Coordinating Acronis and FDISR

Discussion in 'FirstDefense-ISR Forum' started by normanm, Feb 25, 2007.

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  1. normanm

    normanm Registered Member

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    I'm about to establish my first serious backup routine, a three part routine -- straight daily backup of data using SecondCopy, bi-weekly backup image using Acronis Home 10 and a daily snapshot with FDISR. I tried to find an FDISR manual before I bought the program so I wouldn't have to ask basic questions here, but none is on line, so...

    What's the difference, in real terms, between an FDISR snapshot and an Acronis Image? Don't both, in effect, restore your HD to a previous state? I understand that FDISR is faster and more efficient, but aren't an "image" and a "snapshot" relatively the same?

    I see others here use both programs. If they'd care to contribute their best practices, they would be a most useful guide.

    Thank you,

    mn
     
  2. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

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    HI mn

    Yes and no. If all you have is FDISR with another snapshot, you can't recover from a hard disk failure which is the purpose of the image. That being said once you gain experience with FDISR there is indeed a way to recover.

    Here is what I do.

    I have of course my primary full working snapshot. I also have a secondary snapshot, which is strictly a stripped down snapshot, which only serves as a place to boot should I have problems.

    I also have an off disk archive of the primary snapshot. I use this as my sort of working 2nd snapshot. I do this for several reasons. First it reduces space occupied on my main drive so imaging is faster. Secondly archive updates are significantly faster than snapahot updates. So if I want to test something, I'll update the archive, and install the test object. Then to make it go away, I boot to my secondary snapshot, and update the primary snapshot from the archive. I then boot back to the primary snapshot.

    I update the archive quite frequently depending on what I am doing. At least once a day if not more.

    I image the whole disk at least weekly, and more if I am going to try something major on my machine. Oh, and I always test restore the image. Only way to insure it works.

    If you have any other questions, fire away.

    Pete
     
  3. ErikAlbert

    ErikAlbert Registered Member

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    normanm,
    In the past I did my backups with ATI every day, so I had 7 images.
    If one failed, I still had 6 other images to recover my harddisks.
    Because ATI never failed, I now do backups on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday (unpair days), that makes 4 images.

    I also archive my two main snapshots every day with FDISR.

    I can assure you that FDISR and ATI are a very good team and I did alot of tests to convince myself.

    Whatever you do, NEVER ditch your backup software (ATI), that is the most important one and a NECESSITY.
    FDISR is more LUXURY, very handy and much faster than ATI to fix problems and much better than Windows System Restore.
     
  4. Longboard

    Longboard Registered Member

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  5. ErikAlbert

    ErikAlbert Registered Member

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    Very true. The manual just describes the FDISR-screens and if you pay good attention to these screens, you don't even need the manual for that. The several wizards also take care of that.

    What can be done with FDISR is hardly explained in the manual, you have to figure that out yourself or with help of experienced FDISR-users.

    Most manuals and help texts have that in common and they were never a big help for me.
     
  6. normanm

    normanm Registered Member

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    Thanks very much, everyone. I'm not sure at the moment I understand working from "within" a snapshot, but let me read the manual and ask more specific questions later. However, Pete's comment about "test restore" the ATI image touches on a concern: I assume the only way to test restore is, in fact, to restore the image, which overwrites the disk, right? Suppose the image is corrupted; are you then disabling the very system you are tyring to backup? I know you can "verfiy" in ATI, but that's not what Pete is talking about. Is it?

    mn
     
  7. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

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    You are right mn. In fact I don't "verify" images any more. What I do is mount them, just check, that I can browse, extract a file, etc, and then do a restore. Now the big what if question.... What if the image doesn't restore.

    Good question. Okay. I assume somewhere you have a recovery type disk, That either allows reinstalling windows, or putting the system back like from the factory.

    Before doing this having FDISR installed you make an archive of your system on another drive. Then if that first image fails to restore, you would use your recovery disk and put the system back like it came from the factory. Then install FDISR, and make a secondary snapshot. Boot to it, and then from the archive restore the primary snapshot. Then boot to it, and update the secondary. Thats's your failsafe.

