Rollback RX et al

Discussion in 'backup, imaging & disk mgmt' started by TomAZ, Feb 24, 2013.

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  1. TomAZ

    TomAZ Registered Member

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    A few questions about "snapshot" programs:

    1) What will they do that Windows System Restore won't do?

    2) Do they all use VSS or are there some that don't need a functional VSS?

    3) Is it true that once you start using one of these programs, you can no longer defrag your system HDD?

    4) Can you save the snapshots on an external HDD or do they have to be saved to the system drive?
     
  2. TheRollbackFrog

    TheRollbackFrog Registered Member

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    Hi Tom! All the snapshot progs that I'm familiar with will protect the entire content of the selected partition... System Restore does not do this to my knowledge (up to W7 anyway). They also snap only the exact changes in the partition's content (pieces of files, etc.), not the entire changed file content.

    This is a mixed bag. Some use VSS and actually save (separately on a storage volume) the snapshot data, others, leave the data in place and set up a protection mechanism so that it cannot be overwritten (actually fooling Windows into believing that the storage isn't really there). The latter usually don't use VSS.

    You can see what happens to snapshot programs (that record volume changes rather than file changes) when you defrag a volume... the process will create very large snapshots due to the fact that defragging causes lots of volume content changes rather than file content changes. It moves all those data blocks around causing significant volume changes and no real file content changes. End result... large snapshots following defrag operations.

    Also a mixed bag. Many of the snapshot progs that use VSS and generate real snapshot data files will let you place those snapshots almost anywhere except on the partition being protected. Others require them to be on the same disk if not on the same partition (I know, sounds weird). Separate data-based snapshots should never be on the HDD that has the protected partition, especially if they allow bare metal reconstruction via RECOVERY discs.
     
  3. The Shadow

    The Shadow Registered Member

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    Tom, you have posed some good questions, but (imho) you did not ask the most important question about 'RollBack Rx et all' ...are they safe to use (i.e., does their very functionality impose system risk)?

    While I would not pretend to be nearly as 'Rx-savvy' as TheRollbackFrog, I nevertheless see an inherent weakness with snapshot programs (well, as a past user of Rx I should really only speak to it and its clones) ...that is, they do not adequately protect the critical baseline snapshot from corruption or infection ...if/when this happens (for whatever reason) your entire system is in jeopardy!

    This happened to me, resulting in a BSOD on every subsequent bootup attempt (even in Safe Mode). My Win7 installation disk's repair function was not even able to remedy the problem! The only successful means of recovery was by restoring my week-old image backup. I have since discontinued using Rx.

    TS
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2013
  4. Cruise

    Cruise Registered Member

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    Shadow,

    You make a really a relevant point - one that is not generally recognized. I experienced a similar, if not the same, problem with Rollback Rx, where only a backup image was able to recover my system. As a result of this horrific experience I too have abandoned Rollback Rx, but I am following (with great interest) the development of what appears to be a safer snapshot program, AX64 Time Machine.

    Cruise
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2013
  5. NormanF

    NormanF Registered Member

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    I've never had any problems with Rollback RX on Windows 7. Basically, the restore software, unlike Windows Restore, works at the boot level so you can restore Windows (even if its not booting) to a good snapshot if for some reason the one you're on gets borked. Its a good idea to back up snapshots daily just in case something goes wrong. Its easier to prevent a problem than to fix it.
     
  6. Cruise

    Cruise Registered Member

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    Not quite. As The Shadow pointed out, if the baseline snapshot 'gets borked' (your expression), you won't be able to restore anything with Rollback Rx!


    If that means taking a daily image backup I couldn't agree more, but doing that I don't see much, if any, benefit in Rollback Rx!

    Cruise
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2013
  7. NormanF

    NormanF Registered Member

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    My baseline snapshot is locked and protected against modification or deletion. If you screw something up, at boot you can revert to an earlier date in time when Windows last worked. It saves one the trouble of having to do a fresh reinstall of Windows.
     
  8. Brian K

    Brian K Imaging Specialist

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    Do many (or few) users of Rollback Rx employ it as their only backup software? I know folks here employ Rollback Rx and imaging software but I'm curious about those who don't employ imaging software in addition.
     
  9. TheRollbackFrog

    TheRollbackFrog Registered Member

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    I agree wholeheartedly with TS... he's absolutely right. It's the "et al" in your question that has stirred many of us recently. Yes, Rollback RX (and its clones) use a parent/child relationship in managing their snapshot reference... as a result, if the "protected" parent gets broken, all subsequent "children" will break also. That's what happened to TS.

    The problem is even Windows can't protect a rogue process from attacking any part of the disk. It offers an Applications Programming Interface (API) to allow sufficiently privileged processes to write directly to any part of the disk... which as you can imagine can wreak havoc if it happens. Actually, the more expected event may be some sort of soft disk hardware error, say in the addressing of the disk sector blocks, that causes a purely legitimate process to pollute the wrong part of the disk surface... bingo, trash. This can actually happen in many parts of the hardware path within the system. It matters not how it was caused... it can happen, and a parent/child data relationship can be destroyed by such an action.

    An incremental snapshot solution where the snaps are actually held somewhere else other than the root system partition may be a slightly better solution, but data integrity issues can also rear their ugly heads.

    I'm not sure which is better but I've been leaning towards data snapshot solutions residing elsewhere on your system other than the root system partition.
     
