ShadowProtect: Simple schedule seems hard to create

Discussion in 'backup, imaging & disk mgmt' started by RadicalDad, Nov 23, 2008.

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  1. RadicalDad

    RadicalDad Registered Member

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    I'm doing the 30 day trial of SPD, but I can't seem to create the simple backup schedule I want. I've read the manual. Its long, obtuse, and contradictory in places. I'm hoping the software isn't this hard to use. The continuous incremental schedule that is available is overkill for what we need, and needlessly ties up computer resources.

    I want to create daily backups. I'd like them NOT to run on a schedule, as we often work in the field and cannot guarantee that a laptop or desktop will be on at a certain hour, or have the USB backup drive attached at that hour. We can manually run the backup as we leave the office.

    On Mondays, the backup should be a full backup. On the other days, the backup should be an incremental.

    On Mondays, the backup process should automatically delete the old backups (full and incrementals).

    When the backup is finished, the machine should shutdown.

    This process needs to work on USB drives swapped out in rotation. Each Monday a "new" USB drive will be used for the week's backups. The "old" drive will go to an offsite storage location as disaster recovery protection.

    I would like the task for fulls and incrementals to be a single task. Training my employees is an issue here. This needs to be simple. If they have to choose between full and incremental, it will be confusing, and probably not done correctly - or at all. This needs to be a no-brains affair.

    Can SPD do this? Perhaps I'm just dumb, but I haven't had any success in creating this kind of backup job for SPD.

    Thanks for any help.
     
  2. grnxnm

    grnxnm Registered Member

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    You can accomplish that exact objective like so (assuming you're using version 3.3):

    First, using Notepad, create a file named sdown.cmd in C:\ with just this single line of content:

    shutdown -s

    When we're configuring the backup job, we'll tell it to run C:\sdown.cmd after a backup is finished (instructions will follow) which will cause the machine to shutdown.

    Now create a new backup job (first delete any of your existing backup jobs - you don't need them) with the schedule type "Weekly" and in the backup wizard's schedule page, under the "Full backup" group, check *only* the box for Monday and specify a time after work hours at which it will not inconvenience anyone if the machine shuts down (because you stated that you want the machine to automatically shut down after it takes each backup). For instance, you could perhaps set the time for the Monday full backup to occur at 7pm or 8pm. Next, under the "Incremental backups" group on that same page of the backup wizard, check all of the days other than Monday and set the Start time to 7:00pm and the Stop time to 7:01pm. This will ensure that one incremental backup will be taken on each day (other than Monday) at 7pm. Now advance in the wizard to the options page and click on the Advanced button and set up a retention policy in the Retention tab of the Advanced Options dialog by checking the box to "Enable a retention policy" and set the "Number of most-recent backup image sets to retain" to 1 and then check the top radio/round button to "Delete both the full and incremental backup images in the set" and finally check the box to "Enforce policy before starting the next full backup". This retention policy will clean up all previous image file sets on your USB disk before it takes the next full backup. While you're still in the Advanced Options dialog, switch to the Commands tab and add the following text to the "post-backup" command (NOTE - set this for the "Post BACKUP" command, *NOT* the "Post SNAPSHOT" command - the Pre and Post Snapshot commands you should leave blank):

    C:\sdown.cmd

    Click OK on the Advanced Options dialog and then finish creating the backup job with the default options (you can add encryption if you like).

    With the above configuration, the instructions you would give to your employees are these:

    Every Monday (it doesn't matter when, as long as it's before 7pm), safely detach the USB backup drive by left-clicking on the USB tray icon and left-clicking the "Safely Remove USB Mass Storage Device - Drives ( X: )" menu item that pops up (Where X: is actually whatever drive letter is assigned to your USB disk). Once Windows tells you that the drive is safely detached you can unplug it. Next, plug in this new week's USB disk and make sure it's powered on (if it has external power). It's critical that they unplug the last week's drive *before* they plug in the new week's drive. At no time should they plug in both drives at the same time because this will cause the new drive to get a different drive letter and so when they unplug the old week's drive, the new drive wouldn't automatically have the same drive letter as the old drive. Just make sure they unplug the last week's drive before plugging in the new week's drive and you should be fine. The key is that the drive letter of the old drive, and the new drive, need to be the same, so that the backup job will find the drive when it tries to save the backup.

