My imaging policy. I would like your opinion.

Discussion in 'backup, imaging & disk mgmt' started by Thorz, Aug 5, 2007.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Thorz

    Thorz Registered Member

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2003
    Posts:
    124
    I am going to implement an imaging policy for my PC and I have been reading about the different programs that are recommended here on Wilders for almost a week, literally thousands of posts on not less than 50 threads. Finally I am ready to make my own thread. This will be the ONLY method of backup that i will be using.

    During the last years I have trusted my computer security on the recommendations gotten at these forums and the choices made after your wise advice have worked so well for me that I don't have any reason to look somewhere else this time.

    This post is very descriptive but I have tried my best to make it very concise. Thanks in advance for bearing with me here.

    First I will start posting my actual configuration:

    - My main machine is on 24/7 and is the one being imaged.

    - I have this machine connected to an UPS.

    C: OS - TOTAL:74GB, USED:20GB
    Here I have XP Pro SP2 and all my programs. No documents. Desktop folder is special as I do store some things here prior to move them for definitive storage to D:

    D: STORAGE - TOTAL:750GB USED:400GB
    Here are all my documents, music, family videos, pictures, my emails (OE).

    E: MOVIES - TOTAL:1TB USED:700GB
    Here I store basically rips of my DVDs. I will not have a backup of this drive, maybe I will store the list of all the directories on it.

    F: IMAGES - TOTAL:750GB USED: 0GB

    G: IMAGES-EXT - TOTAL: 750GB USED: 0GB (EXTERNAL eSATA/USB2 OFFSITE BACKUP DRIVE)

    After reading a lot of threads here I have decided that I will go for ShadowProtect as an imaging program. I will wait for version 3 for downloading the evaluation.

    THE POLICY

    The following describes the draft that I have made so far for my imaging policy. Most of this policy will be automated. All the images are saved on F: if another thing is not stated. Name of the image set is stated in parentheses (xx).

    STARTUP IMAGING:
    - Manual full base image from C: of the just reinstalled system (ZERO)
    - Manual full base image from C: of the system after all the updates, drivers and main programs are installed (FIRST)

    IMAGING POLICY:
    FOR C:
    a) Scheduled full base image from C: every monday at 4AM (A).
    b) Scheduled incremental image from C: from tuesday to sunday, based on "A" and taken at 4AM (B)
    FOR D:
    c) Scheduled full base image from D: every 2 mondays (2 weeks) at 5AM (C).
    d) Scheduled incremental image from D: the next 13 days until the next full base image, based on "C" and taken at 5AM (D)

    RETENTION AND IMAGE ROTATION POLICY:
    - Every monday at 3AM the full base image ("A", now one week old) will be copied to another folder (MONTH) before being overwritten by SP at 4Am. I will always keep the last 3 weekly full base images in this folder. This will give me a one month retention if I count the actual week full base image "A" taken the last monday. This process can be done scheduled with a backup program (I own Genie backup that can do retention) because I don't know if SP can take care of this.

    - Every last monday of the month at 4:30AM the just taken full base image "A" will be copied to another folder (YEAR) where I will always keep 1 image for each of the last 12 months. This process can be done scheduled with a backup program (I own Genie backup that can do retention) because I don't know if SP can take care of this.

    - I have not planned retention or image rotation for D: as I am only interested on the current copy of the things stored here. I will still have the possibility to come back in time for the last 15 days due to the 2 weeks incremental image system used for this partition.

    OFFSITE BACKUP POLICY:
    Every first monday of the month I will clone F: into the external G: eSATA/USB2 drive and will take it will me to the office. It will stay there until next month's backup time. I don't know yet if SP can clone a drive but it will be no problem to just copy the files manually.

    MY QUESTIONS:

    - Do you see any holes in my backup strategy? Your ideas or commentaries are very welcome.

    - Do you know if there is an easier way to give me this kind of covering?

    - Defragmenting policy: I will run defragmentation (Raxco Perfectdisk) once a month (mondays) just before the new full base images are taken for minimizing the effects on the subsequent incremental images. I use Perfectdisk file reorganization (Smartplacement) and let it control and arrange all the booting files. Any comments about this?

    - And finally: I have read that some of you use Imaging + a snapshot program like FDISR or RollbackRx, but the question is: Does that combination will make things easier to maintain compared to the system described here, and in the case of an eventual restore, will it still be easier to be up to speed with imaging+snapshot than with just the image system described here? I know that it will be probably some minutes faster to recover using a snapshot program in addition to what I have described here, but if that is the only advantage then I think I can live without it (for now).

