Data Backup Strategy

Discussion in 'backup, imaging & disk mgmt' started by richrf, Oct 21, 2004.

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  1. richrf

    richrf Registered Member

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    Hi,

    About a week ago I lost access to my system. My local computer repair store was able to recover my data, but I am thinking I need to put some backup strategy in place that is easy to implement and very, very reliable. :) Ideally, I would like to create a copy of my drive on another PC on my network. Currently, DisFrag says I am using about 7 gig out of 37 gigs of available disk.

    I've read some threads on this subject, and I am still quite confused. Among the products mentioned have been FirstDefense-ISR, Replicator (it looks like a free VB program), Norton Ghost, and TrueImage.

    Can anyone help simplify my decisoin making process. I have typlical home user stuff on my system such as my accounting software, file documents etc. If I get hit again, I would like to be able to recover in a very reliable and easy manner. I could run backups on my own system or on another PC on my network in the evening - when my son isn't playing games. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

    Rich
     
  2. Don Pelotas

    Don Pelotas Registered Member

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    Hi Rich

    I am trialling FirstDefense-ISR at the moment and will be buying it when the trial is over. It to me is as easy as it gets, a snapshot takes 5-20 minutes depending on your system, the rollback is very quick 2-3 minutes is my guess, you can make up to 10 snapshot's. It will of course not protect you in case a total HD crash, but would have been very handy while you were trialling all av/at combination's you have lately IMHO.

    About TrueImage, i was actually going buy it at one point, but didn't like to see all the negative comment's at the official forum here at Wilder's, maybe you should look before you decide. There is also another one called Drive Snapshot not as fancy looking as the other's, but very easy to use. :)

    Regards
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2004
  3. richrf

    richrf Registered Member

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    Hi Don,

    Thanks for the recommendation. Do you know whether FirstDefense allows a snapshot over a network?

    I am primarily interested in having a safe backup in case a virus hits again. Better to go back to a snapshot then go through what I went through. :rolleyes: I've pretty much decided on KAV, Ewido, and Giant so I don't think I will be doing much experimenting going forward other than ProcessGuard or if some other great piece of security software comes out. Hmmm ... maybe I spoke too soon. :)

    Thanks for your help.

    Rich
     
  4. Don Pelotas

    Don Pelotas Registered Member

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    No i don't, i've looked a little in the help and don't see it, but that's no garantee ;) . Download the Trial and take a look, who knows you might hate it. :)
     
  5. Devinco

    Devinco Registered Member

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    Hi Rich,

    First Defense ISR is good as a quick system restore and to try out software etc.
    The images have to be put on the same HD. The images are not compressed so the backup and restore process is very fast, but take up the same space as the original data. It is much better than Go Back and Windows System Restore, but it is not the same as a backup imaging software that can store it on a different HD.
    Data that is stored on a live system is vulnerable if you are compromised. Just because Ghost images can be password protected and True Image Secure Zone is harder to get at, does not mean that a malware could not infect or at least corrupt the image that is stored on a live system.

    The best way is to have a backup that is disconnected from a live computer. It is only connected when you perform a backup or restore.

    If you have USB2 then you could get an external HD that is simple to operate and can simply be unplugged or turned off when not in use.
    An alternative is to get a mobile HD rack (with a key switch that turns off the power to the HD) and hook it up as a slave drive. You will need to power the HD on or off while the computer is off. To go one step further, get another one and rotate backups in an offsite safe location. This will further protect you from fire, theft, etc.

    Also, try to separate important data like accounting info as much as possible from riskier activities like playing video games.
     
  6. Don Pelotas

    Don Pelotas Registered Member

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    Hi Devinco

    So what Raxco claims:
    is not entirely true, or what o_O

    I would like to hear what you think as i am currently trialling it, and like the ease and speed of it. :)

    Regards
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2004
  7. richrf

    richrf Registered Member

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    Hi Devinco,

    The external HD solution seems simple enough. Which software do you recommend for creating an image on the ext. HD?

    BTW, I just loaded Goback since I have Norton Systemsworks. (I am not using NAV, since I am now using KAV). Seems nice enough but I am thinking it might be overkill. Is Goback useful once my system becomes stable?

    Thanks for all of the help.

