Testing your software

Discussion in 'Paragon Drive Backup Product Line' started by BillyDick, Jul 28, 2013.

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  1. BillyDick

    BillyDick Registered Member

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    I have been using Backup & Recover for about a week now and am quite impressed with your software.
    As free software, Backup & Recover offers much more than even some of the commercial Backup and Restore software (Mount as a drive, just click on the .PBF to restore files, Partition utilities, etc.)
    Even though I'm happy with B&R so far, the thing that matters most is; Will it recover my C: hard drive to a working state from a disaster like a hard drive crash?
    In order to get a warm and fuzzy feeling about B&R, is there a way to test the software so I will feel confident that it will get me up and running after a disaster?
     
  2. seekforever

    seekforever Registered Member

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    Good question and even better, you are asking it before disaster strikes and you really need to restore.

    The short answer is that the absolute best test for recovery is to install a spare HD and do a restore then boot up the restored disk and take it for a test-drive. It should be a spare HD because one of the first things that happens in a partition restore is the partition gets deleted. A restore failure after this would leave you with unallocated space.

    The free version recovery environment is Linux and it may not work on your machine usually because of driver issues most commonly on newer hardware. This is another reason it is essential to test the recovery. Users create their images in Windows and think all is fine but it is not Windows you are running when the restoration is done.

    To be safe, images should be verified after creation but this does take extra time. After you verify a few images you will have more faith in your system. It is possible for an image to fail if it gets written on a bad part of a drive. The verify would pick this up. They can fail after successful verification if the drive they are on develops a problem - I had this happen. For this reason you should always have more than one image; I had to go back about 3 before I found one that would work (bad sectors developed). It also points out the need for more than one backup device to be extra secure. People that backup very important data have a system of rotating backup devices, off-site storage, etc.

    If you aren't able to go the spare disk route then the next best thing is to:

    Boot up the Linux recovery CD and create an image. This demonstrates the recovery environment will load, can see your devices and can create the image on the target device.

    Verify the image using the Linux CD version. This demonstrates you can successfully access the image, read it into RAM and successfully recreate the numerous checksums placed in the archive when it was created. If only 1 of the checksums is bad the verify will fail. This stage may uncover problems you didn't even know existed on your PC such as some bad RAM locations.

    If you can't successfully verify with the Linux version you must correct the cause.

    This isn't quite as good as doing a complete test restore and bootup with the spare drive but it is pretty good.

    After you know you can do the above steps, and wish to verify for extra safety, you can do it in Windows. Note that a lot of Paragon users don't bother to verify and failure rate is low because modern hardware is reliable but it is not the safest approach.
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2013
  3. BillyDick

    BillyDick Registered Member

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    seekforever;
    Thank you for your reply.
    I don't have a spare hard drive, but I have the next best thing; an Asus Windows 7 laptop.
    I figured that the recovery environment is Linux, so it won't care what version of Windows is on the machine.
    The laptop was purchased in case our internet connection went down and I could go to a cyber cafe to continue my business, so it was a good candidate to test B&R.
    Well, the good news is I performed an image backup from the Recovery DVD, verified the image and restored the image, all from the Linux environment.
    The restore went perfectly. The laptop booted normally and everything is as it should be. I ran Windows 7 Disk Management and everything looked normal.
    I have a question though!! In your reply, you advised that the image be created from the Linux Recovery CD. Is the image created the same with the Windows GUI? It is most probable that if I have to do a restore, it's because Windows won't boot, so if the image is created from Windows Task Scheduler and I use the Linux Recovery DVD to restore, will I have the same success?

    Also, I asked in a previous thread if you guys had CD image's for the Linux Recovery CD for both the CD case and the CD. I hate to write on the CD/DVD.
     
  4. seekforever

    seekforever Registered Member

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    If I understand your post correctly, you did the test with the portable computer and it worked. You have proved that it works on that machine, it does not guarantee that it will be the same experience on different hardware. Paragon distributes the software believing it is a good product and by and large it works for the vast majority of people but there is no guarantee it works on every PC. You need to do some tests on the actual machine to be certain.

    The image created with the Linux has the same properties as the one created in Windows so that will not be an issue.

    My intention of having you create it from the Linux CD is to ensure the Linux boots and you can see your devices right away as the first test. Normally, you would image in Windows which tends to be faster and a lot more convenient.

    Note that there are people who prefer to boot up the CD (either the free Linux or the WinPE from the paid product) and make their image that way, the idea is that it is dealing with a static drive and is less likely to screw up. There are very, very few problems reported by imaging within Window so I wouldn't worry about it. The technology has been around a long time.
     
  5. BillyDick

    BillyDick Registered Member

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    You understood correctly. I restored the laptop to it's original configuration.
    I guess what I'm not understanding is "You have proved that it works on that machine, it does not guarantee that it will be the same experience on different hardware."
    Is it newer motherboards, graphics cards, dvd writers, wireless cards, etc. and associated drivers that determines B&R's success or failure?
    Will it/should it work on an older xp pro sp3 machine?
    I have 2 xp pro sp3 machines that I'm going to test B&R with next and just wanted a heads up.
     
  6. seekforever

    seekforever Registered Member

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    The general problem is that the Linux provided does not support your hardware for some reason. Usually it is a missing driver but it can be something down in the guts of the kernel.

    So the Linux may not boot or it may boot but not see all your devices which is usually a driver issue. The Linux recovery environment as provided does not let you add drivers. The paid Paragon allows you to make a WinPE recovery disk after doing some downloads from MS that typically has much better driver support to start with but will also allow you to incorporate a missing driver.

    The Linux issues are more likely to happen with very new hardware just because the drivers haven't been included yet. If your systems are mature there is less likely you will have a problem.
     
  7. BillyDick

    BillyDick Registered Member

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    Thank you for your candid and truthful reply.
    I booted my xp pro system with the Linux Recovery disk, created an image and verified the image.
    I feel fairly confident that if I have a problem, B&R will come to the rescue.
     
  8. seekforever

    seekforever Registered Member

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    I think you'll be fine.

    The other thing you've achieved in your testing is that you are now more familiar with the program and know how to use the recovery version rather than trying to figure it out in panic mode when the disk has died.

    Like I said earlier you asked the question about testing at the right time - before you really need to do a restore.
     
  9. BillyDick

    BillyDick Registered Member

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    Here's an interesting problem!!
    As I reported in this thread, I used the Linux Recovery CD to backup and restore an Asus Laptop.
    But, when I clicked on the Paragon Backup & Restore icon on the laptop to do a GUI backup, after a few seconds, I received an error message that reported the Western Digital My Passport 300 GB USB drive had encountered an I/O error and gave me 3 choices to either ignore this error, ignore all errors or cancel.
    I had no choice but to cancel and fire up Win 7 Disk Management and do a disk check which found nothing wrong.
    Fired up Paragon again in the hopes that the diskchk has fixed what was wrong, but to no avail. Paragon continued to report it had found an I/O error.
    Perhaps you could enlighten me as to why the Linux Recovery CD had no problem with the WD drive, yet the installed program found I/O errors.
     
  10. Robin A.

    Robin A. Registered Member

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    Different environments, Windows and Linux. Different drivers.
     
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