Disaster Recovery Redux

Discussion in 'Acronis True Image Product Line' started by abradaxis, Jul 1, 2009.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. abradaxis

    abradaxis Registered Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2009
    Posts:
    18
    :'( :'( DISASTER REC0VERY REDUX

    After reading the responses to my last post, I was even more confused than when I started. So, with apologies to my original responders, I'll try one more time to unravel the confusion on my part:

    I have two pcs: a desktop and laptop. Only the desktop can write CDs/DVDs. Both have one disk, the Boot Disk, which contains the system, applications, and data. I have two external drives (one for each pc) for backup purposes.

    As I understand it, if I make a rescue disk on my desktop, and place all optional software requested by the program on it, that will work on a new disk in either of my pcs to boot up. Then I have to use one of my backup sets on either of the external hard disks when restoring the system to complete the system restore. But when I back up am I backing up just the one partition on either of my pcs from the Boot Disk. Do I ignore empty space, do I use a sector by sector approach, or a mirror image. And why do I need a boot corrector?

    I would appreciate anyone explaining these questions, since reading the manual has produced even more confusion. Thanks.
     
  2. fungus

    fungus Registered Member

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2009
    Posts:
    69
    I can help a little:

    If you bought TI 2009 (and probably earlier versions) you can (and really should) create an Acronis boot CD. Do this right after installing on the computer that can write a cd. This newly created cd can boot either computer you have. ;)

    Once booted on either computer it can do backups, (do full disc images but don't specify "sector by sector" because that backs up empty sectors, and it can also do restores.

    Now boot the cd, create a backup of your complete hard drive (even if it has more than one partition). Make SURE the backup is created on one of your external hard drives. When finished do a verify of the backup. Every verify I have done has been good so I don't know what happens after a bad verify.

    When creating this backup, choose "computer" or whatever they call it, don't choose "files". Don't check "sector by sector".

    Now when still booted to the cd, do a test restore. In this instance do NOT restore the full image, choose a few individual files only. You can do this easily. Tell TI to restore them to a new location on your boot hard drive. When that is done, remove the cd and boot back to windows. Go to explorer and check if the restored files are really there where you told them to go. If they are there, you can be fairly sure that you could also restore the entire image of the boot hard drive. I have done this several times and it always has worked.

    For now avoid "clone" functions even though it has worked for me I no longer use that feature.

    Fungus
     
  3. seekforever

    seekforever Registered Member

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2005
    Posts:
    4,751
    A bad verify results in the "archive is corrupt" message being displayed.
     
  4. abradaxis

    abradaxis Registered Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2009
    Posts:
    18
    Okay, that was pretty helpful. But I still don't underestand why you can't use the resident Acronis program on the computer you're backing up to do the copy and restore. Why use the disaster recovery CD to do both. Isn't it easier to just let your Acronis Program schedule and run a complete backup and verify in two passes. Why are you changing over and booting from a different CD, and why is it that the manual never explains or suggests this? Thank you for your patience and your prompt reply. I may figure out yet how this thing works!
     
  5. seekforever

    seekforever Registered Member

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2005
    Posts:
    4,751
    Yes, you can use the installed program to do your backups and validates but only after you determine that the TI rescue CD works on your system. The CD is Linux and it may not have a good driver match for your hardware.

    When your active partition, typically C, is restored Windows cannot be running since it needs the active partition to operate and one of the first things TI does on a restore is to delete the partition being restored. The TI rescue CD is a memory-resident Linux and it can handle the restoration. It is a memory-resident flavor so the CD/DVD drive can be freed up to read the archive if it is stored on optical disk.

    So go through the procedure of creating an archive with the CD, Validate it with the CD and if you want, run through the Restore Wizard pretending you are doing a restore but cancel out on the last screen where you have to click on Proceed to do the actual restoration. If you can do this the Linux environment will very likely do the restore when you need it. The absolute best way to test the Linux is to do an actual restore to a spare HD (spare in case the restore fails).

    After you are satisfied the rescue CD will work when you need it, then you can do the creation and validates in Windows. Note that even if you start the restore of the active partition in Windows, TI will request a restart and load a copy of the Linux environment off your HD.

    This is where a lot of TI users get burned. They create and validate archives in Windows, get a successful completion message and thinks all is right with the world but they have never tested the recovery phase. Until a recovery is tested you really shouldn't have confidence that you have a working backup/restore mechanism - and this applies to every backup program ever written, not just TI.

    I think that testing the restore environment is down-played strictly for marketing purposes. If program A gives you a song and dance about doing what looks like a painful testing procedure and program B doesn't indicate it is necessary, then which one is likely to be purchased?
     
  6. abradaxis

    abradaxis Registered Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2009
    Posts:
    18
    Great information. Thank you for unraveling more of the mystery. But I'm going to test your patience again, if you don't mind. First, even if I see that the TI will boot, will it give me the option of search through multiple backups on my external hard drive? (Second, silly I know, but I want to be sure I'll have ample opportunity to abort the procedure before I actually lose any data and it erase my hard drive.) Last, unless you can actually swap out the restored drive that you've created (impossible on an external hard drive that you're using to back up your laptop) how do you know that, using your procedure, you actually have a bootable restore (if it came to replacing the hard drive that you used to restore and replace by the method you suggest)?

