Macrium Reflect

Discussion in 'backup, imaging & disk mgmt' started by Stigg, Nov 23, 2013.

  1. jphughan

    jphughan Registered Member

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    I certainly understand not updating every time, although quickly reading over the release notes since 4063, which was released over a year ago now, there have been multiple bug fixes that could potentially be relevant to you, including some that affect restore/recovery scenarios. After all, the fact that backups are working perfectly does not always mean a restore will. So if you're going to stay behind on releases, I'd recommend at least keeping an eye on the release notes.

    But I just noticed a big red flag in your earlier post. You said you're backing up your C drive and Reflect is getting stuck on "Determining files to copy". I must have automatically substituted "Looking for changes" when I read that originally, because "Determining files to copy" only occurs with F&F backups rather than image backups. But if you're performing F&F backups of your entire C drive, you absolutely do not want to be doing that, so if that IS what you're doing, then you have a much larger problem here. If you expect to use that backup for system recovery purposes, it will not work properly in that context because restoring an F&F backup to certain areas of the C drive will break some file system techniques that Windows applies in various places, such as hard linking. And even if you don't care about full system recovery, an image backup will be significantly faster than an F&F backup when they're backing up the same data set, as would be the case if you're backing up the entire partition. In my tests on a file server's Data partition, an image backup ran 2.5x faster than an F&F backup. Restore performance would likely be similar.

    If you're running an F&F backup AND an image backup because you believe an F&F backup is necessary in order to recover individual files and folders as opposed to restoring the entire system, that is not the case. Image backups can be mounted to allow recovering individual files and folders, so having an F&F backup in addition is just wasting time and space. It's also worth pointing out that if you browse an F&F backup, files larger than 4GB cannot be restored properly that way due to the FAT32 emulation that Reflect uses in order to mount an F&F backup as a virtual disk; you have to use the Restore wizard instead for those files. Image backups do not have this limitation.

    The only case I can think of where it would make sense to perform an F&F backup of an entire partition would be if you had a file server where you had defined a lot of custom NTFS permissions throughout a complex folder hierarchy and you wanted a wizard-based method to restore individual files and folders with those custom permissions. Image backups do not directly allow that; you'd need to browse the backup and use command-line tools to restore data with those permissions. But apart from that very specific use case, if you want the whole partition, then use an image backup.

    And just to avoid potentially making a second mistake, when you set up an image backup job, make sure you don't capture JUST the C partition. On most systems, that isn't enough to get a backup that is usable for system restore purposes. If you're not sure, open Reflect and in the Backup Tasks area in the upper-left, click "Create an image of the partitions necessary to back up and restore Windows". The partitions that Reflect pre-selects in the wizard that will appear should be considered your "minimum viable backup" for system recovery purposes. You can add to that selection, but do not subtract from it.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2020 at 11:22 AM
  2. Cruise

    Cruise Registered Member

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    That certainly makes good sense, so later today I will update to the latest release.

    Your suggested procedure is precisely what I have always done - I've never used Reflect to just backup specific files/folders! As I also mentioned the very same backup definition was working perfectly to image my entire C-drive (plus any other 'boot-necessary' partitions). To prove that, I have performed several system restores over the past year and each of them was successful. So there is something else at play that has apparently 'confused' Reflect. As I mentioned above, I will update to the latest version with the hope that will remedy this peculiar problem.
    -----
    PS. A final thought... I have read here of a great many issues related to CBT and I do have CBT enabled. As I seldom run incremental backups more frequently than on a daily basis, perhaps I should disable it as that might be causing the problem! Would disabling CBT adversely impact restoration of any incremental backup made with CBT?
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2020 at 12:07 PM
  3. TheRollbackFrog

    TheRollbackFrog Registered Member

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    Disabling CBT will not impact any restoration whatsoever... safe to disable.
     
