves time, is easier to manage and less risky for the normal user and let the geeks and OEMs worry about images.

    Good luck with your own private journey through image hell. I'm done with this. At least until the next shiny box catches my eye and I get tempted to try it all again... Is'nt Ghost due out in a new version soon? NO. STOP IT. I must not be tempted.

    Thomas
     
  13. zapjb

    zapjb Registered Member

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    Correct and so over most peoples heads.
     
  14. seekforever

    seekforever Registered Member

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    Not really, although if you are restoring from a running Windows system to restore a previous image when it will automatically reboot into the Linux environment if it has to restore the active partition. These files are also on the HD so the CD doesn't have to be present.
    You ran TI7 in Windows but did you ever boot up the TI7 Linux recovery CD to see what it did? The Linux environment is not the Windows environment, it has a Linux version of the program, uses Linux whatevers - particularly Linux hardware drivers. This is really what needs to be tested. TI actually has very few problems with image creation; it is the Linux stuff that needs to be checked for hardware compatibility! And no, I wouldn't expect somebody who just bought the box to know that detail however it would be revealed on a test restore attempt.

    Yes, that is the reality of backup programs but it sure doesn't mean everybody is doing it and many get away with it and restore just fine when they have to. You weren't so lucky. This is the difference between test restoring an OS image and restoring a bunch of data files. You can test restore the data files without risking the system. I'd bet a lot of money that if you used a program that backed up data files you would have done a test restore to see if it worked since there is little risk of blowing away the OS.

    Yes, it is.
    This is a question I has been discussed on this forum before - just what is the target audience for TI?. IMO, it is not suited for the casual email, wordprocessor, web-surfing user without a techie to set it up and confirm it is working. Ideally, would also setup some automated tasks to make it all happen.

    I won't argue with that in the least. BartPE looks pretty scary even to many beginner techies until they run through it once.

    It is Windows compatible, the problem is the Linux environment may not be compatible with your hardware.

    I won't argue with that either. I have preached many times that the files you have to worry about are the personally created data files that are available nowhere else at any cost. Restoring an OS and apps from the CDs is just a bit of a time-sink but even so can be a good refresher experience. If you have a business requiring your PC though, this may be too oversimplified.

    I understand your frustration at this point but by dismissing imaging you are dismissing a valuable tool.
     
  15. MudCrab

    MudCrab Imaging Specialist

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    Another thing to note: Thomas used the CD from the "boxed" version of TI. That would most likely be an older build (probaby the first build of 10). The latest build (4,942) should have been downloaded, installed and used. It may have supported the hardware.
     
  16. ahallacronis

    ahallacronis Registered Member

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    If someone hasn't already mentioned this as a solution...one way to restore your hard drive is to remove it from the laptop (should be fairly easy) and put it into a different machine, then boot the restore CD there. For desktop computers, you can get a 3.5" to 2.5" adaptor for IDE drives. If it's a SATA laptop drive, you can plug it right into a SATA desktop machine. I've done it both ways.

    Kind of a pain, I know, but any IT department would be able to do that (your point about IT use of True Image) and even though you yourself can't be up and running in a jiffy, you can restore your laptop I'm sure, in the way I've described. And as others have said - next time, test the restore CD first before assuming it just works.

     
  17. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

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    How do I test. I restore every image I make. First time is a bit of a gut wrencher. Just have your data protected, and have what you need in case. In my case I use FDISR, and the does provide an alternative. But at this point, I have restored so many images it's just something else.

    I don't restore to other disks, I just restore the system as for real. This way I know if there is a disk failure, I've have good images.

    To address something above, whenever I start with a new machine, I start clean.
     
  18. jmk94903

    jmk94903 Registered Member

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    No, you are correct, and you didn't have to actually restore an image to know there was a problem. You simply needed to create the Recovery CD and attempt to boot from it.

    Bingo! You would have discovered that there was a problem and known that restoring would not work. At that point you could have started looking for a way to make the Recovery CD work. There are a number of command changes noted in the Stickies at the top of this forum that often allow a system to boot from the CD. If those failed, you could have pursued the BartPE or simply chosen a different product which worked out of the box with your hardware.

