Disaster Recovery and backup

Discussion in 'backup, imaging & disk mgmt' started by diginsight, Dec 29, 2005.

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  1. diginsight

    diginsight Security Expert

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    See revised post 30-dec-2005

    I've posted to this topic because the System Restore Alternatives? only covers System Restore.

    While trying to create a RAID1 volume I lost both my source and destination disk. My backup discipline got a bit sloppy, because I was only using 4GB DAT tapes and studying for my exams. Since the incident I've purchased an external harddisk and DVD writer and now I'm looking to automate backups. This setup might seem overkill to others, but I longer see I why shouldn't implement the same strategy at home that I advise to my company.

    Requirements:
    • System volume disaster recovery. Preferably DVD boot disc.
    • Open File backups for Outlook 2003.
    • Snapshots.
    • Automated backups.
    • Use as little programs as possible.

    Wishes:
    • Method to detect my external harddisk is full and automatically replace the oldest backup set.

    Windows offers Recycle Bin, System Restore, ASR, Volume Shadow Copy and NTbackup. Recycle Bin doesn't support document which are overwritten, System Restore doesn't cover everything, ASR is too difficult and also doesn't cover everything. VSS to me is very obscure.

    At home I'm not disciplined enough to work with document versions and don't want to enable document backups which I have to remove. Most of the time I overwrite the current version and sometimes need something that I overwrote. As Recycle Bin replacement I'm very satisfied with Diskeeper Undelete. Through the "System Restore Alternatives?" topic I found RollBack Rx Professional. This replaces both Recycle Bin and System Restore. Rollback Rx doesn't have the nice GUI Undelelete has, but the less software I'm using the better. The only problem with RollBack Rx is that I couldn't create a new partitition while it was active and I had to uninstall it to perform this action. Once I have my partitions correct this is no longer a problem. I also reported this problem, but I'm waiting for a reply.

    Disaster Recovery part I:
    The less programs the better. I'm looking at backup programs that provide disaster recovery, so I can skip imaging software like Ghost or True Image. Ntbackup doesn't provide Disaster Recovery, because you have to use ASR. Dant Retrospect, Novabackup and NTI Backup all provide some sort of disaster recovery. I want to use a disaster recovery that writes to and boots from dvd and restores the system partition.

    Disaster recovery part II:
    Acronis True Image. I don't want to reserve a part of my 60 GB disk for image snapshots and my external harddisk is reserved for data backups. If I want to write to DVD I have to install a packet writer. This requires yet another program. Incremental backup is of little use, because I have Diskeeper running all the time when my system is idle. The only solution I see with TI is to write a clean System image to DVD and use my external harddisk to create weekly system images that are automatically overwritten so I hold enough disk space for my data backups.

    Disaster recovery part III:
    Does anyone have good experiences with Live State Recovery Desktop. We're using it at on standalone server work as backup software to external harddisk, but have no idea how it works as disaster recovery tool writing directly to (bootable) DVD?

    Backup software:
    It would be nice if the disaster recovery program and backup program we're the same.

    Volume Shadow Copy provides open file backup. Some corporate backup programs provide their own Open File manager. Some open file backup methods use VSS and some use their own replacing VSS. On usenet I've read about some vague problems with backup programs using VSS. Genie Backup Manager uses it's own open file manager. But if I use this I probably have to disable VSS and test if this breaks other stuff.

    Dantz Retrospect
    • not evaluated yet
    • very expensive
    • excellent manual
    • disaster recovery requires reinstalling windows

    NovaBackup
    • relatively expensive if you also purchase open file manager, but there's a christmas discount
    • no manual and limited help file
    • currently evaluating disaster recovery with old 4x CD-R discs
    • bad reviews about stability, but I'll test it myself
    • bad log files, I have to search through .txt file to see errors, warnings, etc.

