Newbie Questions - Differential Back-Ups

Discussion in 'Acronis True Image Product Line' started by ScottB, Feb 11, 2009.

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  1. ScottB

    ScottB Registered Member

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    Newbie here with first post.

    I'm trying to create a differential back-up. My plan is to once a week do a full back-up, and then a differential back-up on the other six nights. I created a full back-up and called it "Weekly Full Back-Up." I then set up a nightly differential back-up and called each file "Wednesday Difftl," "Thursday Difftl," etc. When my Wednesday differential back-up ran early this morning, it was the same size as the full back-up I did yesterday, and it appears it was a full back-up and not a differential. I check the Acronis software, and it is set for a differential back-up on Wednesday. What am I doing wrong, and why was the Wednesday back-up a full back-up and not a differential?

    I suspect that I'm just not understanding differential vs. incremental back-ups completely, and that a differential back-up appends to the original file and does not create a new file. If my hunch is correct, then that explains why the Wednesday differential back-up ran as full, and likely the Thursday back-up will run as full also. I've highlighted the portion of the log file that causes me to think this.

    The log-file for the Wednesday back-up is:

    <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" ?>
    <log build="169" product="Acronis*True*Image*Home" task="9928355B-B64E-4250-8E42-CB37C1D8B1D6" uuid="DE75308F-269D-4A59-9B11-6A228ADCC066" version="1.0">
    <event code="2" id="1" level="2" message="The &quot; difftl - Wed&quot; operation started" module="100" time="1234350002" />
    <event code="11" id="2" level="3" message="Priority changed to Low priority" module="100" time="1234350002" />
    <event code="17" id="3" level="2" line_tag="0x64A31B1B5AFDA98A" message="" module="4" time="1234350003" />
    <event code="1016" id="4" level="2" message="The base backup archive file Wednesday difftl.tib for appending incrementally is not found. Backup was started in the full mode." module="1" time="1234350003" />
    <event code="506" id="5" level="2" message="Locking partition C:..." module="1" time="1234350006" />
    <event code="1008" id="6" level="2" message="&lt;bold>Create Differential Backup Archive&lt;/bold>&lt;endl/>&lt;tabpoint value=30>&lt;indent value=4>From: &lt;indent value=10>&lt;textcolor value=&quot;navyblue&quot;>C:\Documents and Settings\xxxr\My Documents\docs\...&lt;/textcolor>&lt;/indent>&lt;indent value=4>&lt;endl/>To file: &lt;indent value=10>&lt;textcolor value=&quot;navyblue&quot;>&quot;Q:\Acronis\Law Firm\Wednesday difftl.tib&quot;&lt;/textcolor>&lt;/indent>&lt;indent value=4>&lt;endl/>Compression: &lt;indent value=10>&lt;textcolor value=&quot;navyblue&quot;>Normal&lt;/textcolor>&lt;/indent>&lt;indent value=4>&lt;endl/>Exclude: &lt;indent value=10>&lt;textcolor value=&quot;navyblue&quot;>Files matching mask&lt;/textcolor>&lt;/indent>&lt;indent value=4>&lt;endl/>Match criterion: &lt;indent value=10>&lt;textcolor value=&quot;navyblue&quot;>*.bak, *.~, *.tmp, &lt;/textcolor>&lt;/indent>&lt;indent value=4>&lt;endl/>&lt;/indent>" module="1" time="1234350006" />
    <event code="6" id="7" level="2" message="Operation has succeeded." module="100" time="1234350421" />
    </log>

    Thanks for your help and advice!

    Scott
     
  2. dwalby

    dwalby Registered Member

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    Scott,

    A few suggestions to consider.

    If you have not already done so, try to reorganize your HD partitions such that you have only your OS and installed programs on C: and your data is on other partitions. Search the web to see how to move your e-mail folders to another partition. This has three major benefits: 1. you keep your C: image as small as possible for efficient backups, 2. your C: content won't change very often, so frequent backups are really not necessary, and 3. if something goes wrong you just need to fix your system partition, your data is probably not affected at all anyway.

    Then periodically backup your data partitions based on your own data generation rate. Typically you don't need much of a history of those. Keep the latest version along with an older one in case you accidentally delete something, but you won't generally need to retain a series of image files for your data unless you churn a lot of data in a short time.

    Incremental/differential backups are always dependent on a base backup, so if that gets corrupted you're hosed. And for various reasons the inc/diff runs will eventually create files nearly as large as a full backup. Also, many people here seem to have issues with automated backup plans getting executed correctly by Acronis, so by automating everything you're adding another chance for something to go wrong.

    Unless you create and delete a lot of files daily, your plan sounds overly complicated.
     
  3. ScottB

    ScottB Registered Member

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    Thanks for the informative response.

    If I partition the drive, will I have to reinstall all of my programs again?

    Scott
     
  4. dwalby

    dwalby Registered Member

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    No, but its potentially dangerous if you don't know what you're doing.

    First back up the entire C partition with Acronis (full backup) that will at least protect you if something goes wrong.

    Next, if you have software like partition magic or acronis disk director you can resize the partition easily without reinstalling anything. but you have to do it from a recovery disk because you can't have the OS running while the partition containing the OS is being modified. Also, there are a few ground rules to follow, we can cover those later if you decide to go ahead with this.

    If you are running Vista there are a few more caveats you need to understand before proceeding, with XP its a bit easier.

    I've only used the partitioning s/w myself, so I don't know how much you can or can't do with free tools or OS-based tools, others may be able to give you more suggestions.

    If you want to do it, and have the tools available, its pretty easy if you just follow a few steps. Without the tools I don't know how much trouble you might get in trying to do it another way. The folks on the disk director forum are a big help also if you happen to have access to that tool.
     
  5. ScottB

    ScottB Registered Member

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    Thanks again! :D
     
  6. dwalby

    dwalby Registered Member

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    I can't help you with your original problem since I don't use that method myself. From what I see on this forum, problems with incremental/differential backups are fairly common, so its not necessarily something you're doing wrong. The basic imaging tool is sound, the automated features seem to be problematic for some.

    If you have enough disk space you may decide that just letting it do a full backup each night is easier than trying to figure out why its not doing the inc/diff runs.
     
  7. ScottB

    ScottB Registered Member

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    I came to the same conclusion about doing full back-ups nightly on a seven-day rotation.

    My problem with incremental/differential back-ups is that I run a program called Diskeeper which constantly keeps my drive defragmented. From what I've found out here on the forum, if the drive gets defragged after a back-up, TI will treat the next incremental or differential back-up as a full back-up. So, rather than give up the performance improvements from Diskeeper, I'll just do full back-ups every night.

    I may have to go out and purchase a 1 TB USB drive to handle the back-ups, as my current 160 GB drive is going to max-out pretty quickly, I fear.

    Thanks!
     
  8. dwalby

    dwalby Registered Member

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    Yeah, the defrag causes the data to be re-arranged to the point that the changes since the last full backup are too large to make an inc/diff practical.

    Fortunately 1TB drives are pretty cheap these days, so for a few bucks more you will have a workable plan, that's what's important. Considering the time and trouble you will be saving yourself in the event of a catastrophe, its a good investment.
     
  9. ScottB

    ScottB Registered Member

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    Thanks for your helpful comments. Much appreciated.
     
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