    Moving on like where I am, I have 3 or 4 sets of images. WHen I get ready to image, first thing I do is update my off disk archive. Then image and res tore. Assuming all goes well I am done. Should the restore fail, I just restore from a previous image, and then use the archive, as described above to bring myself current. I have tested this approach and it works.

    Doing this will give you a double barreled confidence. First in using your images, and 2nd in what FDISR can do.

    Pete
     
  8. ErikAlbert

    ErikAlbert Registered Member

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    Normanm,
    I admit my very first restorations with ATI were real thrillers, but that's the only way to do it.
    I tested my restorations on not-empty harddisks, total erased (overwritten with zeroes) harddisks and restored even encrypted partitions. Each time successful. That's how I lost my fear of doing restorations.

    Scheduled backups are possible in ATI and FDISR, but there is a difference.
    ATI allows on time schedules and on demand schedules.
    FDISR allows on time schedules, but not on demand schedules.
    The trouble with on time schedules is that your computer must be ON at that time and that's a problem for me.
    That's the reason why I can't use schedules in FDISR and have to archive my snapshots manually every day. :(
     
  9. normanm

    normanm Registered Member

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    All right, I read the FDISR help files, and I have to ask some really basic questions. I don't make my living working on software or hardware; I teach. All I want to do is develop safe backups. That said, I don't think I get the concepts behind ISR.

    With Acronis, it seems straight-forward: you make an image of your HD; something goes wrong; you "restore" that image which then overwrites your disk, in effect returning it to the state you had before you did something wrong. Right?

    With ISR, you also create images, or so the help files say. These images are called SNAPSHOTS. A snapshot is what, then? A file? Okay, something goes wrong and you want to rollback your HD to its previous state. Restore the whole system. Here's where I get lost. The help files talking about booting from a snapshot. So you boot your computer from a snapshot that is an image of your computer when it was working. Fine. I get that. How do you then restore? Does the program work like Acronis?

    Thanks for the patience, everyone.

    mn
     
  10. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

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    Hi Mn

    First to understand FDISR, put acronis out of your mind. It does pretty much what you say, and it is essential in case your hard drive fails.

    Now to FDISR. Simply put, what FDISR does is make a working copy of your c:\ drive. Once made you can update this "snapshot" at any time. FDISR gives you the option of booting into that snapshot should you choose. Whats the point. Okay. Say you want to test a new piece of software, you would first update the 2nd snapshot. THis would be much quicker than taking an image with Acronis. You install new software, and it makes a mess of your system. Say it even hoses your system, so you can barely boot to it. You can right at the start of the boot, select your other snapshot, which would be fine. You could then do a copy/update, and completely fix the damaged snapshot. Yes you can accomplish the same thing to a degree with acronis, but not nearly as fast.

    This is but one of many uses of FDISR. It's only limit is your imagination, once you grasp the concepts.

    Pete
     
  11. normanm

    normanm Registered Member

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    Thanks for the patience, Pete. Let me ask an even more basic question, this to help me understand "snapshots": When FD is installed it creates a primary snapshot of your system, and image file, correct? That image file/snapshop is like a virtual disk, right? It is separate and apart from the actual physical hard drive that holds all the files that run the system, that, in effect, are the system. So you install FD and it makes a primary snapshot of your system. This is your baseline snapshot; this is what the system looks like when it seems to be working fine. The you decide your going to install a program. Here's where I go astray. I have my primary snapshot at this point and nothing else.

    1. Do I make a second snapshop BEFORE I install the new software. And then do I install the software INTO the second image?

    You can see that I can't see whether I'm working from within images or from the HD. Or is my conceptual thinking wrong here. Are we always working from snapshots, FD or no FD? In other words, is the HD in effect an image? Or do snapshots when they are restored (copied) REWRITE THE HD, in effect returning it to a prior state.

    mn
     
  12. stapp

    stapp Global Moderator

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    As a fairly new user of FD myself I can understand how confusing the concept is at first, I can even remember asking Peter at one point how I booted into windows!

