Is Cloning an HD the way to go?

Discussion in 'Acronis True Image Product Line' started by chip718, Apr 14, 2007.

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  1. chip718

    chip718 Registered Member

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    Hello. I am interested in backing up my HD for security purposes. My current HD is about 4 years old and I just want to copy the either drive to another HD just in case mu current one fails. I just purchased Acronis 10 and was wondering if I was wondering if using the Clone feature is the way to go? I have never tried this before and was told that Acronis would make everything go a lot smoother.

    Also, If I am correct with using Clone, would it be possible to copy the files to an external HD or is it necessary to physical put the HD in the tower? I am not sure if I use an external drive if it would give me problems if I ever have to put it in the tower if the current drive fails. Sorry if that is a noob question.

    Thanks for any info.
     
  2. Brian K

    Brian K Imaging Specialist

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  3. DwnNdrty

    DwnNdrty Registered Member

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    Whichever you do Images (Backup in Acronis menu) or Clone, you must test your Clone or Image to see if it will run. Don't just let the Image or Clone sit there. And do not rely on a successful verification.
    In the case of a Clone you can remove the original drive and install the Clone to see if it boots properly.
    In the case of an Image, you will need a third drive to restore the Image to. Do not use your original drive to restore to.
    You should also make the bootable TI cd for an emergency Restore of an Image.
     
  4. chip718

    chip718 Registered Member

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    Thanks for your replies. I do have a couple of new Maxtor HDs lying around. When saving to an image do you keep the new image on a second HD, than if your current HD dies, swap it out for a 3rd and copy the image from the second?
     
  5. Brian K

    Brian K Imaging Specialist

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    chip718,

    I create images of my OS and these are written to a second internal HD. It's fast and convenient. The main reason you will restore images is for software problems, not for HD failure. So you just boot to the TI CD and restore the image stored on the second HD.

    You also need to copy occasional backup images from the second HD to an external HD to have backup redundancy. Just in case both internal HDs get fried.
     
  6. chip718

    chip718 Registered Member

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    Thanks again for the reply. Is creating an image similar to Raxco FirstDefense-ISR? I ask because my father has it already has that program on the computer. I know he created a couple of images using that program, but he saved them to the current HD. So if that HD go, so does the images.
     
  7. DwnNdrty

    DwnNdrty Registered Member

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    Let me clarify a bit about that bootable TI cd. Make it now while everything is working. This is vital. Then boot with it and make sure it can see the drive where you store your Images and since you do have some spare drives, do an actual restore (Acronis calls it Recovery) to one of those spares. I'm not familiar with Raxco.
     
  8. chip718

    chip718 Registered Member

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    Thanks for the info, DwnNdrty. After I do the Recovery is that drive dedicated to just that, or can I still use it for other things.
     
  9. DwnNdrty

    DwnNdrty Registered Member

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    It's up to you after you do the Recovery to a drive, make sure it works - that tells you the Image is good. Then you can delete everything and use it as you wish.
    There is one method for the Clone feature that some users here like. After you make a Clone, say, once a week, use the Clone as your working drive and put away the original safely. At the end of the week, clone to the original and now use it (the original) as your working drive. This way you know that you always have a good working spare stored away.
     
  10. mfabien

    mfabien Registered Member

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    Cloning should be done to exchange the internal HDD for a new one, period.

    The way TI 10 is supposed to work, and does for me, is as follows:

    1. You do a full internal HDD backup image to another drive, preferably an external HDD

    2. You do a full restore using either:

    a) Acronis within the internal HDD's Windows XP
    b) Acronis Rescue CD
    c) BartPE CD with ATI 10 plugin

    In my case, I used method a) for a full restore the day I purchased ATI 10. Subsequently, I made full backups to test ATI Rescue CD and to test BartPE CD.

    So, I have proof that it works and I have peace of mind.

    Worst case scenario if the restore test fails and the internal HDD is compromised:

    - OS can be recovered with either the Windows CD or the OEM internal restore feature.
    - Applications can be reloaded
    - Data: Copy (in advance) the important data to CD or DVD.

    In addition, once the operating system is recovered and ATI is reloaded, you can "Mount" the archived full backup image and copy/paste files as required.

    Note: A full image of your internal drive is a copy sector by sector. Some people start having problems when they decide to do less than a full backup. And there is little economy in time to start picking areas as opposed to do a full backup.
     
  11. chip718

    chip718 Registered Member

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    Thanks for al your help. I was planning on cloning, but now I am going to do a full backup to and external HD.
     
  12. rodnh

    rodnh Registered Member

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    Hi Chip718,

    A different opinion on cloning vs imaging. Cloning is not just for upgrading to a new disk anymore. The relatively low cost of hard disks today make cloning a very effective means for "backing up" entire systems.

