PHYLOCK or VSS in Image for Windows?

Discussion in 'backup, imaging & disk mgmt' started by gbhall, Sep 3, 2013.

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  1. gbhall

    gbhall Registered Member

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    Using IFW directly in Win7, there are setup options to either use the built-in VSS system to lock the live OS, or to use Terabyte's own Phylock, or use VSS and default to phylock if failing to acquire a lock.

    Anybody feel there is any advantage one way or another ? I did a crude test or two, and it seems VSS might give faster backups, but this may simply be because VSS not only does not backup the page file, hybernate file (both large) but also quite a lot else by default (see typical default content of FilesNotToBackup registry key).

    Using Phylock, IFW seems unable to use those keys, so as far as I know, using Phylock is a disadvantage all-round.
     
  2. aladdin

    aladdin Registered Member

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    Excellent thread!

    Let us see what the experts tell us?

    Best regards,

    Mohamed
     
  3. TheRollbackFrog

    TheRollbackFrog Registered Member

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    When using IFW, in the NORMAL backup mode options screen, PAGEFILE and HIBERFILE may be eliminated from the backup... they're the big ones.

    From deep in my memory, info from previous discussions on this topic included the fact that only VSS could guarantee the complete integrity of certain database files during backup (allowing them to be complete and fully structured). Special drivers used by imaging tools (IFW's PHYLOCK and I believe Macrium's special driver <I may be mistaken here... it may be another imager>) will guarantee a LOCK of the current file system but will not guarantee a completely structured dynamic database file. This aspect mostly affects SERVER-based systems way more than workstations.

    Sorry I don't have all those details in my memory. I believe Panagiotis or other Wilder's members will be able to fill you in on this better than I can. I'm just stirring up thought and memories here...
     
  4. aladdin

    aladdin Registered Member

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    Almost all the imaging programs have their own proprietary locking systems, but as a default they use VSS and this includes Macrium Reflect. When the default VSS fails then the proprietary locking system kicks in.

    Only Image For Windows (IFW) use their proprietary locking system (PHYLock) as default. The VSS is also included, but as an option.
     
  5. gbhall

    gbhall Registered Member

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    This is what I just tried. An image of my OS using phylock is 2.5Gb larger than one taken using VSS. Both images appear to contain pagefile.sys and hiberfil.sys totalling 5Gb between them. (Viewing the images mounted by Tbmount, those files have the same size in both cases)

    I don't think the phylocked version contains quite the same thing as the VSS version because the VSS version definitely lists removing those two files and a lot of other things, in the log. Maybe the VSS version is just zeroed out or something ?

    The phylocked version according to the manual, does not exclude those two files if phylock is used, on the other hand there are checkboxes for exluding them, both in the settings and the override settings every time you start a backup. It seems Terabyte are not sure themselves whether the files are excluded or not........

    Surprisingly, the VSS version also does a lot of work at the beginning of the backup making some preparation or other, and at the end of a restore, the VSS version also spends a lot of time 'processing excluded files' whatever it means by that.

    All very strange, and no help at all in deciding which method to use.
     
  6. Cruise

    Cruise Registered Member

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    @gbhall~ it's been my observation that backing up using PHYLock results in a noticeably slower backup because of the time it takes PHYLock to wait for system quiescence - around 90 sec (on avg.) in my case - whereas VSS is almost instantaneous. So I've been using VSS for my IFW backups and it has never failed to accurately restore my system in well over a dozen attempts.


    @aladdin~ fwiw, Drive Snapshot (DS) defaults to its proprietary file-locking driver* (using VSS is the optional selection). ;)

    Cruise

    *Interestingly, DS' proprietary file-locking driver starts-up as fast as VSS!
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2013
  7. MudCrab

    MudCrab Imaging Specialist

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    Both the page and hibernation files are excluded by default. There are separate options for them and they are selected by default. Where were you seeing in the manual that they're not excluded when PHYLock is used? The files will still show up in the image when viewed with TBIView/TBIMount because the file exists (the data is zeroed out and takes up no space).

    PHYLock usually takes longer to lock than VSS. I usually use PHYLock since VSS doesn't back up everything. It's really just a matter of choice or which works better on your system -- both will create valid backups. Also, keep in mind that VSS is not available on every Windows OS that IFW supports.

    When VSS is used there is extra processing due to how VSS handles files and exclusions. This is really no different than if you excluded the files/folders manually using PHYLock.
     
  8. TheRollbackFrog

    TheRollbackFrog Registered Member

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    Cruise... this appears to be very system dependent. On (3) of my systems (1-XP, 2-W7), the PHYLOCK startup runs from 2-5 sec. at most... I don't think I've ever seen it above 10-sec. FYI!
     