    I am sure someone will give you all the info you need but for what it's worth, this is how I told it to myself at first to get my head around it.

    Once I made my primary snapshot I made a secondary one, which is in basic terms a just a copy of the primary.
    I test software in primary and then if I want to keep the software I update(or copy to) the secondary so it now also has the new software.
    If on the other hand the new software screws up my primary, or I really don't like it, I boot into the secondary snapshot and tell it to make the primary the same(copy/update) This returns the primary to the state it was before the new software as it is a copy of the secondary which didn't have the software on it.
    Therefore I ALWAYS copy/update my primary to the secondary before testing or dodgy sites surfing so that I can revert back to the "good" snapshot if it all goes wrong.

    I have even now ( with Peter's help) made a snapshot on an external hard drive which I also keep updated regularly just in case I had a hard drive failure!

    I really love this software, it has made a real difference to the way I use my computer.
     
  13. ErikAlbert

    ErikAlbert Registered Member

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    normanm,
    You better compare snapshots with pseudo-partitions inside the real partition [C:].
    Snapshots are real, not virtual environments.
    Each snapshot is INDEPENDENT, so there is no baseline snapshot, like in RollbackRx.
    You can copy/update or delete or rename any snapshot, primary and secondary are just names.

    The normal recommended usage of FDISR is like this :
    1. The primary snapshot is your WORK snapshot.
    2. The secondary snapshot is your ROLLBACK snapshot.
    Both are created during the installation of FDISR : FDISR creates the primary and you create the secondary.

    You need at least TWO snapshots, otherwise you kill the main feature of FDISR : Immediate System Recovery.

    You install new software first in your WORK snapshot and test it.
    If the new software screws up your WORK snapshot, you still can boot in your ROLLBACK snapshot and recover your WORK snapshot from there.
    If you don't like the new software, you copy/update from ROLLBACK snapshot to WORK snapshot and the software is gone in your WORK snapshot.
    If you like the new software, you copy/update from WORK snapshot to ROLLBACK snapshot and both snapshots will have the new software installed.

    Each time you copy/update you create two IDENTICAL snapshots.
     
  14. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

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    Well said.

    Pete
     
  15. normanm

    normanm Registered Member

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    ErikAlbert,

    Many thanks indeed for taking the time. I'm beginning to get it. A clarification please: When FD is installed and you boot up in the morning, are you booting into the WORK snapshot on the HD or just the plain old HD? Put another way, is the WORK snapshot actually the HD? You said, snapshots are like "pseudo-partitions inside the real partition," or C:\. I assume you are still doing your daily work inside C:\, not a snapshot of same.

    mn
     
  16. Acadia

    Acadia Registered Member

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    You are booting into the Snapshot that you last used. That Snapshot is only a portion of you entire hard drive if you have other Snapshots, and I hope that you do have other Snapshots or else FirstDefense is useless, but for all intents and purposes, the Snapshot that you are booting into is the only c:drive that you can see or do anything with.

    Each Snapshot is like a c:drive onto itself; it is like having many c:drives. They are ALL stored on your hard drive, but you can only see one at a time. Each Snapshot carries equal weight. If you were to uninstall FirstDefense, whatever Snapshot that you are in at the time, would now be your one and only c:drive. :cool:

    Acadia
     
  17. ErikAlbert

    ErikAlbert Registered Member

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    Normanm,

    Acadia explained it very well.

    In addition :

    If you don't do anything, you will boot in the last used snapshot, just like Acadia said.

    If you press the F1-key on the FDISR Splash Screen, that appears BEFORE Windows starts, you get a view of all existing snapshots. Select the one you need and FDISR will boot in the selected snapshot.

    If you restart Windows via the Start-button, you will reboot in the same snapshot, unless you press the F1-key in
    the FDISR Splash Screen and select another snapshot.

    You also can boot in another snapshot via the main screen of FDISR.
    Right Click on the snapshot you need and click on "Boot to Snapshot".
    In that case, the FDISR Splash Screen will not show the F1-key, because you selected the snapshot already.