    That's it - swapping the drives is all that they have to do. Everything else is automated by the schedule. They don't need to go into the ShadowProtect GUI to tell it to make a base, or an incremental, because the job is automatically schedule to do it each evening.
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2008
  3. RadicalDad

    RadicalDad Registered Member

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    grnxnm -

    Thanks for your very complete reply.

    I had not realized that the retention policy referred to backup sets. I was doing incrementals expecting SPD to delete the files and start over with a full when the total number of files (full + incrementals) was exceeded. Thanks for the clarification. I'm guessing that many others are confused by this. You might want to make this more clear in the documentation and in the wording on the retention tab in future versions.

    I also had not realized that having an existing backup job on a volume limits your options for creating additional backup jobs on the same volume, even if the other backup jobs are disabled. You might want to clarify this in the documentation as well. I'm not sure why this restriction exists - seems rather arbitrary. Its not a problem for me, but I can see where it would be for others.

    Thanks for the tip about the shutdown command. Hadn't seen that one before.

    The schedule you outlined works fine for the desktops, but won't work for the laptop users. When they take the laptops home or work in the field, there is no way to guarantee that, at any set time, the laptop will be on, an USB drive plugged in, and the user won't be working on it. I can schedule the backup for 3 AM so that the machine won't try to run a backup at an inappropriate time, but the manual process doesn't work as I would expect. You can manually Execute (Full), Execute (Incremental), or just Execute. I would expect that Execute would do incrementals when it sees valid fulls and incrementals, but instead it always functions as an Execute (Full). There appears to be no difference between Execute and Execute (Full). This is a potential confusion for my users. (Unless there is something else I don't understand). You might want to take these issues into account in your next version.

    We have one machine that does music content creation in real time. I note that SPD loads some extra processes at boot. That has a tendency to create dropouts and other operational problems for this machine. (We don't connect this machine to the net, it has no firewalls, anti-virus, etc.) Is there a way to backup this machine without these processes loading?

    Finally, to continue testing, if I request the full evaluation version, do I have to download and re-install, or is there some way to simply turn the eval copy I have into the full evaluation version?

    Again, thanks for all your help.
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2008
  4. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

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    Hi RadicalDad

    Did you actually test this. I let it run on one my machines, and I never feel it. The incrementals take on average 7-10 seconds. The collapse at the end of the day takes very little time. It provides all the backup's needed and runs unattended.

    Pete
     
  5. grnxnm

    grnxnm Registered Member

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    Sorry for the delayed response. My participation on Wilders is erratic. The additional processes are necessary. If you stop them, you will have problems. However, the processes themselves are not the problem (as they are entirely idle when no backup is occurring). The problem with your audio dropouts is much more likely to occur if a backup is occuring during content creation. I suggest you alter the backup schedule so that backups don't collide with the time you guys work on new content. Your trial version is actually the full evaluation minus the recovery environment. The only thing that you get with the full evaluation (over the trial) is the recovery environment .ISO.
     
  6. ambient_88

    ambient_88 Registered Member

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    Would you mind explaining to me how to collapse the incrementals (at the end of the day and/or weekly)? I read the help file, and it is confusing me. The screenshots in the help file does not match the one in the program, so that's where the confusion starts.

    Thanks!
     
  7. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

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    Sure. Oops. My first answer didn't answer the question. If you are talking manually, in the GUI, select the backup Image tools. There you can combine, split, and do other neat things on existing images. If you are talking Continuous increments, first I have to ask if you have image manager installed.


    Pete
     
  8. ambient_88

    ambient_88 Registered Member

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    Sorry for the late reply.

    Anyway, I am currently using the weekly schedule (with incrementals). I wasn't sure how the continuous incremental work; if you could explain that to me also, that would be wonderful. And yes, I do have the Image Manager installed.

