Easiest, most *Reliable* BU method - disregarding cost ?

Discussion in 'backup, imaging & disk mgmt' started by phkhgh, Jan 31, 2010.

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  1. phkhgh

    phkhgh Registered Member

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    Not sure where to post - could be hardware or software solution.

    I'm looking for easiest & MOST RELIABLE method to BU OS & installed programs partitions, AND the restore or copying BUs to original partitions / HDDs ACTUALLY works.

    I just spent days w/ HP printer software / registry issues. HP support was useless this time.

    1) Imaging software seems to always have potential glitches. Any new program installed or Windows update, as examples (Vista x 32 / 64) seems to potentially cause BU software problems - Acronis, Ghost, etc. - read the thousands of posts on the subject.

    2) I don't care WHAT the best method / solution costs, long as it's easy as possible (scheduled automatic is better), AND most reliable method available.

    I'm partially disabled & though have advance ability to figure out almost any computer problem, have NO time or physical ability for such. I have NO time to trouble shoot why Acronis, Ghost, etc., is no longer working / restoring properly.

    3) What do IT pros use for simplest, most reliable BU & restore?

    4) My desktop has open bays for several more HDDs (but not my laptop). Maybe buying 1 or more giagantic HDDs & just copying the entire partitions & have DOS prgm(s) capable of copying entire partitions back, if windows or HDD fails completely?

    For laptop, maybe large external HDD?

    Thanks for suggestions.
     
  2. jonyjoe81

    jonyjoe81 Registered Member

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    Almost everyone recommends shadowprotect as the best imaging software, it is also the most expensive. But many people are also quite happy with the free "macrium reflect".

    I've learned that there is no "perfect" imaging software. Some won't work on a particular hardware, some have compatibity problems with other software. Some are to slow to backup. You need to trial a version that will work with your computer.

    If you just need to restore back to the same harddrive/partition that task is the easiest and is successful 99 percent of the time with any imaging software. When you need to restore to a new drive or restore a laptop, that is where many people might encounter problems. Even if you try a imaging software and it restores your drive in your tests, the laws of averages say that when your drive crashes and you really need it, it will fail to restore you. It has happened to me.

    Always plan for worst. The below utilitys are a must have to fix a non-booting restored drive.
    1. boot corrector bootcd (free paragon rescue kit 9.0 express) solves most problems when a restored drive won't boot.
    2. bartpe bootcd
    3. vista installation cd (run repairs on vista/7)
    4. fixntldriso bootcd (will fix missing ntldr problems)

    I use acronis true image version 10, it works for on my xp computer. I tried them all and didn't find one that works better for my situation.
     
  3. phkhgh

    phkhgh Registered Member

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    Thanks for detailed reply. Unfortunately, don't have the install CDs - only recovery CDs from mfg - so no "repair."

    Don't remember if Acronis '09 worked on Vista x64. Someone gave me a copy - doesn't say on box & I never took it out / installed it.

    I have Ghost ?12? on the laptop, but honestly backing up an entire 160 GB drive (w/ very little data) to DVD is like watching paint dry. I guess an ext HDD would be much faster. Laptop has serial, ethernet & USB (slow).

    This is the kind of gripes I've read for years about Acronis:
    Symatec's CS has been non existent for years.

    Notice you can get Acronis '10 for ~ $20 after rebate & Ghost 14 for $15.
    I used a trial ver of Acronis (believe was ver before '09). It did some strange things w/ partition drive letters in the image.

    Have 4 partitions on laptop. In the image, it changed the letters / or switched letters , skipped a letter on the image or something like that. I wrote acronis support. Would be more likely to get response from Pres Obama. Went on Wilder's "official" acronis forum. Never got a good (or any) explanation.

    Ghost 12 did work on Vista 32 & restored image to a 2nd disk & could boot OK. For that ver, it was anything BUT intuitive or "one button BU."

    I don't want to spend an hr doing a BU everytime I install some software or updates.

    What about ext BU drives like Seagate FreeAgent or Buffalo Link Station? http://www.frys.com/template/onad/pr...vigation/spot5

    Some people like windows home server but little more $ for software & a HDD (or box from HP, etc.) Seems they have 32 & 64 bit versions?
     
  4. bgoodman4

    bgoodman4 Registered Member

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    The simplest and quickest way to recover from none hardware related problems (as in drive failures) is to use a roll-back program. There are a number of these but the one I use is called RollBack RX. RollBack can be set to take a snapshot of your system every hour and upon restart (other configurations are possible). A snapshot takes under 3 seconds and to revert to a previous state will take only a bit longer than a normal reboot. Due to the way the snapshots are taken the actual archive is very small thus dozens of snapshots takes up very little drive space.

    This kind of program is excellent for testing software as you simply take a snap before the installation, name it (for example) pre-test, and then install the program. If you do not like the program simply restore to the snap and its gone. If you suddenly encounter a problem during the normal course of using the PC reverting to one of the hourly snaps will remedy the problem. RollBack RX can be set to take a snap of the system just before it does its revert. This snapshot is available for access after the revert process has occurred so any files that have been created between the restored to point and the point where you decided to restore from will be accessible to you.

