Greyed-out archives in B&R 2012, 2011

Discussion in 'Paragon Drive Backup Product Line' started by Scott_Y, Jan 26, 2012.

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  1. Scott_Y

    Scott_Y Registered Member

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    I have the following problem in B&R Free 2012, and previously in B&R Free 2011. Other people have reported a similar problem to the forum, but no solution works for me. (Changing to "Show partitions" does not help.)

    On the archive tab, some items are greyed out. For example, compare the items dated 2012-01-17 (grey) and 2012-01-16 (black). Although the greyed items are listed, they cannot be checked for integrity, cannot be "added" to the archive database, cannot be mounted, and most importantly, cannot be used for restore -- whether via the Archives menu, the Archive tab toolbar, or the file context menu. B&R can't do anything with them except delete them from the list.

    Greyed out archives.PNG

    If the "Show existing archives" button is clicked, then the greyed-out filenames are hidden.
    Show existing only.PNG

    EDIT: These greyed-out items are actually still on the local fixed disk, but for some reason B&R doesn't recognize them -- they don't "exist" to B&R.

    Questions:
    1. Why are the greyed out items listed but not "existing" -- even though they are still on the disk?
    2. Why is this happening?
    3. How can I fix it? Thanks.
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2012
  2. seekforever

    seekforever Registered Member

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    I can't really answer your questions but I had a similar problem with an archive in the paid version that I couldn't add or do anything with. Personally, I detest the concept of using a database, I'd just prefer to deal with the files but given that many people using a PC don't know what a file or folder is that probably isn't seen as a great idea either.

    Under the archive list window you show there should be "change to file view". If you do that and track down your archives are the greyed out ones there? If so, can you validate or otherwise use them?

    One reason they are greyed is that they were manually deleted in Windows Explorer for example and the database didn't know about it.
     
  3. Scott_Y

    Scott_Y Registered Member

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    Thanks, seekforever. It's helpful to know I'm not the only one perplexed by this. And that upgrading to the paid version won't necessarily fix it.

    I agree. A database can get out of sync, but a straight view into the destination folder can't lie. On the other hand, B&R's database method allows archives to be shown together even if they are stored in multiple locations.

    B&R 2012 has a separate panel on the Archives tab for the file view. The red arrow below points to the 2012-01-17 archive which B&R doesn't recognize (the same as marked by the red arrow in the screenshot above), and the blue arrow points to the 2012-01-16 archive which B&R does recognize. They are both physically on the disk, B&R sees them and can open the folders in the Archives tab's file view panel, but I can't do anything with the greyed-out items except delete them from the archive database.

    File view.PNG

    Right, that makes sense. But in my case, the greyed-out items are still on the disk.

    This doesn't inspire confidence in B&R being able to save me should I need to restore an image someday.
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2012
  4. Scott_Y

    Scott_Y Registered Member

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    Hmm... thanks for the tip. In fact, thanks a million -- you helped me solve my problem!
    AND we may have uncovered what appears to be a significant bug in B&R 2012. See what you think...

    There is no link for "Switch to File View" on the Archives tab panel itself, only the tree-view side panel as shown below (a wider view the screenshot above), and nothing can be managed from there. Your tip prompted me to start looking for that link.

    Archives tab.PNG


    It turns out that the Restore Wizard and Check Archive Integrity Wizard have that link. Note in this next screenshot that it is not just the Archives tab which fails to recognize my 2012-01-17 file, but any archive list view.

    Switch to file view.PNG

    From the file view I could finally access the 2012-01-17 file (see next shot). I was able to verify its integrity and got within the final click of restoring from it (I didn't want to actually perform a restore, but I should be able to if needed).

    Restore.PNG

    So it appears that the archive list view is broken in some way because it does not recognize files which the Wizards recognize.

    The solution for my problem, then, is to use Wizards instead of any archive list view, including the Archives tab.

    WISHES FOR B&R 2012
    1. Add a "Switch to File View" link on the Archives tab.
    2. Most importantly, fix the archive list view so that it no longer greys out otherwise valid archives which the Wizards can access.
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2012
  5. seekforever

    seekforever Registered Member

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    It looks like you may well have the problem pinned down.

    I have to admit it was good fortune that I did something different - I started the program so I could find where the "file view" feature was located and happened to go into the Restore Wizard first and found it rather than look elsewhere.

    Why not send your findings to Paragon as a support issue.
     
