Images - Verification or Testing for Backup

Discussion in 'backup, imaging & disk mgmt' started by beethoven, May 18, 2008.

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  1. beethoven

    beethoven Registered Member

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    I am currently relying on Fd_ISR for emergency rescue & recovery and I am very happy with the program. I realise though that images stored externally would be handy in case of a complete hardware failure.
    Seems on this board there are many recommendations for programs like Shadowprotect, Paragon, ATI etc often used in addition or instead of rescue software.

    I am afraid I am still unclear on some of the procedures for these programs. Any kind of emergency or rescue solution has to be reliable and to function in case of the emergency it protects against. With rescue software like Fd_ISR I can test the rescue snapshots by booting into them, checking that they work and putting my mind at ease.
    How does this work with images? How can I verify that the backup works and they will be there for me when disaster strikes?

    My current understanding is that given the fact that restoring from an image wipes all previous data on the drive I can either

    1. rely on the image, don't test it and hope for the best in case of an emergency
    2. use an image to restore into another drive, though this may cause issues if the hardware is different - some progs like Shadowprotect offer restoration even if this is the case but I guess some don't
    3. I restore the image to my existing drive to test, though this seems like russian roulette to me. If it does not work, then the emergency is home-made


    Obviously I am missing something here - so how are you testing your images? Also I noticed in some threads that some of the experts were commenting that it took them only 5 or 10 minutes to do a full recovery using an image, hardly any longer than rescue software. What is a realistic timing for someone who does not do a restore every other day?
     
  2. sukarof

    sukarof Registered Member

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    For me the first backup I made was a leap of faith. I used Nero Backitup and did a full restore with the image I got. Then I found Image for win that proved to be uber reliable image software, it just didnt seem to be able to fail. That gave me confidence to try out other imaging software.
    Thats how I found ShadowProtect that proved to be equally reliable but was easier - and much faster. The speed is dependent on how much data you have (and CPU/Drive/RAM power I guess). My C drive is 39Gb SP compresses it to 24GB with standard compression and a full backup in Windows (Vista) takes 12 minutes, and thats how long a restore takes too. Incrementals takes only 20-30 seconds unless I have added GB´s of data since the last incremental.
    So now SP is the ground I stand on so to speak.

    My strategy is that I rely on the image.
    I always keep one image that I have succesfully restored until I restore the latest image I have made. After done atleast 70 restores with SP, it has proven to me that it just cant fail, unless hardware fails (coz I dont bother to verify every time so in theory I could get bitrot in a image, but the chance of that is so small that I´ll take my chances) but I have yet to see a image that fails because of something caused by SP.
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2008
  3. Brian K

    Brian K Imaging Specialist

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    sukarof,

    Why take any chance at all? SP Support recommend regular validation of your stored images and as you can automatically validate them, why not? I don't want to take chances with my backup images. No matter how small the chance.
     
  4. sukarof

    sukarof Registered Member

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    It takes time and I dont trust validation. My approach is that if a image software fails for any other reason than hardware failiure, then it is not worthy me :p
    I have done verify in some other imaging software and some have told me that there were errors but it was no problem restoring it. And I have Acronis 9 at work, it reported some errors during validation on one backup I made but not on another made a day later o_O I am trying to convince my boss to change to SP though so I can sleep at night :)

    And another reason is that I restore so often that I will notice that way if a restore doesnt work, so I can always use the previous image that worked if that happens.
    Important data that I have I keep on another drive, USB drive and on a hard drive on the web that I rent.
     
  5. Huupi

    Huupi Registered Member

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    I for one would'nt store images on one disk,spread it on several,backup drives can fail too.AFAIK never heard of diskcorruption due to this disk degradation (will admit though that perhaps many failures are caused by this one but not recognised as such) BTW what is diskrot exactly ?

    Never did validate,but never had a fail to restore. (SP)
    Like Sukarof i trust SP dearly as it never failed me once.
     
  6. jonyjoe81

    jonyjoe81 Registered Member

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    I never rely on any backup image software to be reliable. They might work sometimes but they all have "issues" on some computer/laptops/dual boots/ etc. You just need to learn how to repair any problems that might come up during the restore process.

    Anyone who tells you that a particular software is better than another, all you have to do is go check the forum for that software. You will likely find "issues" on that particular software also.