    Rich
     
  8. Devinco

    Devinco Registered Member

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    Don't get me wrong, I think First Defense ISR is great as an Instant System Recovery, which it was designed for. It is not the same as an imaging backup program that can create off system backups. It is more like Go Back.
    Currently there are no viruses that I have heard of that directly target Ghost images, ATI Secure Zone, Go Back files, or First Defense ISR images.
    The fact that the image resides on the same HD, at the least means it could be corrupted by a malware. Especially because the First Defense ISR images are not compressed, would this not be possible? I would not be surprised if future malware directly targets these backup images in an attempt to propagate, just as today's malware can get into System Restore.
     
  9. richrf

    richrf Registered Member

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    Hi Devinco and all,

    One more question. If I create an image on an external hard drive, can I boot from this image and then simply copy it back on my system if I need to? I really should have been paying more attention to this in the past. Thanks.

    Rich
     
  10. Don Pelotas

    Don Pelotas Registered Member

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    Thanks Devinco, it does make sence. Well, i still have a week to make up my mind if want the hasle of burning restore disc's, have mixed experience with this, lot's of beermats. ;) :D
     
  11. Devinco

    Devinco Registered Member

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    That's a good question and difficult to answer. It seems that it is very dependent on the system hardware. Nowadays it is a hit and miss if a particular software will work with your setup. And just because you can successfully make an image does not mean you can successfully restore it. Even verifying the image is not sufficient. You need to actually test a restore operation to see if it truly works as intended. Anything less is like playing Russian Roulette with your backups. After you have a tested and proven method on your specific computer, then it is not necessary to individually perform a restore on each and every backup. It is unfortunate that one has to actually prove that the restore works, but that is the way it is.
    I can recommend only what I have actually tested on my system and proved that it works. But just because it works with my hardware, does not guarantee it will work with your hardware. I am currently using Norton Ghost 8(2003) with various combinations of IDE, PATA RAID, SATA RAID, it has worked well for me and continues to work on various systems. Because I have a tested proven reliable backup method, I can try out other backups without risking my data.
    If I wanted to try another backup imaging program, I would trial Drive Snapshot and Bootit ng. I have read good things about both. The new Ghost (basically a relabeled Drive Image) by the looks of all the posts appears to be ALMOST as hit or miss as True Image. That is why it is so important to trial the software first (and I mean a complete trial that allows you to do a restore also). This is the only way that you can be sure it will work when you need it. Otherwise, why waste your money? If the software doesn't let you do a full restore in the trial, then I say pass that company by because they are hiding something. And watch out for upgrades of your backup programs, newer is not always better in this regard.
    Sometimes the external HD will come with a backup software. If that is the case, you can be sure that it will at least work with the external HD that it came with. If I had no other tested proven backup method, I would use that first. If the External HD doesn't come with backup software, then I would create a backup image with several different trial programs (before doing a restore) to increase the odds that one of them will work. You could also test it on non-critical (not the OS) partitions, but the real test is the OS partition.

    I am not a big fan of backing up the OS while the OS is running. I know True Image, Drive Snapshot, and I think even the new Ghost does it, and sometimes successfully. But there is a lot going on in the OS that could cause problems with your backup. But that is just my opinion.

    Whether you can boot from your USB HD depends if your BIOS allows that.
    Being able to create bootable CD or DVD images is a plus for me. You can then put those master backup CD/DVD in a safe offsite location and if needed you can just pop it in boot up with it and restore.

    I used to use Goback (version 2) and it worked well and saved my system a few times. What I didn't like was that it slowed my start up and defragmenting the HD was a pain because you have to completely disable it and lose your history, then defrag, then enable goback again. I'm sure it has improved since then though. I think Go Back is better then System Restore and I think First Defense ISR is better than Go Back.
    I think both Go Back and First Defense ISR serve a useful purpose by providing some form of backup in between your regular image backups.
     
  12. nod32_9

    nod32_9 Guest

    Good post DEVINCO! I've just switched to Bootit ng from Drive Image. Bootit ng also contains a partitioning software. You can create ANOTHER primary C partition, set it active, and restore the image file to this new partition. If you encounter problem, then you could alway reboot back to your OLD primary C partition. No harm, no foul.

    I like to put the image files on another extended logical partition on the hard drive. Makes for fast image creation/restoration. The new hard drives are quite robust and will generally warn you with most impending failures.
     