  6. Scott_Y

    Scott_Y Registered Member

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    And conversely, I started from the tabs pane because it is the most prominent feature on the interface.

    Excellent suggestion, I've just done that. For the sake of an overall summary here and for helping other people search this forum, this is what I submitted:

    _Archive List View_ (whether in the Archives tab or the select archive step in Wizards) is failing to recognize some (but not all) valid archive files which are still available on disk. These inaccessible archives are listed but greyed out, cannot be added to an archive database, tested for integrity, mounted, or used for restore. They can, however, be tested for integrity and restored via File View in the Wizards.
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2012
  7. SIW2

    SIW2 Registered Member

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    If you remove the greyed out items from the archives list - you may find you can add them back after.

    The automated showing of archives is just for convenience.

    I never use it.

    You can always fire up the restore wizard and browse to any archive and restore it.

    No need to be concerned about it.

    Windows System Image GUI only has an automated method - when that can't find it's images - the average user is SOL.
     
  8. wptski

    wptski Registered Member

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    Tip:

    I stopped using the Delete from Archive Database and HD check box long time ago because it would delete the wrong Archive from the HD at times. I delete only from the Database and manually from my HD.

    The Delete from HD didn't delete the whole folder/file(s) anyway.
     
  9. Scott_Y

    Scott_Y Registered Member

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    I just tried this on my 2012-01-17 archive (the greyed-out entry in the examples above) -- and it worked! Thank you!

    Let me clarify what you suggested, then make a further comment about this problem.

    1. Select a greyed-out archive on the Archives tab.
    2. Click "Delete the archive from the database."
    3. "Delete archive files from disk" should be unchecked.
    4. Click "Delete."
    5. Click "Add an archive to the database."
    6. Navigate to the archive referred to in step 1 (a PBF file).
    7. Click "Add."
    8. The archive file is now back on the database list and no longer greyed out.

    Note that just doing steps 5 to 7 (that is, simply doing what the interface offers to do) does not work by itself. In other words, you can't add a greyed-out archive directly to the database. No. First you have to delete it (steps 1-4) before doing steps 5-7.

    That is not obvious at all.
    Am I the only one who thinks that's a bug? Or if not a bug, then very poor program design?

    Yes, if what you mean by "for convenience" is just a list of files for casual reference. But it is not "for convenience" if some archives are directly actionable, while others only indirectly through either of the two undocumented methods described in this thread. I would call that "inconvenient" at best.

    That is not correct. The Restore Wizard by default shows only black (non-grey) entries. To even see the greyed-out entries -- let alone restore them -- you need to click the File View link in the Wizard. That, too, will not be obvious to many users.

    I strongly disagree. A user cannot restore a greyed-out archive unless they know the undocumented workarounds -- and the vast majority of users won't know them. Not being able to restore from a perfectly good archive is indeed a cause for concern.

    Right, B&R is better than Windows' imaging tool. But the point of my OP is that users are also "SOL" (as you say) if they try to restore from B&R and the archive is greyed-out -- and they don't know the "insider's" secret work-around fixes. I assure you, there will be some users who are "SOL" with B&R. That's exactly what this thread is trying to prevent.
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2012
  10. Scott_Y

    Scott_Y Registered Member

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    I submitted a support request to Paragon and quickly received the following reply; I have numbered each point for comments below. I commend them for such good response time.

    ------- Reply from Paragon -------
    (1) In case archive was not deleted/moved, if you store your archives on extrenal HDD, it could be mounted with different letter on the next connection (depend on other storage devices connected to the PC at that moment), but archive database contains letter drive had at the moment of backup, so if it is mouted with another letter, that archive path will be invalid. You may delete invalid record and add it again with changed drive letter.

    (2) Also you may add archive to database in Restore wizard (if you select archive in Switch to file view mode, select Next, but then cancel the wizard, archove will be added to the database too).

    (3) As for Switch to file view - it is in the upper right corner of Archives Tab. It is not possible to restore archives from that ttab, but you may browse it and extract files from it (doube eclcik on .PBF file - right click on file - Export).
    ------- End of reply from Paragon -------

    My comments on each of Paragon's points:

    (1) This is a good point. I should have mentioned in my OP that my greyed-out archives are all on a local fixed disk, and none of the them have been moved or deleted. So in my case the problem is not due to changed drive letters.

    (2) This is just a slight variation on the first work-around described in this thread, and in my opinion, it is even more obscure. This does not address the cause of the problem, and is no help to the user who does not know the undocumented solutions.