    There is so much to tell about FDISR, but you have to learn the basic things first.
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2007
  18. normanm

    normanm Registered Member

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    A heartfelt thanks to all. Got most of it, enough to begin installing the program. As a precaution, I got a year of technical phone support, so I can get questions, including conceptual ones, answered quickly. BTW, I came to FDISR after a hard disk disaster involving an uninstaller that wreaked havoc on my drive. I thought, no problem, I'll just use my last daily XP restore point. Well, three days later after reinstalling every program on the drive, I started to search for an alternative -- a reliable alternative. Glad to hear most of the list have been able to count on FDISR to recover. (I also got the lastest Acronis as well.) Again, folks, thanks. A good list.

    mn
     
  19. screamer

    screamer Registered Member

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  20. ErikAlbert

    ErikAlbert Registered Member

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    Normanm,
    Windows System Restore only works, when you still can boot into Windows.
    If the disaster doesn't allow you to boot in Windows anymore, the Windows System Restore will be USELESS.

    You have two possibilities to solve this situation :
    1. Use the Acronis Rescue CD and restore an image from an external harddisk, which is the slowest method.
    2. Use the F1-key on the FDISR Splash Screen and boot in your ROLLBACK snapshot, which is the fastest method. It only takes a reboot.

    It depends on how fast you want to be back in business. :)
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2007
  21. normanm

    normanm Registered Member

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    I've been reading a bit. Can somone tell me which of the methods mentioned here -- re: snapshots -- applies to FDSIR?
    Thank you.

    http://www-128.ibm.com/developerworks/tivoli/library/t-snaptsm1/index.html
     
  22. normanm

    normanm Registered Member

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    ErikAlbert,

    In another thread you wrote:

    "When you boot to a snapshot inside FDISR..." This really helps. So without a preboot choice, or if you DO NOT have preboot selected (I assume you have that choice) you're booting to the physical disk. If you do boot into ANY snapshot, even your primary, the one FD makes on installation, you are working from WITHIN that snapshot, yes? IF that's true, what happens to the writes/reads/edits you make in the SNAPSHOT? Are they (the changes) written to disk too? I'm trying to understand whether on an average working day, everything going fine, you are working from the HD or from within a snapshot -- which you have described as a pseudo-partition. Thank you.

    mn
     
  23. stapp

    stapp Global Moderator

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    Normann, once you install FD and make a primary snapshot and and secondary one for backup and failsafe, there are no other choices to boot into.
    When I turn on my computer it boots to primary unless I tell it different or, if I shut down the previous evening in secondary for any reason, it will boot into that. The icon at the bottom of the screen will always tell you which snapshot you are in.

    Any virus updates etc at the end of the day when I update all my workings to my secondary snapshot, are copied over. If I forgot to do it and booted into secondary the next day, it would auto update (if set to do so) as it would know it needed them.

    If you haven't already done so, give it a go, you won't regret it.
     
  24. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

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    Norman

    Once you boot inside a snapshot it is like working on your c: drive period. Just you can choose which version of your c: drive.

    Yes you can turn off the preboot, but that is a terribly bad idea unless you also have a good working image of your system. If you do somoething that corrupts your system and preboot is off, then FDISR is useless to you.

    The only reason we used to turn off preboot was to image the disk. It is no longer necessary.

    Pete
     
  25. ErikAlbert

    ErikAlbert Registered Member

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    Normally, the Preboot in FDISR is always ENABLED and keep it that way, otherwise you won't see the FDISR Splash Screen with the F1-key anymore.
    The F1-key allows you to boot in the good ROLLBACK snapshot, when the WORK snapshot is in trouble.

    Once you are booted in a snapshot all changes are stored on your harddisk, while all other snapshots remain unchanged. You can only boot and work in ONE snapshot.
    That snapshot has a GREEN arrow in the main screen and is also called the ACTIVE snapshot, which is normally your WORK snapshot on an average working day.
    All other snapshots have a YELLOW arrow and are sleeping.

    Where are your personal files stored ? On the same harddisk and partition as Windows ?
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2007
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