Rollback Rx-Fragmentation Problem

Discussion in 'backup, imaging & disk mgmt' started by jek1862, Dec 18, 2008.

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  1. jek1862

    jek1862 Registered Member

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    I just installed the restore utility Rollback Rx. I do not want to use System Restore anymore. I like the utility, but seem to have a defrag problem with it.
    I made sure my disk was clean before installing it. However, after doing a defrag check after installing it, it shows a whopping 822(!) fragments on the rollback rx file. Otherwise the disk is okay.
    I would not think this to be normal. I tried using the defrag utility contained within the software to try and fix this, no luck. I then tried external defraggers, still 822 fragments for the file.
    I am keeping just the initial snapshot of my system. Please help me to fix this problem. Thank you.
     
  2. ambient_88

    ambient_88 Registered Member

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    You can not use any third-party defragmentation software when Rollback Rx is installed. However, if I remember correctly, you can disable it temporarily and perform a defrag. You will have to update the baseline in order for the changes to be permanent, causing you to lose your snapshots in the process.

    Currently, HDS recommends that you uninstall Rollback Rx if you want to defrag a system. IMHO, this is the only crappy limitation of Rollback Rx. Hopefully, future versions will change that.
     
  3. Jo Ann

    Jo Ann Registered Member

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    You should have defragged your hard drive before installing RB! After RB is installed it is a complete waste of time to use Windows' defragger or any other 3rd party defragger (it does no good whatsoever). After installation you should just use RB's snapshot defragger.

    There is no way to 'temporarily disable' RB - the only way to disable it is to uninstall it. You could uninstall it, then use Windows' degragger or another defragger to defrag the drive, and then reinstall RB.

    Btw, this is not actually a limitation of RB - it's a consequence of the way RB works. RB ignores (any) Windows file system and works at a lower-level.
     
  4. ambient_88

    ambient_88 Registered Member

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    According to Horizon DataSys' website, one can indeed temporarily disable Rollback Rx's block of disk defragment.

    http://www.horizondatasys.com/177440.ihtml
    Hopefully, the folks at HDS will be able to figure out how to make Rollback Rx work with disk defragmentation utilities.
     
  5. Jo Ann

    Jo Ann Registered Member

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    ambient,

    I said there was no way to disable RB, not that there wasn't a way to disable RB's blocking 3rd party defraggers (there is a big difference between those actions). But even if RB 'allows' 3rd party defragging, it simply will not serve any purpose when operating in an RB-environment.

    JA
     
  6. ambient_88

    ambient_88 Registered Member

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    I know. I'm just pointing out that Rollback's blocking of third-party defraggers can be temporarily disabled.
     
  7. maiki

    maiki Registered Member

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    I tried out Rollback for a week, and uninstalled it this evening. Too many problems with it, including the defrag problem.

    How did you find the Rollback file, where it stores its data? I looked for it, and didn't find it. I didn't like how it kepts its data so completely hidden, and that it seems to completely take over your computer.

    Disc space kept disappearing at an alarming rate, even though I had automatic snapshots turned off, and wasn't taking any at the time, my disc space kept getting eaten up to nothing by RB.

    I tried defragging this evening with Perfect Disk, I saw the free disk space shrink lower and lower (why should defragging lower free disk space? and it finally came to a complete system freeze, where even CTRL-ALT-DEL would not do anything. I finally turned off the power. When I booted back up, Windows would not start BSOD every time. I tried varous things to fix it. When I would try to boot up with a Bart's PE CD, it did not even recognize the hard drive at all. I finally bit the bullet and pressed the Home key on bootup, and restored to a snapshot from a week ago. (Not happy about doing that, because I lost data, settings, and installed programs from after that date.)

    After I had finally booted successfully into Windows, my first order of business-uninstall Rollback. I don't need more grief from it.

    I guess I'll go back to System Restore. If anyone knows of a better alternative, however, please let us know. (I wrote a post this evening to the Acronis forum here on Wilder's, in the wish list thread, recommending that they create a system restore alternative based on the "System State Backup" in True Image.)
     
  8. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

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    There is no way for you to see where Rollback stores data. It writes to sectors of the drive, and keeps track of them thru a sector table. Windows reads and writes are passed to that table and the disk via low level drivers.

