Getting this Right...for the Last Time

Discussion in 'Acronis True Image Product Line' started by Rcrete, May 13, 2007.

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  1. Rcrete

    Rcrete Registered Member

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    fool-proof backup strategy? i want to devise the optimum backup strategy and would appreciate the shared wisdom of the group. i'll describe my system and my goals, but i'm willing to make changes before i start if i'm heading in the wrong direction.

    windows xp pro running 3 hard drives as follows

    74gb WD Raptor SATA NTSF (Primary Drive) partitioned as:

    c: Boot disk with programs only 39 GB
    e: Internet Temp Files 1 GB
    Balance unallocated 29 GB

    300 GB WD SATA NTSF (Secondary Drive) partitioned as:

    z: Pagefile.sys 2.6 gb
    d: Data 50 gb
    f: Music 20 gb
    p: Pictures 10 gb
    h: Video Swap files 10 gb
    i: Video files 170 gb

    400 GB WD SATA Backup - see below

    My previous strategy used the 400 GB drive in an external CMS-branded SATA drive. I did back ups of my Primary and Secondary drives to the external hard drive using Acronis 10 Home.

    I recently had a catastrophic failure of my Primary Drive and my external drive become inoperable in the external configuration. Power spike perhaps got the c: drive and the electronics in the external drive.

    Fortunately I was able to format the new C: drive using the Acronis image and Restore the image from the Backup drive which I've installed as the 3rd internal drive.

    My plans, unless you head me in another direction, were to leave the Backup drive installed internally and then devise a backup strategy using it internally. Since I now recognize that an external drive is not a bullet proof strategy by itself I'm asking for help.

    1. I purchased a UPS to help protect from future power spike damage
    2. I want to devise, with your help, a strategy for backups which will create backups in two locations so I don't risk losing anything from the failure of any one drive.

    Without being an expert in this stuff I've considered doing complete images of Primary and Secondary to Backup and then complete images of Primary to a separate partition on Primary. And, another complete image of Secondary to a separate partition on Secondary. Or, simply buying a 4th Secondary Backup harddrive so I can do alternate complete images of Primary and Secondary to Primary and Secondary Backup drives without having images on the Primary and Secondar drives.

    I really don't know what Acronis Secure Zone is and whether this factors in.

    For now, tho, I'll do nothing till there's consensus here on where to go. I feel very lucky to still have all my programs and data and I want to be even more secure as I move forward. I've not transferred all the years of 8mm and VHS videos to the computer....as well as slowly tranferring all pictures to the computer....I need a "foolproof" system FOR THE LAST TIME.

    Thanks in advance.

    Randy in Florida
     
  2. Long View

    Long View Registered Member

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    Forget about Secure Zone - it is not relevant.

    Just make full images of your various drives. no need to get complicated.
    I would make a full image of C: to your 400 gig drive on a daily basis. I keep 3 full images deleting one of the earlier ones as I go. Then for extra security I keep full images of C: ( windows XP and programs) on external devices just in case. Full images of data etc can be made as often as you feel necessary - again they can be made to the 400 gig with others to externals/DVD/USB for extra protection.
     
  3. DwnNdrty

    DwnNdrty Registered Member

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    Whatever you do, it is not wise to leave ANY backup device connected to the computer, even if you run off a UPS. (Remember you're in Florida :D). If you use a second internal drive to hold backups, mount it in a removable rack/tray device (also called mobile racks). Cost around $10 to $15. This will let you remove the drive without opening up the computer.

    Also I wouldn't put an image of a drive on to a partition on that same drive.

    Forget about the SZ, it is a feature that has outlived its usefulness, IMHO. Though one user here likes to use it for automatic scheduled backups and its automatic deletion of the oldest backup to accommodate the latest backup.

    I believe the feature called Backup Locations in Version 10 of True Image does the same but many have reported problems getting it to work.

