ShadowProtect - Image Numbering

Discussion in 'backup, imaging & disk mgmt' started by ErikAlbert, Jun 15, 2007.

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  1. ErikAlbert

    ErikAlbert Registered Member

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    I'm still trialing ShadowProtect, because I still don't have a serial number since I bought it on 2007.06.08, that is SEVEN days ago. :rolleyes:

    The numbering of images is like this, if you use SP under WinXPproSP2 :
    1. The user chooses an image NAME, for instance "Data"
    2. Once the backup is executed, SP adds automatically "-b" and a number from "001" till "999".
    3. And an extension, for instance ".spf"
    So the full image name = "Data-b001.spf" and the variable part is the number "001".

    The trouble is : where does SP get that number, because the LOGICAL ASSUMPTION is that the LATEST image has the highest number, but that isn't true in practice, when you do changes in the backup jobs or scheduled backup jobs.
    The Recovery CD doesn't seem to number at all and use the name "Data" only.
    This creates a MESS, because images aren't sorted properly anymore.

    Since it creates a mess, you have to use another method, that works for :
    a. Recovery CD AND
    b. SP under Windows AND
    c. Backup jobs AND
    d. Scheduled backups.

    My suggestion is :
    1. The user chooses an image NAME, for instance "Data".
    2. Once the backup is executed, SP adds automatically "-" + "YYYYMMDD" + "-" + "HHMMSS".
    3. And an extension, for instance ".spf"
    So the full image name = "Data-20070615-170206.spf"
    A 24-hour-system and leading zeroes in month, day, hour, minuts and seconds are recommended to keep a good sort order.

    I hope the Recovery CD is able to read the system date and system time.
    I can read both in the CMOS features of the BIOS Setup and that is the right date and time, no matter where you live.
    If I can read them, the Recovery CD can also read them.
    Any BETTER ideas o_O :)
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2007
  2. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

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    Erik

    When I first started with shadow Protect I felt the same way you do. However at this point I can tell you this nameing convention isn't going to change. If you play with incrementals you will notice you now have Data-b001-i001.spf. Then the incrementas will change the i001 to i002 etc. This was designed this way to work with the fast incremental ability shadow protect has. Early on I raised the same issue with them. That was before I played around with scheduling and increments. I can tell you, it isn't changing.

    In short, your options are work in the recovery environment if you don't need incrementals and you can do what you want with the names, or work in the desktop, take advantage of the fast incrementals using schedules.

    Pete
     
  3. Rilla927

    Rilla927 Registered Member

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    Hi Fellows,

    Is the 3.0 of the SP Desktop out yet?

    I went to their site could swear there used to be a place to log in d/l your purchase and I can't find it.

    They don't list the version # at the site either.
     
  4. ErikAlbert

    ErikAlbert Registered Member

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    They can number incrementals also this way :
    Data-20070615-170206-i001.spf
    Data-20070615-170206-i002.spf
    Numbering incrementals is normal, because of the used backup method.

    I prefer to do my backups under Windows, which is much faster.
    I only need the slow loading Recovery CD for restoring the system partition.

    I don't like incrementals either, because they are not independent, full backups are independent.

    Now I'm stucked with 3 different numbering methods :
    - one that doesn't number (Recovery CD)
    - one that starts with the number "001", no matter what the last number is.
    - one that starts with the last number + 1
    Fantastic solution. :rolleyes:
     
  5. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

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    Hi Rilla

    Not yet on Version 3.0

    Pete
     
  6. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

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    Erik

    I didn't used to like incrementals, but since I've started working with them, they've been fine. Also you can collapse them.

    Re the numbering. It's no where's near as simple as you think. The numbering system is integral to the software and how it keeps track of dependancies. You can come up with hundreds of alternatives, but they are wasted keystrokes. It isn't going to change. You might actually try setting up a weekly schedule and trying the incrmentals and then test them. You might discover you actually like them.

    Pete
     
  7. huntnyc

    huntnyc Registered Member

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    @Erik,

    Make sure when you load Recovery CD, you set the Timezone from options on left so your dates will be matching correctly.

    Gary
     
  8. ErikAlbert

    ErikAlbert Registered Member

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    You like incrementals, I don't and I'm certainly not the only one.