    (3) Yes, the upper right corner of the Archives tab does provide a file view. But its functions are entirely different than what the file view in the Wizards provides. In the Archives tab, file view allows extraction of individual files -- this is only a minor, secondary help. In the Wizards, file view allows the basic archive functions including add to database, check for integrity, and most importantly, restore from archive -- these are fundamental and primary to the whole purpose of B&R.
     
  11. wptski

    wptski Registered Member

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    I can see your point when it comes to managing archives. When it comes to restoring that should be done from WinPE or Recovery Media Builder boot disk. Not sure about RMB but the WinPE using HDM, there isn't an archive list like you see from Windows. You have to select what drive your archive is located on, etc. Some do all from WinPE, so they never have an archive list.
     
  12. Scott_Y

    Scott_Y Registered Member

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    I have learned a lot from this discussion, and am indebted to the members who responded, including Paragon's user support -- thank you! I also have a new perspective on what is at issue, as summarized below.

    I am focusing only on archive files which are on a local fixed disk, and have not been moved or deleted from the location recorded in B&R's archive database. (Archives which are greyed-out because they have been moved, deleted, or stored on an external drive are of course a different matter, and are not addressed here.)

    (1) The problem is that sometimes a perfectly good and uncorrupted archive file will be greyed-out in the Archives tab, and also unlisted in the archives view of the Wizards. The only actions which can be performed on such files from the Archives tab is deletion from the database, and export of individual files.

    (2) We know, however, that the greyed-out archives may still be functional because of undocumented work-arounds which allow them to be mounted, checked for integrity, and restored. The two methods are:

    -- From the Archives tab, delete the greyed-out file from the database, then add it back.
    OR
    -- From the <Check Archive Integrity Wizard> or <Restore Wizard>, click "Switch to File View" then select the archive for action.

    (3) Apparently the root problem is a bug in how archives view interprets the status of archive files. File view in Wizards does not have this bug. And the status information can be fixed easily by deleting it from the database list and adding it back. Note that nothing has changed in the structure or location of the archive itself. It is simply as if it has been "reregistered" with the archives view.

    (4) Although it is nice to have two work-around solutions, the great majority of users will not know about them. Instead, they may someday be shocked to find that the archive they were depending on cannot be restored. This reflects very poorly on Paragon. We might as well be using Acronis True Image, right?

    (5) I conclude that this is a bug in a particular subsystem of B&R. It is potentially serious because some users will not be able to restore from a greyed-out archive. It needs to be fixed.
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2012
  13. Scott_Y

    Scott_Y Registered Member

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    Thanks, wptski. I did not mention the alternative of restoring via a rescue disk.

    Nevertheless, my point still stands. Best practice or not, it is possible to restore from within B&R (automatically exiting and rebooting, of course). B&R offers the option to restore this way and the archive files are listed directly on the Archives tab, so some users are going to try this method. I have done it successfully several times myself. The "gotcha" is that if the archive name is black, you can manage and restore it; if it is grey you can't. But there is no necessity for that to be the case. It is a bug -- and there will inevitably be some users who get caught by it.

    Furthermore, how much confidence will we have that an archive can be restored even via rescue disk if it is greyed out and can't even be checked for integrity beforehand? Do we really want to entrust the future of our computers to such an unknown? Before working through this thread, my impression was that such archives must be corrupt. As I said previously, that reflects very poorly on Paragon. And all for a simple bug.
     
  14. Hoopus

    Hoopus Registered Member

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    Hi, new to this forum. Finally have found out the answer to this issue! I had entered a support request and hadn't heard anything about it. Its good to know it wasn't only me with this problem.

    I've just finished rebuilding my development machine (after running Comodo reg cleaner destabilised my system - warning: it has good reviews in CNet but it wasn't a good thing for my machine- knackered system restore and created a startup error message). It has taken me 4 days (I have many highly configured and interdependant system settings & applications on it) and although I have rebuilt machines many times I decided it was time for some good imaging solution so as to never have to repeat all that again. So been trailling several packages.

    My cause for the problem is probably because I have 2 external hard drives which I've plugged into my machine in a different order on several occasions (and sometimes also a USB stick at the same time) and each time made a new backup (was simply playing around experimenting). Therefore I don't think plugging them in in a different order would ever enable all the archives to show as existing regardless of the combination. So I can't be bothered trying that out. But I understand how the problem has probably arisen, and think most backup apps would have the same issue, as most seem to depend on a fixed location and fixed backup filename(s).

