Looking for opinions on a simple and super-reliable system image program.

Discussion in 'backup, imaging & disk mgmt' started by justenough, Jan 27, 2011.

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  1. justenough

    justenough Registered Member

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    The last few days my imaging program (one of the top ones, but probably bloated) has repeatedly failed to install the image. In fact it would unformat the system partition when starting the install, even after instructions and reassurances from the tech support people.

    All I need is a simple and super-reliable program to image my system partition once after everything is installed, and that will restore that image without problems. (I back up my data by dragging it to another hard drive.)

    In another area of Wilders, Sully said he had good luck with Macrium Reflect. Would Macrium be a good choice? Thank you for any suggestions or personal experiences.

    Sully:
    "I have used it for maybe 2 years now, have made, I dunno, 100 images or so. Only one ever had an issue, and that was written to a network share, so who knows.

    An image tool is an image tool I suppose, as long as it works. When I first tried macrium, I liked it a lot right away. Even better that for me it compresses pretty well and is very fast for how I use it. I like the bartPE plugin a lot as well. I have read others have had issues, but it has been nothing short of stellar for me."
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2011
  2. Kernelwars

    Kernelwars Registered Member

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    ahh I agree macrinum is indeed a very good program.. But I would recommend windows image or drive snapshot saved my bacon whenever I needed:thumb:
     
  3. wtsinnc

    wtsinnc Registered Member

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    Hello justenough;

    FWIW, I use both Macrium reflect (free edition) ans Paragon 10 which I won in a Wilder's giveaway last year.

    I make only a few images each month but restore quite often as I prefer to wipe the 40gb drive I use for web surfing after a few days of use.
    To-date, I have never had a single issue with Paragon and only once has Macrium failed to restore an image.
    I am very satisfied with both.

    Prior to using Paragon and Macrium, I used Acronis (version 9) but found it to be unreliable.
    For creating a simple HDD image (full- not incremental or differential), I have played with Clonezilla, DriveImage XML, Redo Backup & Recovery, O&O Backup and Recovery, and Easeus Todo Backup & Recovery, all freeware.

    Based on my personal preferences, needs, and user experience with those that I've actually tried, I would probably go with Macrium, then Easeus if I was limiting my search to a free application and Paragon, then Active@ Disk Image for a paid solution.

    Good luck in your search !
     
  4. Brian K

    Brian K Imaging Specialist

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    justenough,

    Do you mean "restore the image"? Unless we use the same terminology we won't understand each other.

    Which OS are you using?
    Are you restoring from the Acronis Boot CD?
    Which restore choices did you select?
     
  5. Robin A.

    Robin A. Registered Member

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    The simplest program I know is the one included in Windows 7. It is so simple that it does not even compress images. And for me has been 100% reliable, although I have restored only a few images. It is also fast if you use USB 3.0 - I restored a 16 GB image in 2.35 min.
     
  6. Osaban

    Osaban Registered Member

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    Once you select an Imaging program (Macrium and Paragon are good names) you should validate the image and restore it straight away. If it works, chances are that it will work all the time, even though I personally keep at least 3 images for each system in my household (if one image fails I have others to try on). BrianK pointed out that hardware can also be responsible for unsuccessful restorations.

    I use mainly ShadowProtect, Paragon10 and Acronis9 less frequently, and never had a failure in restoring images (close to 100 restores) always using the recovery CD (I prefer not to install the program).
     
  7. pandlouk

    pandlouk Registered Member

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    Not true by a long shot. This test will only prove that this specific image is ok and will work fine everytime you want to restore the specific image. Nothing more and nothing less than that.

    For me a reliable program is the one that has a reliable validation procedure. It should always warn about bad images during the validation and should never report a bad image as valid.

    Panagiotis
     
  8. justenough

    justenough Registered Member

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    Yes, restore the image. Edited the original post to make the wording clear.

    OS is 7 Home Premium x64. Yes I was restoring from the Acronis Boot CD. As for choices, I tried it both with MBR checked and unchecked. Neither way worked.
     
  9. Brian K

    Brian K Imaging Specialist

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    Thanks. Can you look in Disk Management. Do you have a System Reserved Partition? It is about 100 MB and is labeled System, Active.
     
  10. Osaban

    Osaban Registered Member

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    I still wonder what is not true by a long shot in my statement: I said one should validate (meaning that if it fails validation you don't proceed to restore) and restore to test the new image. Splitting hairs by any chance?
     
  11. justenough

    justenough Registered Member

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    I see you have both Macrium and Drive Snapshot. I hadn't thought about this before, but is there any reason not to use two or three different imaging programs to make redundant images of the same install? That would seem to be a failsafe solution.
     
  12. justenough

    justenough Registered Member

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    Yes, and it is marked as healthy. During my several day ordeal, that is one thing I checked on. Now that I have a fresh install up and running, the first thing I did was load a few hard drive integrity programs to check my two drives, and they came back healthy. Also figured it would be a good idea to put a partitioning program on a boot disk.:cautious:
     
  13. justenough

    justenough Registered Member

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    Thanks, wtsinnc, very helpful information.
     
