TIH 10 - how to auto blank DVDRWs on sheduled backup?

Discussion in 'Acronis True Image Product Line' started by Cyaegha, Apr 25, 2007.

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  1. Cyaegha

    Cyaegha Registered Member

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    The company I work for is on the verge of recommending Acronis True Image Home 10 to clients for their backup needs. I'm trialing it now and I can't seem to find a way for it to automatically handle rewritable CD/DVD media without prompting the user.

    I want to schedule a data backup of several folders to DVD-RW discs which will be rotated throughout the week. However once the disc has data on it, next backup TIH complains that the media is full, spits it out and asks what to do.

    I was thinking I could script a third party app to blank the disc prior to backup using the pre/post command system, but it would be much cleaner to have TIH handle the whole process for me.
     
  2. Tatou

    Tatou Registered Member

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    With respect I wouldn't be advising clients to rely on RW CD/DVD as the prime method to back up material especially using a cycle of RW on the same disks. TI is very unforgiving with errors in files that need to be restored and multiple handing of a series of disks provides a lot of opportunity for damage or the wrong disk to be erased.

    My comments are not made as a expert in this field but as someone who had stored data on a lot of RWCDs at one stage and suffered the consequences of being unable to read some files off at a later stage (not using True Image at that time).

    TI has worked very well for me with HDs both internal and USB.
     
  3. DwnNdrty

    DwnNdrty Registered Member

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    Even if you got the automatic erasing to work, you're assuming that the entire backup will fit on just one dvd. Otherwise you'll need user intervention anyway to feed in the next dvd. Another hard drive, internal or external, is really a whole lot better to use.
     
  4. foghorne

    foghorne Registered Member

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    It is questionable IMHO to store primary backup data on any optical media, however if you really wanted to increase the risk stakes against you being able to restore a backup, then using erasable disks which are being rotated will do this for you.

    TI backups will not restore if they have even a single bit error. The file has to be perfect. Optical disks are notoriously unreliable, the disks need storing and managing and require human presence in order to do a backup. Eraseable ones which are being reused are prone to increased wear and tear and scratch damage.

    If your reputation depends on this DR solution I suggest you use an external disk for primary backups.

    F.
     
  5. Cyaegha

    Cyaegha Registered Member

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    Ok, no one has answered my question, maybe I wasn't clear on the intended use of this product.

    I know the risks of using optical media for backup. This solution is not for business clients, more for home and small office clients with barely 2 gig of data to backup. The type of people who would rather not backup at all than fork out for a proper solution like the Iomega REV drive we sell to business clients. We take the precaution of making sure the client has a set of at least five discs and rotates them daily, then replaces them in a couple months. We make sure that every backup is a full backup and if the data grows to larger than a DVD, we push them to get a real backup solution. I know the deal with optical media, this solution is by no means our preferred backup solution, rather a "just give them something so that we don't have to spend days trying to recover data from failed HDDs". Some clients will not spend the money on a more ideal solution.

    Also, I don't consider an external HDD to be much better than the optical solution. It inevitably ends up getting left plugged into the machine and most of the scenarios for needing a backup can effect that drive at the same time.

    What I did not know was that ATI is sensitive to bad files, I'd almost be better off using RAR files with a recovery record. We generally supply DVD+RW discs, which have better error handling anyway.
     
  6. DwnNdrty

    DwnNdrty Registered Member

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    Now that we have more details ......
    Perhaps the old UDF format of a dvd where a dvd can be treated like a giant floppy, might be the answer. Would the clients be willing to delete the previous backup file via Windows Explorer before starting a new backup?
     
  7. Cyaegha

    Cyaegha Registered Member

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    That can be scripted and added to the pre/post command section. Does UDF bring any reliability benefits? because I can script a command line app to erase a DVD before backup, no problem. I was just wondering if I was just missing the option for ATI to do it for me.
     
  8. foghorne

    foghorne Registered Member

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    This will likely end in tears. Good luck, it is not a sensible way to go IMHO.
    Optical is fine for secondary backups, but to use it for primary backups is risky in my experience.

    Well that's your judgement, and good luck with it. I have used both optical media and external/ internal drives over about five years of using TI and the difference seems to be significant, especially in respect of avoiding single bit errors. On top of that, I would have thought that the fact that you cannot carry out an unmanned backup with optical media would have been a good reason alone. When I provide backup solutions for clients, I find there are huge benefits from keeping them out of the loop. The computer does its own backing up.

    If you are not backing up an entire system partition (e.g. just application files) you would probably be better with XCOPY or something similar. Once again this is easier to do if you are not using optical media as your target.

    F.
     
  9. Cyaegha

    Cyaegha Registered Member

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    Well if I were to supply a backup solution that involved backing up to a HDD within the machine, or sitting on top of it. Then the client calls me saying there was a fire or they were burgled, how would I sound when I told them that ALL of their data was gone, the solution I provided hasn't protected you from some of the major reasons we do backups.

    Now I'm not saying that this optical solution is fantastic, I'm sure I've already commented on this. I just don't understand using secondary HDDs for your main backup. If I were to do that I'd be using Drive Snapshot anyway.

    Maybe I'm missing the point. What would you suggest I recommend to the tight-arse clients who don't really want to spend anything on a backup solution? I might be able to get $99 by them, but much more than that might be pushing it.
     
  10. foghorne

    foghorne Registered Member

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    Yes your point is well made, and it is a fact that you cannot keep clients totally out of the loop. You have to make them responsible for carrying backups off site and plugging them back in each day, and arguably they may have to get involved in managing the secondary backups. However this is different to involving them in the regular primary backup itself for which there is no good reason to involve anyone other than the computer.