    For your Data, Music, Pictures, and Video I wouldn't use True Image to backup these. There are other alternatives out there, some of which are free, and which will backup these items in native format - less risk of corruption. But that's just me.
     
  4. Rcrete

    Rcrete Registered Member

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    what do you recommend for "native format" backup of video and music if not TI?
     
  5. Xpilot

    Xpilot Registered Member

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    I use removable main hard drives in drive caddies.
    The system works like this:
    I get back after lunch and remove the current main drive. This is replaced by a previous day's hard drive and the computer is booted from the recovery CD. A recovery is then run of today's whole drive image to bring the replacement drive up to current status. No validations are necessary as the other current drive is not overwritten and forms the ultimate backup. The whole restore process takes about 13 minutes, just time for me to go and make a cup of real coffee.
    The above is my total daily involvement. Backup images are prepared automatically and are stored on an internal slave drive. I still use the good old Secure Zone as it does exactly what I want and manages the images on the FIFO basis.

    Xpilot
     
  6. DwnNdrty

    DwnNdrty Registered Member

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    Why, Windows Explorer, of course. :D If you want some compression you can use either the built-in WinZip or WinRar, although music and video are already in a compressed form so you wouldn't gain much here, but will for other data files. There is another that will copy only changed and new files - Xcopy, with the appropriate switches and can be run from a batch file to copy several folders. And still another is Karen's Replicator which might be easier to setup.
     
  7. Long View

    Long View Registered Member

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    Sorry DwnNdrty I have got to challenge you on that even though you qualify your point with "But that's just me"

    Either you trust a program to work or you don't - in my view. Is there some reason why Acronis will work flawlessly with an Operating system and programs but will then decide to eat a data image ? :D

    Since version 6 I must have made and restored several thousand images. I stopped verifying years ago. Once you have established that the program works on your hardware it is going to work day after day.

    I image my data because it is quicker - a lot quicker.
     
  8. CatFan432

    CatFan432 Registered Member

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  9. DwnNdrty

    DwnNdrty Registered Member

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    Because, unless you carry out a restore of a disk backup you're never 100% sure the backup is good. A good validation is not 100% proof of a good restore.
    Because, the other choices for disk backup are limited or just as unsure.
    Because, there is an alternative for data backup which simply has never failed me.

    But to each his own.
     
  10. rodnh

    rodnh Registered Member

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    Hi Longview,

    It's not just DwnNdrty that prefers a straight backup of data files. I prefer it also and have no use for any type of data backup strategy that uses a proprietary compressed file format and by necessity, requires a specialized "restore" or a "mount and extract" procedure to gain access to any of the files in their native format. It's simply too much of an unnecessary bother as far as I am concerned. Drive space is cheap enough now such that compression is rarely a deciding consideration for data files. I seriously question if using an imaging scheme to keep rapidly changing work (data) file backups up to date really is any quicker than a straight backup, considering both can be fully automated. Imaging does require a second step (restore or mount/extract) when needed for access to any usable files. There's none of that with a straight backup, which takes only seconds to keep the backed up files up to date. It can be accomplished incrementally, automatically and be totally transparent to the user, just like scheduled incremental (or full) imaging. And there is no "restore" operation to bother with. The files are readily available for opening directly in the source application software if needed. It's also not a matter of verification or the reliability of imaging software. Whatever the reliability may be with a two-step image create+restore procedure, I doubt it is greater than a single step, straight copying process.

    While I believe XXCOPY is far superior to the old DOS XCOPY if one uses batch files for such an operation, I fully agree with the concept that DwnNdrty suggests. I haven't tried Karen's Replicator that he mentions since I use the freeware version of SyncBack, which does the same thing and does it exceptionally well - in addition to syncing work files between my desktop and laptop. If you prefer imaging software for data backup, fine. More power to you. WhiIe I am a firm believer in cloning and imaging software (such as TI), I think there are better options available for data backup. And they don't cost anything.

