Final word on the RollBack Rx imaging issue?

Discussion in 'backup, imaging & disk mgmt' started by bgoodman4, Feb 10, 2009.

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  1. bgoodman4

    bgoodman4 Registered Member

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    I have finally heard back from Horizon Data Systems tech support and have the definitive word on backing up drives with RollBack installed on them (or at least this is what I was told, the determination of the accuracy of the information will have to wait until I actually try it). Currently you would use Drive Cloner Rx (a spin off from RollBack Rx version eight, but since Drive Cloner is a spin off of RollBack Rx version eight I expect the information below would apply to it as well). If someone who has both RollBack and Drive Cloner can test this and let us know if it does in fact work I would be grateful. Failing that if someone can test this on RB 8 and report that would be great as well.

    My first question was,

    can Drive Clone Rx image a drive with RollBack Rx on it. If so will it include RollBack Rx snapshots or not.

    I was told that Drive Cloner can be used when having Rollback installed as well as when it is not installed. When it is installed it will allow me to save a baseline.

    I then asked the following question,

    If I save a baseline and restore it, do I need to fix the MBR or can I proceed without doing this and will RollBack be present on the restored disk?

    I was told that if I save a baseline and restore it, everything will be the same as I had left it. RollBack will be present on the restored disk and there will be no need to 'fix' my MBR.

    Now I did not ask if I had to do a sector by sector image of the drive to accomplish the above or if I could do the image from within Windows and this may well be the case since as was mentioned on the forum elsewhere you can do a sector by sector image with Acronis True Image and save a image with RollBack on it but in this case you would need to fix the MBR.

    If no one is able to test this I will likely download and install both programs and test it myself but I would prefer not being the one to do the test. My computer tech knowledge is somewhat limited and I would much rather not be faced with a big recovery job that may or may not entail fixing things that have names I have never encountered before.
     
  2. nexstar

    nexstar Registered Member

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    Technically, they are correct in what they have told you.....and I've confirmed this with Drive Cloner Rx and Rollback. I'll attempt to summarise what can be a bit of a confusing area.

    When RollBack is installed, almost all imaging software running within Windows will only be able to 'see' the current state of the drive. So, whether it is Drive Cloner or ATI etc then the image created will be the system as it is now with no other snapshots available. If you restore an image taken in this state then you won't have to fix the mbr as such but you will need to re-install RollBack which, in the process, will sort out the mbr.

    The only imaging software I have tried which can take an image from within Windows and can save all the snapshots is Image for Windows by Terabyte. This installs a utility called Phylock which allows you to get a valid sector backup of the drive. However, it can't get the mbr from within a RollBack environment and so you would need to have a seperate backup of the mbr saved from outside of the RB setup.

    Outside of Windows, any imaging software will only get the baseline snapshot unless it can perform a sector (or RAW or Maintenance Mode) backup. This is a bit of a sledgehammer approach but it does get you the whole works. You get the current state of the system, the mbr, all of the snapshots and when you restore this image, RollBack will be installed just as it was.

    The downside to this, of course, is the extra space and time it takes to perform this type of backup. One of the 'tricks' with this setup is to have a system partition which is small enough to image in this way (say 15 to 20GB) and to keep most programs and data on a second partition (or drive) as this data can then be imaged using standard methods.

    The mbr doesn't need to be sorted out that regularly as the install/uninstall process in RollBack does that for you.

    Returning to Drive Cloner Rx, from what I have seen, it would appear that it doesn't actually do a sector backup where it saves all sectors on the disk. It appears to just save the used sectors, which confirms what you were told by HDS. There is no option to save all sectors but, confusingly, there is an option to 'Restore Sector by Sector'. This is slightly misleading and I'm guessing that it normally restores in 'file' mode rather than in sector mode. Either way, I don't think it is a suitable tool in combination with RollBack. It was just about ok when it was bolted on to RollBack but now it is on its own, I think there are much more suitable alternatives out there.

    Having read a few of your posts it is clear that you don't want to lose any work if possible and as a former GoBack user myself, I can see how RollBack would be of interest. Whatever system you set up, I wonder if you shouldn't have some form of Continuous Data Protection (CDP) installed. I use a little-known (and I think now unsupported) piece of software called AutoVer. There are others out there as well but the general idea is that files will get copied to another location as they are created/altered. Versioning can normally also be enabled so that you can have a revision archive of your documents. I use this on all of my PC's and it is just 'set it and foget it' software.

    So, could I suggest two possible setups? :)

    The first would be to create two partitions as above, one for your system and the other for data. Make an image before installing RollBack of your system and data and keep that somewhere safely away from the imaged drive. Install Rollback and AutoVer or some alternative CDP and set it up to back up the important files continuously (preferably to a second hard drive). Take an all-sectors image outside of Windows and then let RollBack do its stuff on a day to day basis. You could then image less often knowing that you could restore the system if required from a week ago but also being able to copy back the data from 5 minutes ago.

    The second option would be to use ShadowProtect which can be set up to take incrementals every 15 minutes if required and, although I've had a bit of a chequered history with it, it is very highly thought of and should keep you well protected. I would still use some sort of CDP even with this though, just as a precaution.

    I hope this hasn't made things worse and in answer to the title, I don't think there will ever be a definitive answer to the RollBack imaging issue! ;)

    Graham
     
  3. bgoodman4

    bgoodman4 Registered Member

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    Thank you very much for this Graham.