    I am a fan of it for disaster recovery, using TI-7. I do some selective imaging also but prefer cloning for my primary level of "backup". You should consider all types of failure scenarios and how best to recover from them. That includes not only OS/software problems but also complete failure of your master hard disk. Everyone who has thought through these issues has their own preferences for how to best go about it.

    I use a dual boot system with several partitions on my master hard disk. It is located in a hard disk drawer that makes replacing it very easy w/o opening the computer case. I clone the entire hard disk to another one located in an external enclosure. I do this about once a month or as needed, depending on the significance of software changes I have made since the last time. I immediately swap out my master with the clone and use it as my "new" master until the next time, when the process is repeated. This does a couple of things for me. I always have a duplicate hard disk that can be utilized in a very short time with little effort. Plus, I know the cloning process was successful because I have booted with it and am actually using it on a daily basis. I can clone an 80gb disc in about the same time it takes to just image one of my OS partitions. I use a separate procedure unrelated to TI for backing up my personal work files. I keep all my work files on a dedicated partition on my master disc. I use a syncronizing program to copy the entire partition (on an incremental file-change basis) to an internal slave drive. For such work files I much prefer a non-proprietary, uncompressed, windows explorer type of backup where they can be directly opened by the software that created them. I could automatically schedule such a backup of work files but I have found that it can be done easily and rapidly by a click of a desktop icon. I do that on at least a daily basis. Of course I have a second "backup" copy of said work files on my cloned hard disk but that is not kept up to date on a daily basis. In addition, I schedule the automatic imaging of both OS partitions, each containing applications software, together with my work files partition to my internal slave drive on a weekly basis. This leaves me with multiple means for recovery from a serious problem with any of the three disks involved. My favorite, however, is the cloned disk. I do have some archival images stored on DVD but I now consider that to be an inferior method and don't rely on it all. In fact, the DVD images are old enough that I can't even remember what software is included in them and would probably consider simply reinstalling and configuring everything from scratch rather than bother trying to restore from those.

    Don't forget that with the imaging process, you must first create the image, then verify the image, then store it someplace not on your master disk, then restore the image to some drive, and finally check the restored image by actually using it or at the very least, booting from it. You would need another hard disk for this anyway unless you wanted to take a risk and restore it to your only working drive. That's not something I'd want to do as the only means of recovery. Don't wait until disaster strikes to actually carry out ALL the steps in a recovery process. For my purposes, cloning makes that very, very easy indeed. As they say, your mileage may vary and you should evaluate all options to determine what best suits you own personal needs.

    Rod
     
  13. DwnNdrty

    DwnNdrty Registered Member

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    Rod, you seem to have all bases covered very well. And I totally agree with using a non-proprietary method of backing up your data files. What software do you use for this?
     
  14. rodnh

    rodnh Registered Member

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    DwnNdrty,

    I use the freeware version of SyncBack. It's not trialware or crippleware and does the job very well in my opinion. I am quite pleased with it. I also use it to syncronize any work files between my laptop and desktop over a home network. My laptop is set up with the same dual boot type of system as my desktop except it doesn't have an internal slave drive. My work partition (D) is the same on both computers. It includes not only my personal work (data) files but my URL favorites and email stores are also located there. All of those files and shortcuts are common to and usable from either of my OS partitions (98SE and XP). Once I syncronize the two D partitions, working on either computer is essentially identical to working on the other. The syncronizing process deals with changed, added or deleted files once the two partitions are initially copied but it's also highly configurable as to what is actually done when it is invoked. That type of "incremental" or "cloning" copying is very fast, usually taking only a few seconds, and which can be completely transparent to the user. I have used XXCOPY in a DOS batch file in the past to do similar things but that can be a bear to configure the right way - too many functional switches you need to learn about. SyncBack makes it all real easy by enabling selection of the many different options in a graphical environment. Best of all, it's entirely free.

    Rod
     
  15. chip718

    chip718 Registered Member

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    Rod, thanks for the reply. I appreciated you, and everyone else for that matter, taking the time out to reply to my post. I do have a few new HD lying around, so maybe I will create an full backup image to an external HD just to be safe, than when that is finished pop the HD out of the enclosures and put a new HD in it and try to cloning it, just to see if I can do it. A buddy of mine told me he thinks I would have to go into BIOS to clone. He is unfamiliar with this particular program, so I read the TI 10 users guide and it said nothing about BIOS when using an extrnal enclosure.
     