  9. The Shadow

    The Shadow Registered Member

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    Hi TRF,

    That may be true (I certainly don't doubt your findings), but my experience pretty much confirms what Cruise has reported. I've made a great many IFW backups with Phylock, believing (rightly or wrongly) that it is more reliable than VSS, and it always takes at least a minute on my Win7 notebook (i7 Quad CPU & 8GB RAM) before the Phylock driver locks all system files and IFW is able to commence the imaging process. Conversely, my IFW backups using VSS start almost immediately. o_O

    TS
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2013
  10. pandlouk

    pandlouk Registered Member

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    From http://www.terabyteunlimited.com/kb/article.php?id=352
    From the manual
    Phylock can lock the partition as fast as any other program/driver; it simply waits that there is no write activity on the disk for 4,25 seconds to guarantee that all the programs cache and the disk cache are "flushed" to the disk. = guarantees both file and partition consistency (as much as possible).
    This is the reason that, PhyLock images when restored, is extremely rare to encounter a dirty bit and having to perform a chkdsk before the OS starts.

    VSS on the other part informs all the programs that is going to perform an backup and instructs them to "flash" their data on their files so that they are in a consistent state when the backup starts.
    More info here
    http://blogs.technet.com/b/josebda/...cs-of-the-volume-shadow-copy-service-vss.aspx

    Personally I prefer phylock. I suspect that terabyte introduced the ability to use vss for servers with databases that serve multiple users; on such systems it would be difficult if not impossible for Phylock to achieve a lock (=4,25 seconds of write inactivity).

    Panagiotis
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2013
  11. zfactor

    zfactor Registered Member

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    phylock for me is far faster at locking than vss is. maybe just a few seconds at most every time. i use ifw on many systems and never have it take more than at MOST 10-15 seconds or so and thats even on a older system from around 2006
     
  12. aladdin

    aladdin Registered Member

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    The default wait time for PHYLock is 10 minutes. My experience with PHYLock that most of the time it doesn't lock within 10 minutes, and I had to wait all this time and after 10 minutes, it gives up and starts the imaging process.

    However, if this default wait time is reduced to 3 minutes, then it usually locks in less than 2 minutes.

    Therefore, there is a bug in default wait time and others have reported similar experience on this forum.

    Best regards,

    Mohamed
     
  13. aladdin

    aladdin Registered Member

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    Dearest Cruise,

    Thanks for the above information, I wasn't aware of it. With a footprint of less than 300MB, Drive Snapshot definitely rocks. Everyday, my respect and awe for Drive Snapshot keeps on increasing. It is one of the BEST!

    Best regards,

    Mohamed
     
  14. Brian K

    Brian K Imaging Specialist

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    Mohamed,

    Something is writing to your drive and preventing a lock. That happened to me too. I reduced my "Write Free Time" by a second and all is fine. Try 3000 ms or even lower if needed.
     
  15. aladdin

    aladdin Registered Member

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    Hi Brian,

    You just confirmed what I have written above that the 10 minutes wait time has a bug. Reducing the 10 minutes wait time to something lower, as you said even, "by a second and all is fine".

    On my three machines if I keep the default time of 10 minutes, most of the time it doesn't lock at all, and after 10 minutes, it starts the imaging. However, reducing the wait time to 3 minutes, most of time the imaging process starts in less than 2 minutes.

    Best regards,

    Mohamed
     
  16. zfactor

    zfactor Registered Member

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    i may be wrong here but i think brian was not reff to what you are talking about. i think he is reff to windows or another program writing to the drive. if i am wrong than im sure he will correct me.
     
  17. Brian K

    Brian K Imaging Specialist

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    Mohamed,

    zfactor is correct. It has nothing to do with an IFW bug. A Windows app is writing to the drive and stopping Phylock from locking. You may be able to identify the app with Process Monitor.

    Have a look in Settings. The Write Free Time will be 4250 ms. Change it to 3000. That might work for you.
     
  18. aladdin

    aladdin Registered Member

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    Hi Brian,

    First of all, I have changed it to 3 minutes on all my computers and it works for HOT imaging. Maybe, 10 minutes wait time is too long for HOT imaging, and I got bored and started to do things on the computer. So, it never LOCKED.

    Secondly, thank you for showing me another setting in IFW which makes the locking faster.

    You have brought another setting, which I never knew.

    However, I am talking about default settings. When I tried IFW, as a new user, I used default settings, and due to it never locked I considered it a USELESS program.