    Re the numbering. I like to hear that from a programmer first and you aren't one.
     
  9. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

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    Erik, certainly a programmer could tell you it can be done. What I am telling you is they have told me it isn't going to be done.
     
  10. ErikAlbert

    ErikAlbert Registered Member

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    In that case the image numbering will suck forever in ShadowProtect.

    I can't use that numbering as a reliable source for choosing the very last image during a restore. I can't even change the numbering or turn it off.

    Also naming images in the Recovery CD is difficult : it uses a QWERTY-keyboard, instead of an AZERTY keyboard.
     
  11. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

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    Not sure that makes sense to me. If you can tell by the name when you include the date in the name(which is what I do) then why can't you tell the same thing by the date the file is created. You can see that when you select a file for restore.

    Also you can let a schedule run taking some incrementals. THen collapse them into an image with the name of your chosing.
     
  12. ErikAlbert

    ErikAlbert Registered Member

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    Why would I do it manually when a computer can do the job ?
    What you are doing manually is what I'm suggesting to do automatically, including the time, because date is not enough to make a unique name.

    Besides this is just a setting in options, where the user can vote for a numbering that sucks or a date/time.
     
  13. Rilla927

    Rilla927 Registered Member

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    Thanks Pete.
     
  14. ErikAlbert

    ErikAlbert Registered Member

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    I don't understand why I have to do this either, because the right system date and right system time is already available on my computer. I can see both in the BIOS settings before the Recovery CD loads itself.

    This Recovery CD is just good enough to RESTORE images.
     
  15. grnxnm

    grnxnm Registered Member

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    Erik,

    I'm going to have to come back to this thread and read it carefully. I just don't have the time right now. I'm finishing up a couple of remaining tasks for 3.0. The fact is that the image file numbering system is not set in stone and we could modify it if it makes sense to do so. In fact if you rename your image files you'll find that ShadowProtect is still smart enough to know which files belong to which chains. A cursory glance at this thread seemed to indicate that you want the creation date/time in the filename. I don't understand why, really, as these values are stored as part of the file's metadata within the filesystem. Also, yes, if you boot the recovery environment in a timezone other than Pacific (Redmond WA's timezone) and if you are restoring backup images and care about the creation time then you should just click on the menu item/ task panel item that lets you set the time zone within the recovery environment. Certainly ShadowProtect can read your system clock, but unfortunately when IBM spec'd out the BIOS forever ago they didn't include anything for timezones, so there's no way for WinPE to know your timezone unless you tell it. Also, relating to timezones, I can tell you that the Vista-based WinPE environments have a bug that causes your system clock itself to shift time if you alter the timezone, so that after you boot back to your normal windows OS you have to reset your clock. I still haven't figured this one out. I found a couple of things that were wrong with the default WinPE configuration from Microsoft, but fixing them still didn't resolve that issue, so for folks that do alter their timezone within the Recommended recovery environment there is the annoyance of having to reset your clock back to the right time when you boot your normal windows volume. I'm sure we'll fix it, but right now 3.0 is a higher priority. I understand Symantec's BESR has the same bug, by the way, but it really boils down to a fundamental problem with the Vista-based WinPE and it might be that only MS can fix this one.
     
  16. ErikAlbert

    ErikAlbert Registered Member

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    The main reason why I want date/time is that images are sorted properly : the last image = the most recent image.
    Now I have to look at the creation date in Windows Explorer first to know for sure, which is the last image, because that is important to know when you restore an image, because you can't depend on the image-number.
    I also will verify, if the creation date is mentioned on the approperiate screens of ShadowProtect and I wouldn't be surprised if this date isn't mentioned at all.

    I had a situation where image-b002 was my last image, while I had these other images :
    - image-b017
    - image-b018
    Image-b018 was supposed to be the last image, not image-b002.
    Quite confusing and this means, I can't depend on the numbering anymore.

    If you use date/time you don't have that problem anymore, because the images are ALWAYS sorted properly and the last file is ALWAYS the last image, no matter what the user does with backup jobs and scheduled backups or using the Recovery CD.
    Date and time is ALWAYS right, the image-numbering is NOT and when users don't know this, they might even restore the wrong image and they probably won't even notice it, because changes are sometimes too small.