  14. andylau

    andylau Registered Member

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    If you have a System Reserved Partition, you should backup it with your source partition/drive to make it can boot into system:D
     
  15. andylau

    andylau Registered Member

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    justenough,

    The simple and super-reliable system image program may be Ghost.exe(DOS version)/Ghost32.exe(Win32)/Ghost64.exe(win64) v11, which has long history that comes from Symantec Ghost Solution Suite

    They are portable, but do not have HIR/P2P feature.

    Also, one thing to notice you is that "ALL" imaging software may failure due to different environment.:D
     
  16. Brian K

    Brian K Imaging Specialist

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    That could have caused your restore failure. Incorrect restore options.

    What options did you use for the SRP restore?

    What options did you use for the C: drive restore?
     
  17. justenough

    justenough Registered Member

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    Sorry Brian K, I no longer have the software installed and don't remember the choices on options. On the last attempt at the restore, I was talking to tech support and made clear what the problem was, and they told me which settings to use. The restore still failed, and I lost my partition and system for the fourth time in a row. edit: Just to be clear, I am sure the fault could have been mine somehow, or maybe hardware or a conflict with other software, and not the imaging software.

    But now I am looking for different software, one or two or three imaging programs that people here have had good experiences with.
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2011
  18. justenough

    justenough Registered Member

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    I will look into Ghost64, andylau.
     
  19. moontan

    moontan Registered Member

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    have you tried Windows 7 own imaging in the Backup and Restore section?

    it's rock solid. :thumb:
     
  20. Boyfriend

    Boyfriend Registered Member

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    I have created 'sysprep' images of Windows XP SP3 and Windows 7 using Active@ Boot Disk Creator (Bootable USB & CD). I use these images to install OS on every computer of my family, friends, teachers, and others (different models and hardware) using their respective licenses. Active@ Boot has never failed me in last one and half year. Bootable USB is easiest to use for me.
     
  21. Brian K

    Brian K Imaging Specialist

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    I hope they realized that the Win7 partition is NOT to be set Active.
     
  22. pandlouk

    pandlouk Registered Member

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    Sorry, I misunderstood you.:oops:

    I thought that you meant that if a program succesfully restores an image, then all the future images taken by the program will work.

    Panagiotis
     
  23. Sully

    Sully Registered Member

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    @justenough

    What Brian K is steering towards is that in 7 (and maybe vista ? ) when you install the OS to the c: drive, there is a small "boot" partition created, usually 200mb, that is not assigned a drive letter. Here is where the bcd stuff happens normally. It is for dual booting I think, although that is just my guess. This is the active partition. If you did not know it, only one partition per drive may be "active", the rest must be logical/extended.

    His point is that possibly you applied the MBR to the c: drive, which is not the active partition, the hidden 200mb partiton would be. It is a very logical direction for him to take. Personally I HATE this and always shift the boot items to the c: drive and delete that partition.

    @andylau

    Ghost always served me well, for many versions. I made an awful lot of images with that program. I haven't used it in quite some time because of how bloated I felt it became, I think at version 8 ? I did like how that version started allowing you to mount the image to extract what was in it. Ghost was easy to use in the respect that it fit on a floppy. I have an image of ghost on my boot cd that I can use, but don't very often. The reason I quit using ghost was because it needed the network drivers for a specific machine to be used, a very cumbersome appraoch. Also, since it ran in dos I could not use it "easily" in bartPE. I started looking for a new imaging tool that would do all I wanted and stumbled upon macrium. It is so easy to use and pretty much works without me having to do anything, which is probably why I liked it.

    @Boyfriend

    That is interesting about the sysprep stuff. I have used sysprep in the past on XP, and it was not really "enjoyable". I think I might look into what you referenced at some point and see how easy it is.

    Sul.
     
  24. Hugger

    Hugger Registered Member

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    I just looked in disc management and I do not have that ~100 MB partition on either of my drives. Is this a problem waiting to happen?

    Also, somebody is saying Windows 7 backup is best. It doesn't even compress, amongst other benefits.
    If that's the case, why backup at all? Wouldn't just cloning give the same results?
    Thanks.
    Hugger
     
  25. justenough

    justenough Registered Member

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    Now I see what Brian K was getting at. On my computer the boot partition is called "System Reserved", it is 100 MB and Active. I knew about that partition and to leave it as is when doing a restore, but I don't know if the restore program was trying to make the C partition active. I doubt it, because I have used that program and that system image to restore before without incident. I attempted the restore with the MBR/0 Partition box unchecked, and lost the system partition. And after repartitioning and doing a system reinstall, I tried it with that box checked, on the advice of tech support, and lost the system partition.

    Some excrutiating detail: In my reading trying to figure out the problem, I saw that someone had trouble doing an image restore after changing their overclock speeds. I have a simple multiplier overclock, and had dropped the multiplier down a notch. So I put it back where it was when originally making the system image, reformatted again, did a fresh Windows install (I was at the third one then) and retried the system restore. Same result, lost the system partition.

    From your description of Macrium, I think I will like it. My understanding of these things is pretty basic, having only used Windows for a year now. I am trying to keep things as uncomplicated as possible, but learn when I can.
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2011
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