    Genie Backup
    • not evaluated
    • doesn't provide disaster recovery
    • uses plug-ins which you can use to backup program settings
    • own open file manager
    • automatically closes and opens outlook 2003 while backup up pst

    NTI Backup NOW! 4.0
    • not evaluated
    • very little information available on website

    Update:

    NovaBackup
    • Disaster recovery requires re-installing Windows
    • End of evaluation

    NTI Backup NOW! 4 Deluxe
    • Disaster recovery requires NTI DriveBackup! 4
    • End of evaluation

    NTI DriveBackup! 4

    Features:
    • Very large download (70 MB)
    • Uses it's own skin
    • Manual only for version 3
    • Supports image browser

    Test results:
    • Used Live Update to update device drivers
    • High CPU utilization
    • Very slow on my CD-R discs at 24 speed. Required 9 discs and took 15 minutes per disc.
    • The first recovery disc was bootable (most likely PE). This bootable disc can be used to create or restore images
    • Stopped evaluating because of slow speed, but if I continue I will repeat using a 16X DVD disc.

    Paragon Exact Image

    Features:
    • Christmas price € 20
    • I've good experiences using Paragon Partition Manager
    • Small download (11 MB)
    • Server O/S requires seperate Server license
    • Burn a backup archive to CD/DVDs (or write them to ISO-image files for later burning)
    • Hot Backup of locked partitions
    • Process all sectors one by one or do not process unused sectors
    • Adequate documentation
    • Allows scheduling
    • Good reviews

    Test results:
    • Detect the Acronis TI image area as "backup capsule"
    • Backup capsule is a seperate FAT32 partition to store images
    • Create seperate recovery media
    • Requires temporary drive for hot backup. Default is c: and fails when you try to create a hot backup from c:
    • Burning to CD results in the following error message: "Can't open/create file, source: Hard Disk Manager" This is also posted on their forum, but no one replied.
    • For € 20 I'll put some more effort in it and perform a clean Windows XP re-install before moving on

    Update

    Live State Recovery Desktop v6.0

    Features:
    • Desktop version doesn't support server O/S
    • Image format supported by Platespin Bare Metal Restore
    • Image format supported by VMware Workstation 5.5
    • Requires .NET Framework 1.1
    • Comes with a recovery CD, you can't create from the program. Can't test this with the evaluation version.
    • Support local, removable and network storage

    Operation:
    • Simple interface
    • Very fast
    • Restored system partition to unused disk space. Restoring took very long, because I had to swap all the discs in - what appeared - random order several times.
    • Creating a recovery point interferes with disk defragmenting. This means I have test this with Diskeeper's Set & Forget schedule.
    • Creating recovery point to DVD probably doesn't run unattended.
    • The disc jockey restore took more time swapping discs than actually restoring data. I cancelled the operation, which means end of evaluation. Too bad, because LSR looked like an interesting product I could use to create recovery CD's and backup up data to my external harddisk. If it can hot backup an Exchange server it sure would have been sufficient backing up Windows XP with Outlook 2003

    Guess I'm back where I started. I'll give NTI DriveBackup! 4 another try and otherwise I'll try TI9 with packet writing.
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2005
  2. zapjb

    zapjb Registered Member

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    I'm thinking very much along similar lines. I want disaster recovery CDR's. So I can free up my spare HDD's for other purposes. I don't care if it has to span thru 20 disks. Right now I'm using AME to a separate HDD. Hell probably about time I bought a DVD burner. Anyways I'm unimpressed with ATI. I want to keep my eye on this thread. I too want a reliable solution in the form bootable removeable media. Either CDR's or DVD's. Haven't seen one yet that seems reliable. They're imo hit & miss. My experience with AME is 100%. I want the same for removeable bootable media.
     
  3. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

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    Couple of thoughts.

    First. If you span a backup across 20 CD's you are inviting disaster. One goes bad, and you have nothing.

    Here is in essence what I do and would suggest.

    Using only your external drive:

    1) Image weekly or whenever you make a significant system change(new program, etc)

    2) Put all your data, in folders under My Documents. Then using a synchronizing program(I use AJC Softwares Directory synchronizer) put your My Documents folder on the external drive) This way it is current, but never grows and grows, like happens with some backup programs.