  4. Cruise

    Cruise Registered Member

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    Thanks for that feedback. In that case, after updating to the latest release I'll make sure CBT is disabled - as I gather its value is questionable for anyone who doesn't take incrementals more frequently than daily (as I do).
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2020 at 12:26 PM
  5. jphughan

    jphughan Registered Member

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    CBT helps when making frequent backups, and thanks to some clarification I received from TheRollBackFrog, it can also help when you're backing up a partition that contains a lot of large files, such as a VM host storing virtual disk files or a DB server with large database files. The reason is that when CBT is NOT being used, Reflect analyzes the file system to determine where the changes are. This is the "Looking for changes" step that you see early in the backup job when CBT is involved. That analysis tells Reflect which files have changed blocks, but not which precise blocks within that file have changed. So during the backup it has to scan the changed files to figure out which blocks are different and back up those blocks -- and on large files, that scan can take quite a while. With CBT, Reflect already knows which exact blocks have been changed, so in addition to the upfront "Looking for changes" step being eliminated, the backup itself can run faster because you don't have to scan the changed files.

    But in my use cases, CBT doesn't make sense. On my personal system, I've got an NVMe SSD backing up to a USB 3.0 HDD, so I've got a lot more read capacity than write capacity, which means the extra overhead of that scanning doesn't create an issue. And I just don't need my backups to complete any faster than the few minutes they normally take. With some other clients I support, they're running mission-critical operations and running backups overnight when the systems aren't in use, so the "no rush" context and CBT's reliability track record together simply don't create a favorable risk/reward proposition for those scenarios.

    In any case, glad to hear you're performing image backups, although I don't understand why you're seeing a "Determines files to copy" step, since that only occurs with F&F backups.
     
  6. Spartan

    Spartan Registered Member

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    I always disable it. Here is what I do which makes me need only 1 backup.

    1) Format and install Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC
    2) Do all my tweaks/settings
    3) Take an image using Macrium Reflect Recovery USB (I don't even install it)
    4) Install all drivers
    5) Install all software
    6) Install Antivirus (NOD32)

    That does it for me. If there were many driver updates/software updates and I feel like a I need a fresh start, I just go back to the first image I created but that saves me the most hassle of tweaking Windows as I do a LOT of tweaks.
     
  7. jphughan

    jphughan Registered Member

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    Years ago I started keeping a text file listing all of the tweaks I make to Windows just so that I could power through them whenever I performed a clean install rather than having to remember each of them over several days. More recently I chased down the registry settings for those tweaks and created a .REG file that contains the desired values for all 40-something tweaks that I make, so now I can just double-click that to immediately set those things the way I want. But honestly that was more of a fun project for me. I doubt the time I spent researching the registry values for each of those settings will ever actually be recovered in time saved compared to making those tweaks manually, simply because I don't do clean rebuilds very often. And when I do, even before that reg file I can have my system fully configured, including all applications installed, in about 3-4 hours.

    I used to capture those "baseline" images as you do, and maybe if I was using the LTSC builds of Windows I still might, but prior to Windows 10 I don't think ever actually restored one of those baseline images I captured. I did a lot of clean rebuilds in the XP days, but starting with Win7 I just didn't feel the need to do that very much. And nowadays with the normal Windows 10 release track getting feature updates every 6 months, chances are that by the time I ever did restore a baseline image (if ever), I'd need to install a new Win10 version and update virtually all of my drivers and applications -- so at that point it would probably be faster to just start fresh with the latest version of everything in the first place. But I realize that not everyone can rebuild their entire system from scratch in a few hours, and for those people a baseline capture makes a lot of sense.
     
  8. Spartan

    Spartan Registered Member

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    I am using Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC now but my tweaking hasn't changed much from when I was using Windows 10 Pro.

    I start off by using Winaero Tweaker as it has most of my manual reg tweaks then I follow it up with a few of my own tweaks that it's missing:

    ScreenShot00066.png
     
  9. jphughan

    jphughan Registered Member

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    WOW! Ok, my tweaks are nowhere near that numerous, and I just put everything I like into a single REG file. Kudos for having that so neatly organized though!
     
  10. Spartan

    Spartan Registered Member

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    Thanks man, let me know if you need them and I'll be happy to share them with you via PM
     
  11. sdmod

    sdmod Shadow Defender Expert

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