    Pete
     
  9. bgoodman4

    bgoodman4 Registered Member

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    I just posted the following in another thread and it might help with your issue (if you are still monitoring this thread).

    I have been using GoBack for years and found that when i did a defrag I would lose all of GoBacks revert history. I found I was able to avoid this problem by using a defrag program called Diskeeper set to defrag the PC each time the screen saver came on. This meant that defrags were consistently very small and would (I suspect) in your case mean significantly fewer and smaller images and thus much less space usage.

    If anyone can correct me on this I would appreciate it.
     
  10. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

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    Totally different applications. The problem with go-back is the defrag represents massive disk activity, and Go-Back keeps track of all file accesss, so defragging runs everything thru it. GO back has a limited size storage space, and it operates on First in First out. So the defrag would wipe out anything there, so it turns it self off. (At least it used to).

    Rollback on the other hand, as has already been said stores data in sectors on the drive that only it keeps track of. Windows doesn't see these files, so neither will any other defraggers.

    Pete
     
  11. bgoodman4

    bgoodman4 Registered Member

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    Hi Pete, thank you for your reply. I do understand that they are different programs and have in fact experienced the loss of GoBack history when running a regular defrag. My experience however is that if defrags are run regularly GoBack will not lose its history. By regularly I mean whenever the system is not in use and Diskeeper allows for this. I had pretty much decided to purchase one of the newer programs such as RollBack Rx but have seen many comments in this forum that you have to disable, or even uninstall them before running a defrag. If you don't then you will quickly wind up with a full drive. This is definitely not something I want. Further, as the opening post to this thread has indicated, Rollback RX causes fragmented files that its own defrag utility does not correct. So what to do and how to go about it is an open question.
     
  12. Jo Ann

    Jo Ann Registered Member

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    Admittedly, I didn't read the op completely at the time or I would have asked jek1862 which specific RB file did his defragger find fragmented? Certainly it was not any of RB's snapshots because 3rd party defraggers can't even see those snapshots (not even Windows sees them)! Furthermore, RB's built-in defragger does defrag and optimize its snapshots. So as far as I'm concerned, your assumption (which I quoted) is invalid.
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2009
  13. bgoodman4

    bgoodman4 Registered Member

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    Thank you, point taken.

    As is often the case my assumption has turned out to be wrong. I do believe in being safe rather than sorry though so I tend to worry more than is strictly necessary sometimes. Mind you the times I am correct to have worried and the worry has saved my bacon were worth the times I was wrong and all I lost was a bit of time.

    Rollback here I come.
     
  14. Jo Ann

    Jo Ann Registered Member

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    The important point here is that you should be cautious about accepting ill-defined statements as fact.

    Next to my disk-imaging program, RB has been one of my most valuable utilities. It doesn't hurt to do a disk defrag before installing RB (that is actually recommended), but refrain from using any disk defragger when RB is enabled.

    There has been much written in this forum about using disk-imaging to faithfully capture RB (or EF) and all of its snapshots. I strongly suggest that you search for and read those posts.

    Good luck,
    JA
     
  15. bgoodman4

    bgoodman4 Registered Member

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    Hi again JA, I understand what you are saying but there were a large number of posts indicating that RollBack and defrag were problematic. Issues ranged from crashes to drives filling up, to fragmented files even after defraging. In fact most of the threads I read on the subject of roll back software at least had reference to these issues. A fair number of these threads were a number of years old so I made a point of finding a more recent one hoping that the software developers has resolved the issue and the result was this thread and from it it appeared that the problem remained. I think caution was reasonable. Its very difficult to know from the face of it if a statement is ill-defined or not, especially when there were so many other statements that were at least similar.

    I did a quick search for the threads you mentioned regarding backing up the RollBack archive but did not come up with anything. I will have to search more diligently but if you can put your finger on a good thread I would appreciate it. If not don't worry as I am sure I will eventually find an appropriate one.

    Thanks again for your guidance and help.
     
  16. bgoodman4

    bgoodman4 Registered Member

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    OK, I think this statement is what you are referring to regarding backing up the RollBack archive

    "You need to use a backup program that has sector by sector imaging if you want to be able to backup all your snapshots."

    The thread I got the quote from indicated that Acronis True Image would do this and I currently am using Acronis True Image but am using its default settings. Could I trouble you, or someone else, to tell me how I would tell TI to do a sector by sector image? I recall reading that RollBacks archive is not visible so I have no idea how to point TI to them so they could also be backed up. Mind you I would be using RollBack for that period between TI images so if I did not back up the RB archive I don't think it would be a problem (I am imaging with TI daily).

