One more corrupted archive.....

Discussion in 'Acronis True Image Product Line' started by ValiC, Sep 23, 2006.

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  1. ValiC

    ValiC Registered Member

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    I read threads for hours in this and other forums, there are many related problems to mine. But never the same. Because the solution suggestions are not fitting to me.

    Here the chronic procedure:

    1. I created a backup 1 month ago with the rescue-disk TIv 9.0 Build 2.337, saved on a external hdd.

    2. After that, I tested the archive, test successful.

    3. I installed another OS on the disk with different partitions

    4. Now I need to undo it. I created a new archive of the current partitions, no probs.

    5. I want to restore the old archive on the disk, and I got the Message that it is a not valid or corrupted archive. (I restored often archives with this version, in the same way)

    6. Ok, I thought. I ran scandisk and chkdsk /f on the external drive. There was found and solved a bit-failure.

    7. I still had the problem, so I searched on the internet for similar issues and found a lot. Here I must say, that I copied once the file to another disk and back, to format the external disk. Now I know that this is porpably the technical problem. Because the image is more sensible than I thought.

    8. Ok, it had happened, my stupidity. I tried to open the file in Windows and in Rescue-Mode, I even tried the same with the newest TIH 9.0 version Build 3.694. But nothing helps.

    Until this line the problem seems quiet similar to others but the worst about my problem is, that I cannot redo the backup of my first system I mentioned. But the files in the image are very important, among other things like very important documents for my exam.
    At least I need to read the image to copy the important files to another disk.

    Thanks.
     
  2. Christopher_NC

    Christopher_NC Registered Member

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    Greeting ValiC,

    Some have reported luck "Mounting" corrupt images. You may have tried this when you said that you tried to "open the file in Windows". If not, try Mounting your Archive (which works on Disk/Partition Images). This is done from TI in Windows, and, if you can mount the archive, you will have access to your files. All but the one, or a few files, with the corrupted byte(s). You can then copy and paste these like you would any other Windows files.

    If that doesn't work, you could try copying your Archive again to an internal hard drive, and then see if True Image will verify it. If the problem is only on your external USB HD, perhaps this might work. Some Archives that won't verify on one media will on another.

    So far, I have not heard of any Acronis (or other) utility that can restore corrupt archives. That, in my opinion, is a major flaw in this system. We rely on these archives to work, and, when they don't, we at least need, and want, access to as much of our data as is feasible to restore. Of course, restoring an intact archive is best, but is not always an option, as ValiC in finding out.

    Until 100% security is available (could it ever be?) I strongly encourage everyone to backup their personal, original files in their original, non-proprietary formats, to a variety of media (internal and external HDs, CDs & DVDs). Hardware and software can always fail. My original photographs, or your thesis, need to be around, after the failures. If you aren't sure about this, ask yourself, what will you do with a .tib file that you can't open later? From what I understand, all it takes is one corrupt byte, and the TI archive is no longer intact.

    So, use TI for convenience, but don't think of it as a guarantee.

    Regards
     
  3. Xpilot

    Xpilot Registered Member

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    Well I am convinced that my way of using True Image is 100% secure. It is the only backup program I use and the media consists of hard drives only.
     
  4. Xpilot

    Xpilot Registered Member

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    Ooops ! I hit the submit button before I had finished my post. When I have recovered my composure I will complete what I meant to say [​IMG]
     
  5. Xpilot

    Xpilot Registered Member

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    OK back to where I was.

    My main hard drive contains the whole of my computing needs. Programs, settings, data old and new, in other words the lot. So I want this to be secure as possible and this is what I do to arrive at my version of backup Nirvana.

    Every day an image is made of my vital working main hard drive. This drive is then withdrawn from the computer(facilitated by being in a removable drive drawer) . This drive is now replaced by yesterday's main drive. The final step is to restore the current image to the newly inserted main drive.

    So the withdrawn drive is now a 100% backup for Today. The current image is known to work as are all the previous images that are still kept. Yesterday's drive has been updated to become Today's drive.

    Doing things this way eliminates all doubt as to whether a .tib will work because it is restored to a drive up front and it is seen to work right away.

    As I have a third hard drive drawer I also restore an image to this drive once a month and the rest of the time it stays out of the computer.

    There is the added bonus of not having to run any validations as images are proved by an actual restore as soon as they are made.

    Xpilot
     
  6. Christopher_NC

    Christopher_NC Registered Member

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    Greetings Xpilot,

    You strike me as one of the more practical and well prepared users on these forums. However, your advice likely doesn't help most users who do not have a duplicate system drive, or data drive, sitting safely in the drawer, just in case.

