Reliability of "live" imaging

Discussion in 'Acronis True Image Product Line' started by bbz_Ghost, Jun 4, 2007.

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  1. bbz_Ghost

    bbz_Ghost Registered Member

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    Hi,

    New member, 1st post. I've been considering getting True Image 10 recently after reading lots of favorable reviews, and in the past I used Drive Image from Powerquest - which eventually died off it seems after the Symantec juggernaut ruined yet another great product and company.

    So I know the value of imaging, couldn't live without it. I have the "free" version of True Image 7 that was given out months ago, and recently I noted that Maxtor (the brand of my primary hard drive, and I have a Seagate secondary drive) and Acronis worked together to create the new MaxBlast/SeaTools software for hard drive setup and it now includes a subset of True Image 10 for drive imaging purposes.

    In the past, my experience was directed related to imaging outside of the OS while in operation, meaning booting off the recovery media CD I would create and then use True Image that way.

    My question concerns the reliability of doing the "live imaging" which means using the Windows-based application included with the MaxBlast software. It's just a stripped down version of the True Image 10 Home client from what I can tell (I tried the TI10 Home trial a few weeks ago and liked it).

    Does anyone around here actually use the Windows-based client for doing imaging to save the need to shut down the PC and all your applications, etc, and if so have you had either: a) great success with that feature or b) horrible experiences that forced you to stop using the Windows client and go back to the bootable CD imaging methodology.

    I'd post this question at the Maxtor site since it's related to their product meaning MaxBlast but since this is the best source for Acronis True Image information and support - which forms the basis of the newest MaxBlast release - I felt it more appropriate to post my question(s) here.

    So, I'm just looking for someone to say "Yes, it works fine, doing live imaging while Windows is actually in operation works fine and saves you the hassle of unnecessary reboots or shutdowns just to back up the machine."

    If someone can do that, perfect, I'm sold, and I won't be using the MaxBlast software anyway - my firm intention was to buy the retail TI10 Home product since it offers far more in terms of capabilities and options than the stripped down "free" edition included with MaxBlast.

    If not, can someone out there explain why TI10 would offer live imaging capability but it might not be a good idea to use it?

    I currently run XP x64 and store my images on the secondary hard drive to ensure the best possible performance when imaging (drive to drive).

    Many thanks in advance for any and all assistance.

    Have fun, always...
    bb

    ps
    I keep seeing many references to the FD-ISR stuff. How's that working out for people, as a secondary question? I'm just looking to be able to save my machine "state" at any given moment so I've got a backup, that's all. TI10 looks like it would be the ticket, but I'm open to other options, like the FD-ISR possibility. Thanks!
     
  2. DwnNdrty

    DwnNdrty Registered Member

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    Many users here do create their Backup Images while in Windows and have no problems. I prefer not to tempt fate and use the bootable CD.
    I think the success of Imaging live depends a lot on your particular hardware and the programs you have running (mainly in the background) in Windows. The only way to tell if you'll be one of the lucky ones is to try it and be sure to test the restore (on a spare hard drive) by booting with the restored drive afterwards.
     
  3. Brian K

    Brian K Imaging Specialist

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    bbz_Ghost,

    I haven't used FirstDefense-ISR and I just checked its website. It gives "No Defense" if you have a hard drive failure.

    Regarding "hot imaging": The easiest way to do imaging. On a scheduled basis you don't even know it's happening. I've never had an image fail to restore.
     
  4. seekforever

    seekforever Registered Member

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    I typically only do live imaging. While you can still use the PC while it is creating the image I typically go for a break or just watch since it is fairly fast. My network still runs, email gets polled and received, firewall and antivirus are operational. Never had a problem.

    Like DwnNdrty said you must do a restore to a spare drive before you have good confidence in your backup.
     
  5. jonyjoe81

    jonyjoe81 Registered Member

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    I only do live imaging because it's the fastest way to do it, and from my on expierence (numerous restores), I have full confidence that they will work. But just in case I have at least 2 different images saved at all times.
    As far as instant recovery, I recommend powershadow version 2.6. This program doesn't mess with your mbr/partitions. I tried it on 3 different computers and is rock solid, but only works with windows xp. What this program does is saves the state of your computer than goes into an immediate virtual state(without rebooting). Whatever you do while in this virtual state (download a virus/spyware , install a bad program etc) isn't saved, as soon as you reboot, your back to your original state. I use it to test new programs.
    But you must always have imaging software to restore after a hard drive failure.
     
