Using Archive Snapshot for the 1st time (questions)

Discussion in 'FirstDefense-ISR Forum' started by Birdman, Jun 13, 2008.

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  1. Birdman

    Birdman Registered Member

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    I've been using FD-ISR for about a year now (saved my butt numerous of times). I have 2 backup "snapshots"....one that is updated every other day and the second that is updated weekly.

    I have never considered using an ARCHIVE snapshot until now. What is the best way to go about this? From what I understand, it's recommended to store "archive" snapshots on a separate drive in case of hard drive failure.

    I have an external hard drive that I would like to store my archive snapshot in....bur I'm not sure how to get started and what's the best/recommended way to approach it.

    -how many archive snapshots should I create (is 1 enough?)

    -is it recommended to update them as you update programs/files/folders/etc (or should a NEW archive be created each time?)

    -what's the general way to restore an archive snapshot on a NEW systen hard drive (install Window OS, then FD-ISR software, then copy archive from ext. drive to system drive, then boot to archive snapshot?)

    Any tips, suggestions, insight regarding this feature is greatly appreciated. Thanks.
     
  2. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

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    Let me tell you what I do, and it may answer some of your questions.

    On my c: drive, I have one snapshot, which is everything. I don't partition. I then have a second snapshot, which is stripped to the bone.

    On a separate drive(either internal,external, or both) I keep an archive of both snapshots. You could maintain other archives of different system configs if you so desired.

    In normal use, I will update the primary snapshot any time I am going to change something. Done by doing a copy/update to the archive. Then if I need to undo the change, I boot to the second snapshot, and do a copy/update from the archive to the primary snapshot, and then boot back to the primary.

    I rebuild the archives about once every two to 3 months.

    On the clean windows install you are right. I would install windows, then FDISR. Then I would restore the secondary archive creating the second snapshot. Boot to the second snapshot, and restore my primary snapshot from it's archive, and then boot back to it.

    To get started, open the FDISR gui, go to Tools>options>archives and set the location for your archives. You can put archives in multiple locations by changing the setting here. Then you are good to go.

    Pete
     
  3. beethoven

    beethoven Registered Member

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    Why do you rebuild the archives ? Something I have never considered but knowing you, you must have a good reason :)
     
  4. farmerlee

    farmerlee Registered Member

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    How many archives you create and how you update them really all depends on you and your needs. Personally i usually only keep 1 archive of a basic windows install for emergency purposes. I usually update it once a month when microsoft releases its windows updates for that month. I store that archive on a write protected flashdrive so its safe and easy to access.
    The restoration method you mentioned would work however i don't use fd-isr to restore a system to a new drive, i use trueimage as its a lot quicker and i'm an impatient person :).
     
  5. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

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    ROFL. Yes. Like a lot of database files, as you add stuff they grow, but when you delete stuff they don't shrink. They get like well fragmented. What you notice is on a fresh archive, when the copy finishes, the time spent finalizing is seconds. But over time that finalizing time keeps growing and can get to be several minutes.

    When that time gets to be a few minutes, I just delete the archive and rebuild it.

    Pete
     
  6. wilbertnl

    wilbertnl Registered Member

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    Hello Birdman,

    Your topic is actually interesting for starters and veterans in the FD-ISR area.
    As usual, you decide what works best for you, so anything said is intended as a suggestion.

    I like to think of archives as "prepared installations", like frozen dinners that you heat in the microwave.
    I have one archive that contains just Windows right after installation, and when I create that archive I modify the FD-ISR settings to exclude the account folders (for example C:\Documents and Settings\wilbertnl). The effect is that when I restore that archive I start with clean account settings.
    I do like to keep that archive up-to-date, concerning security hotfixes, so my procedure is to restore that archive to the second (or third...) snapshot and boot into that frehsly restored snapshot. Then I apply the security updates.
    When finished I update the original archive (excluding account folders again)
    This archive gives me the option of easy and fast "start-over".

    I also have regular archives (meaning that user folders are not excluded and all account settings are saved in the archive) for specific purposes. For example an archive with test settings, or with games, or just the daily installation.
    What I like about the archive feature is that I'm able to prepare any kind of installation that interests me and I'm able to restore to that installation without much effort.

    In any case, if I decide to update/upgrade any archive, I follow the same procedure: 1. restore, 2. boot into, 3. update/upgrade 4. update archive.