  10. TheRollbackFrog

    TheRollbackFrog Registered Member

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    Brian, any Rollabck RX user who's been burned most likely now uses an imaging backup as well. I know early in my RBrx career, an MBR got tampered with and all was history after that point. After that experience I started no only imaging my system periodically but also backing up my MRB and the rest of my Track 0 separately. When I came upon IFW years back and found that it backed up those data sets as part of its imaging solution, that became my main imager (RAW) for Rollback system.
     
  11. Cruise

    Cruise Registered Member

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    I hardly think so Brian. Relying solely on Rollback Rx (or its clones) is not only gambling, it's a bad bet. ;)

    Cruise
     
  12. aladdin

    aladdin Registered Member

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    Why wouldn't you make a image of your so called baseline snapshot. In this case you can restore the image instead of a fresh reinstall of Windows. Even HDS recommends periodically to create a new baseline due to ever growing hard disk and shrinking space on your hard disk.

    Best regards,
     
  13. bgoodman4

    bgoodman4 Registered Member

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    I have been using Rx since version 7 so I can speak to it but not the other snapshot programs on the market. The first thing you need to know is that there is no such thing as a fool proof single strategy. Every approach and every program has strong points and weak ones. The 3 major weaknesses of Rx is 1: that it cannot protect the MBR, 2: its snaps reside on the drive it is protecting, 3: using other imaging programs may lead to conflicts. Each of these can be dealt with and a user needs to be aware of the potential problems beforehand. I, fortunately for me, have leaned about the solutions to 2 of the potential problems from the experience of others (the 3rd, imaging, I realized from the start so I did not have to learn about it). I would suggest that regardless of what approach you are using imaging the system on a regular basis is essential. Rx is fine for day to day protection but if your PC gets physically damaged (or stolen) it will not help you one bit. Likewise if your drive gets trashed Rx will not help you, and as others have stated Rx can break.

    IMHO Rollback programs may be part of a protection plan but in no way should they be the only, or even the main part of it. I image my drive weekly, back up critical files to an on-line storage facility nightly, run AV and anti-malware programs, and use a program called AppGuard to protect my MBR, all this in addition to RollBack Rx.
     
  14. Solarlynx

    Solarlynx Registered Member

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    I heavily use Comodo Time Machine and Rollback Rx (Eaz-Fix) (on different comps, of course) along with imaging programmes (mostly Paragon and Macrium). I would add that imaging of partition protected with a snapshot time machine is not desirable as restoration of the image can be faulty or not all snapshots survive restoration of the image.

    The best way is to image before installing a snapshot time machine or just after installing it before you make snapshots with it.

    I must say that these time machines have never let me down (for about 2-3 years) to such extent so I had to restore an image because of their fault.
     
  15. Cruise

    Cruise Registered Member

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    You are one of the lucky ones. I had used Rollback for just 3 months before it trashed my system which was then unrecoverable by any means other then an image restore!

    Cruise
     
  16. twl845

    twl845 Registered Member

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    What were the circumstances that caused that to happen?
     
  17. Cruise

    Cruise Registered Member

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    I can't tell you why it happened, but after using Rollback Rx for about 3-months I started my system one day only to get a BSOD as soon as Windows attemted to bootup. Naturally I was concerned about that but I figured I'll just rollback to my prior day's snapshot and all would be well ....wrong!

    I was totally spooked-out after restoring that snapshot (of the day before when my system was working well) only to find that I got the very same BSOD. I then tried restoring every one of my Rollback Rx snapshots and they all resulted in the same BSOD, even with the baseline snapshot, which was obviously corrupted and the reason all other snapshots were worthless!

    After a Windows repair failed to help I finally recovered my system by restoring an image backup.

    End of story...

    Cruise
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2013
  18. twl845

    twl845 Registered Member

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    Wow! Thank God you made an image.
     
  19. Cruise

    Cruise Registered Member

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    Yeah, as far as I'm concerned image backups are the last line of defense against disaster (other than reinstalling Windows or restoring your PC's original configuration). Before my Rollback Rx disaster I made weekly image backups, since that episode I backup every day!

    Cruise
     
  20. moontan

    moontan Registered Member

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    if you have a relatively fast machine images can be restored in about 2 minutes for Win 8 64 bits.

    about 47 seconds for Linux Mint XFCE 64 bits, give or take a second. ;)
     
  21. The Shadow

    The Shadow Registered Member

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    Seems to me that the time it takes to backup/restore is much more dependent on the size of the partition's used sectors than the OS.

    TS
     
  22. moontan

    moontan Registered Member

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    well of course.
    i am talking here with the OSes and only a few apps installed.

    by having a data drive you can keep the OS drive slim and trim.
    but some people have so much stuff installed that this strategy might not work for them.

    as usual, ymmv.
     
  23. The Shadow

    The Shadow Registered Member

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    With W7x64 and just my necessary apps I am consuming 46GB of my C-partition (my data is on another partition), It takes IFW about 40 minutes to backup + verify (a little better than 1 minute per GB) to a USB 3.0 drive. Restoring is faster of course but I backup daily and don't have to restore very often!
     
  24. moontan

    moontan Registered Member

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    you could skip the verify.

    it's been a few hundreds imaging and restore with me with IFW/IFD/IFL.
    it's never failed yet.

    i stopped caring about Verify around the 100th restore or so. ;)
     
  25. Brian K

    Brian K Imaging Specialist

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    TS,

    I wonder where we differ. My Win8 partition is 60 GB and I have 30 GB of data. A full image backup (excluding Verify) takes 3 minutes.

    I use Enhanced Speed - A compression
    All software is installed to the C: drive
    All User folders moved to D: drive (including Desktop folder)

    Edit... I do use Verify BFB and it takes another 4 minutes.
     
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