  6. farmerlee

    farmerlee Registered Member

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    90% of the time i do live backups from within windows with TI10, its always worked flawlessly for me. The new Seagate Discwizard also runs great on my system. If all you need is an imaging tool then this freebie works well.

    FD-ISR is also an awesome piece of software that i use. You can create multiple computer states called snapshots and quickly and easily switch between them. Great for a quick recovery should something go wrong. FD-ISR is not a replacement for TI, its more of a compliment as it won't help you should your hard drive fail. The actual Raxco FirstDefence-ISR is no longer available however other companies have the same software available under a different name such as 'BootBack'.
     
  7. bbz_Ghost

    bbz_Ghost Registered Member

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    Thank you all for the info. Time to do some testing for myself and see what happens. I'll look into the FD-ISR solutions also, that sounds almost precisely like what I'm hoping for.

    bb
     
  8. foghorne

    foghorne Registered Member

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    I have always backed up from Windows, and on my main workstation I run at least 6 automated backups each evening, and have done this for about 5 years. I regularly restore images (from both Windows and the recovery CD) and I have never had a problem.

    I find that it is easier to sleep at night if there is some scientific explanation of the process to be had. Have a look at :

    http://www.acronis.com/enterprise/resource/tech-talk/2003/disk-imaging-2-technology.html

    F.
     
  9. bbz_Ghost

    bbz_Ghost Registered Member

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    Thanks again for the info.

    As I said in the OP, I've been using imaging software for a long long time now so I'm well aware of the ins and outs. My concerns were specific to "live imaging" or doing the image with the operating system up and running. Apparently Acronis resolved that little bugaboo with the "frozen bitmap" idea that can safely store the drive state.

    Not too shabby, I'd say, and a far sight better than having to reboot each time to make an image. I'm no uptime junkie, far from it: my longest ever installation of Windows was 2.5 months, and I just came off that in mid-May. Before that, from March 1st to about May 20th, I'd reinstall anywhere from 5 to 50 times a week because of my part-time work as a software tester.

    Mind you by "reinstall" I mean restoring a base OS image I'd created in the past, but even so, after nearly 30 years of working with computers on a daily basis, I'm simply getting out of that game from now on and this machine will hold my OS for me and that's that.

    True Image 10 it is, and while I'd love to skip out on 'em and just go cheap with the Maxtor MaxBlast software, I do support companies that make great software and products, so I'll be buying TI10 probably later today when I'm out at Fry's.

    Many thanks for the helpful replies.

    Have fun, always...
     
  10. thomasjk

    thomasjk Registered Member

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    You may want to check Newegg to download TI 10. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681528708SF.
     
  11. layman

    layman Registered Member

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    Yes, I do. However, I have some concerns about how the product handles the registry. Unfortunately, the technical documentation isn't adequate to explain whether running from a boot disk would solve the suspected problem.

    My concern has to do with the fact that TI is not an imaging product in the strict sense. So far as I can see (at least on NTFS,) restoring does not recreate the original image - it gives you a tidied up reconstruction of the data and file system structures. This is kinda nice, unless you literally wanted the original image restored. What bothers me is something I've not had time to conclusively document. I often make an image before installing trial software, and then just restore to the pre-trial image. What I (seem to) have found a few times, however, is that are vestiges of the installed trial in the registry after I've restored! If true, this really sucks. I have a couple of TI licenses, and the product works well for me most of the time. Buf if I ever confirm that restores can leave you with an inconsistent state, I will dump TI in an instant.
     
  12. foghorne

    foghorne Registered Member

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    I find that hard to believe. Restoration is done at the sector level, the registry is split across a number of files, the chances of picking up some registry data from a the previous image in the same file chain as the registry from the new image is difficult to understand.

    F.
     
  13. seekforever

    seekforever Registered Member

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    I find it hard to believe also. Although this doesn't zero the sector content before restoring one of the first things that happens before the restoration is deleting the partition that will be restored. This usually gets rid of all the files you wanted to keep when you do it accidently :D :D :D .
     
  14. pvsurfer

    pvsurfer Registered Member

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    I have been using ATI since v7 and I've always created images from within Windows (i.e., 'hot-imaging'). However, I do take the following precautions... I first close all open apps including my AV and FW.

    Over the years that I've been doing this I've created a great many images and have restored quite a few (from within Linux, naturally) without ever encountering a problem due to hot-imaging.
     