    I use "True image", by itself it's 50 percent reliable (it's a coin toss whether the restored drive will bootup the first time), but from expeirence I've learned that with a "boot corrector" utility, true image becomes 100 percent reliable. I've never encountered an image backup that I haven't been able to restore.

    Usually if the backup completes without errors, it means it was good. Doing a validation is just of waste of time. I never do them.

    As far as restoring a hard drive in 10 minutes, I do that all the time. But in my situation, my c: partition (the only one I backup) is only 20gb (6gb in use) thats why it is quick. Those who decide to backup a 500gb hard drive will spend hours backing it up and also hours restoring it. More or less it takes about 1 minute per gb of data with normal compression.

    If you want to test your backup, it's best to use a spare hard drive. Because you are correct it might cause your good hard drive not to boot up. Even though I'm very confident with "true image", I wouldn't restore an image backup unless it was absolutely required(hard drive failure/virus attack), I prefer not to run into "issues" if I don't have to.
     
  7. Brian K

    Brian K Imaging Specialist

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    And it shouldn't fail. But I've never seen any backup software fail to successfully restore an image.
     
  8. Huupi

    Huupi Registered Member

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    I concur,i will intentially wrack SP to look if i can repair it. LOL :D
     
  9. beethoven

    beethoven Registered Member

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    So, at that point you already have one successful image. I am still worried about the first time I am doing an image and have to test it. At that point, wiping out my perfect system only to find out that the image was not good, does not seem a suitable strategy. I am still confused o_O
     
  10. beethoven

    beethoven Registered Member

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    That seems an awfully low ratio to give me comfort o_O
     
  11. Brian K

    Brian K Imaging Specialist

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    Regarding the Verify process...

    Nate from the SP Forum wrote..

    Admin from the SP Forum wrote...

    These are the people who wrote the software.
     
  12. beethoven

    beethoven Registered Member

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    Ok, let's agree that verification is necessary and assume as some people already stipulated that proper verification can only be done by actually restoring an image.

    How do I know that by doing this I am not playing russian roulette ending up with a wiped drive and a non-functioning image?
     
  13. Huupi

    Huupi Registered Member

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    I wish that will become a reality within 100 years or so o_O ;)
     
  14. Brian K

    Brian K Imaging Specialist

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    beethoven,

    I'd have no hesitation in restoring an image if an icon was the wrong colour. I know it's going to work.
     
  15. Long View

    Long View Registered Member

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    why does this matter ? Ok with the first image ever made it matters but after that what is the problem ?

    I started with Acronis 6 and was fortunate enough not to have read any Wilders posts. So I just made an image of C: and then restored it. Never thought it might not work.

    Once you have 2 images if the first fails then you go back to the next one.
    Once you have three images you have even more protection.

    Using Acronis 6,7,8,9,9.1,10, 11 and SP 3 I have made thousands of images ( full only) and restored a thousand or more and never had a failure. Once the system is tested and the hardware unchanged the probability of failure is minimal. Just keep a number of images on different drives and media to be sure and forget all about verification - waste of time.
     
  16. Huupi

    Huupi Registered Member

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    With respect to the developper,your right,from another viewpoint,its the user who confirm the usefullness and trustworthiness,if many longtime users come to the same conclusion that verify is waste of time then i would go by that.
     
  17. ErikAlbert

    ErikAlbert Registered Member

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    Not in case of a complete hardware failure only !!!
    In theory any new software can corrupt FDISR or FDISR Rescue or any other ISR-software and only IB will be able to fix this the easy way.
    This happened 3 times, since I use FDISR (2006.06.01) and the last time was when I installed Baseline Shield in one of my FDISR-snapshots. I couldn't even boot to my rescue snapshot and had to restore an Image with ShadowProtect.

    ISR-softwares are constantly on-line and confronted with new software, crazy software combinations, malware, etc. and they get all the punches, no wonder they fail sometimes. I consider this even as normal.
    IB-softwares don't have that problem and that's why they are more reliable and work every time.
    In my total recovery solution, ShadowProtect is #1 and FDISR is #2.
    FDISR fixes my problems all the time and it failed only 3 times in 2 years and then I needed SP to save the situation.
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2008
  18. sukarof

    sukarof Registered Member

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    Yeah, thats why I mentioned that the first image you make is a leap of faith. If youre smart you will copy the files you dont want to loose to DVD or an external drive and take the leap. The worst thing that can happen is that you have to reinstall windows, that isnt the end of the world, really.