    I find this all so NATURAL and LOGICAL, that I don't even understand, why I have to defend myself.
    Even Peter renames his images MANUALLY to get the DATE in the image-name. So already two users have a problem with the image-numbering. :)

    PS : I'm trying to get a serial number from StorageCraft since 2007.06.08, that is 14 days ago and I paid with a valid visa card. What's the problem ? :)
     
  17. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

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    Actuallly Erik, since i've left the scheduled job running taking 15 min incrementals, I just let SP do it's numbering, and with the sorting and timestamps in windows explorer, it really to me is a non issue.

    Pete
     
  18. ErikAlbert

    ErikAlbert Registered Member

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    That doesn't change anything to me. The numbering doesn't work properly in ShadowProtect and incrementals have nothing to do with it.
     
  19. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

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    No, they work properly the way they were designed. Just that you don't like the design, and thats okay.:D
     
  20. EASTER.2010

    EASTER.2010 Guest

    I proceed with this assumption, that it is Logical as well as orderly IMHO to invoke images via DATE/TIME via the program itself and not totally dependent from Window explorer so that's also a choice i would support.

    I also have encountered confusion in numbering systems with other programs of the same nature, but not tested SP specifically myself just yet. It is my own opinion also that it would be beneficial for the user to evaluate from exactly what point/date in time an image was created in a set pattern in that manner and not neccessarily have to determine from an arbitrary/random numbering system. Something to consider.

    I do have to applaud all the efforts going on in SP's v.3 development. Eagerly awaiting like everyone else how this image app will fair on release.

    Best Of Luck

    Thank You For Your Attention
     
  21. ErikAlbert

    ErikAlbert Registered Member

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    grnxnm,
    I checked the Recovery CD and although you can't see the creation date and time in the list of images, you can see the creation date and time in the detail screen. So if you don't know which is the last image, you have to check all detail screens until you have the right one.

    The list contains only the name of the image file, an extra column for the creation date and time, would make it alot easier to find the last image, than checking all these details one-by-one. A sort on creation date and time would be nice.
    In case you have doubts about the time : the time is required because an user can do more than one backup per day and in that case the date is not enough to identify the right image file.

    With all the technology of today and many computer languages, the results are rather poor in practice.

    If it is too difficult for your computer department, forget about it and give me the serial number of my ShadowProtect, which is more important to me. I can live without date and time, but without serial number, my SP will be dead very soon. ;)
     
  22. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

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    Guys

    It's a non issue. I take 24 incrementals a day on my one machine. No problem. Erik. Fire up the recovery CD. Start thru any wizard where you get the list of images you have. It will probably just list the files. Up at the top of that window is the little box just like in windows explorer where you can change from list view, to icon view, to detail view. Click on detail view and it will give you the columns showing the date and time of creation. Like in explorer you can also sort on date/time. Problem solved.

    Pete
     
  23. grnxnm

    grnxnm Registered Member

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    Within the recovery environment, use the file browser (not the image mounter) to browse the files and IIRC you should be able to see all of the file creation date/times in the detail view of the directory listing. This should help you to quickly locate the last-created base by date/time.

    I do see what you're saying now, about the numbering. It does make sense too, frankly, that the next base image should have a number that exceeds the largest base number in the target directory. I think the current code simply tries to find the next available base number and uses it. So if you have B1 and B2 in your directory, but you then delete B1, the next time a base is created it will see that B1 is no longer being used and it will reuse that number, making a new B1 which in fact was created after B2. I can see why this would be confusing if you don't ever refer to the actual file's creation date/time.
     
  24. grnxnm

    grnxnm Registered Member

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    Ah, good point Pete, I didn't think of that. In fact that's probably a better method than the one I suggested.
     
  25. ErikAlbert

    ErikAlbert Registered Member

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    In our computer department we have a general rule : "Always DISPLAY the information on the screen, the user needs to know at the right moment."
    Your solution requires at least 4-5 mouse-clicks to get that information and it doesn't even remember the settings. Next time I have to do these settings all over again.
    Are computers not created to make things easier for users or do you like it, when easy things aren't easy anymore ? :)
     
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