  16. rodnh

    rodnh Registered Member

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    Chip718,

    Absolutely. If you have the extra hard disks, do both. Then you will find out what works and what doesn't (if anything) and get a feel for which might be best for you. You should also restore that full disk image to a disk and make sure you can boot from it. You can restore to the same spare disk that you are going to try cloning on so as not to risk your functional master disk with a trial procedure. One suggestion about cloning. I never do such things from within windows, despite what TI says works. Make the TI boot CD and do the cloning procedure from there. The only BIOS feature that you should need to change (if any) would be the boot sequence to permit booting from the CD prior to the hard disk. I have my boot sequence set as follows and never change it: first - CD drive, second - floppy drive and third - master hard disk. After the cloning process completes and before closing the TI software, remove the TI boot CD and manually shut down. Closing the TI software before shutdown will automatically initiate a reboot. At least it does with TI-7. I don't know about other versions. You want to avoid booting up with two duplicate, active boot partitions connected to the computer at the same time. After you shut down, physically remove the clone and install it in place of the master. Then reboot normally. If everything went well, you won't know the difference between the master and the clone. When booting with the TI boot CD you will also find out if you can see your USB or other external drives in full mode. If you can't, NOW is the time to find out why and correct the problem if you can. You don't want to find it out when your master hard disk has failed and your image(s) are on an external drive that you can't read from the TI boot CD. Safe mode will not get you USB, firewire or network support as far as I know. A fully functional, full mode, TI boot CD is a necessary part of recovering from a worst case disaster scenario, short of having a cloned, standby disk ready to go.

    Rod
     
  17. Xpilot

    Xpilot Registered Member

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    I always have a copy of my main drive in a swappable drive drawer ready to go.
    I do not use cloning. I just take out today's HDD and replace it with the one from yesterday. Then I restore from a backup image that has just been run before I swapped the drives over.
    The backup images are all full ones and are run in Windows. They are made automatically by schedule to an internal secondary drive. User involvement nil. No validations are needed as the restore which follows is proof that all is well.
    The restore process is done from the recovery CD. This is a very quick procedure as it is from one internal drive to another and only one reboot is needed.

    I have been safeguarding my PC this way for about a year now and it copes with all modes of failure I have thrown at it including a couple of images that did not restore at first try.
    Daily images still happen though I may not swap drives and restore every single day. I now usually do it every three days and I have introduced a third HDD in a swappable drawer for some extra redundancy and can from time to time use it for experimental purposes.

    So at any time I have at least one up to date working hard drive ready to go if the current main drive failed.
    Should I need to go back in time to retrieve some files or even restore everthing to an earlier date this can be got from my stock of daily images.

    Xpilot
     
  18. DwnNdrty

    DwnNdrty Registered Member

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    Thanks Rod ... I used to use XXcopy also but then changed to just copying the My Documents folder using Windows Explorer. I will give SyncBack a look.
     
  19. foghorne

    foghorne Registered Member

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    If a zero downtime system is essential to you then clone, so you always have a recent snapshot of your working disk in the event of failure.

    Apart from that, images backups are the way to go.

    F.
     
  20. chip718

    chip718 Registered Member

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    I just did a full backup to my external drive. I took a little over an hour and was successful. Do I need to create a boot disk with the extral drive connected, or does that not matter?
     
  21. DwnNdrty

    DwnNdrty Registered Member

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    Yes, create the boot disk now and boot with it to make sure it will see your external drive. If your working drive suddenly dies, the TI boot CD is your only hope of doing the Recovery of the Image that is on the external drive.
    Of course you can always borrow someone else's boot CD. But you do need to know that the external drive can be seen by the TI boot CD.
     
  22. mfabien

    mfabien Registered Member

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    ...under a drive letter not necessarily the same as the one given by Windows. The Rescue CD has a Linux OS.

    To eliminate possible confusion, power up the external drive, click "My Computer" click the external drive and rename that drive something like "Backup_HDD."
     
  23. chip718

    chip718 Registered Member

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    Thanks for the info. After booting with the TI boot disk can I just X out after seeing if the ex HD shows and not perform the recovery?
     
  24. DwnNdrty

    DwnNdrty Registered Member

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    Sure you can ... you'll have to go as far into the procedure where you have to choose the Source of the backup Image. Then just X out of the menu. I think your computer will automatically restart so you have to be quick to remove the CD otherwise the system will boot from the CD again. Or you can pull the plug once you see it trying to restart.
     
  25. wstran

    wstran Registered Member

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    Greetings,

    I've just read this and I tried to do the same things which are recommended with TI 10 that I just bought:
    1. Created the image of Windows XP and everything to the second internal hard drive.
    2. Test to make sure it works by replacing the first hard drive with an empty hard drive, then recovering everything from the image.

    Everything seems okay (no error prompt) but when I rebooted the machine I got the lengthy error:

    - Windows could not start because of a computer disk hardware configuration problem.
    - Could not read from the selected boot disk. Check bootpath and disk hardware.
    - Please check the Windows document about hardware disk configuration and your hardware reference manuals for additional information.

    I just want to know if anyone got the same problem and how to solve it. Thanks very much.
     
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