    Edit: I did some digging around in Acronis TI and found a check box for doing sector by sector imaging. The stated size of the back up went from 78 gigs to 180 gigs (the size of my drive). If I am backing up daily this will consume my free space rather quickly. Given that I am imaging my c:/ drive daily do I really need to include the RollBack archive. If so I think I will get a 2nd Terabyte drive and use it for the sector by sector backups (say) weekly and use the drive I have now for the daily backups. Does this strategy make sense?
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2009
  17. Jo Ann

    Jo Ann Registered Member

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    Nothing I have said questions or disputes those problems. However, those posts reference the use of 3rd party defraggers and not RB's built-in defragger (which is specifically designed to degrag RB snapshots).


    Please don't assume that an ill-defined statement is necessarily an incorrect statement. It simply lacks sufficient information to support its conclusions.


    There is no magical solution to those concerns (which are indeed real). However, here are my thoughts on this matter:

    First of all, you can create a normal or standard image from within Windows but that will only capture your current snapshot and doing so may result in a 'corrupt' MBR upon restore. Creating a sector-by-sector image (after booting into an external OS) captures everything and avoids the possibility of a corrupt MBR.

    You should seriously consider partitioning (or re-partitioning) your C-drive to a much smaller size, moving all My Documents folders to a D-partition. Doing that will result in major reduction of the size of ATI's system images (and the time to create those images)! For example, the C-partition on my family's PC is about 16GB which is more than sufficient for Windows + related system files, Program Files, and RB's snapshots. Using ATI, full (compressed) sector-by-sector images are under 12GB and differential (compressed) sector-by-sector images are never more than 6GB and often less than 3GB. This is accomplished by never using a 3rd party defragger with RB installed (only RB's snapshot defragger is used)!
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2009
  18. bgoodman4

    bgoodman4 Registered Member

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    Understood, rather I should say, now understood.


    Again, now understood.


    Now we are getting into stuff that is way over my head. To give you an idea of my limitations I am not sure what MBR stands for. I think it has something to do with the master boot record (whatever that is). I sort of get what you are talking about but only sort of. I recently had serious PC problems (Blue Screen of Death) due to what I later found out was corrupt memory. I had to have the OS reinstalled as during repeated restores from my TI backup and various trouble shooting attempts (check hardware, check drivers, etc) the OS became corrupted and I could not boot at all. Once the problem was diagnosed and corrected, and the OS was reinstalled, I used my TI image to reload the PC and all was well. I think what you are saying is that if I want to backup Rollbacks archive I should partition the drive, is this the only, or main reason? If I am not concerned about backing up RollbBacks archive would portioning still be a good idea? You also mention,
    I have no clue what you would be referring to here, it sounds like I would need to have a dual boot system or something. Again, way beyond my comfort level.

    PS: the current size of TIs backups are not an issue. I can get 4 weeks worth of daily backups (thats a full backup each Sunday and daily incremental backups until the next full one a week later) on my external drive. So I always have a full months worth of archives to draw on if the need should arise to go back further than a day or 2. Also, these backups are done starting at 3:45 am so its not like I am losing use of the PC while the backup is occurring. Frankly the idea of messing with the drive and OS to get the OS onto a 2nd drive makes me a tad queasy (well, actually more than a tad).
     
  19. Aaron Here

    Aaron Here Registered Member

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    If you are not concerned with the time it takes to complete a backup and the space it consumes then there's little reason to discuss partitioning any further (I'm sure Jo Ann would agree).

    As an ATI user, I trust that you have burned its Rescue CD; if not, you should definitely do that.. To explain what Jo Ann meant by an external OS, when you startup ATI's Rescue CD it loads an external OS (which happens to be Linux). That's necessary in order to run ATI to restore your system when Windows won't startup on its own (as well as for performing a complete backup of a system with RB installed). You must have that rescue disk and be sure it recognizes your internal and external hard drives!

    The most reliable way to backup a system with RB (or EF) installed is to do a sector-by-sector backup after booting up with ATI's Rescue CD. If you are content with just backing-up RB's current snapshot from within Windows, I strongly advise you to become more familiar with the MBR - especially with the ways to repair it (just in case)!