  15. Long View

    Long View Registered Member

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    Sorry this is totally wrong. To be fair I haven't bother to run any file comparison programs since version 6 but when I did data partitions were 100% the same and OS-program partitions were essentially the same with differences resulting from the use of the OS to compare the image with the OS.

    If your claim were correct small differences in restoration would result in bigger differences with each new restore eventually becoming obvious.

    If this is just a gut feeling please clarify. If you have hard evidence please supply.
     
  16. MTX

    MTX Registered Member

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    I backup, restore and clone from Windows (Acronis 10) with no problems but if the hardware is not compatible, you can have problems.
     
  17. Long View

    Long View Registered Member

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    It has worked fine for me since version 6.
    If you can find FD-ISR it is worth getting. Although I still use Acronis to make
    system and data images for daily use I now freeze widows and programs on one of my machines - so every time I boot the system is the same as the time before. Acronis is there should anything go wrong
     
  18. jaycee

    jaycee Registered Member

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    Hi,

    Kind of Off Topic, but i would ask why, as a software Tester, you dont work with Virtual Machines?

    You can very easily work with Microsoft Virtual PC/Server, or VMWare Server, to have an always clean version of your windows XP

    Once you have tested your application, you shut down the VM and say to just drop all modifications with the use of "Undo Disks".

    My own 2 cents, for testing it is far less a hassle than full job of restoring an full OS.

    As you describe your system, I would think it could be a good idea, even if you keep ATI for your "host" computer.

    Have a nice day,

    Jaycee
     
  19. foghorne

    foghorne Registered Member

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    My thoughts exactly. You do need to have a relatively powerful machine, but apart from that it would seem a more effectice route.

    F.
     
  20. shieber

    shieber Registered Member

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    I make imiages from winthin windows and often while running several other programs. Never had a bad backup because of this practice. Doing live imaging is not one ATI's weak points. ;-)
     
  21. Xpilot

    Xpilot Registered Member

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    I always backup live from within Windows. After more than 1000 created images there have been no failures in backup creation. However in a run of approx. 500 restores there has been two failures. Without adequate advance planning either one could have destroyed my system.
    My plan is simple, I never restore to the current working drive. It follows that a failed restore is a non-event and things can be brought back to normal within minutes.

    Xpilot
     
  22. seekforever

    seekforever Registered Member

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    TI does not necessarily put the contents of sector ABCD back into sector ABCD on a restore but what circumstances might trigger this I can't say. Regardless, the disk contents are intact and the files have the same content, it is just that the disk layout may have changed. This has been observed by users defragging the disk and then doing a restore and finding the fragmentation level was changed. No direct personal experience since I don't really care.
     
  23. layman

    layman Registered Member

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    See the post by seekforever. You can do this as an experiment yourself. The product works at a sector level, of course, but it does not restore in situ. If that is what you think, you are under a misconception about how the product works.

    As for vestigial stuff in the registry, I can only say that I've encountered this a number of times and certain other anomalies that make me nervous (such as files in temp directories with time stamps that couldn't have been in the original image.) Unfortunately, Acronis doesn't provide us with good technical documentation of the techniques used in the product. My sense is that they've degraded the software by trying to load file system backup features onto a disk imaging product. Two separate products would suit me a whole lot better.
     
  24. layman

    layman Registered Member

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    Me, too, but I've encountered it several times without being able to think of any way I could have caused it. True Image always amazes me with its speed, and I suspect they are using various tricks to speed things up. My vague suspicion is that not all of the tricks are sound. I dunno.
     
  25. Long View

    Long View Registered Member

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    Seekforever's post in no way contradicts my points. I couldn't care less about
    the "sector ABCD back into sector ABCD" point. The point is that with Acronis
    "the disk contents are intact and the files have the same content"
    Nothing is degraded, nothing remains from the previous image after a restore.

    Try this - start a restore - the first thing that will be done is the partition or drive will be deleted/wiped/destroyed - whatever words you prefer. just after the restore has started - kill the power. no look at the drive - if it was a partition it will no longer be there. So how can an image I made 2 years ago and now restored to a clean partition have reg references to software I was using 2 hours ago ?

    So sorry - In situ is not an issue - disk contents and files being the same is the issue. time stamps of temp file o_Oo_O how did you check this ? by turning you computer on ? and then the time stamps changed ? what do you expect ?
     
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