    3. If you want revision backup, AJC Software also has a program I use called Active backup. You can specify file types and directories and it saves revisions automatically.

    Some approaches to think about.

    Pete

    PS I also use FDISR to keep an archive up to date on an external drive. Constant space use, and can be scheduled, and also can provide disaster recovery, although this is a bit awkward.
     
  4. diginsight

    diginsight Security Expert

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    Hi Pete,

    With a DVD burner you don't need that many CD's. With dual layer becoming affordable the number of DVD's will also be limited.

    Rollback Rx will create snapshot whenever I schedule it. This will not only allow me to restore documents I've overwritten, but also roll back system changes. Diskeeper Undelete quarantines documents the moment they are overwitten, but I can set Rollback Rx to create hourly snapshots.

    I've all my data on a seperate partition. With synchronizing I can't restore older data. I always want to keep backup software, because my 4 GB tapes are ideal for storing data offsite. With the crash I lost my tape catalog and it's a PITA to rebuild it. Automatic catalog backup is also something on my wish list.

    Thanks I will take a look, but I don't want two programs like Rollback Rx or Undelete / Active backup both creating snapshots in seperate storage areas. I already noticed this is using a lot space when I'm trying to backup the partition or performing on-demand malware scans.

    I've evaluated FDISR, but I want something in case my disk goes bad or gets erased without too much hassle. Rollback Rx still looks adequate to me, but I haven't finished evaluating all the products and put them together on one machine.
     
  5. Diginsight, if you use Rollback Rx could you let me, and others who may want to know, if you can store your revert times on a separate hard drive or other media? I was thinking of trying Rollback Rx but have Norton GoBack now and don't want to switch to Rollback Rx if it isn't that different from GoBack. Also do you lose your revert times if you do a defrag of your hard drive or other very intensive disk activity, like erasing a very large multi gigabyte file? Because that happens with GoBack often. Thanks if you can post any comments.
     
  6. diginsight

    diginsight Security Expert

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    xwing_fighter, I'll try that. My major concern with any of the storage products I have been using was Diskeeper running on a Set & Forget schedule. I have 500 MB of software I'm evaluating on this test system including a brand new NEC 4550 DVD drive. If something goes wrong I'll should notice it. But first I'll continue establishing a baseline of products I'm going to use for further testing.
     
  7. diginsight

    diginsight Security Expert

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    Revised post 30-dec-2005:

    I've posted to this topic because the System Restore Alternatives? only covers System Restore.

    INTRODUCTION

    While trying to create a RAID1 volume I lost both my source and destination disk. My backup discipline got a bit sloppy, because I was only using 4GB DAT tapes and studying for my exams. Since the incident I've purchased an external harddisk and DVD writer and now I'm looking to automate backups. This setup might seem overkill to others, but I longer see I why shouldn't implement the same strategy at home that I advise to my company.

    Requirements:
    • System volume disaster recovery. Preferably DVD boot disc
    • I don't want to reserve a part of my 60 GB disk for image snapshots, because this doesn't cover losing the entire disk. My external harddisk is reserved for file backups
    • Open File backups for Outlook 2003
    • Snapshots for recovering bad installs and overwritten documents
    • Automated backups
    • Use as little programs as possible or standard programs supplied by Microsoft
    • Tape backup for offsite storage

    Wishes:
    • Method to detect my external harddisk is full and automatically replace the oldest backup set
    • Tape backup software should also backup catalog

    Windows offers Recycle Bin, System Restore, Automated System Recovery, Volume Shadow Copy and NTbackup. Recycle Bin doesn't support documents which are overwritten, System Restore doesn't cover everything, ASR is too difficult and also doesn't cover everything. VSS to me is very obscure.

