Shadow Copy Cloner

Discussion in 'backup, imaging & disk mgmt' started by pajenn, Mar 4, 2011.

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  1. pajenn

    pajenn Registered Member

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    i recently came across Shadow Copy Cloner (SCC for short) and thought it interesting enough to post my initial impressions (i'm running the 30 day free trial now, the price is ~$20). this is not a proper review, just a FYI:

    Basic description:

    Small program (1.73 MB installer and the installed version isn't any bigger). Uses Windows VSS* service (volume shadow copy) to make a copy of your system partition to another hard drive (preferably an external HD). The copy is uncompressed, so no need to mount it to explore it. That is, it's as if you copied all of your system partition to an external hard drive with copy/paste, except it also naps the locked files and you can keep working while it makes the backup. The initial backup is slow, but subsequently SCC just updates it fairly quickly (like a differential backup, except the differences are copied into the original backup). To restore the backup, you have to boot to a separate environment (e.g. Ultimate Boot CD, BartPE, any WinPE or linux i presume... but there's no special boot CD/iso included with SCC) , and then you just copy the files in the backup over the current files in your system partition with any copy/paste tool, or more likely you would just copy the differences using something like Fastcopy (freeware). Special feature: SCC can also make the target HD bootable assuming it's compatible with your computer. i.e. in case of hard drive failure, you could in theory remove the failed hard drive, plug in your backup drive, and boot your computer from it immediately without a need for further restores.

    *About VSS: Most commercial backup programs offer the option to either use VSS (if available) or their own proprietary "technology" (e.g. PHYLock in the case of Image for Windows). In my experience VSS is faster, but less reliable in the sense that in some systems it's just unavailable, and in others it's available 90% of the time, but occasionally something causes Windows to fail to register the shadow copy so you have to reboot to get it to work. I use Drive Snapshot for 90% of my backups and I have it set to "always use VSS," which generally works fine on my normal Windows, but fails from some WinPE builds, or from various stripped down performance editions of Windows, or even from regular Windows if it's been in use for a long time and I've managed to twist it up somehow (not unusual for me).

    Performance:

    I'm running SCC on my laptop (details in sig). The backup unit was a 2 TeraByte WD My Book external hard drive with encryption enabled and USB 2.0 for connection. I split it into two partitions; 45 GB partition for SCC and the rest for everything else. My Win XP/SP3 system partition is ~42 GB of which about 15% is free at the moment.

    The initial backup took VCC about 90 minutes while Windows was running but my laptop was otherwise idle. In comparison, Drive Snapshot manages a full (compressed) backup in about 20-30 minutes. Both used VSS. I've used SCC several times since then to update my initial backup; each time it took under 10 minutes, which is pretty fast for my system. Drive Snapshot is even faster in differential mode if the system changes are minor, but a defrag can really throw most imaging programs off.

    In terms of restores, I did manage (unintentionally) to put my system into a BSOD cycle (unrelated to SCC). I recovered from it quickly by copying (or syncing) my SCC backup over the system partition (c:\ ). No more BSOD.

    Opinion:

    SCC is too limited or specialized in functionality to serve as a primary backup tool imo, but it might make for a sweet secondary backup solution provided that (external HD) space is not an issue. I cannot imagine many people creating backups on HDs compatible with their computer, unless they upgraded to a bigger HD and ended up with an old HD that has no other use, but in those rare cases, I think SCC might be very convenient.
     
  2. MerleOne

    MerleOne Registered Member

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    Seems to be the Mac philosophy here (backups are file-based, not sector-based). This reminds me also of XXClone.
     
  3. pajenn

    pajenn Registered Member

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    I wasn't aware of XXClone as a backup tool (I vaguely remember that the free edition was often included on various WinPE disks for the purpose of migrating a system from one hard disk to another). I took a look at the website and their product looks very similar to SCC, but more mature. Also I cannot tell from their site if XXClone uses VSS or their own proprietary technology. (I filled in the form for a 30-day trial version but have not received a reply [download instructions] yet and it's been over a day).

    Attached is a pic of SCC which shows pretty much all the available options and settings (it just finished updating the system partition backup to an external drive so others can see what files it skips). The second pic is of the Tools tab.
     

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  4. MerleOne

    MerleOne Registered Member

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    I have a rather bad experience with XXclone, I remember that the copy of a XP system partition I made once was not bootable. Maybe I missed something in the process, but I do prefer tools that work, without the user paying attention to every detail.

    Let us know how it works with SCC ! Thanks.
     
  5. pandlouk

    pandlouk Registered Member

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    A free alternative is ShadowCopy from Runtime software, but does not have synchronization ability.

    Panagiotis
     
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