    There are shortcoming with this sort of software that you need to be aware of. The main one is if there is a hard drive melt down you are out of luck as all snaps reside on the main drive. RollBack RX has a companion imaging program (not very expensive at all) that I am using but I have not had occasion to try doing a restore with it. Other imaging programs will work but in order to avoid problems when imaging with RollBack installed you must do a full sector by sector image. You also must never run defrag programs when RollBack is installed as RX will see the defraged drive as significantly modified.

    I deal with these issues as follows,

    I have RollBack set to take a snap each hour and upon restart. At the end of each day I delete all hourly images and keep the days boot snap.

    Each week I image my drive using the RX companion imaging program.

    At the end of 4 weeks I uninstall RX and do my PC maintenance (defrag, registry cleaning etc) and image the drive using a different imaging program than the RX companion (I am using Paragon Backup for this). I then reinstall RX. Its a bit of work each month but I have a pretty decent level of security using this regime. AS an extra layer of security I upload my critical files as they are modified to an off site server. For this I am using a service called iDrive.

    When you consider the likelihood of having your drive melt down verses the frequency you might need to recover for some software related issue you can see where rollback software makes sense. It does not remove the need for full system images but most of the time it will serve to remedy any problem.

    A large number of discussions about this sort of software have been carried out on this forum, many of them comparing the strategy to full imaging programs. A search of the archive will make these available to you.

    In my opinion rollback software is mandatory on laptops since you will often not be able to have access to an archived image when you are on the road (or away from home or office). On a desktop a program like ShadowProtect will give you excellent protection. Its a bit slower to make images on demand than RollBack RX and takes longer to restore (not excessively longer) but it will work nicely.

    BTW I have ShadowProtect on my desktop set to do incremental images every 15 min and I use RX on my laptop as described above. I do all software testing on the laptop as its so easy and quick to back out of installations if I have a problem or decide I don't like the program.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2010
  5. Sully

    Sully Registered Member

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    I have no issue with rollback software, it is convenient.

    I would say that if you lose the hdd then you are screwed for rollback, and only rollback that places data on another hdd is useful. This is of course the benefit of using true disc imaging like ghost.

    What I would suggest that would be somewhat foolproof and convenient is to invest some time into creating a BartPE cd, and use a plugin from an imaging software. For example, Macrium Free is what I use, and it includes the option of a plugin for BartPE.

    When using PE (if you are unfamiliar) you boot from the cd or usb into a windows-like environment. You have mouse, keyboard and network pretty much. You can then start the image plugin and restore an image from optical media, another hdd or a network share. Since this is in a windows-like environment, you can be sure your drivers you need work, so there is not a network issue. You can be sure your hdd controller driver is present, so no issue about finding hdds.

    BartPE is booted into RAM in this method, so while you run the image plugin from RAM, you are free to wipe/restore/whatever any hdd in the computer.

    BartPE works with XP, but you can also use WinBuilder and your vista or dvd cd to create a PE2 (vista) or PE3 (win7) CD if needed. XP and BartPE is the easiest IMHO.

    My point is, generally issues I have had with ghost etc was due to not having drivers to see network shares. With the PE, that is all changed. If you are comfortable copying your drivers for your NIC for example, you can make a BartPE boot disc that will work. There are literally thousands of 'how to' articles about it, and hundreds of plugins for it that are ready to go, just drop in place.

    Macrium might or might not prove rock solid for you, but that is not the important part. The important part is that whatever you use, that it be capable of restoring from a PE, which makes it easy to do. Reliability I am afraid is another question. BartPE (or any PE) will be 100% reliable -- if it works the first time, it will always work on your hardware. The imaging reliability is something that seems to be very much hardware/software dependent.

    HTH.

    Sul.
     
  6. Defcon

    Defcon Registered Member

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    Since you asked what pros use, a lot of them depend on Ghost, ever since the days that it had to be run from a dos disk. Thati is no needed anymore, you can do full partition images from within Windows. IME and if you read this forum, Acronis has a lot of problems, I have had no issues with Ghost.

    Its also quite simple to use. If you attach an external drive it will ask you if you want to use that as a backup drive, and then you can create full/incremental images on a schedule or on demand. Some nice things about Ghost - the system restore disc it creates includes customized drivers from your pc so you won't have issues with it not recognizing disks etc. It also has a recovery partition on the hard disk called LightsOut that works without a recovery disc.

    I believe you have Vista, which version is it. Another option which 'just works' but lacks fancy bells and whistles is the builting backup in Vista and even better Windows 7. It can create a recovery cd, take images and backups. For a lot of users I think its more than enough.
     
  7. Brian K

    Brian K Imaging Specialist

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    Defcon,

    Do you have personal experience with Win7 imaging? I don't and I can't find an answer to this question. I'm advised that if you have a HD with a few partitions and you only image the OS partition then when you restore the image to that HD, the other partitions will be deleted.

    I hope this isn't true. If it is it makes the imaging app completely useless for many people with multi partitioned HDs. I only image OS partitions. Not data partitions.
     