    At home I'm not disciplined enough to work with document versions and don't want to enable document backups which I have to remove. Most of the time I overwrite the current version and sometimes need something that I overwrote. As Recycle Bin replacement I'm very satisfied with Diskeeper Undelete. Through the "System Restore Alternatives?" topic I found RollBack Rx Professional. This replaces both Recycle Bin and System Restore. Rollback Rx doesn't have the nice GUI Undelelete has, but the less software I'm using the better. The only problem with RollBack Rx is that I couldn't create a new partitition while it was active and I had to uninstall it to perform this action. Once I have my partitions correct this is no longer a problem. I also reported this problem, but I'm waiting for a reply.

    Disaster Recovery:
    The less programs the better. I'm looking at backup programs that provides disaster recovery, so I can skip imaging software like Ghost or True Image. NTbackup doesn't provide Disaster Recovery, because you have to use ASR. Dantz Retrospect, Novabackup and NTI Backup are file backup programs that provide some sort of disaster recovery. I want to use a disaster recovery that writes to and boots from DVD and restores the system partition.

    File backup software:
    It would be nice if the disaster recovery program and backup program we're the same.

    Open file backup:
    Volume Shadow Copy provides open file backup. Some corporate backup programs provide their own Open File manager. Some open file backup methods use VSS and some use their own replacing VSS. On usenet I've read about some vague problems with backup programs using VSS. Genie Backup Manager uses it's own open file manager. But if I use this I probably have to disable VSS and test if this breaks other stuff.

    TESTING

    In general most versions only support desktop O/S and not Server O/S like Windows 2000 Server or Windows Server 2003. To support a Server O/S you have to buy a Server version.

    NOT REVIEWED

    Dantz Retrospect 7 Professional
    • File backup program
    • Excellent reviews
    • Excellent manual, so I don't have to use it to see what it's capable of
    • Includes clients and open file manager
    • Disaster recovery requires reinstalling windows
    • Expensive (€ 129) and therefor not evaluated yet (I don't want to get spoiled)

    Genie Backup
    • File backup program
    • Doesn't provide disaster recovery
    • Uses plug-ins which you can use to backup program settings
    • Own open file manager
    • Automatically closes and opens outlook 2003 while backing up up Outlook pst

    REVIEWED

    NovaBackup
    • File backup program
    • Relatively expensive if you also purchase open file manager, but there's a christmas discount
    • No manual and limited help file
    • Bad reviews about stability, but I'll test it myself
    • Difficult to read log files, I have to search through .txt file to see errors and warnings
    • Disaster recovery requires re-installing Windows
    • Disaster recovery doesn't meet my requirements.

    NTI Backup NOW! 4.0
    • Very little information available on website
    • Disaster recovery requires NTI DriveBackup! 4

    Symantec Live State Recovery Desktop v6.0

    Features:
    • Like Dantz an excellent manual
    • Expensive (€ 90)
    • Image format supported by Platespin Bare Metal Restore
    • Image format supported by VMware Workstation 5.5
    • Requires .NET Framework 1.1
    • Comes with a recovery CD, you can't create from the program. Can't test restore with the evaluation version.

    Operation:
    • Simple interface
    • Very fast
    • Creating a recovery point interferes with disk defragmenting. This means I have to test this with Diskeeper's Set & Forget schedule.
    • According to manaul creating a recovery point to DVD probably doesn't run unattended.
    • Restored system partition to unused disk space. Restoring took very long, because I had to swap 4 CD-R discs - in what appeared random order - several times.
    • The disc jockey restore took more time swapping discs than actually restoring data. I cancelled the operation, which means end of evaluation. Too bad, because LSR looked like an interesting product I could use to create recovery CD's and backup up files to my external harddisk.

    R-Drive Image 3.0 i
    • Small download (11 MB)
    • Used 5 CD-R discs instead of Live State Recovery's 4 discs
    • Creates Linux boot disc
    • After booting from Linux boot disc you have to mount the last backup disc to be able to restore backup
    • After mounting last disc, the Linux restore no longer responded trying to mount first disc.