    So most imaging programs will be able to do the same thing as Drive Cloner? That is, save the current state and restore without any need to fix the MBR? I understand about uninstalling RollBack and reinstalling it but as I understand it this will only work if I actually get a chance to uninstall it before doing the image. This is not a certainty and I want to keep things as simple as possible. Having to fix the MBR adds a layer to the process that I would like to avoid.

    While it would be nice to get backups of all the snapshots its not critical. Since I am backing up, and will continue to backup, daily in the event of a drive failure I have at most 1 days work at risk. Also I had implemented a continuous backup regime for my most important files (more on this later) so with backing up daily and RollBack creating snaps every hour I would be pretty well covered. Almost as well as with GoBack but not quite.

    I could implement the sledgehammer approach as you call it and would if it were the only option but would prefer not to have to do so. I expect RollBack itself will take care of the vast majority of problems by simply reverting to a previous snap. The image would be there for those rare times when it is not possible to revert to a snapshot such as with a drive failure. The last thing I want to do is to have to worry about the MBR during a crisis if I can avoid it. As mentioned I am not especially knowledgeable as far as the nifty gritty of how PCs work (a month ago I did not know what a MBR was) and so the simpler things are the better.

    I do own Acronis True Image and will continue to use it going forward. I have also been thinking about trying out Paragons imaging program. I had looked at Shadow Protect a while back and had decided it was not something I was interested in. I don't remember why but I had passed on it. Based on you recommendation below I will take another look.

    As noted above I have implemented a continuous backup regime for my most critical files. I am using an off site service called IDrive. Its one of these services where your files are uploaded to the companies servers for storage. I chose IDrive because they have something called continuous backup where, with files under 50 mg in size, the files are monitored for changes and if a change is found the file will be updated. This occurs every 10 min. The service will maintain up to 30 versions of the files it is monitoring and is fairly inexpensive ($49 per year for 150 gigs, and the version history of the backups does not count as part of the 150 gigs). I also am using a program called History Explorer which copies versions of files to another location on the same drive as the original. Any file that is more important but not critical is monitored by this program (of course I set it up to watch these files) and every time I hit save a new version of the file is created in the storage folder. I can even recover files that I have subsequently deleted using this program (that is if I delete the last version of a file I can go back and recover any of its previous versions). Both IDrive and History Explorer have worked flawlessly for me so far.

    I had read about doing this and the idea has appeal but I am a bit reluctant to start moving things around in this manner. As I said above this stuff is a bit foreign to me and if I can avoid it I would prefer to do so. That being said when I get a new PC and do not have all kinds of data, programs, and settings already on it I think I will try this.

    As noted above I will continue using True Image to backup from within Windows to protect against catastrophe. If it comes down to having to fix the MBR I will have to do so but I suspect between Drive Cloner and RollBack this will not be necessary. I am not clear why you feel Drive Cloner is not a good fit. If I am also imaging using TI, or Paragon or even Shadow Protect as well I should be very well covered I would think. Since with Drive Cloner I would not have to worry about the MBR it seems to me to be a low stress solution. I would think that with a combination of RollBack, Drive Cloner, True Image (or whatever) and continuous backup of critical files, that I am pretty well covered for just about any problem (oh yes, every 2 weeks I swap an external drive with a couple of images on it with one I keep in a safe deposit box at the bank. This is in case of fire or theft).

    Definitely not. You have made things very clear and I do very much appreciate your input and suggestions.

    Thanks to all who have been kind enough to offer help and guidance in this matter, and for showing such patience with with me. I do very much appreciate all your efforts. This is one awesome forum,,,,and a forum is only as good as the people on it.
     
  4. nexstar

    nexstar Registered Member

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    Yes. You wouldn't need to actively fix the mbr but it would be fixed as a matter of course when you re-installed RollBack. It is possible that RollBack could look as though it was installed and running ok in this scenario but if I was restoring an image taken from within Windows when RollBack was active then I would always uninstall and re-install RollBack.

    It is also worth remembering that, even if you have a RollBack snapshot which is unbootable, don't immediately delete it as it doesn't mean that you can't explore it and retrieve data once you have booted into a different snapshot.
    Thanks for the information on IDrive. I use Mozy at the moment but am now trialling IDrive on one of my PC's as it does have some features not available in Mozy.
    Yes, I think with what you have described here that you've pretty much covered all of the bases. Drive Cloner would simply be replicating what you are doing with True Image and so may not be worth investing in. When it was included with RollBack it was adequate with potential to do the Holy Grail of saving snapshots in the most efficient manner. Now it has been split off and is unlikely to go that route, it has to be compared to 'grown up' imaging software and, for me, it is just not as useful as those I currently use.
    The words 'belt and 'braces' come to mind :) . But, seriously, you really can't have too many backups.

    Graham
     
  5. bgoodman4

    bgoodman4 Registered Member

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    Let me see if I have this correct,,,after restoring an image that had been made of a drive with RollBack on it I should reinstall RB, uninstall it to correct the MBR, and then reinstall it again?


    This is good advice, I would not have thought of this.

    Your welcome. I had looked at a number of services and IDrive seemed to be more comprehensive than any but the full corporate services.

    Understood and thanks.

    Not sure what you mean by this but in this case more is certainly better than less, I am going to take a look at Paragon as an extra layer but it probably is overkill considering I have TI and the imaging function from within RollBack (which I just bought last night).

    Thanks for your detailed suggestions and comments. Much appreciated.
     
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