    In any event, a "fool proof" strategy will have redundant ways of recovering precious personal files and not rely on a single method or media, not matter how reliable they are perceived to be.

    Rod
     
  11. Long View

    Long View Registered Member

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    Rod and DwnNdrty - Its only a matter of personal preference - I think we can agree on that ? Looking again at DwnNdrty's original I think the words "less risk of corruption" were the ones that intrigued me. I was amused by the idea that
    a program could be trusted to protect our systems but not our data.

    In practice I make data images and less frequently file copies. data is kept on site and offsite, on external drives and in a fireproof safe. Last time I had to restore was 1990 but i'm superstitious enough to believe that should I forget to make any backup at all then my hard drives will all melt and my data disappear.
     
  12. rodnh

    rodnh Registered Member

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    Agree. Absolutely. A matter of personal preference. While everyone wishes for a foolproof means of recovering from a hardware/software disaster, most people's situation is often quite unique to them and one size definitely does not fit all. There are a number of different means to a similar result. Some easy, some not so easy, depending on one's point of view. That's what's good about forums such as this one. A reader not only gets a feel for potential problems that might be encountered with the software, they also get to consider the experiences and preferences of others in how various "backup" schemes are implemented. They get to pick and choose (mix and match) particular methods others use that might suit them best in their own situation. They do have to think about it carefully however. And it's about hardware accessory choices as well as software usage. The cookie cutter approach is likely not the best one. My own backup strategy has, shall we say, "matured" since I have been reading this forum. It has become a more extensive strategy than it was, but is much better and more redundant than before. I had to think and rethink it, revise and re-revise it over several months. Reading this forum about various methods other's use helped me to implement a strategy that, combined with actual testing, gives me great confidence that I can recover easily from any single or even double instance of failure. The only additional feature that I have yet to implement is to store one of my redundant backups off site. Most likely that will be the whole master disk partition images on DVDs. I consider that to be the oldest and least reliable of the others but it is also the least likely to be needed. If my house burns down, I will have a lot more to be concerned about than getting my computer back to where it was.

    Rod
     
  13. Rcrete

    Rcrete Registered Member

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    Rod - I'd appreciate the details of your strategy. I started this thread in an attempt to learn what others do in some detail so I can customize my own from the "best of the best". Thanks in advance.
     
  14. rodnh

    rodnh Registered Member

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    Hi Rcrete,

    The following post of mine in another thread probably explains my current stategy the best:

    https://www.wilderssecurity.com/showpost.php?p=997369&postcount=29

    If you wait for some kind of consensus on details, you are likely in for a long wait. Best to get as much input as possible, think it through yourself and pick whatever features of several different strategies might work best for you. Then incorporate those features into one of your own. I think that is the purpose of your thread here and that is good. Very good. The more effort you spend now considering various possible options, discarding the ones that don't appeal to you and pursuing the ones that do, the better your overall personal strategy will be. Try to increase your flexibility as much as possible. For instance, if you haven't done so already, make a TI boot CD and see if you can boot into full mode from it. If you can't, you should resolve that matter before proceeding any further because it can definitely affect your strategy. It may be a simple fix or it may not be. While many here will propose the development of a BartPE CD with a TI plugin to solve that problem, I personally find that idea offensive to the proposition that paid-for software is supposed to work as advertised without a customers recourse to somewhat difficult (for many) third party "fixes". Absent such a "fix" you might want to throw more emphasis to internal drives with slide out caddies that can be accessed with the safe mode and less to external means that can't. Don't forget that in case of complete failure of your master disk, you MUST use the TI boot CD to get anywhere if you don't have a cloned standby disk ready to go. If you can't access an external drive that has your image(s) on it, you could be dead in the water when you certainly don't want to be.