    PCBackup v7.3.0.18
    • File backup program
    • Tries to backup hiberfil.sys and pagefile.sys, which have to be manually excluded. These files are automatically excluded in image backup programs.
    • Very high CPU utilization during backup
    • Uses VSS for Open File backups
    • Backup files are named *.nb7 just like NovaBackup v7. The executable original file version name is "Novabackup.exe " The icon also looks like novabackup. After comparing Novabackup screenshots with PC Backup it looks like they share the same engine and interface.
    • Uses the NovaBackup disaster recovery method of re-installing windows.
    • Disaster recovery doesn't meet my requirements.

    Acronis True Image 9
    • Good documentation
    • For writing to DVD I have to install a packet writer and format the discs. This requires another program and manual action before writing to disc.
    • Incremental backup is of little use, because - for now - I have Diskeeper running when my system is idle.
    • Doesn't meet my requirements.

    NTI DriveBackup! 4

    Features:
    • Very large download (70 MB)
    • Uses it's own skin
    • PDF Manual only for version 3
    • Supports image browser

    Test results:
    • High CPU utilization
    • Creating disaster recovery disc to DVD+RW took about 15 min., restoring took 35 min.
    • Disaster Recovery backup automatically creates Windows PE boot disc on first backup disc. This bootable disc can also be created seperately and used to backup, restore and erase discs.
    • Didn't have any problems formatting DVD+RW disc that Paragon was having problems with.
    • The restore doesn't have advanced options like resizing, etc.
    • Interface is very easy to use

    Paragon Drive Backup v7.0
    • Small download (16 MB)
    • Shares the same image format as Exact Image. If you buy this program you get Exact Image for free
    • The concept looks more like a partition manager than a image program
    • Uses the old Paragon interface
    • Boot disc allows you almost all the options available in Windows. Exact Image only allows to restore.
    • I prefer the Exact Image interface instead of the older Drive Backup interface and don't need all the extra options from Drive Backup, especially since Exact Image is only € 20.

    Paragon Exact Image

    Features:
    • Christmas price € 20
    • Small download (11 MB)
    • Supports Hot Backup of locked partitions
    • Supports schedules
    • Offers image explorer
    • Option to create bootable disc, first only or none
    • Option to process all sectors one by one or do not process unused sectors
    • Adequate documentation
    • Allows scheduling

    Test results:
    • For more information see this comparison between ATI9 and PEI7, which is biased towards Exact Image.
    • Detects the Acronis TI9 image area as "backup capsule"
    • Uses backup capsule as FAT32 partition to store images
    • First attempt at burning to CD-R disc resulted in the following error message: "Can't open/create file, source: Hard Disk Manager" This is also posted on their forum, but no one replied.
    • Second attempt at burning to DVD+RW was less of a failure. It could write to the disc, but while erasing it couldn't use the full capacity and sometimes only 20 MB. Paragon Drive Backup also didn't know how to handle this disc. NTI DriveBackup! had no problems erasing this disc and using full capacity. I had to use Nero to erase this disc and after that Paragon could use this disc without any problems
    • Creating disaster recovery disc took less than 10 min
    • Disaster recovery disc for trial version doesn't allow you to restore. I used the boot disk (DOS based) from Drive Backup to restore the image. This operation usually took 30 min., which is similar to NTI Drive Backup!. EI only allows you to restore an image, while DB allows all kinds of operations including creating an image. Although it might be possible to use the DB recovery media from the trial version to performs such actions if needed.
    • The boot disc only supports PS/2 mouse. If you're using an USB Mouse and not very experienced using <tab>, <shift+tab>, etc I would advise connecting a PS/2 mouse or convertor that came with your USB mouse.


    Conclusion
    For € 20 I can't go wrong with Paragon Exact Image. For less experienced users I would recommend taking a look at NTI Drive Backup! 4.

    Disclaimer
    All the programs are availble as trial versions, so try before you buy. Don't test restoring data on a production machine holding valueable data. I can't accept any responsibility for the test results because they were performed on a test computer (AMD 2400+, 512 MB, 40 GB harddisk, NEC 4500 DVD writer). Testing on another computer might lead to different results or data loss.