    The option of deleting the archive from the database then re-adding it seemed to be a quick and relatively painless solution. But that only partially worked - some archives I could delete, but not when I had backed up more than one partition (volume) in the same backup. Then it wouldn't let me delete any of those archives, said it "could not be deleted because it was part of another archive". So I'm stuck with those greyed out archives in the database.

    After trialling B&R 2012 free and reading all the above I've decided that although B&R is chock full of some pretty cool features I'm not going to use it for my disaster recovery mechanism. When such basic ease of use is missing, it doesn't inspire confidence that some parts of the actual core functionality won't also have some glitches in how they operate. And given the nature of the application it's not so easy to just try it all out in every aspect to verify that it is going to do the complete job it's meant to do - I don't want to actually do that on my primary machine which is now working beautifully, and just don't have the spare extra computers to use for doing that.

    In fairness I have checked out the recovery environment which seems to be very comprehensive and had no problems with the things I looked at, although I didn't do any actual restore from it. But it just hasn't quite convinced me it's the way to go. I feel Windows system image will always work (general forum reports are good) so have a reserve image made with that for full Windows & app install, would have to add my data from another source. But it's a simple dog with no incrementals or diffs so it's only a last reserve. StorageProtect Desktop doesn't have so many features (although has a couple B&R doesn't have) but it is tidy, clear and easy to use interface, and just seems to do what it does in a simple and straightforward way that works well and efficiently. It also has excellent reviews in forums etc, only downside seems to be there is no free version and the cost for the paid version is higher. But that's peanuts when it comes to deep ongoing peace of mind and ease of use. And so far my experience of their support and responsiveness is second to none.

    This is not to denigrate B&R - I think its probably a very good utility app, but just to share my experience and views .... all triggered by this issue - up to that point I was happy being in the B&R user camp. Not getting these things right in software with such esential critical functionality can have a powerful effect on it's users. As some of you have already expressed....
     
  15. Scott_Y

    Scott_Y Registered Member

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    Very well said, Hoopus; clear, fair, and gracious. Your post has made me feel that the hours I spent digging into this problem were worth it, even if it helps only one person beyond myself. Thanks for taking the time to post.
     
  16. Hoopus

    Hoopus Registered Member

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    Well thanks for those hours Scott ! ... it was certainly appreciated - finding your thread was a big help for my situation.
     
  17. seekforever

    seekforever Registered Member

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    Eliminating all bugs as seen by the wide variation of PC configurations both HW and SW and getting rid of quirks in the UI is close to impossible but that does not excuse the vendor from trying to achieve it.

    I put up with various quirks with Acronis True Image until the clever features of the UI finally drove me away. I never had any problems with the imaging and restoration but after awhile you wonder about the overall integrity of the product if they can't get simple things right. I never went to TI2012 and so far I'm very glad I bailed out.

    If this was some silly little utility then it wouldn't be as much of an issue but it is something that is being highly relied upon in case of a severe failure where it is charged with the responsibility of ensuring the lost data can be recovered.

    I think it was in In Search of Excellence that an executive of a large American airline said something like, "To the customer, dirty seatback tables means we don't do engine maintenance". So very true and this is a good reason that annoyances, even if they are minor, should be corrected.

    Thanks to Scott_Y for pursing this rather than just quiting at a workaround.
     
  18. Hoopus

    Hoopus Registered Member

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    .. also very well put (and appreciated) seekforever.
     
  19. Scott_Y

    Scott_Y Registered Member

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    Thanks for the appreciation, Hoopus and seekforever. It has truly been nice working with you all on this. A community effort.
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2012
  20. Arvy

    Arvy Registered Member

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    Just wanted to add my compliments here, Scott and Hoopus. User interface issues are much too easily dismissed by software developers and their support teams as in my own complaint about the greyed out "Add to Archives" button. Both of your appreciations are very fine assessments of their true significance relative to the overall success of software products, especially when user confidence in a backup and recovery utility's integrity and reliability are absolutely critical.

    Having abandoned Acronis for other reasons, I also considered ShadowProtect very seriously due to Paragon's interface issues. But StorageCraft doesn't accept direct payments and I don't use credit cards on line. (Just paranoid I guess.) So I'm here and hoping that Paragon will increase its attention to this "community" and its comments. Maybe it already "lurks" here, but it needs to make its presence more obvious.
     