    I agree, some clients want a backup solutions for free. At the end of the day all you can do is ask them to decide how much their data is worth to them and offer them the options. There is even a place for the SZ solution, but I prefer not to recommend it. The underlying key to this for me is managing expectations. I will move hell and high water to ensure that if a client has a crappy cheap solution, they know what they can expect from it. This is not only fair and reasonable, it keeps unneccesary come-backs when the **** hits the fan because they have lost value data and were too tight to take the necessary precautions in the first place.

    F.
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2007
  11. CatFan432

    CatFan432 Registered Member

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    I've had excellent results from the Western Digital Passport external USB drives. They are relatively inexpensive, good capacity, small in size, and run off the USB power, thus needing no separate power source. In the not too long run they're less expensive than buying new optical disks on an ongoing basis. I'm sure there are other brands available. As far as getting clients to backup, if reason doesn't work, beats me.
     
  12. foghorne

    foghorne Registered Member

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    Nice point about ongoing costs - this also applies to RW disks, but it would take a brave or mad person to use them in first place IMHO.

    F.
     
  13. DwnNdrty

    DwnNdrty Registered Member

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    It seems to me that those clients are downright lazy or they need to be educated that they need to expend some effort in their backup protocol to make it work. After all it's their data.
     
  14. foghorne

    foghorne Registered Member

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    Not to mention some money.

    The recommended way of choosing a lock for a bicycle is to spend 10% of the cost of the bike. This way you don't overspend when it is of relatively little value, and you get a high quality lock when it is of greater value.

    In a similar way clients need to be educated that there is a cost to backing up their data, but that cost is proportional to the value they put on the data.

    F.
     
  15. LordPhantom

    LordPhantom Registered Member

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    Hello All,

    Just read this interesting discussion, and thought I would add my 2 cents worth;

    In general, when selecting a backup solution for a client, one tries to find a single solution that will achieve as many of the following, within the constraints of the clients budget;

    Offsite - The media must be able to be removed from the premesis.
    Redundancy - Media should be inexpensive enough to justify at least 5 copies.
    File History - Key data should be have multiple revisions available for restore.
    Automated - The backup should occur overnight without user intervention (beyond inserting the correct media)
    Headroom - The media should provide enough free space now to accomodate future data growth.

    The decsision wether or not to backup the entire system partition comes down to cost; Backup of the entire drive is handy, but you need a larger capacity device, and most of those solutions aren't suitable for the client to restore data from. Even reinstalling a machine from scratch is not a huge job for techs who do it every day, and storing an image of the installation before the machine goes into service makes that even easier.

    The fact that ATI will fail to restore anything if there is a single bit error on the media is a failing of ATI, not of optical media. Hard drives are prone to bad sectors over time, so you would have the same risk using an external drive, but it would be exacerbated by the fact that you only have one; With optical media, they are cheap to replace, so you can buy new ones every 3 months, and archive the old set. Plus, you have at least five of them, so even if one fails, you just go back to the one before.

    This brings up a good point about backup reliability. Any backup solution that will fail to restore with a single bit error is not a good solution. I have configured many backup software to store the backup file by file on the media rather than in a compressed file, just for this reason. If ATI does not have this option, I would not reccomend it.

    Further to the idea of only having one backup with an external drive, some of you will retort that the external drive is the "primary" backup, and that there should also be a "secondary" backup. Obviously none of you work with end users providing solutions for them. If you did, you would realise that 80% of users are completely hopeless, and make all manner of assumptions. The obvious assumption they would make in a "primary/secondary" setup as has been suggestioned, would be that the primary backup was all they needed, and most wouldn invariably stop rotating the secondary media. As Cyaegha mentioned, then the place burns down or theives steal the equipment, and they have no backup.

    So, it turns out the best solution for clients with lower data backup requirements is re-writeable DVD media, which gives them plenty of space, cheap, removeable media, and a single solution which one can hopefully have them maintain. I have setup backups to DVD media for hundreds of clients, and have never seen a faulty backup. That doesn't mean there won't be one, but it does suggest that using good quality drives and media gives you a solution more reliable than some on this forum would have you believe.

    While I accept that at the end of the day the user is responsible for their data, it is our job as solutions providers to do everything we can to ensure the clients data is safe; That is what they pay us for. Only after we have taken all possible action on their behalf, do we get to say "I told you so".

    Finally, I would question the usefulness of these forums; Cyaegha asked a simple question, and as yet nobody has answered it! Perhaps I have just perpetuated this by responding as I have, but I think we should stop discussing backup schemes and instead try helping each other out.

    LP.
     
  16. foghorne

    foghorne Registered Member

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    Well yes and no. It depends on whether you want a verbatum copy of what you backed up, put back on your disk. The problem here is that the disk has let you down, not ATI. It is possible to recover data by mounting a corrupt image, but I don't necessarily agree that it should unconditionally allow restoration from a failed disk.

    I don't think it is anywhere near equal. This is based on my experiences with ATI with both disk and optical media over quite a few years. To be specific I have seen 1 external disk go down in five years. I have had scores of problems with (branded) DVDs and CDs especially RW ones.

    There is some truth in what you say here, however this failure mode is the same as (say) only using a single brand of optical media and then discovering them to be all faulty or incompatible. The real answer here is to rely on neither alone and to backup to different media.

    This is a problem I agree. I handle this as I pointed out by managing their expectations and ensuring they know where their responsibility lies and where mine ends. This has sqeezed me through OK so far :)

    It's not the backup which is the problem it's the restoration. Do you get all your hundreds of customers to test the DR solution by doing a restoration of each backup. Unless you do you can conclude nothing.

    F.
     
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