    Thank you very much in advance for all your collaboration.
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2007
  2. eniqmah

    eniqmah Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2006
    Posts:
    391
    Hi,
    I used to do this automatic thing. Then I watched my Image drive shrink to nothingness in less than 2 months. In as much as imaging makes things easier, the noise and heat output of having more HDD's as well as the consumption of power actually outweights the benefits of imaging so often, and here is why: I realized that my system doesn't change much...only my data really changes. What I do to my C drive is really only trying out new software (games and utilities) and updating programs and security definitions. This assumes, of course, that my system has been tweaked and my programs preferences are all exactly the way I like to have them. The only thing that really needs to be changed on such a system would then be: windows updates+ security defs + addition of programs + minor tweaks. To image every week is to assume that these changes were significant enough in the past week to warrant an image. But even then, these changes can just be jotted down to a notepad document so as to allow you to trace back your steps. Thus, I handle it this way:

    I start out with the OS, patched and hardened > imaged > burned image to DVD> tested the restore ----> 1 copy on HDD , 1 on DVD.

    I then load all programs, tweak them all> imaged > Burned to DVD>tested. ---> 1 copy on HDD, 1 on DVD.

    Now, I deep freeze the system, try out all the software I want, write down the programs I want to install + the tweaks I want to apply, etc... and go on with my day. When some new and significant MS patches ( or patches to programs, games, utilities ) come out, I just unfreeze the system, apply the patches, update the definitions, and install the programs+tweaks that I've written down. Then image and test the restore and burn it to DVD.

    I suppose the point here is that there isn't a structure of backing up according to some time line but according to "the last significant system changes". This way, I can save significant HDD space, CPU cycles, electricity, and spend that money on ...yeb...booty, and some times, backing up the DATA.

    In other thoughts: I would also suggest using those mobile racks. They will cut down noise, heat, and electricity comsumption.
     
  3. Thorz

    Thorz Registered Member

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2003
    Posts:
    124
    Thanks eniqmah.

    I really don't care too much about the power consumption. The system is anyway on 24/7 and I it is almost always doing something due to almost continuous upload/download from the company's FTP server.

    I already have the 4 internal HDs on the system, and the heavy imaging only occurs 1 day a week, and the constant HD activity due to imaging is not going to overpass more than 2 hours anyway. The other days imaging is going to be incremental, and for what i have read ShadowProtect is very efficient doing this, so not going to take too much time to update the image.

    About the noise you are right, and I also hate it, but I have no problems with it on the chassis I am using, and all my drives (1 WD raptor, 3 Seagate barracudas) are using suspension systems for eliminating around 80% of the noise they would produce mounting them normally. My case is virtually silent from where I sit. I have to put my ear into the case for listening the hard drives. Antec cases are amazing for this kind of stuff, mine is an Antec Solo Miditower.

    About the space, you are right again, imaging huge partitions like my D: one uses a lot of space, but that's why I have a hole huge drive for just doing this (F: )

    If my system didn't change so much as you describe yours, I had not planned to image it so often, but in my case I install and test many programs and sometimes this ends screwing up XP. Sometimes I don't find the problems occasioned by a new program after days have passed, or I simply dislike it and like to completely erase it. This is one of the things that I most like from OSX, you can really uninstall things there without leaving any trace, not like on Windows. On Windows we need these kind of programs for helping us really erase the traces of things we don't like anymore.
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2007
  4. Mrkvonic

    Mrkvonic Linux Systems Expert

    Joined:
    May 9, 2005
    Posts:
    8,695
    Hello,

    Your strategy is thorough and well laid. I would make a few changes:

    1. I would not image the documents and such, only the OS. There is no need. Your documents drive is static, so you can simply copy the files over to your other storage.

    2. I would also keep DVDs, containing the most important info.

    3. Regarding the most important info - since you have 400GB, it can be tricky to make DVD backups, but the question is: how much is really important? For example, I do not often backup music or movies. They are easily replaceable. But some things, like personal docs, are rather important. What I'm trying to say is you might want to separate crucial from miscellaneous and add an extra layer of storage for crucial, if it's not too large.

    4. Password protect your images and encrypt your external hard drives. If they get stolen or lost, they will contain everything you have. Encryption means that if something goes wrong or you forget the password, you're screwed, so think this one through carefully.