    To do list
    • Evaluate Rolback Rx Professional as replacement for Diskeeper Undelete and System Restore
    • Test impact of Diskeeper Set & Forget and AV on backup programs
    • Evaluate file backup with open files to external harddisk, while trying to backup catalog for tape backups and implement retention so that external harddisk isn't used to maximum capacity.
     
  8. Longboard

    Longboard Registered Member

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  9. diginsight

    diginsight Security Expert

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    Longboard,

    Thanks for the link. I indeed haven't seen this product. It might be a good product to backup to my external harddisk. The only problem is the site doesn't offer a trial version. With $ 79 it also has to contend with products like Genie Backup Manager and NovaBackup, which offer more features.

    Regards
     
  10. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

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    I tried this product a while back, but it trashed FDISR. I cleaned up and at Raxco techsupport request tried a 2nd time and got same results. Contacted CMS about the issue, and they were useless. Unless somethings changed I'd think twice.

    Pete
     
  11. ...lbd...

    ...lbd... Guest

    No probs

    I think 'bounceback' is being packaged with Seagate external hard drives BTW

    Buy new HD get app for free or vice versa!!
     

  12. Try the "US Customers" dropdown list and take the "express" option.
     
  13. The Hammer

    The Hammer Registered Member

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  14. diginsight

    diginsight Security Expert

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    Thanks, I had to enable cookies and submit a fake $ 0 order to download the Express version.

    Current status:
    Testing interoperability between Rollback Rx and Paragon Exact Image.
     
  15. diginsight

    diginsight Security Expert

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    Thanks for the link. As expected Dantz Retrospect Professional performed best in this test. Too bad the reviewer didn't include Genie Soft Backup Manager or Simpletech Simpleshare Storage Server in his review. I'm using a LaCie desktop harddrive, because it was on sale at a local computer store with a € 30 discount.
     
  16. The Hammer

    The Hammer Registered Member

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  17. Longboard

    Longboard Registered Member

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  18. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

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    The making from with in Drive Snapshot is fast efficient and worked really well. Using the recovery disk, was pure nightmare. Only for the most advanced user. I would stay away until this is fixed, and stick with Terabyte's Image for Windows/Dos

    Pete
     
  19. diginsight

    diginsight Security Expert

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    Hi,

    Thanks for the suggestion.

    According to the information on the site RestoreIt "saves an image of your entire system to a protected partition on your hard drive". This has two disadvantages: extra partition and extra i/o to copy files to this partition.

    AFAIK an advantage to FDISR is that it supports restoring individual files.

    I'm still evaluating Rollback Rx using various recovery scenario's. If Rollback Rx doesn't meet my requirements I will certainly take a look at RestoreIt.
     
  20. The Hammer

    The Hammer Registered Member

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    The site says Restoreit has file level recovery. "File-Level Recovery: Recover select files or folders without affecting any other files on your system".
     
  21. diginsight

    diginsight Security Expert

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    Drive Snapshot is an excellent program, which supports many different Windows versions. I've used it to create and restore images from a bootable USB stick and will expect to use it in the future.

    For my Windows XP system I'm looking for a program that is easier to use without extra actions. For € 20 I couldn't resist purchasing Exact Image :)
     
  22. diginsight

    diginsight Security Expert

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    My bad, I meant to say that RestoreIt supports file level recovery and AFAIK FDISR does not.
     
  23. The Hammer

    The Hammer Registered Member

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    I'm interested in how you like it. Wizard driven would be good for an inexperienced user such as myself I would think.
     
  24. diginsight

    diginsight Security Expert

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    Until now I like it very much, but I'm not sure if I would advise this or other imaging programs to unexperienced users. I had problems booting from the Linux Emergency Disc, until I removed my USB sticks. I also had a problem using a DVD+RW to it's full capacity until I erased the disc using Nero. But with other programs you have other problems ;) I would advise to take a look at ACRONIS TRUE IMAGE vs. PARAGON EXACT IMAGE to get an impression. Keep in mind this is biased toward Exact Image.
     
  25. crofttk

    crofttk Registered Member

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    Correct, FDISR doesn't have file-level recovery.
     
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