    And, while I would like to think that your method is as safe as you claim, what about a viral infection that does not appear until long after it has infected your drives? What then? If every TI Image Archive you have, and each current and spare HD is now infected, how will you recover your data from those HDs?

    I also wonder, how do we know for certain that once a TI Image is restored, that all the data it contained is restored intact? Files and Folders restores can be done that report the operation as successful, yet yeild corrupt directories in Windows, installation files that won't open, even photographs with large off-color blotches. Perhaps that's limited to Files and Folders restores. But, how do we know, for certain, that all the data written by TI, even on Partition restorations, is intact? Just because you can boot your OS, open your email, run some programs and view sample files?

    It seems to me, that to truly know that the exact copy of our drive has been rewritten, exactly as it was when Imaged, that post-restoration validation would need to be done. Sector by sector. Checksum validation of Archives may be expedient, but how are we to know that the same sort of corruption that may cause a once valid TI archive to no longer be valid, will not also corrupt the write phase of a partition or drive restoration? A few bytes? In what? Your doctoral thesis? Your wedding photos? An author's manuscript? If TI says the operation is successful, and you can run your computer today, and open some files, is that enough, to ensure that every byte is intact, on all those thousands of files?

    So, unless you also keep other copies of your original data, I wonder if your system is fully secure? What if, after several incarnations of your imaging, restoration, put the drive into service to test process, you discover that some rarely used file is no longer intact? I hope that never happens to you. But I don't see evidence that it can't, or won't.

    I make photographs. And, I'm spending a lot of time considering just how to keep my digital negatives safe. Archivally safe. Not tucked away on a hard drive, or in a .tib file, that may or may not yeild its contents when I need it. I would gladly pay more for a higher degree of certainty from TI. And will buy the program that comes out that offers archival security with Backups. Until then, we must all do at least as much as Xpilot does, and question the process until we get it right. The stakes are too high not to.
     
  7. Xpilot

    Xpilot Registered Member

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    My system and data are all on one drive.
    It is not a case of expense or having things sitting in a drawer "just in case" The drive rack that takes the drive drawers and the drawers themselves cost less than for instance a USB hard drive enclosure.
    The two main drives which are swapped are used and refreshed every day. The third drawer and drive is not really necessary and is a bit of a luxury but I also use it for trials of beta programs etc. in the knowledge that this can have no adverse impact on the rest of my system.

    Viral infection does not worry me at all. I take all the normal precautions not to get infected in the first place and run regular scans of different types to find anything that might have slipped through. Moreover I keep several days of proven backup images in the Acronis secure zone where they are safe from any subsequent infection.

    Accuracy and completeness of system and data is ensured by the internal checks that True Image already performs. This is also backed up by my own obsevations and susequent use. I have deliberately sabotaged an image to see if the restore was reported as corrupt and it duly was. My images and restores are always of the whole disk I see no real value in the other methods available. I am interested in securing the whole of the main drive not bits and pieces.

    I do not share your concerns about the what ifs that you raise. The whole point of having the original drive, a second exact copy, several generations of proven restorable images and a third duplicate hard drive all in different locations are enough for me to sleep easy.

    I have a lot of 35mm slides that I have scanned into my computer these are now no longer subject to the fading with age that is slowly happening to the originals.
    All my current photos only exist in digital format. I have never yet found one with any of the problems you suggest. If I did I could mount any one of several backup images and replace the spoiled one with a good copy. I have done this when I had deleted a small set of images by mistake and had also emptied the recycle bin before I spotted my error.

    I believe I have covered all the areas of possible weakness in the way I use True Image. However a discussion such as this I hope is of some general interest and it is a chance to look for any chinks in the armour.
     
  8. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

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    The more valuable your data/system, the more you should do.

    For me not only is my data valuable, but I have to have my system up for business so....

    I have two machines I can run on. I backup just the data to a mobile drive, and this can be restored to either machine.

    I also back up data to a 2nd internal drive and an external drive(redundancy)

    I use FDISR not only for instant recovery, but also to keep an archive current on the non system drives. This way if I have to restore a very out of date image, I can bring my system current in minutes.

    Finally I image the disk frequently. Part of the test of the image taken is to actually restore it. If I can't restore it what good is it. What happens you ask if the restore fails. No sweat I work back until I find an image that does restore, and then update with FDISR.

    Relying on one imaging program and nothing else, and not restoring the images is a recipe for loss.

