Clone or Image for Zero down time

Discussion in 'Acronis True Image Product Line' started by jds21, Jun 2, 2009.

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  1. jds21

    jds21 Registered Member

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    Hi All,
    I've spent most of the day reading through many posts including GroverH's handy Guides. I fully support the idea that Imaging is the best way to go for disaster recovery (our ultimate goal). However, the decision maker at our firm firmly believes that Cloning is the way to go so that upon system hard drive failure, she can plug in the USB clone drive, boot from the USB clone drive, update any recently modified Word or Excel files using our Carbonite online backup, and she will be up and running within a couple minutes. No down time. Once we buy a new internal hard drive, we can then use the USB clone drive to clone the new hard drive. Disconnect the USB clone, and now boot with the newly cloned internal hard drive. This is all done with the goal of minimal down time and disaster recovery.

    GroverH states that using the Cloning feature could produce unwanted results. If so, what can I take back to the decision maker to show her that Cloning is not what we want to do, if in fact it is not. My thinking is that she could work on another computer in the office for a few hours and download her backed up Word and Excel files from Carbonite. During those same two or three hours we could buy and swap a new hard drive in her computer with the malfunctioning hard drive and Restore the new hard drive using the USB drive that Imaged the original hard drive (no cloning necessary).

    Are there holes in my theory or reasons I should consider using Cloning instead of Imaging. From what I read, I don't think so, but who am I?

    Thank you so much,

    Jim :)
     
  2. snifferpro

    snifferpro Registered Member

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    Here is what I do.

    1. Do a full disk backup to an external drive.

    2. Immediately Restore the image to a hard drive held in reserve in
    a removable try. This immediately verifies that the backup is readable.

    3. Boot from the restored drive to verify I can boot.

    4. Remove drive I just restored and put in safe.

    5. Re boot to my original drive.

    If I have a catastrophic error, I go to the safe, get the restored
    hard drive and boot. I'm back up and running.

    Hard drives are cheap enough to have one already to go with a
    restored image.
     
  3. jds21

    jds21 Registered Member

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    Hey snifferpro,

    That makes all the sense in the world. Thank you! :thumb:

    One question. I assume I would restore using a Rescue CD. Is this correct?

    Thanks again!
     
  4. snifferpro

    snifferpro Registered Member

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    Ideally that would be the way to go at least once to veryify that
    your rescue cd does in fact work.

    You can however, use the windows interface to do the restore once you
    have verified the rescue cd.
     
  5. snifferpro

    snifferpro Registered Member

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    One more thing.

    Depending on when you do your image and how often, there is
    a possibility of losing some data.

    I backup once a week.
     
  6. jds21

    jds21 Registered Member

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    Thanks Snifferpro. I was thinking about Imaging and Restoring weekly, so I'm glad you confirmed that bit of information. We use Carbonite for online backup of data files. The online backup is pretty quick at updating a recently changed file so if the internal hard drive goes bad, we would only lose system and application updates since last week's Imaging and Restoring session. Any system changes or updates usually are not too significant and should be easily rectified. Perhaps when there IS a significant update like going from XP Pro SP2 to SP3, it would make sense to run an Imaging and Restore session immediately afterward.

    By the way, do you know why Cloning shouldn't be used? GroverH mentioned that bad things could happen. Do you have any knowledge of bad things happening with Cloning?

    Thanks again.
     
  7. snifferpro

    snifferpro Registered Member

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    I have never used cloning as I felt that keeping 3 or 4 iterations
    of images would suffice if I needed to grab something from more than
    a week ago.

    You can selectively restore files or folders from any image at any time to
    their original location or to a new location on your hard drive.

    I have used the restore option to restore a laptops hard drive that
    failed. I don't however keep laptop hard drives available for restore
    purposes. Took about a day and a half to get a new laptop hard drive and
    restore to get laptop back in operation.

    Have also used restore to test new software and updates on the reserve drive.
    After testing I just restore the drive to the latest backup. Then knowing the
    new software or updates are good I can apply them to my operating drive.