    Rod
     
  15. DwnNdrty

    DwnNdrty Registered Member

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  16. Rcrete

    Rcrete Registered Member

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    Rod / All - you raise an interesting point i hadn't fully considered and that is the access method to backup drives. i have previously been using external hdd's, firewire to ide hdd at the office and sata hdd via sata pci card at home. DwnNdrty had introduced me to the caddy concept and i've had a look at these as well.

    if i understand you correctly there may be an access question (driver?) using a wired external drive (usb/firewire/sata) if the primary drive fails. the caddy concept solves this problem by having the computer recognize the caddy hdd as any other internal drive if i understand correctly.

    as i expand my backup thinking to my wife's laptop and my son's desktop i had considered something like the wd 120gb passport....a usb 2.0 external drive....but that leaves the primary drive failure issue. what do you recommend for situations where a caddy drive isn't practical?

    this is all very helpful...i just don't want to start spending money until i have a complete strategy.
     
  17. DwnNdrty

    DwnNdrty Registered Member

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    This is where the Bootable True Image CD and a USB drive come into play. I don't know if it has been mentioned before or if you already know, but that CD has all the basic Backup, Recovery, and Clone functions on it. One thing you have to make sure of is that when you boot with it, that it will see whatever usb drive you are using.

    I do have one of those WD 120Gb portable types and it works with my laptop and the TI cd. But even three other external usb drives that I have, which contain standard desktop drives, are compatible with the TI cd.
     
  18. rodnh

    rodnh Registered Member

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    The problem (if there is one) is caused by driver support on the TI boot CD (also called bootable rescue media) that you make from the TI windows interface. The boot CD is based on Linux, not windows. You may be able to see and use your external drives if you make all your backups from windows but you may not be able to see them when you are booted up in Linux from the TI boot CD. You may not even be able to boot into full mode from that CD. You won't know for sure until you try. It appears to be a common problem and that is why I suggested you make that "rescue CD" and verify that you can, indeed see your external drive(s) from it. If you can, all is well. If you can't, then now is the time to either get the situation corrected or revise your stategy away from external drives. The safe mode of the TI boot CD is based on DOS (or so I am told) and you should have no problem in that mode in seeing all the internal drives. However, with safe mode you will not be able to see external drives (USB, Firewire, etc).

    If you lack support for external drives from the TI boot CD, you can do the job without hard disk caddies. They just make it much easier because you don't even have to open the computer case in order to swap out a disk. Say, for instance you have three internal drives and want to dedicate one for storing backups. I'd at least install a caddy for that disk. Then make your backups to it and remove it for storage outside the computer. You could still use the disk bay for another disk for any other purpose you wanted. If you then had a problem with your master disk, you could very easily reinstall your "backup disk", boot from the recovery CD, even in safe mode, and you should be able to restore your saved image(s) to your master disk that way. Ideally you want to be able to see and use your external drives. I'm only suggesting this as a work around if you can't. In any event, you need to know whether you can or not before disaster strikes so you can plan on how to avoid the problem ahead of time.

    Yes, you definitely want to plan ahead for the possibility of recovering from a master disk failure problem on any laptop or other desktop you may have. The laptop will be the trickiest but still can be done. And fairly easily if you have two caddies in your desktop. You can get inexpensive adapter plugs (about $3 each) to enable plugging a laptop hard disk into a desktop. I'm not sure about SATA but I have them for my PATA laptop disks. Lets say that you have booted the laptop from the TI recovery CD and you are not able to see any external drive because you can't even get into full mode. That leaves you with a problem. You don't have a means to connect another internal that can be seen in safe mode. What do you do? Install the laptop drive in one of the caddies in your desktop, using the plug adapter. Providing you had previously made a backup image of the laptop drive and stored it on that full-sized disk that you had already dedicated to backups for your desktop, you can use your desktop and the TI boot CD in safe mode to restore that image to the laptop drive. Then, reinstall the disk in the laptop and you should be back in business. If you had two adapters, you can also clone the laptop disk to another laptop disk using your desktop computer and the TI recovery CD in safe mode. This is certainly not as convenient as just using a USB or firewire external on the laptop. But if you can't see 'em from the TI recovery CD, they're not useful anyway. At least not in recovering from a master disk problem.