    Pete
     
  9. Christopher_NC

    Christopher_NC Registered Member

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    Xpilot,

    I'm glad you are sleeping easy. I hope to one day soon. Once my new motherboard and CPU are installed, perhaps I'll learn that most of my concerns about TI have really been caused by faulty chipsets. We'll see.

    But, I do take issue with your point, about recovering corrupted photos:

    How do you know that you'll always be able to mount your Image, and find your photographs there, intact? Some Images corrupt, do they not? Even TI has made blunders along the way...from build to build, things don't always go as planned, do they? What if your older Images suffer from some lost bits? And will no longer mount? Or, and please shine the light of experience if you can, do images always mount, regardless of how much data is missing or corrupt?

    Some experts suggest that keeping files, like digital photographs, tucked away in a single Image file (or multiple proprietary format Images) that only the program that wrote the image can read, and access, is not good long term security.

    Your experience, to date, is that your system, and TI's role in that system, works. But, I would encourage you to consider the what ifs, at least briefly. If you couldn't access a replacement file, photo, or document, using TI, in a month, or a year, or a decade, would that be OK with you?
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2006
  10. Xpilot

    Xpilot Registered Member

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    I do not have to rely on mounting an image. My primary backup is the second hard drive which was in use yesterday. This second drive is safe outside the computer in its removable drawer. I use the imaging/restore process rather than cloning because it leaves behind a series of images going back in time and has, to my mind, the distinct advantage of not having the original and the backup drives both connected to the computer at the same time. As I mentioned earlier I also keep a third copy hard drive which is updated on a monthly basis.

    I regard my stock of backup images as of being 100% proven quality because they have all passed the ultimate test of actually being used to carry out a restore. I have gone back and mounted them and copied some files from them out of convenience rather than from need. I could have installed one of my two other main drives and copied the data from there .

    I am confident that my data is safe over time because of two main reasons. The primary data backup is in normal hard drive format, not images, it can all be copied to another computer without the need to have a working version of True image on either machine though I cannot imagine the need for this. The data on my hard drives does not get the chance to fade away or start losing bytes as it is refreshed on a daily basis.

    So by default I am already complying with the advice of some experts whom you mention.

    The only way I can see that my data would be vunerable would be if my computer was struck by lightning at the same time as both my backup drives were in the same room and the flash over destroyed them as well as the computer and its internal drives. If this were to happen I would also be present and I would probably have lost too many of my own bits to worry any more about data security [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  11. Christopher_NC

    Christopher_NC Registered Member

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    Yes, but, when you say that:

    I disagree that original photographs are refreshed, or preserved, by continually writing and rewriting them. I also see no advantage to constantly overwriting every sector of a hard drive, even rarely used documents and programs, simply to keep one's system drive current, and archived. That may only accelerate the drive's failure, or data corruption, and is quite resource intensive. If you had hundreds of gigabytes (or multiples of that) of critical data, I doubt this would be a viable option.

    Why not also backup critical data to optical media?

    You have a higher degree of confidence in hardware and software than I. I'm not aware of any 100% reliable anti-virus software, singly or in combination. Of course, using the Acronis secure zone, and various Acronis proprietary formatted Images, should ensure that nothing ever goes wrong. :gack:

    Well, if it works for you, that's fine. I just don't see your method as guaranteeing long term data security. Nor do I agree that restoring a drive ensures that all of the contents on that drive are 100% intact. My experience with corrupt data in TI restored files, whether due to faulty chipsets or Acronis programming errors, does not convince me that one can always count on the TI restoration process to work 100%. If one part of the program isn't 100% reliable, nor can even report when it fails, that doesn't give me full confidence in the rest of the program.

    Here's a recent Acronis Support post confirming problems that I, and others, have reported when restoring files using TI, to NTFS partitions, in TI Boot "Rescue" mode:

    The thread can be found here: Re: Boot Mode Files & Folders Restore: PDF file corrupt and unreadable


    Since Acronis makes mistakes, as we all do, I suggest you place less trust in one software product, or one type of hardware, to protect your original, unreplaceable data. Copies restored to a hard drive may or may not be intact. And, if your originals are gone, what do you have to fall back on? If someday you can't use a saved TI Archive to right what's gone wrong, be it in the Secure Zone, or on a hard drive in another building, what will you do? Assuming your bits are still intact...;)
     
  12. ValiC

    ValiC Registered Member

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    Yes, I mounted the image with TI in Windows, better said, I tried it, however I had the same problem, <<No valid or corrupted TI archive>>. I just copy the archive to my internal disk, and I'll try to mount it again. TI has no problems with all the other images on the usb drive, they are all valid.
    Ok this experiment fails, too.