    I have been using Acronis for several years now and have found it
    invaluable in restoring systems after a catastrophe.

    I saw a couple of posts in this forum related to cloning, but never paid
    much attention to them.

    I trust imaging much more. I use it to image Win Vista Business 64bit and
    Windows XP. I'm waiting for Acronis to come out with a version to
    support MAC backups and have been told that it is in developement.

    Good luck with your backups. Hope you have as much success as I have had
    with Acronis
     
  8. Xpilot

    Xpilot Registered Member

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    My method is nearly the same as Snifferpro's.
    The differences are:-

    1. Full drive images are made automatically every day to an internal drive. These are scheduled to happen during the lunch break though the computer can still be used if desired while the backup runs.

    2. To prove the backups and remove the need for validations the main drive is taken out in its tray and is replaced with the previous day's drive. A restore of the latest image is then run.

    3. The replacement drive is now used as the main drive until the cycle is repeated again.

    4. In a disaster situation the main hard drives are swapped over so work can continue with virtually no break.

    5. Using a fixed internal hard drive for storing backup images means that the they run faster and can be scheduled to happen automatically. My BU drive contains up to nine days worth of images so as well as providing instant drive replacement possibilities the method allows " time travel" backwards to find data deleted in error.

    After several years using this method I now don't " swap and restore " after every image is made. I find that once a week is enough to keep things running sweet.

    Xpilot
     
  9. K0LO

    K0LO Registered Member

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    There is an additional flaw in this approach. Windows will not boot from an external USB drive. To make this method work you would need to disassemble the external USB drive, remove the disk from its enclosure, and swap it for the internal disk in the failed PC.
     
  10. jds21

    jds21 Registered Member

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    Thanks k0l0. I guess that is why I couldn't boot our laptop using the USB clone drive. I switched the BIOS settings to boot from USB, but the boot process stopped with an error message. Same thing happened when I tried this on my desktop. So what you say makes perfect sense.

    Jim
     
  11. jds21

    jds21 Registered Member

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    Thanks Xpilot. Your process is even more streamlined. I have to find out if our Dell Optiplex computers have space for a second hard drive. They are pretty compact. If not, I might have to swap drives to create the backup Disk Image.

    The people contributing to this forum have helped me come up with a working solution and I really appreciate it! :thumb:

    Take care,

    Jim
     
  12. seekforever

    seekforever Registered Member

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    I didn't carefully read all the posts in this thread. I also consider imaging the definitely best way to make backups for most people. I have said this many times but usually with the condition along the lines of, " unless you are using the computer for business purposes and need to minimize downtime".

    Your situation sounds like it might be the latter so it could well be that a clone solution may have some merit. OTOH, I do know with my hardware that if I make an archive and it validates I will have no problem restoring it. Making a clone without booting it up gives me less confidence that it will work. If you don't make a clone as often as you make an image then you will take some extra time getting the windows and other updates loaded. I also prefer the ability to have a history of backups available, certainly more than just the last one (only 1 backup is a serious decrease in safety), and this means a HD for each one.

    You know your operation better than I do but I often feel that there is too much emphasis put on being able to replace a bad HD quickly and a lot of extra work and worry put into the task when serious HD failures are actually fairly rare occurances. Once you get past the infant mortality stage, drives are usually quite reliable until they get to the stage where the computer is well past its prime. Yes, I know it doesn't always work out that way.
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2009
  13. jds21

    jds21 Registered Member

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    Thank you for your feedback Seekforever.

    We do rely on our computers for business, especially internet access to accounts, transactions, etc.

    Our Optiplex computers are small form factor which only has one internal hard drive bay. I liked Xpilot's idea of having a second internal hard drive which backs up the first, but we do not have that option. If an internal hard drive fails in an Optiplex, we will have to replace the hard drive. So the computer will be down for the time it takes to replace the hard drive and Restore it using the external USB hard drive that contains our Disk Images. I guess two hours of down time should be ok. It's not like we are controlling air traffic or managing the US energy grid! :)

    I like the idea of having more than one Disk Image on the USB drive which allows us to have versioning capability. We will most likely create Disk Images once a week on the USB drive.