    Thanks again for sharing your experience and knowledge of the product. I truly appreciate it.
     
  7. seekforever

    seekforever Registered Member

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2005
    Posts:
    4,751
    Yes, you can search them. TI2009 keeps track of archives in a database but there is also a Browse capability which will display the archives on your external.


    You'll have opportunity since you go through a number of screens and it will not restore until you tell it to proceed. Just be careful reading the screens and clicking etc. If you're like me you've done the click, click, click -oops I shouldn't have done that last click trick before.

    I don't think I follow exactly what you mean but perhaps this will help. If not, let me know. If you go through the procedure I mentioned about using the CD to create and validate an archive and run through the restore wizard, then you don't know for sure that it will boot. However, the odds are that it will. Usually won't boot problems occur when the number of partitions on the drive get changed and the boot info is pointing to the wrong partition. There are various people on this forum that know how to fix that problem should it ever happen. Some will recommend making a whole disk archive which includes all the partitions on the drive and the MBR. Restoring the whole disk is very likely to avoid such problems.

    Like I said, installing a spare HD and then doing a test restore to it is the best way to test your recovery process and since you would be booting up with this test it would show that the restored drive is indeed bootable.

    Note that I'm talking about backing up and restoring with partition/drive images.

    I didn't understand this concerning the external hard drive.
     
  8. abradaxis

    abradaxis Registered Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2009
    Posts:
    18
    My reference was to my laptop. I'm backing up to an external hard drive. So this hard drive is impossible to try to boot, since it's not a boot option on the laptop. So how can you actually test it to see that it boots. Yes, I know you can restore a number of test files, but is that what you meant by saying that you should actually test the restored drive? And finally, when you are backing up, do you back up an entire partition; sector by sector; a mirror image; or by any other method. It seems you have so many choices that it's hard to determine the actual procedure for backing up an entire disk so you can: a) retrieve a small amount of bad data, or b) restore your entire hard disk, depending on the circumstances.

    Once again, thanks for your patience and courtesy in assisting me on this.
     
  9. seekforever

    seekforever Registered Member

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2005
    Posts:
    4,751
    Windows doesn't support booting from an external HD even if it was an option on your machine. The best method of doing a test restore and boot it up means getting a spare HD, placing it in your machine instead of the current drive, booting up the rescue CD and retoring the image to the now installed spare HD. Then boot up the restored system on the spare HD. This is exactly what you would do if your drive failed and you purchased a replacement.


    Restoring a number of files by exploring or mounting the image is a partial test. However, TI will restore files from an image that it will not restore because the entire image must be in perfect condition. An image that will not validate may still allow you to retrieve files - depending on where the problem is in the archive.

    TI does have several options but they are intended for different purposes although there is no rigid rule that says you have to exactly use it as intended - as long as you understand the restrictions.

    I will start with my favorite and the one I've been talking about, the image.
    The image is intended as a the preferred method to backup and restore a bootable partition but it can back up any partition or the whole disk if it has more than one partition. Backing up the active partition also backs up the MBR (doing other partitions may as well but I don't really know).
    The smallest unit an image deals with is a partition but you can with TI2009 set file types to exclude. I never do, after all who knows what might come in handy after a disaster and some temporary files are important such in MS-Office. You can store as many images of your system that will fit on your backup device.

    A sector-by-sector image images all of the sectors in the partition being imaged. This includes all unused space as well as the used space. A regular image does not backup the un-used space. Because of this, sector-by-sector images typically take much more time and a lot more space on the archive drive. They are intended to make images of a system that has a corrupted supported file system or a partition that has perhaps been encrypted which means TI can't make sense of it. Even though TI images at the sector level it does normally need to understand the filesystem structure so if it is bad then sector-by-sector is required since there is no interpretation done.

    TI can clone disks but it has to be the whole disk; it will not clone single partitions like some other products will. The clone is intended to be used when a working drive is being replaced by a new drive which can be larger than the original. TI copies all of the sector contents to the new drive, the old drive is removed, and the system is booted up with the new drive. Since you still have the old drive you essentially have a backup so some people use this as a backup method. It has the benefit that if you have a drive failure you can just reinstall the old drive and off you go. Downside is that you can only have one clone copy on a drive so it is very inefficent spacewise. You can also do a similar function by installing the new drive and restoring an image to it so like I said, you don't have to use things exactly as intended.

    The other backup is the data backup which used to be known as Files and Folders. This method is for data files only and even if you backup all the files on your C drive and restore them to a new drive it will not boot. It takes all of the files and folders you select and puts them into an archive file. Like images, you can do incremental, differential, full, schedules, compression, etc. I personally don't use it since I don't like my data files stuffed into a proprietary container file; I prefer to back them up in their native format as individual files - from that you can infer that I only use TI to do images of my C drive and use a different program for data files.
     
  10. abradaxis

    abradaxis Registered Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2009
    Posts:
    18
    You put a lot of time and effort into your replies. I hope others will benefit from them as much as I did. I have a much better understanding of the program now, and the methodology behind it. Once more, thank you very much.
    Abradaxis
     
  11. seekforever

    seekforever Registered Member

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2005
    Posts:
    4,751
    Glad to help.
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.