    Wow..thousand restores, and here I thought that the about 150 or so restores I have made with different brands of imaging software was many :)
    My experience is that the other, than the two I mentioned here, imaging software that I have tried, never managed more than 4 restores until they failed to restore a image for whatever reason. So it clearly shows that you have to find your favourite imaging software that suites your konfiguration.

    I agree. Not everyone has the time or interest to test, then a advice can be useful. The good thing with software is that you have a trial period and if a imaging software fails for whatever reason, just dump it without pardon and move on to the next and see if it is as good as we geeks say.
    Ultimately it is the user himself that has to find the software that suites him and his configuration. But to be 99% sure (as I feel for example) means test, test and test again.
     
  19. Long View

    Long View Registered Member

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    I have tried other brands but didn't get on with them - Paragon is the only one to actually mess up on restore - it changed drive letters. Others were just too slow. with 7 machines and regular imaging numbers add up. I do have a copy of the original genuine FD-ISR but could never find much use for it. with 3 machines
    per monitor it is no problem to be making an image on machine A, restoring on B, and working on C all at the same time. In any event making or restoring an image of a lean C: only takes a few minutes meaning that a program can easily be installed, played with and "removed" in less than half an hour. Verification would of course slow things down and from my point of view be pointless.
     
  20. Mrkvonic

    Mrkvonic Linux Systems Expert

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    Hi,

    I make full backups only, every few weeks or so. Since my system partitions are small (7-8GB working), I can backup in about 10min to 2-3GB image size. The restoration takes about 3 min from live CD.

    The first 2-3 times, the restoration / backup verification is a bit thrilling, but after that, you relax. Following some 15-20 successful restores, I no longer feel the need to check the backup. I'm satisfied with the program reporting its own verification.

    Mrk
     
  21. ErikAlbert

    ErikAlbert Registered Member

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    I don't backup my actual system partition anymore, since 2007.09.01.
    I consider my actual system partition as possibly infected in theory, because it has been on-line too long. Restoring an infected image is no solution.
    Each time I upgrade my basic images with the latest versions of softwares or new permanent softwares, I replace my actual system partition with a copy of my upgraded basic images.
    It takes a little more time, but it's better than having resident malware on your system partition.
    Besides I have alot more time than in the past, since I don't spend any time anymore on cleaning my computer or fixing problems in my system partition. All I do is boot and reboot and upgrade my system partition.
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2008
  22. MrBrian

    MrBrian Registered Member

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    I recommend making backups of your system partition with 2 different backup programs. One of the backup programs should be run from a different operating system than the operating system associated with the system partition you're backing up - e.g.. run from a bootable CD. A free backup program that can do this is DriveImage XML. It can be found on Ultimate Boot CD for Windows. With 2 different backup programs being used, if one of your backup programs fails, then you still have the backup from the other program available. If you've recently installed Windows, then I recommend restoring from your main backup program as a test. If you have a lot of effort put into your Windows installation, then it's up to you as to whether to test by doing a restore.

    If you have data partitions (that don't contain an operating system), you can test those backups by restoring to a different partition, possibly on a different drive, and then use TestPath to do a file-by-file comparision between the original data partition's files and the copy's files.
     
  23. MrBrian

    MrBrian Registered Member

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    Also see this column for what can happen if you don't use your backup program's validate feature after making a backup.
     
  24. MrBrian

    MrBrian Registered Member

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    My earlier advice about using at least one backup program from a boot CD or similar may or may not have to be modified, since you are using ISR software. Please consult others for more advice, as I am not a user of FD-ISR.
     
  25. Long View

    Long View Registered Member

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    LOL "I had a backup, so I thought I was home free." Nothing to do with verification. The sort of person who makes one image is looking for trouble. I never cease to be amazed by comments that such and such a program is excellent, although I haven't actually had the need to restore yet. I did like the tip that said "try restoring the "corrupt" image anyway. Acronis often gives false corruption warnings". Failed validations can be little more than a bad USB cable with the image being fine.

    Using different programs is a good idea. I use Acronis and SP. I still think people would be better off with multiple images and forgetting all about verification. The only verification that matters is a real restore.
     
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