    Mrk
     
  5. ErikAlbert

    ErikAlbert Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2005
    Posts:
    9,455
    ShadowProtect backups/restores ALL partitions and is a MUST.
    FirstDefense-ISR backups/restores ONLY the system partition [C:] and ignores any other partition and is LUXURY. You don't really need it.
    FirstDefense-ISR is an Immediate System Recovery software and it restores your system faster than Image Backup Softwares.

    FDISR keeps your system partition clean : folders and registry.
    FDISR keeps your system working properly.
    FDISR allows you to test softwares in test snapshots, without hurting the main snapshots.

    Most of my problems are solved with FirstDefense-ISR and it does that very quickly. With my boot-to-restore solution, I fix these problems in less than 2 minuts (= reboot time)
    I only need ShadowProtect :
    1. To backup/restore all my partitions, which I do daily
    2. If FDISR is corrupted on the system harddisk/partition [C:], which happens very rare.
    3. If one of my harddisks crashes, which happens all the time. :rolleyes:
    All the other problems are solved with FDISR, from very little problems to even frozen BSOD's.
    Windows System Restore is a joke compared with FDISR, especially when you can't boot in Windows anymore.

    It depends on how fast you want to be back in business, when your system partition is in trouble.
    ShadowProtect will do the same, but slower than FDISR.
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2007
  6. Thorz

    Thorz Registered Member

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2003
    Posts:
    124
    The reasons for imaging D: that contains this files are basically that I can automate the backup and that SP can compress this image. Copying the files to another place will have to be done manually or using a synchronization program and I would not have the possibility of compression.

    That's smart, I always try to have a DVD+RW with the most important things, it is a little over 4GB, but updating it is a PITA. I try to update it once a month, but sometimes I forget.

    D: contains a lot of family video that I have transferred to the PC for edition but I am not yet ready with it so it is still in raw MiniDV format that takes lots of space. My music resides also here. I have more than 10000 tracks, that's why I have to back that up. It would be a PITA to digitalize all this again if something bad happens to that hard disk o_O
    My ripped retail DVDs are on E: and I don't back that disk up, I will just maintain a copy of the directory structure made most probably with Total Commander.

    This is an excellent idea for the eSATA drive, I had not thought on this before. I could use SP to just encrypt the contents of F: without any compression when copying them to the external drive G:. If it takes to much tame for SP to do this I will have to find a disk encryption solution because I was just planning to manually copy the already made images on F: to G:.

    Thanks a lot Mrkvonic!

    Thanks for posting ErikAlbert, I have read many posts made by you during the lasts days. They have been very informative!
    I do really like to implement snapshots to my restore capabilities and FDISR comes out as a solid option, but there are factors that hold me from it:

    • If I am going to use snapshots I like incremental possibilities and FDISR doesn't offer this. RollbackRx does, but I have read so many posts about its reliability (even on the last 8 version) that I am totally discouraged on it.

    • RollbackRx promises a lot with the incremental possibilities but to back the snapshots up with ShadowProtect looks like it's a PITA!
    I have some questions about FDISR that maybe you can answer being a user:

    • I wonder if FDISR can compress a snapshot? It could make the size factor less scary.

    • The only way to update a snapshot is manually? Is it possible to have some automation on this process if I like?

    • One of the mainly uses that I could have with FDISR could be like this, (pelase help me to understand if I am wrong):
    If I am going to install a program that I like to test for some days I will take a current snapshot and install the program. If after some days I don't like it I can revert to my past snapshot and I like the anchoring idea for my desktop folder.
    With only ShadowProtect I can do the same and revert to a previous incremental image but I will not have the possibility of anchoring and it will take more time. I would have to manually copy my desktop files somewhere else as this is really the only folder that I like to "anchor" for having it always on its present state.​

    • The other way that I have read here (being used by Peter2150 for example, following his posts) is in the case of a full restore of the hard drive to use ShadowProtect to revert to a full image and use FDISR to come back to a present state after this. Using it like this I could see that FDISR could in some way replace incremental imaging, but I really don't understand how it could totally replace incremental imaging without it having incremental possibilities itself. Confusing stuff, but if it could be done I will be very interested.

    Thanks a lot!!
     
  7. eniqmah

    eniqmah Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2006
    Posts:
    391
    What's this?
     
  8. Thorz

    Thorz Registered Member

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2003
    Posts:
    124
    A function of FDISR that lets you preserve any folder that you want in its current state, not matter what snapshot you boot onto. It's a very useful feature and IMHO is one of the strong points of combining an imaging app like SP with an snapshot one like FD-ISR.
     