  8. zfactor

    zfactor Registered Member

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    personally i think ease of use i have to recc shadow protect. with macrium a close second. im also liking image for windows though i personally dont think its nearly as easy to use as the other 2. shadow protect is very easy to use imo and very reliable
     
  9. Get

    Get Registered Member

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    I use Comodo Time Machine for rollback. Acronis for imaging. GFI Backup for data-backup. All work very well so far.
     
  10. zx81

    zx81 Registered Member

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    (Brilliant forum and threads here, thanks a lot to the regular posters)

    I have used Acronis for years, but I am one of the multitude for whom its failed under windows 7 64bit.

    I would stick a huge RED FLAG against Acronis and recommend that potential users both view their support forums for when they get a release out that has no problems, and do a product trial before buying. They have bad enough customer support that I will never go back to that company. It sharpens the senses when your sitting with one hard drive wiped during an attempted normal recovery, with a dubious image on the other.

    So reliability is also crucial for me. I am currently doing a trial run of: Image for windows, paragon, macrium reflect and shadow protect - thanks to the posters in these forums, whom I followed.

    Everything is subjective, and I don't want to annoy anyone whom uses it, but I dropped paragon as I didn't enjoy it compared to the rest - the fact that the help file is locked out while the program is running is annoying. The suite felt disjointed to me.

    Image for windows was surprising, in that it did everything that I had actually used Acornis for in the past (images backup and individual file/folder retrieval) with that 3 home machines user license, for not much money.

    By this stage I was more informed from these forums, and a little paranoid from my recent bad experience, so started looking for something which could also do incremental images.

    Shadow Protect and Macrium Reflect (paid) do. I notice shadow protect is quicker at them (on the same systems) and it has quicker updates. On macrium it looks like daily incremental schedules or on demand.

    ShadowProtect for me is the best software, and has the best support, but the price is comparatively expensive.

    I can get a 4 user home license for Macrium for the same price as one ShadowProtect license (about $80US). License for 3 Shadow protect is about $180US.

    Right now I am going to continue the trials on both and see if any problems arise. If I only had one main PC I would uses the free macrium on the rest, but I have a laptop for work and a main house desktop, so I need at least 2 'power' licenses.

    In summary, I am very impressed with what the paid Macrium does for the pricepoint, but at the moment, even although its more expensive, leaning towards ShadowProtect, because of both the software and the support.

    I'd be interested to read user experiences on macrium paid.

    *Incidentally, before this acronis fiasco I did not know the issues with VSS and defragmenting. I have used diskeeper for years for 'on the fly' fragmenting, but have uninstalled it now and just do a manual defrag before a mainbackup image.

    (on a forum link I read there is another (german?) poster with the name zx81, that's not me, I'm british and have been using zx81 online for years; but then sinclair sold a lot lol so it was only a matter of time )
     
  11. Get

    Get Registered Member

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    Where I said : "Acronis for imaging" I ment "Acronis TI 8 for imaging". Little incomplete there.
     
  12. acuariano

    acuariano Registered Member

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    one more vote for shadow protect,and another for paragon...
     
  13. acuariano

    acuariano Registered Member

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    btw paragon har disk manager is on GAOTD today...you can pick up free and try.
     
  14. zx81

    zx81 Registered Member

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    I just saw that after I had posted that I didnt like it LOL

    Downloaded and re-testing, can't beat free for all the bits and bobs it has ;)
     
  15. zfactor

    zfactor Registered Member

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    i personally dont like all the extra junk paragon installs all the drivers etc... i also do not like the gui. i showed this to a friend who needed a EASY but reliable solution and after a few minutes only with it he said forget it. but that was the newest version not 2009 one
     
  16. zx81

    zx81 Registered Member

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    Paragon sure is slow.......geez, plus on a full backup although times were comparable, the program seemed to hogg more of the PC, things were running like treacle. The incremental is not worth it, almost 1hr just 'estimating' so got fed up and canceled it.

    Still, it was free and has some other utilities (like "partition magic") in the package. I can't believe I almost bought this last week.

    Back to SP versus Macrium Reflect trial. MR's >>> Paragon
     
  17. zfactor

    zfactor Registered Member

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    both macrium and sp are great sp has more built in to the interface but macrium can do everything that i think anyone could need that sp does. macrium is a hair slower than sp but not by much. i guess for me between the 2 would come down to price and which interface you liked better but i agree out of all my testing they are still my 2 fav's
     
  18. bgoodman4

    bgoodman4 Registered Member

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    When I first tested Paragon I was surprised and shocked at how slow it APPEARED to be, especially in comparison to other programs I was trying. Then I discovered that verification of the image is on by default. Turn it off and things would not be so out of whack as they appeared to be. Still slower than a number of other programs but on my drive with 40 gigs of used space the difference was between 10 and 15 min. Not too bad IMO.

    Another thing I really liked about Paragon (Compact edition) was the ability to access data files from an archive without having to mount the archive as a virtual drive. The data is just there and available from within Paragon. To me this is a super feature.

    The interface is fine IMO not super but not bad either.

    That being said while I recommended and installed Paragon for a friends 4 PC SP is still my product of choice.
     
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