    It's nice that you two discussed the maxim of making backups but that unfortunately doesn't help me anymore. :doubt:

    I've the feeling my files are in nirvana or out in the sticks. S**t. The files seems to be inaccessible.
     
  13. Christopher_NC

    Christopher_NC Registered Member

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    While this doesn't help you access your data in the now corrupt TI archive, if the data is there, you should still be able to recover it.

    If nothing else can be done, you could use a paid data recovery service, such as:

    http://www.ontrack.com/

    Our ramblings are not meant to make light of your situation. Your unfortunate situation may, at least, help others realize the importance of not relying on proprietary Image files to always be there when they need them most.

    Does anyone, or Acronis support, know of a way to access corrupt TI archives?
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2006
  14. ValiC

    ValiC Registered Member

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    How do you mean the commercial recovery service, should I give them my image, to get the files out of it, or should I give them the whole disk to restore the one month old partitions + files?
     
  15. Xpilot

    Xpilot Registered Member

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    Hello ValiC

    I apologise for diluting this thread with our drawn out discussion. I feel for you in your loss of data and I feel inadequate that I cannot come up with a way of restoring it.

    I would have thought that an Acronis boffin should be able to come up with a recovery method when all that seems to have gone wrong is the corruption of a bit or two in you original image.

    Xpilot
     
  16. Christopher_NC

    Christopher_NC Registered Member

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    ValiC,

    Like Xpilot, I feel for you, and am sorry that you are having to go thru this. I have never used a data recovery service, but Ontrack has been recommended on this forum by a user I trust. Since I don't know what they can offer you, nor the details of how you would need to work with them if they can, I just emailed them about this situation. I asked if they can recover data from a corrupt .tib file.

    I also emailed Acronis support asking if they have any lifelines, or options for recovering data from a corrupt TI archive, and to please post here ASAP.

    If you wish to call Ontrack directly, to speed up the process, their number is:
    1-800-872-2599.

    The best of luck, and I'll post again if I learn anything helpful.
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2006
  17. ValiC

    ValiC Registered Member

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    @Xpilot & Christopher_NC: I m grateful for your great help and support, although you cannot help me.

    @Christopher_NC: I already mailed to ontrack, too, but nothing received than a lousy confirmation. It's nice that you still try to help me. Let's hope the best and count on the worst. (Or however it is said in english)
     
  18. Christopher_NC

    Christopher_NC Registered Member

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    Thanks for your kind words. I'm with you, and hope for the best: getting your documents back from never never land. While I do not know the practical aspects of data recovery, I do think that your data is still there. What seems to be missing is some key information that TI needs to be able to recognize and open the file it created. Aside from, let's say, the identifying number of this archive, or, if the corruption is more serious (perhaps why the image won't mount?) even a problem reading the file table or formatting code for this file, the rest of your data is likely still present, and largely intact.

    Save whatever original version you have of that Image, and any copies you have made. A competent data recovery technician should be able to extract the documents you need, for a fee, of course. This is a weekend, and the email reply I received from Ontrack suggested calling them if you want or need an urgent response outside of regular business hours.

    Did you compress your Image when you made it? Which Operating System are you using, and which file format are the Images in? Details like this may help elicit a response from others who have had similar problems, or understand the technical aspects better.

    Since TI does not inform us users what the extent of the corruption is, nor have I seen any posts in which Acronis Support has offered such information, I am not all that optimistic about Acronis offering you a solution. This is an achilles heel of TI. If these TI Images, as ValiC points out, are indeed this sensitive, we really must not entrust original non-replaceable documents to this form of safekeeping.

    Edit/added later: Here's an answer from last month, about this topic, from Acronis Support:

    From a thread here:Alexey's post re: corrupt archives

    So, it sounds like data recovery may be the only recourse, until, and if, changes are made in a future build.
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2006
  19. ValiC

    ValiC Registered Member

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    Exact, but why does Acronis still have enterprises as clients? I mean if such a problem occurs to an enterprise, there might be more valueable data lost than in my case. That stands for that Acronis has probably a solution to that problem, only for enterprises.

    What I learnt by this sad story is:
    NEVER TRUST IN IMAGE-BACKUPS! Use several backup-systems to safe your important files, like mulitple copies to serveral systems (CD/DVD + another partition/hdd + USB-Stick + etc.)
     
  20. Xpilot

    Xpilot Registered Member

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    That is precisely why I have developed my current backup method. My first and second lines of defence are two separate hard drives which do not contain IMAGES they have DATA in standard NTFS files which can be read by virtually any up to date computer.