  9. Mrkvonic

    Mrkvonic Linux Systems Expert

    Joined:
    May 9, 2005
    Posts:
    8,695
    Hello,
    BTW, I do a lot of file shuffling around, around 100GB to external HD, to second HD, to second comp, to third comp, weekly, monthly etc - all fully automated with simple basic scripts.
    Mrk
     
  10. eniqmah

    eniqmah Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2006
    Posts:
    391
    Why's that necessary? Why not move documents and desktop folder to a separate drive?
     
  11. Thorz

    Thorz Registered Member

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2003
    Posts:
    124
    That's what I do (the documents part). If I don't get an snapshot app I will also move the desktop to D:
    The function is great for folks that only have 1 HD, and there sure are other good applications to this feature.

    @Mrkvonic: Scripts are interesting, could you elaborate a little more on your method?

    Thanks!
     
  12. ErikAlbert

    ErikAlbert Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2005
    Posts:
    9,455
    You can use uncompressed and compressed snapshots in FDISR.
    Compressed snapshots reduce the space with about 25%.
    On the other hand, you need only 2 snapshots to make Immediate System Recovery possible.
    The size of the secondary snapshot can be reduced to a minimum, if you use it as a pure refuge snapshot. So FDISR doesn't require that much space, if you use it smart.

    Keep in mind that FDISR is very versatile and flexible and depends on the user's imagination.
    FDISR starts with a primary "work" snapshot and a secondary "rollback" snapshot, because that is the best way to learn FDISR's main function : "Immediate system Recovery", but you don't have to do it this way.
    Most experienced users start improvising and some users do it better than other users. As long they are happy, who cares.

    You can use scheduled tasks in FDISR, that run automatically on a specified time, unfortunately for me not "on demand".

    In the past BEFORE I used FDISR, my computer was a mess, caused by installing and uninstalling softwares.
    I'm using FDISR since March 2006 and my system partition is still clean and working properly.
    My work snapshot has a clean archive and each time, I try something new and want to get rid of it, I copy/update from my archive to my work snapshot and everything is gone as if it was never there. If the software caused infections (virus, malware), also these infections are gone.
    Now I'm using a frozen snapshot, that cleans my computer automatically during EACH reboot.

    In theory you need only two things :
    1. An IMAGE of Windows + FDISR, using ShadowProtect, which will be a very small image and doesn't need any updating.
    2. An up-to-date archive of each FDISR-snapshot (minimum primary and secondary)

    This way you can restore your system partition completely and up-to-date
    1. You restore the IMAGE of Windows + FDISR first.
    2. Then you copy/update from primary archive to primary snapshot.
    3. Then you copy/update from secondary archive to secondary snapshot.
    and you are back in business.
    Of course this is hard to believe, if you are not familiar with the possibilities of FDISR and the only way to find out, is using FDISR in practice.
     
  13. Mrkvonic

    Mrkvonic Linux Systems Expert

    Joined:
    May 9, 2005
    Posts:
    8,695
    Hello,
    enigmah, what if someone shoots a bullet through your hard disk. What then?
    Mrk
     
  14. Thorz

    Thorz Registered Member

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2003
    Posts:
    124
    He images on optical media too, as he wrote in his first reply ;)

    What do you mean with this eniqmah? Do you use some software like Shadow User or something like that?
     
  15. ErikAlbert

    ErikAlbert Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2005
    Posts:
    9,455
    Maybe he means the software "DeepFreeze", which is another immediate system recovery software, which requires less space than FDISR.
     
  16. lucas1985

    lucas1985 Retired Moderator

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2006
    Posts:
    4,047
    Location:
    France, May 1968
    - Uninstallers, install monitors.
    Total Uninstall (last freeware version)
    ZSoft Uninstaller
    - Software virtualization:
    Altiris SVS
    - Virtual machines:
    VirtualBox
    VMware
    Virtual PC
    - Immediate system recovery:
    FD-ISR
     
  17. Thorz

    Thorz Registered Member

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2003
    Posts:
    124
    Gracias Lucas

    I have used uninstallers in the pass but IMO nothing beats snapshots or virtualization like vmware for testing software. I have still not decided over FDISR, but after everything I have read here in the forum it is very tempting.

    Suerte!

    @ErikAlbert: I see, thanks.
     