    Thanks!
     
  9. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

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    Okay,

    First open Imagemanager It will say not connected at the top. Click File>Connect to Server. You will need the password you created when you installed it. Then click Connect. Then click new and enter the directory where you will have Shadowprotect store the incrementals. Enter the time you want to begin collapse. I set this to 15 minutes after the last incremental. I set minutes between collapse operations to 15. I set the minimum days as follows: Icremental to 1(the minimum) Daily to 30 and weekly to 90.

    I have both boxes under removal policy unchecked, so I don't keep each day's incrementals. Just the daily. Once this is down click file>exit.

    Then open SP. Under the Wizards select backup,Next. Select the drive to back up. Select the location for the backups. It must be the one specified in Imagemanger. Give your backup the name you want. I am original and use Desktop. Then click next. On the backup schedule screen tick continous incrementals. I leave the schedule as it is shown. I change the start time to 9:00 am because that works for me. and I set the stop time for 3:45. You can make these times what ever you want, just make sure to coordinate it with what is in Imagemanger. I change the minutes between to 30 minutes, and I do use VSS. I leave options blank. On the wizard summary I check execute now and click finish and bingo a backup job is running. If I do it now, I will also see the next time for the job is 9:00am tomorrow.

    One caveat. If you have an auto defragger running in the background shut it down. If you defrag, then next incremental will be big. If you decide you want to do a defrag, and other maintenance, go into SP and stop the job. When I do this I also clean out everything from the folder where the backups are stored.(Note before doing that I will do a manual full backup which is stored elsewhere) Do your maintenance, and then rebuild the SP job. As long as nothing changes you don't have to mess with image manager after the first time.

    Questions?

    Pete
     
  10. ambient_88

    ambient_88 Registered Member

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    Thank you so much! I now have a better understanding of how ImageManager works.
     
  11. Aaron Here

    Aaron Here Registered Member

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    Pete,

    I am 'trialling' SPD 3.3 and have a couple of questions re Image Manager.

    1) Do you know if it conflicts in any way with EazFix or Rollback Rx?
    2) Is it installed when SPD is installed or do I have to do it by running the program's setup in the Start menu?

    Aaron
     
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2008
  12. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

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    Relative to 1, I don't know. I think to image successfully, you have to collapse all the Rollback snapshots back to baseline.

    2. There is a separate cmd file on the CD for imagemanager. Install SPD first then imagemanger. When you do you need to pick a password. Pick an easy one.

    Pete
     
  13. Aaron Here

    Aaron Here Registered Member

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    Pete, I probably wasn't too clear in #1. I wanted to know if there's reason to suspect that installing SPD' s Image Manager on a system with EF/RB might crash the system.

    Also, it's my understanding that Image Manager permits (and schedules) collapsing of SPD's incremental backups. Does Image Manager serve any other purpose?

    Aaron
     
  14. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

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    Ah. To the first, I don't think so. Shouldn't be a problem. You are correct on 2nd point.

    Pete
     
  15. Jo Ann

    Jo Ann Registered Member

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    Aaron,

    As an EF/RB user why do you even want to install SP? As I'm sure you know, the Boot CD is what you need. Btw, several months ago I used an SP Boot CD (evaluation version) to backup and restore my laptop's system partition with RB installed (I did that a few times). The backup and restore worked perfectly on each of those occaisions and SP performed those operations even faster than DS (to my big surprise)! Needless to say I was very impressed, but since I already had an investment in DS and as the SP Boot CD could not even recognize the HDD on my family's PC, I decided against buying SP.

    JA
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2008
  16. Aaron Here

    Aaron Here Registered Member

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    Hi Jo Ann,

    I've been asked to eval SPD for the office - where EF/RB isn't being used (although it's being considered). I was thinking of installing SPD on my personal laptop so that I could run it at home. I was asking Pete about Image Manager because I didn't want to install it if it was similar in action to Acronis Security Zone/Manager as my laptop has EF installed on it.

    Aaron
     
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