    Thanks again,

    Jim
     
  14. seekforever

    seekforever Registered Member

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    You're welcome, Jim. Whatever you decide to do be sure you test it carefully. The best method by far is to pretend the drive went bad, put in a new one and then restore the image and run the restored disk. You should do this on each machine even if they are the same model since TI will often uncover marginal hardware problems that aren't seen in normal operation.
     
  15. jds21

    jds21 Registered Member

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    Thanks Seekforever. That makes perfect sense. I appreciate your help.

    Jim
     
  16. GroverH

    GroverH Registered Member

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    There has been numerous past postings on this forum about the loss of the master disk during a cloning procedure.

    Whether it was a user error via a selection of wrong options or a programing malfunction (or both), the source disk was damaged and the cloning operation failed to succeed. Based on these postings, I believe it is can be accurately stated that cloning is less safe than restoring a backup archive when a new blank disk is being replicated.

    Cloning or Imaging does NOT produce an exact replicate of the original. Modifications are made to the new disk by the cloning program. The cloning options in TI-2009 is either "automatic or manual". IMO, the "automatic" should only be used if the drive being cloned has only one partition; otherwise the "manual" option should be used. The manual option enables the user to control the partition sizes. If allowed, TI will enlarge a diagnostic or recovery partition but the preferred option is to maintain the same size for this type partition so the user must make sure their selection of partition sizes is correct. Use of the "automatic" mode in a system with diagnostic or recovery partitions will result in these partitions types being enlarged--which may cause the system either to not boot or render the recovery partitions useless.

    Before cloning, I believe it is important that the user be aware of the partition structure (sizes/types, etc) as illustrated via the Windows Disk/Computer Management graphical display. This is especially important if the system disk contains multiple or diagnostic/recovery partitions.

    If the cloning is enlarging existing partitions, user should have a good idea as to what the partition sizes should be before starting the Cloning procedure. Fortunately, TI does provide the opportunity to perform as many test runs as needed to test the options. It is a trial run until you reach the Summary screen where the choice is either Proceed or Cancel. Clicking the Cancel button allows you to stop and start over; whereas pressing the PROCEED button begins the cloning procedure which can not be cancelled once the procedure begins.

    My preference is to perform an imaging restore and have only used the Clone procedure for purposes of testing. I use the Home version and have had no exposure to the cloning procedures offered by the business versions of TI.

    Clone or Restore using Resize comparison
    https://www.wilderssecurity.com/showpost.php?p=1299861&postcount=9
     
  17. jds21

    jds21 Registered Member

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    Thank you GroverH for all your insight and User Manuals! I have no desire to lose my master drive through the improper use of the software or any other reason. So I will stick with the general consensus of using Disk Images on the backup USB Drive. I also understand your point about partitions and using Automatic or Manual set up. Our master disks have two partitions, the Primary Active NTFS partition (232gb) and a very small FAT16 partition (9mb), so I choose the entire Disk 1 to image and use automatic in this case.

    I appreciate all the help received on this forum. You guys are awesome!

    Jim
     
  18. GroverH

    GroverH Registered Member

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    A post from today:

    https://www.wilderssecurity.com/showthread.php?t=244298

    I'm a new user of True Image 2009 - running Vista-64

    I cloned my drive (WD640GB) to have as a backup (clone copy) to another drive of the same size and model. Now I have Nothing !!!!

    The original drive was wiped in the process and the cloned drive will not boot.


    Using a boot CD with some utility software I can see the drive has the correct structure of partitions and flolders with everything there but the drive just goes into an endless cycle when trying to boot it up.​
    Had the "Image Restore" procedure been used, the master would not have been involved and not damaged.
     
  19. GroverH

    GroverH Registered Member

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    If your question relates to imaging, then yes, I would click the disk option. Am not sure what you mean by automatic since that is not in use in the imaging mode.
     
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