    The amount of archives is only limited by storage space.

    Hope it helps.
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2008
  7. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

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    ROFL. I love that description. Hope Todd see's it.

    Pete
     
  8. stapp

    stapp Global Moderator

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    Birdman as a FD-ISR user who hasn't even half the knowledge of people here I would like to add a couple of things.

    You plug in your external and use the fdisr gui to choose the location of your archive and then it's just as if you are making another snapshot really, only it's called an archive. You can have as many archives as you want. I have 2 at the moment (one pre SP3 in case it went pear shaped) and delete and redo them every few months because of the 'finalizing' wait Peter mentioned.

    I update mine once a week from my primary. Everyone has it they way that suits their needs

    To restore an archive to primary (if say you had primary, secondary and an archive,) you would plug in your external and boot to secondary and from there using the gui you would update primary form the archive. You do it this way because you cannot update a snapshot if you are in it already.
     
  9. Birdman

    Birdman Registered Member

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    Thanks to everyone for their insight and input. I just tried to create an archive and I ran into some problems. It only copied about 4.03 GB of the 12.16 GB and I received a box with a red "X". I checked the activity log and there were 104,000+ errors.....saying "there is not enough space on the disk."

    I tried it a 2nd time and once again, it copies fine up to 4.03 GB then ALL errors after that point.

    My external drive is formatted to FAT32....could this be the reason why it wouldn't finish?

    Not sure IF I did something wrong or not, but here's what I did.

    1) In the extenal drive, I created a folder called "FD_ISR" to store my archive snaspshot

    2) In FD-ISR > options > archives......I set the location to "E:\FD_ISR"

    3) While in Primary snapshot.....I selected "copy update snapshot" option > selected "secondary snapshot" > selected "New archive" for destination option and clicked NEXT.
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2008
  10. stapp

    stapp Global Moderator

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  11. ErikAlbert

    ErikAlbert Registered Member

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    Birdman,
    You did right, but FDISR only understands NTFS, nothing else. So format your external HDD in NTFS. Easy to do with Windows.
     
  12. Tony

    Tony Registered Member

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    You start to get the errors once you get to 4gb as FAT cannot save files larger than this so you will have to format as suggested to NTFS or partition the drive and format the new partition to NTFS and save your archives there.
     
  13. wilbertnl

    wilbertnl Registered Member

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    Tony is correct, the problem is file size limitation of FAT32.
    You could try to export a snapshot and split the file in parts that are smaller than 4 GB.

    export.png

    Another disadvantage of FAT32 is that it doesn't support NTFS file compression...
     
  14. Birdman

    Birdman Registered Member

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    I use my 320 GB external drive for another purpose and it needs to be in FAT32 format for that reason (also don't have any extra $$$ to go out and purchase another one right now). However I only use about 200 GB of that drive and I was hoping that I could store an archive snapshot or two in the remaining free space.

    Can you please tell me how to export a snapshot and split the snapshot/file in parts < 4 GB?

    Might this cause a potential problem when it comes to restoring a snapshot? Also how will the restoration process work when a snapshot is in multiple files?

    Has anyone tried this before?

    Thanks.
     
  15. wilbertnl

    wilbertnl Registered Member

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    Look in the menu under Tools / Export snapshot.

    Since the exported file ís going to take a lot of space, I would consider other options too:

    1. Would it be possible for you to repartition the external drive into a FAT32 partition of 220 GB and a NTFS partition of 100 GB? And then store the snapshot archives/exported archives on the NTFS partition?

    2. Would it be possible to export the snapshot to a file on your NTFS system disk and after that compress the file in <4GB segments?
    (For example with Izarc)
     
  16. Birdman

    Birdman Registered Member

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    I think it's possible. Would I need some software to do this or can this be done through XP?

    That probably sounds like the best solution. Interesting. I have WinRar. Will this work?

    Thanks.
     
  17. wilbertnl

    wilbertnl Registered Member

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  18. wilbertnl

    wilbertnl Registered Member

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    It turns out that my archiver is able to browse to the archives folder of FD-ISR. Which means that I would skip the step of exporting and create a multi-volume compressed file right away.

    My guess is that Winrar is able to do the same, I used 7-zip for this tiny test.

    7-zip.png

    dir.png
     
  19. Birdman

    Birdman Registered Member

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    From all accounts, WinRar will do this. Just so I got this down correctly....