    Since you were able to buy an exact duplicate of your stolen notebook, it has to be a pretty new model. It takes a while for the Linux drivers to catch up with new hardware, particularly for notebooks. The Recovery CD from the current build of TI 10 might boot your system. There's no way to know without trying it. If not, then a future build of TI may.

    I do think that the TI manual should put a lot more emphasis on testing the Recovery CD. It might have saved you a lot of stress.

    If there was data in the backup image that you still need to recover, the image can be mounted by TrueImage in Windows as a vertual drive and the files copied out to your hard drive.

    Glad you came back.
     
  19. terryfowler

    terryfowler Registered Member

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    Personally, I obviate some of the problems by always in every machine I use, keeping ALL data (including OE store folder) on a D drive, I only have the OS and program files on C. D is backed up separately by copying folders to an external drive. I have images of C and only once have I had problems in restoring and in that case I went into TI Safe mode when the image restored OK. Subsequent validation of the image in standard mode showed that it was OK so there must have been something nasty lurking. Personally I keep all my programs up-to-date and I view the attempt to use TI 10 to restore a TI 7 image as similar to comparing win98 file systems with winxp. I have gone to using TI to overcome the 'watch paint dry' solution to reloading Windows and all the user programs and then trying to remember the settings for individual programs.
    I can understand the frustration that occurs when you have a computer problem that you haven't seen before and the simple things don't work but the solution often turns out to be simple when you know the answer.
     
  20. davekolb

    davekolb Registered Member

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    This is actually crazy. If your image is bad now your hard disk is as well!

    Verify goes a long way else restore to another disk.
     
  21. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

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    Not as crazy as it might seem.

    First of all I do verify, although if you read this forum, that doesn't always mean anything.

    Second, I also use First Defense, and keep off disk archives. I always make the archive current before imaging. That way if the image fails, I don't care. I restore a previous one, and use FDISR to bring the disk current.

    Point is there is a plan, and it is tested and works. Once I've restore an image I know it's good. If you don't do something like this, then you are imaging and hoping. I can't afford that risk.

    I've probably restored close to 300 images to date with no problem.
     
  22. Long View

    Long View Registered Member

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    If you think Peter is crazy .......... Once a version of Acronis works I don't even bother to verify or restore. Going back to version 6 and calculating that on various machines I have restored once a day or more my total restore count runs into the thousands.
    Early one with version 6 or 7 I did have a bad restore so that now my "hard disk was bad as well ". A little testing identified a particular USB drive as the culprit.
    I simply made a new partition and restored the image from the day before.
    With version 9 Acronis messed up with one build. Same solution.

    Verification is a waste of time to me. I don't test restore an image because I will probably do so within hours for real
     
  23. jaymac

    jaymac Registered Member

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    As I thought so really though this is perhaps excellent software it is not for novices at least those not prepared to delve deeper I guess there must be a multitude of users who never go beyond the first stages and sit blissfully ignorant that it may not work .Worse still in other forums blindly recommend it to non users. Methinks I'll just hope it works and also just copy my files as well so I know they are safe
     
  24. foghorne

    foghorne Registered Member

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    I tend to agree. Once I have proven that a particular version of TI works on a given machine I find no reason to use verify unless I change the hardware or upgrade TI.

    F.
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2007
  25. seekforever

    seekforever Registered Member

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    I won't quibble too much about not validating if you are doing frequent restores and have the ability to correct the issue without a panic if it fails. However, many users create images for months without doing a restore. Even if you tested that the restore process works, a subtle HW problem occuring later on can do you in. By subtle I mean one that doesn't show up in normal PC use but causes problems to appear in TI validations/restores due to the vast amount of data processed in a relatively short time.

    TI wouldn't validate with my bad SATA cable but everything else worked just fine. There were a few events recorded in the Event Viewer but who looks in there when all is working fine.
     
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