  13. Devinco

    Devinco Registered Member

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    Thanks nod32_9,

    Does Bootit ng work with USB2 external HDs?
    Can it make bootable CD/DVD backup images that span CD/DVDs automatically?
     
  14. nod32_9

    nod32_9 Guest

  15. Devinco

    Devinco Registered Member

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    Thanks!
    So it can make backups to USB2 External HDs (and firewire).
    You can also make bootable CD and DVD images. The process is a little more manual than Ghost 8 but not too much to do.
    It looks good. I'll let you know if they reply about the CD/DVD spanning. It will also say something about their support. ;)
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2004
  16. richrf

    richrf Registered Member

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    Hi,

    Thanks for the links. Does anyone know if there is a forum dedicated to Ghost 9 support. I am looking for some hardware recommendations. I would like to have an external drive that can be used to back up two computers. One has a 40GB and the other an 80GB drive. If anyone on this forum has any recommendations, I would very much appreciate hearing them.

    Rich
     
  17. nod32_9

    nod32_9 Guest

    Snapshot and Bootit ng require less than 450KB of hard drive space. The new Ghost has a giant installation footprint (must install .net). Since Bootit does not run from within windows, you really don't need to maintain a boot disc to restore data back to an active primary partition. Most people will appreciate this feature because they put everything in the C primary partition.

    Bootit ng can manage an UNLIMITED number of primary active partitions. This will allow you to test many OSes. You can also put Bootit in a separate partition for greater security and reliability.
     
  18. richrf

    richrf Registered Member

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    Hi Nod32_9,

    Thanks a lot for the tips. I will look into the two programs. Do you have a preference? Are there forums that discuss these programs?

    Also, the 450KB that you mentioned. Is that the basic footprint? I will be trying to backup about 50GB of data and programs. Thanks for your help.

    Rich
     
  19. Devinco

    Devinco Registered Member

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    I received a quick reply from the maker of Bootit ng (terabyteunlimited).
    That is a good sign. I asked two questions:

    1. When imaging a HD to DVD and the HD is bigger than will fit on one DVD, will Bootit ng automatically span the image across multiple DVDs?
    The answer is:
    Yes

    2. I read the instructions on how to make a bootable CD/DVD image. I was
    wondering if you could make the process more automatic like Ghost 8 (2003)?
    The answer is:
    If using IFD or IFW then you the CD is automatically bootable.
    Unfortunately, I am not familiar with either term. Any ideas?
     
  20. Devinco

    Devinco Registered Member

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    Since it is unlikely that you will completely fill up the 40GB and 80GB HDs (that would cause problems for the OS by running out of space) You could go for a 120GB external USB2 HD. Make sure that your computer and the HD are USB2 (not USB 1.1) otherwise the backup will take forever. I haven't done research on specific models, but I would start with the major brands (WD, Seagate, Maxtor) and get one with a decent warranty. Another option would be to get just a USB2 shell case and mount your own HD in there. This will likely be cheaper, but make sure the case hase adequate fans and cooling ability. I probably wouldn't stick a 10K Rpm drive in one of those either.
     
  21. Don Pelotas

    Don Pelotas Registered Member

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    They are referring to the other two Image products they sell: Image For Windows and Image For Dos. http://www.terabyteunlimited.com/ IFW is a little cheaper and it seems you get IFD for free if you buy IFW. :)
     
  22. richrf

    richrf Registered Member

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    Hi,

    Thanks Devinco. Sounds very good to me. I am going to check out the other software backup options mentioned in this thread. Of them, which do you like the most right now. I can either for regular backups of complete hard drives - either full or incremental?

    Appreciate the advise.

    Rich
     
  23. Devinco

    Devinco Registered Member

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    Thank you Don!
     
  24. Devinco

    Devinco Registered Member

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    Bootit ng also comes with partitioning software similar to Partition Magic.
    So if you don't have Partition Magic, then I would try that first.
    But I would really trial and test out both Drive Snapshot, Bootit ng, even the others (Ghost and ATI) as long as you can do a full trial (with restore). That way you can get a feel for all of them and see what works best for you.
     
  25. richrf

    richrf Registered Member

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    Thanks for the advice devinco. Will do.

    Rich
     
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