How do I test imaging software?

Discussion in 'backup, imaging & disk mgmt' started by Defcon, Jun 11, 2008.

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  1. Defcon

    Defcon Registered Member

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    I would like to evaluate Norton Ghost 14, ShadowProtect and Acronis before I decide, but what's the best way to test an imaging+backup program?

    It's only as good as the restore feature, and I don't have a spare pc to play with. Even if I did the real test would be with my main pc and its hardware and drivers. For the same reason I don't know if testing in a VM is going to be any help.

    I can test other stuff like speed, UI, features etc but without a rock solid recovery cd its all useless, and I've no idea how I can properly test that.
     
  2. Brian K

    Brian K Imaging Specialist

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    Defcon,

    So true about the restore feature. It would be nice to see one successful restore.

    TeraByte say this about their software but I don't know if it applies to other apps ...

     
  3. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

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    The validation does confirm your recovery CD can see the disk and the image.

    However the only way to be sure you can restore an image is to restore it. I can vouch for SP's reliablity.

    If you can, protect yourself, and try a restore.

    What I mean by protect your self is have some other means of recovery should the restore fail. For example protect your data, be able to reinstall stuff, as well as windows.

    While this seems awful, but then doing a lot of imaging, and then discovering a problem when you need it.

    Pete
     
  4. Hairy Coo

    Hairy Coo Registered Member

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    Suggest the best way to make a decision is to be aware of other users experiences,including those in dedicated Forums-plus running your own tests.

    Long term experience is really necessary to bring out bugs in these apps.

    Under easy conditions like testing validations and restores, when the computer is working well-that is not really a stress test.

    You can test away and everything seems perfect,but when that vital one in a hundred situation occurs, where an emergency restore is needed and even a previous restore or validation indicated everything should be OK,it fails.

    Has happened to me(but not with SP)-probably because of some conflict within the system at that particular time.

    Some of the apps. are just more powerful and better at resolving problems,than others.
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2008
  5. ErikAlbert

    ErikAlbert Registered Member

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    I re-installed my computer from scratch and did backup/restores all the time, needed or not, while I was adding new softwares. You can't lose much, while you are installing a computer and testing your image software.
    At the same time I had a bunch of clean images, which I still use. :)
     
  6. HAN

    HAN Registered Member

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    That first restore is a scary one! :eek: I remember sweating. ;)

    My first imaging app was Image for Windows. I later migrated to Image for DOS and then ShadowProtect Desktop. The thing I liked best about IFD and SP is that I never had to install anything. Nothing! I image only from bootable CDs. So nothing is on the PC to uninstall or use any precious resources...
     
  7. MrBrian

    MrBrian Registered Member

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    If your test restore overwrites your system, use a 2nd backup program before doing the test restore. I've used DriveImage XML for this purpose. It's also found on Ultimate Boot CD for Windows. By having two backups from separate programs, you're only hosed if both fail.
     
  8. lucas1985

    lucas1985 Retired Moderator

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    Get an empty drive and do your tests there :)
    When you feel confident, do a test restore to the system drive and you'll be ready to go.
     
  9. ErikAlbert

    ErikAlbert Registered Member

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    Yes, the first one was exciting, certainly with ATI after reading all these disaster posts in the Acronis Forum.
    Nowadays backup/restore with SP are pure routine, quite boring too, if you have to wait.
     
  10. AKAJohnDoe

    AKAJohnDoe Registered Member

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    First, I would add Paragon Drive Backup Personal to your list.

    Next, create the bootable CD for each of the softwares you are testing. If you do not already have a spare hard drive and an external USB hard drive, get them.

    Backup to the external USB hard drive, swap out the internal hard drive and swap in the spare internal hard drive. Boot off the CD. Restore from the external USB hard drive to the internal spare hard drive. Boot off the restored drive and check it out. Swap back to the real internal hard drive.
     
  11. Huupi

    Huupi Registered Member

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    I must be nuts at the time i did the first restore''in real live'' without testing or things,but i trusted others who did the same before and luckily until now never met any mishap.
     
  12. AKAJohnDoe

    AKAJohnDoe Registered Member

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    Although 30+ years in professional IT should have taught me otherwise it apparently did not; however, my woes trying to make ATI restore did. Even if I were not testing, if I were restoring for real, I would now restore to my spare. And I would use Paragon. ;)
     
  13. ErikAlbert

    ErikAlbert Registered Member

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    After 58 years, I came to the frightening conclusion, that my backup procedure was wrong, even "dangerous".
    So I don't backup my actual system anymore, less work too. :)
     
  14. AKAJohnDoe

    AKAJohnDoe Registered Member

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    Is that 58 in hex or decimal?
     
  15. ErikAlbert

    ErikAlbert Registered Member

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    Well I'm 59 and my backup, based on a classical procedure, was wrong during 58 years. The age isn't important, it only shows how long it took to see it. :oops:

    The classical procedure for a system partition (Windows + Applications) is :
    1. Create and backup actual system
    2. Update actual system
    3. Backup actual system
    Point 2. and 3. repeat themselves after that and that is wrong. So I changed it when I was 59. :oops:
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2008
  16. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

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    For the benefit of any newcomer. The above is wrong for you, but not necessarily wrong. I use the classical procedure, and find nothing wrong with it.
     
  17. RAD

    RAD Registered Member

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    Start you experiments with Paragon Drive Backup Personal (Because I know that it works.) The first time is definitely a nail-biter, especially if you have gone through the experience of having them NOT work. ;)

    Save the restorable image produced by Paragon, so you can recover from any other botched recoveries. (On a separate internal hard drive is ideal; but any method works.)

    Of course, after you verify that Paragon works, there is no need to really have another image program. But if you want to try others, you can try them at will, with the confidence that you can always restore your disk to the pre-experiment condition.

    Tip: Try Acronis last. ;)

    In my opinion, at least one separate internal hard drive, in addition to your boot drive, is mandatory for reliable computing; and they are very cheap these days.
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2008
  18. Huupi

    Huupi Registered Member

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    I'l too hope so for others,its an indisputable fact with that many configurations out there, not many softwares will always work on any machine
     
  19. AKAJohnDoe

    AKAJohnDoe Registered Member

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    If I had a desktop computer it would have at least 4 separate hard drives; however, my PC is a notebook with only one drive, so I have a spare that I can swap in/out and also external USB drives.
     
  20. Howard Kaikow

    Howard Kaikow Registered Member

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    When I first started using image backups, about 4 years ago, I was very uncomfortable as to whether they actually did their job.

    RESTORE-ing does not actually prove that they work. A restore might omit/modify files, but you might still be able to reboot.

    So, being a masochistic, I decided to write programs to compare the file content in an archive with the file content on the actual hard drive. Of course, some of the files on the hard drive may have changed since the backup, but that rarely, if ever, matters.

    It took a while before I convinced myself of the reliability of image based
    backups.

    I wrote the following programs to verify things:

    GetDiskSpaceUsed
    ReadFile
    Get file Type distribution
    Compare DRives

    And if dates/times get screwed up

    Change File Times
    Change Path Times

    and, not yet released

    CopyMoveDeleteREname
     
  21. MrBrian

    MrBrian Registered Member

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    You could also use TestPath.
     
  22. Howard Kaikow

    Howard Kaikow Registered Member

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