    The thing to remember in all this is to never plan on using TI from windows to do any restoration. In the case of a master disk failure, you won't be able to boot into windows anyway so you'll need to use the TI recovery CD to boot. Again, make that TI recovery CD and see if you can see your external USB disk in full mode on that laptop. If you can, you're golden. If you can't, you have some more thinking to do about what to buy and how to proceed.

    There are a couple of other "fixes" if you can't get into full mode from the TI boot CD. The simple one is the "acpi=off no apic" fix mentioned by Acronis in one of the stickies in this forum. I have to use that one on my wife's desktop in order to get into full mode and see an external disk. You certainly should try that one, if you need a fix at all, before modifying any of your plans. There's also the BartPE and TI plugin "third party fix" that I mentioned previously. Whether you want to go that route, if needed, is up to you. You can find out more about that option by searching this forum. I don't know of any other options if you wish to stay with TI.

    Another thing you might want to consider for increasing your flexibility, assuming you proceed in an external drive direction is an external enclosure instead of a dedicated external disk package. I use an enclosure that can take any PATA hard disk, laptop or desktop, or any CD/DVD drive. It can connect via either USB or firewire. Since my laptop only has a DVD rom drive, when I want to burn any DVDs directly from my laptop, I just drop a DVD burner in the enclosure and connect it to my laptop via a firewire cardbus adapter card. The enclosure also sees use in cloning hard disks on my desktop, my laptop and my wife's desktop. Same enclosure, just different bare drives.

    Those are my thoughts. Others may have different input for you to consider.

    Rod
     
  19. Rcrete

    Rcrete Registered Member

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    rod - can you give me the specifics on the "external enclosure" you describe....if not here then by email?
     
  20. rodnh

    rodnh Registered Member

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    Sent by PM

    Rod
     
  21. DwnNdrty

    DwnNdrty Registered Member

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    Many online vendors sell these enclosures. If you get one that will also hold a dvd burner, like Rod has, you will need a 5.25 enclosure. But if you want it only for hard drives then you can get the smaller 3.5 size.

    There is also a type called USB to IDE/Sata adapter that is not an enclosure at all but will still allow connection of a drive, even laptop drives, or a burner:
    http://www.acortech.com/Generic_Serial_SATA_or_IDE_2.5/partinfo-id-3219646.html
    I have this and it works with TI also. Great price too.
     
  22. Rcrete

    Rcrete Registered Member

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    i looked at this item and am confused by the detailed pic which appears to connect two drives together...with some type of cord heading out of the pic to the left. how, exactly does this work?
     
  23. DwnNdrty

    DwnNdrty Registered Member

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    Yes, it is confusing at first. This device has both SATA and IDE connections and the picture shows both the SATA drive on the right and the IDE drive on the left. The rest of the cables are the power cables.

    The business end of the device is the part that is connected to the IDE drive. So if you eliminate the SATA drive with its red connecting cable you'll have what you're more likely to use, if you have only an IDE drive.

    But the important thing is that the TI bootable CD sees an IDE drive connected to a usb port via this device. I don't have any SATA drives to test that function.
     
  24. Rcrete

    Rcrete Registered Member

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    ok...so a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. as i've read the posts to this thread and thought about backup methods and things like removable drives my curiosity also allowed me to spend time starting to read about RAID configurations.

    It would seem that the idea of redundant information on, say a raid 5 configuration would give you "in the case" backup.

    Can TI 10 be used with a RAID configuration to provide an external backup?
     
  25. DwnNdrty

    DwnNdrty Registered Member

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    I don't use Raid, but remember with Raid, what affects one disk will almost immediately affect the other.
     
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