    Aaron
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2009
  20. bgoodman4

    bgoodman4 Registered Member

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    Hi Aaron, I do indeed have a Rescue CD and have used it recently with no problem. Also I assume that I was correct that MBR stands for Master Boot Record. I have no idea what this is other than that it has to do with the boot process. You suggest learning how to repair this and I have done a google search using the terms - how to repair the master boot record - and it looks like there are some good hits. Thanks for the suggestion and comments.

    Edit: I have done some reading and was wondering if its possible for me to simply copy my current MBR to a CD and then replace it if nec. I suspect an alternate solution would be to make one sector by sector backup using ATI and then I could if nec use it to get the system back up and then install my most recent TI backup to get the PC current again. Does this make sense? One other question,,,,if I upgrade ATI do I need to use the upgrade version to create a Rescue Disk or will the older disk be sufficient? Also would the old backups be usable with the new version of TI (I expect the ans to this last is yes but thought I would ask just to be sure).
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2009
  21. bgoodman4

    bgoodman4 Registered Member

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    I have been poking around the RollBack Rx website and came across the following

    I do not have an install disk for XP, the install files exist on the PC itself in a separate partition. In this case how would I be able to reset the MBR? Would the idea I posted above about doing a sector by sector backup of the drive with RB and its snapshots included (as would be the case when doing a sector by sector backup with TI) and then, if nec, installing this backup and then, once the PC is up and running, install the latest state backup to bring the PC current work?

    I am learning a lot from this process,,,,its a good feeling.
     
  22. Jo Ann

    Jo Ann Registered Member

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    It's too bad you don't have the Install CD for your PC, but that's really no 'biggie' as you can use ATI for just about any and every recovery situation. Imho those hidden recovery partitions (by Dell, HP, etc.) are worthless after you have removed those 'teaser' trials and have added new apps - because they return the PC to the state it was in when shipped (yuck)!

    Whenever you do a drive/partition backup with ATI it automatically backs up the master boot record (MBR). If you choose to restore the drive or partition, the MBR will also be recovered. Furthermore, with most versions of ATI you also have the option to only restore the MBR. So if you do a drive/partition backup with ATI before installing RB you will be able to recover your Pre-RB environment, including the original MBR, or you can choose to just restore the original MBR. Give this backup a name that clearly indicates that it is Pre-RB and save it forever! Btw, it's ok to create this backup from within Windows.

    Then after installing and activating RB, you can create ATI backups as you wish. If you have an MBR-related bootup issue after restoring any of those images, you can use your Pre-RB image to restore your entire Pre-RB system or just the original MBR. Note that should you have to do this, you will have to reinstall and reactivate RB.

    Hth,
    JA
     
  23. bgoodman4

    bgoodman4 Registered Member

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    Thanks a million Jo Ann, thanks for your insight and your patience. That goes for all who contributed, many thanks to you all.
     
  24. Supersnake

    Supersnake Registered Member

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    Am I correct in thinking that there is a difference between having "RB enabled" and having "RB enabled and taking a snapshot"?

    If that is so then defragging while RB is enabled should not cause any of the problems being described in this thread provided that you have NOT YET commanded RB to take a snapshot.

    Like just what does "RB enabled" mean? If it means that it is "ON" but not taking snapshots, why should that disuade someone from running their defragger? Then after the defragger is done take your RB snapshot. Isn't this the same thing as defragging your disk before installing RB?
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2009
  25. bgoodman4

    bgoodman4 Registered Member

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    Sounds reasonable but the publishers recommend not running 3rd party defragers once the program has been installed. I think it may have something to do with the defrager trying to defrag snapshots but I could be wrong about this. I would suggest that if the publishes recommends installing the program if you are going to do a defrag, and the re-installing it once the defrag is done, that there must be a good reason to do so. I think (and I am just guessing) that once RollBack is installed you are always running inside a snapshot. For some reason I have gotten this impression from reading different articles on the publishers website. If this is in fact the case then it might make more sense that a 3rd party defrager might have a problem with doing its job. Regardless there is a defrager within RollBack that the publisher says will defrag snapshots (perhaps this is why I have the impression that the system is running in a snapshot, it does not make a lot of sense to me to defrag a backup, you would only defrag an active drive ---- I think).

    Does this make any sense at all?
     
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