    If I were to use DVDs I would follow the same principle and only use them to store copies of DATA I would not trust them for long term storage of IMAGES.

    Xpilot
     
  21. Acronis Support

    Acronis Support Acronis Support Staff

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    Hello everyone,

    Thank you for your interest in Acronis Disk Backup Software.

    Please accept our sincere apologies for the delay with the response.

    I'm afraid that I have nothing to add to the statement Christopher_NC has quoted in his post #18. Currently, there are no official methods of restoring the corrupted backups. Actually, I have my doubts about this being possible at all. So, if the backup is corrupted and cannot be mounted by means of the Mount Image tool, there is no way to recover the backed up data.

    ValiC, it is strongly recommended that you validate your backups both within Windows and using Bootable Rescue CD right after their creation is complete. In such a way you can assure that no corruption has occurred during the backup creation process. If a successfully validated backup becomes corrupted after being stored for some period of time, the problem is not related to Acronis software, but to the faulty storage device or bad memory stick. We also recommend that you back up your critical files separately by creating an additional file-based backups or by simply copying them to a safe place.

    If you have any further questions concerning Acronis software, please feel free to submit a request for technical support or post any of them on this forum. We will certainly try to help you in resolving any issues.

    Thank you.
    --
    Alexey Popov
     
  22. Christopher_NC

    Christopher_NC Registered Member

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    There is no way to recover files from corrupt Acronis .tib files


    Alexey,

    Thank you for your candor and for your helpful advice on how to protect ourselves against just this sort of data corruption. Could Acronis add the option to schedule a task to verify archives? Then report any which have become corrupt, so we could replace any defective .tibs with valid copies, or create new archives?

    I just got off the phone with an engineer from Ontrack Data Recovery, who impressed me as very qualified, gracious and easy to talk with. Here's what he had to say: (this is not a quote, but excerpts from my notes taken during and after our 15 minute conversation)

    Ontrack Data Recovery Engineer:

    No, unfortunately we don’t have a way to access the data in, or recover files from corrupt Acronis .tib files, either Drive/Partition Images, or Files and Folders BU files.

    About the only thing we could do, if a client hired us to attempt data recovery from a corrupt .tib file, would be to attempt to recover the file structure/partition information, to try to make that file usable again to True Image, to either mount or restore. But, there is no guarantee that we could do that. If the file/partition information in an Image is more than slightly corrupt, there is most likely very little that anyone could do to recover the files from that Image.

    I read Alexey's statement to him, and he agreed:

    Before even attempting the recovery, we would inspect the .tib file, and, from what you've described in this instance, we would unfortunately be unable to assist. We get very few requests to recover Image files, and have not developed a process to open and access their data, which is written in a proprietary format, and illegible to other programs. If we were asked by a company, such as Acronis, to develop a process for mining the data from corrupt .tib files, it would cost in the range of $200,000 in the R&D stage, alone, to perfect.

    If an Image is reported by TI as corrupt, running Checkdisk will not help, in fact, Checkdisk’s sole purpose is to try to get that volume to mount, and it will make all the changes it deems necessary to the file structure, which will only render the .tib file all the more unreadable to TI. In most cases, Checkdisk will only address and fix errors in the directory structure; the contents of the .tib file itself are as invisible to Checkdisk as they would be to us. If Ontrack were to attempt to repair the corrupt file/partition data in a .tib file, we would use something more akin to a hex editor on steroids, than anything resembling Checkdisk. So, yes, if one were to encounter such a corrupt Image, and needed to attempt recovery, do not run Checkdisk, but contact us first, with the file as intact as possible.


    We also discussed his views on backup strategies, external and internal hard drives, optical media, and the like. I'll post what I learned in another thread. The summary is, backup, backup, backup. Hard drives fail. Optical discs may go bad over time. USB HDs are especially vulnerable to overheating, and chipset caused errors. Images stored on those media, once gone bad, won't be usable. So, use redundancy, and protect your data in multiple forms. He considers internal hard drives as the most reliable data path for reading and writing backups. This should make Xpilot's day. ;)
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2006
  23. Xpilot

    Xpilot Registered Member

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    Yeah !!!

    Xpilot.
     
  24. Acronis Support

    Acronis Support Acronis Support Staff

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    Hello Christopher,

    You are always welcome.

    I've forwarded your suggestion to our Development Team, so it will certainly be taken into consideration.

    Thank you.
    --
    Alexey Popov
     
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