  21. Hoopus

    Hoopus Registered Member

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    Hi Arvy,

    Thanks for your input. BTW I know what you mean about using credit cards on the Internet, I used to be paranoid about that too. But I decided to try it with sites/companies I trusted with small amounts, and have now done quite a few transactions an no problems with any of them. I'd say StorageCraft, being a mainstream, established and well known company with many corporate customers would be pretty safe. But that's just me on this company ... I do baulk still at sites if they dont come across as 100% squeaky clean ... and each has to follow their feelings with such things.

    Update re my problem deleting greyed out archives from the database, I discovered why. If the archives in the Archives tab are shown via Shows Partitions (from the dropdown top left of archives list) then all partitions that have been backed up are displayed. I was trying to delete these partitions one by one (no multi select). If any partition had been backed up with other partitions in a backup job then it wasn't possible to delete any of those partitions separately. But when I used Show Disks as the display filter for backup archives then it only showed whole jobs, and I could delete all these from the database no trouble. THen it was easy to add back all the archives on disk to the database and they were all black, no grey ones.

    Once I had that working right I started feeling better about the program. Seems there is no malfunctioning here, just poor GUI design and absolutely abysmal lack of any help or instructions about this situation in any documentation. But it possibly means the programmer(s) aren't at fault as much as Paragon's technical writers. Even better, display a "Reconnect Archives" button if any physical archives on disk related to database archive entries cannot be found (the greyed-out situation). Then just bring up the "Add an archive to the database" dialog with a brief explanation of why archives are greyed out (can't find them where they were before) .... or some mechanism of that nature.

    So now I'm still wondering if perhaps B&R might be OK to use after all. I'm still not fully confident, as this kind of shabby approach to an interface and lack of documentation all represent a certain kind of culture, or at least a neglectful and/or mediocre mindset, of a company, and that being the case here I do wonder if this may indicate a possible lack of quality in the actual core business of the app as well - creating backup images and restoring them, and in System Backup 11 also (which is what I'd get if I decided to rest my weight on a Paragon solution). As we've all agreed there's no place for malfunctioning of any kind with the core tasks of an application like this.

    B&R seems to make images OK, had no trouble retrieving individual files out of them, so they seem to have integrity etc.

    But what has been the image restore experience of anybody whose used B&R for a while in the past - is it reliable, safe every time? Bug free in operation? Or at least with the main restore operations o_O

    Would be really grateful to hear of other's experience (maybe not the right thread for such a question, but relates to how I got to this point here anyway).

    thanks Hoopus
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2012
  22. JosephB

    JosephB Registered Member

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    Hi Hoopus,

    FYI, I Restored my entire hard disk (c: drive) three times so far and each time was 100% successfully restored. Restore once with the previous verssion of the pgm ("Drive Backup 10 workstation" - paid version) and twice with "B&R 10 - Home" (paid version). The last two restores saved my bacon, as I was adversely effected by viruses (last virus was a rootkit virus) that left my pc hosed, but then I did paragon restores and was quickly back in business. ... I always restore from the WinPE recovery cd (and not from within windows).

    .... Just make sure that you can boot-up from the Recovery CD (or recovery flash drive), before you need to do a restore in the future. It is important to make sure that the Recovery CD/flash drive booted-up can see your external backup drive and the backup archives you created on it(or other internal drive that you may be backing up to). Note - the best support of hardware (backup drives - external and internal) is with the WinPE Recovery CD which only comes with paid versions (due to a license fee that ms charges paragon for WinPE). For somes pc hardware configurations the included Linux based Recovery CD may not work (not detect your hardware).
     
  23. Arvy

    Arvy Registered Member

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  24. Hoopus

    Hoopus Registered Member

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    Thanks Arvy & JosephB, good to hear, and thanks for the extra info re WinPE etc, will check those things out, but sounds like it's all good.
     
  25. SIW2

    SIW2 Registered Member

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    I had a look at the winbuilder app. you mentioned.

    Nice gui.

    Sound doesn't work for me - is it supposed to ?

    I don't imagine it is - even the services aren't there.

    Nice idea on the whole - trouble is, you need the install dvd. The people who most need a decent pe disc usually won't have one of those.

    I have had a look at a way of making it from the files on the HD - no dvd needed.

    That is only for Win7 users, of course ( win8 will be doable as well ).

    Run into a slight snag.

    It works great for a proper win7 x64 SP1 installation.

    However, there are a few issues if sp1 arrived via an update, because of course the files on the hd are not the same.

    Tricky finding a way to make it work fully with both scenarios.
     
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