  18. ErikAlbert

    ErikAlbert Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2005
    Posts:
    9,455
    This isn't entirely true.
    You have to make a distinction between :

    1. New softwares, that can be uninstalled easily and completely with FDISR.

    2. Old softwares, you have installed permanently and used for quite some time.
    If you want to get rid of these old softwares, their uninstaller usually doesn't uninstall the software completely and in that case you need an uninstaller like Total Uninstall.
     
  19. CatFan432

    CatFan432 Registered Member

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2006
    Posts:
    333
    Location:
    Topeka, KS, US
    Thorz,

    There is risk involved with imaging irreplaceable files such as family videos and photos, that being possible corrupt image files, and being dependent on a proprietary format for restoring. You might find some food for thought in these threads:

    https://www.wilderssecurity.com/showthread.php?t=164175

    https://www.wilderssecurity.com/showthread.php?t=167710

    Regards, CatFan
     
  20. GroverH

    GroverH Registered Member

    Joined:
    May 10, 2006
    Posts:
    2,405
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    I would recommend that you purchase another hard drive and make an exact copy of drive D. Then store the copy in a safe place--not attached to your system. The copy could be either by xp copy or similar. We have read stories of cloning ruining the original so I am suggesting you avoid the cloning technique until such time as you have a good copy stored away. Accidents happen when least expected. The accidents can be power surges, corruption, theft, user mistake, hard drive failure, etc. The risk may be small but why take the chance.
     
  21. eniqmah

    eniqmah Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2006
    Posts:
    391
    Deepfreeze, snapshots, and VMWare. That's the cheaper, greener, quicker alternative to imaging.
     
  22. ErikAlbert

    ErikAlbert Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2005
    Posts:
    9,455
    You still don't see what I mean and you are only talking about solutions to get rid of NEW softwares after trying/testing them.

    Softwares have usually their own uninstalling program, but most of these uninstalling programs don't remove everything.
    Suppose you use Nero suite for a year on your computer and you find a better software and want to uninstall Nero.
    If you think that Nero's uninstalling program will remove it completely, forget it.
    (Norton's softwares are even better examples)
    That's a problem and requires also a solution. :)
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2007
  23. Thorz

    Thorz Registered Member

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2003
    Posts:
    124
    I was thinking more on new softwares. But you are right about old programs. If Total Uninstall is good I am going to take a look.

    @CatFan432: Interesting threads. Which is the best sync program you recommend that offers reliable verification? I will have to sit and consider this solution too. I could also use a backup program like Genie Backup to copy the files to F:, not storing them for not using its propietary format (it uses ZIP as storage container). I think I can configure it for just copying the files.

    What you say about problems with corruption is a possible risk, but isn't backup software used everywhere on the enterprise for backing up all kinds of data? These backup solutions all use proprietary formats (everything that is not a copy would be a proprietary format no?).

    The main reasons why I am thinking in imaging D: with SP is that I can automate the process and that I can have access to incrementals. I can also automate it with a sync program but the sync solution would not protect me from a user error or virus that could inadvertently and without warning delete files on D:, the sync program would just sync this error onto F: (my backup disk) and I would have no way of getting these files back. As I wrote in my first post with the ShadowProtect incrementals "I will still have the possibility to come back in time for the last 15 days due to the 2 weeks incremental image system used for this partition."
    I could of course look into an undelete program solution to use it in conjunction with a sync program.

    I think having a G: external disk for offsite backup will protect me from a possible corruption of the images stored in F: In addition to this my data is not going to be deleted from its original disk (D:).

    I would like to ask the ShadowProtect users about this. Should I be concerned about corruption of the images or damage of files like pics and videos stored on them? (apart from physical medium damage)

    @GroverH: I am looking at the issue ATM as CatFan432 has put my head to think about this. If I decide to change imaging of D: for synching, it will be onto F: also, and I will have offsite backup of F: too.

    Thank you everyone. There is very good info posted here.
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2007
  24. eniqmah

    eniqmah Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2006
    Posts:
    391
    I think the topic at hand really contends new programs. The answer for older programs are kind of obvious: Uninstallers + Registry cleaners. I probably am missing something here then.
     
  25. Mrkvonic

    Mrkvonic Linux Systems Expert

    Joined:
    May 9, 2005
    Posts:
    8,695
    Hello,

    Another good reason for DVD backups with raw data - not encrypted,
    compressed or imaged - is that should your backup archive get corrupted for any reason, your data will be jumbled up inside an image that you will not so easily be able to extract, unpack or whatever.

    Your files, as they are, written on any media, can still be universally moved and copied and accessed on almost any machine anywhere.

    Mrk
     
Loading...
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.