    1) create an ARCHIVE of my snapshot and store it on my current OS partition

    2) using WinRar, I create a multi-volume compressed file of the archive snapshot/file.

    -so if my total snapshot size is 12 GB, should each file size be split to 3 GB (4 total)....or is it best to go smaller (but more total files)?

    3) after archive is split and compressed....I take the Rar zip file and store it on my FAT32 external hard drive.

    Does this sound about right or am I missing something here?

    Also in order to restore an "archive snapshot"....I unpack the file back to a particular FD-ISR directory/folder (in order to boot to that snapshot from the FD gui) OR is this NOT how you restore an archive?

    Thanks for your help wilbertnl.
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2008
  20. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

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    I don't believe you are going to be able to ever boot to an archive, just restore it.

    Also a thought. If you are going to depend on the archive to bail you out of a tight spot, then to me this is a risky maneuver. While it might work, you are messing with the archive, and it could cause problems. If you need to really depend on these archives, bite the bullet and either format the drive to ntfs, or get a new drive and do so.

    Pete
     
  21. pandlouk

    pandlouk Registered Member

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    Hi Birdman,

    Since I use the export/import feature all the time I think that I can help with this.

    1st. You do not have to use winrar or other archive or splitting programs. It is time consuming and as Peter said in chase you need the archived snapshot you could encounter problems.

    2nd. There is no need of buying a new external hard disk and you do not have to create an NTFS partition. The export/importe feature of FD-ISR work perfectly on fat32.

    Lets make an example:

    1. Select the "export snapshot" point to a folder of your external disk, check the option "split file into parts". (better leave its size to the default 2048mb). You just created an archived snapshot of your system.

    2. Now for the difficult part (when you want to update your archived snapshot).
    Select again "export snapshot", point to the already archived snapshot, check again the option "split file into parts" and select the exact size of mbs you had selected when you created it the first time (this is the reason why I suggested to leave it at the default 2048mb). Now your archived snapshot will be updated as it would a normal snapshot.

    3. In chase that there are a lot of changes and they do not feat in the splitted files FD-ISR will ask you to point to the medium where you have stored you archived snapshot.xxx file.
    Just create a new text file in the folder of the archived snapshot and rename that new.txt to the archived snapshot.xxx file that FD-ISR expects to find. And the update will continue normally. I have done this a lot of times and it always worked without any problem. :D

    Hope it helps,
    Panagiotis
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2008
  22. osip

    osip Registered Member

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    Am I missing something here...I have an external fat32 drive, no problems to export archive, you have the split option inside FDISR which will be seen when clicking export...
     
  23. wilbertnl

    wilbertnl Registered Member

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    Thinking some more about it, I suggest that you change the location of the archives to a folder that is easily accessible for you (as opposed to inside the protected C:\$ISR folder structure):

    archive.png

    That prevents future problems with decompressing the multi-volume archive.
    The size of each part is only determined by your storage media. Would you decide to store an archive on CD, that means a maximum size of 700 MB. In your case of the FAT32, your size should be 4096 MB or less.
    Why not configure winrar to store the multi-volume archive right away on your external disk? Works probably faster.

    You would restore a multi-volume winrar archive by decompressing it to the same folder where FD-ISR expects it's archives.
    After the FD-ISR archive is restored, you need to load that into an existing or new snapshot in order to boot from it. (Peter is right about not being able to boot from an archive)

    No, you are not missing anything, but FD-ISR archives are by design not compressed (it uses NTFS file compression), so on a FAT32 file system it takes 60% more space.

    NTFS.png
     
  24. Birdman

    Birdman Registered Member

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    Hi pandlouk.

    Thanks for your help. For this step, can I just "export" an existing snapshot or do I need to specifically create an ARCHIVE snapshot and then export it?

    Also what is the proper method of restoring an archived snapshot back to a clean/fresh hard drive? Do you install windows OS > install FD-ISR > "import" snapshot from external hard drive to new system hard drive?
     
  25. pandlouk

    pandlouk Registered Member

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    You 're welcome :)

    You can export directly the snapshot. FD-ISR treats active snapshots and archives the same way.

    Yes. First you install windows then, FD-ISR and then just create a new empty snapshot (or you can let FD-ISR to initiate the creation of the secondary snapshot; just interrapt it after copying a few mbs). Then use the import snapshot feature to update your secondary snapshot and you are done. ;)

    Panagiotis
     
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