    However, being on this forum and having access to experts like yourself on IFW, and the rave on this forum about IFW, I reconsidered IFW and then bought it.

    So, what I am saying in my posts here. I am saying that the default settings of IFW are turning the new customers off who might not be fortunate to be on this forum and thus Terabyte is losing potential sales.

    Best regards,

    Mohamed
     
  19. aladdin

    aladdin Registered Member

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    I just rechecked the default settings for both HOT and COLD imaging and they are both same.

    We have come a long way from the days of Windows XP.

    Best regards,

    Mohamed
     
  20. Brian K

    Brian K Imaging Specialist

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    Mohamed,

    I can certainly understand your frustration with not getting a lock. I don't know why changing from 10 to 3 minutes helped as I would not have expected it to make any difference. But your best bet is to change the Write Free Time and I'd be most interested to hear the result. In my case it was the Asus Monitoring app that was writing to the drive. When this app "had a rest" then Phylock locked quickly at 4250 ms. But as the Asus app ran at strange times I've left my Write Free Time at 3000 ms. I usually get a lock in 10 to 15 seconds. It doesn't time out anymore.

    I prefer Phylock to VSS as I want the image to contain "everything". No VSS exclusions. VSS also wrote files to my C:\Windows\System32\config. But it doesn't do this in my wife's computer. She uses VSS with IFW.

    Edit... Almost all of my images are created on a schedule so I never see them happening as I'm working on the computer while IFW is running. Working on the computer doesn't seem to prevent a lock. I have to check the IFW.LOG to see when Phylock locked the drive.
     
  21. aladdin

    aladdin Registered Member

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    Dearest Brian,

    Thank you for turning me on the 3000 ms. You are right. The machine I am on now, did the lock in 15 seconds, and while it is imaging I am writing this post.

    I also like the PHYLock of IFW, as most of the imaging programs beside Drive Snapshot (thanks to Cruise) use VSS. So, there is change in imaging, which makes me feel better.

    However, what amazes me why IFW has for default so archaic settings for locking, which for majority of users on this forum never work!

    Best regards,

    Mohamed
     
  22. Brian K

    Brian K Imaging Specialist

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    Mohamed,

    Great news. Glad I could help.

    TeraByte Support was asked a similar question. He said only a small percentage ever asked for help with this issue. I think he mentioned 0.1% of sales. The squeaky wheel gets the oil. So I assume the silent majority don't have a problem.

    Edit... I have IFW on 6 computers. It's only this computer that needed a change in the Write Free Time.
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2013
  23. aladdin

    aladdin Registered Member

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    Hi Brian,

    As usual thank you Brian for your expertise and help.

    On three of my machine with Windows 7 and default settings, I had problems with IFW locking within the default 10 minutes. I usually consider the default settings are the best for average users, like myself.

    I am surprised from the above answer from Terabyte. Users who are owners usually ask for support, very rarely potential customers who are trying the products ask for support. So, Terabyte might be losing some potential sales, as most of the latest machines have the latest operating systems. Not the archaic Windows XP.

    Even I own the product, very rarely I have asked for support. In all those years after owning several software, only twice I have asked for support.

    I own BM BootIt but haven't used it so far due to not knowing how to use it. I tried it once and you tried to help me, but I gave up when I realized to use it I have to make CD/DVD. I consider CD/DVD to be obsolete.

    I had all my Rock&Roll music on LPs and paid more than $5000 to convert them to CD. Who knew one day they will become obsolete too and collecting dust like the LPs.

    Best regards,

    Mohamed
     
  24. Brian K

    Brian K Imaging Specialist

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    Would you like another lesson to experiment with a BIBM USB flash drive? No installing. Just looking around the screens from the UFD.
     
  25. Brian K

    Brian K Imaging Specialist

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    I suggest you use the latest BIBM. Ver 1.20.

    double click makedisk.exe, next
    dot in BootIt Bare Metal, next
    dot in I accept the agreement, next
    select Image for DOS (GUI) and also
    select Scripting Support, next
    dot in Mouse Support Enabled, next
    dot in VESA Video, next
    dot in Video Mode 1024*768 - 64K Colors, next
    dot in Normal, next
    don't choose any Device Options, next
    tick in Enable USB 1.1 (UHCI), next
    tick in Align partitions on 2048 Sectors, next
    ignore Additional bootitbm.ini Options
    enter Name and Product Key, Next
    select your UFD drive letter
    for USB Layout select "Partition - MBR FAT/FAT32 Partition (Int13h Extensions)"
    for Geometry Calculation Method select "Default - Use Device"
    Finish
     
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