Validate TI 10 archive - 1 day 3 hrs???

Discussion in 'Acronis True Image Product Line' started by dlcrouch, Mar 11, 2007.

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  1. dlcrouch

    dlcrouch Registered Member

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    i'm testing TI 10 for backing up Vista. Have a complete archive 80 gb stored on a USB 2.0 drive.
    Built a recovery CD to validate the archive and it tells me 1 day 3 hrs to complete.
    Can this be right? Would a real recovery take just as long? i'm fixing to change my SATA drives to a RAID 1 mirror and plan to use TI to backup and restore my system drive but not if it takes over a day!
     
  2. bulldog356

    bulldog356 Registered Member

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    The timer function in True Image Home becomes more accurate the further along you get in the process. For example, at the very beginning TI warns that it will take 36 hours to complete a full backup of my computer. But shortly thereafter the time changes to 28 hours, then 27, 26...then 18 hours, 16 hours...and after a couple of minutes have passed I'm down to 28 minutes, which is just about right.

    To give an analogy: The further along in the season you get, the more a player's batting average is indicative of the kind of year he's having.
     
  3. normanm

    normanm Registered Member

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    I'm using A-10-Home, imaging about 16GB of data to an external HD via USB. It's a FAt32 disk so the program splits the archive into two files. When I validate, do I have to run the validate wizard on both files, or does it pick up the second part automatically. Thanks.
     
  4. seekforever

    seekforever Registered Member

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    Just pick one and it knows it is all part of the same archive.
     
  5. normanm

    normanm Registered Member

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    I thought so, Thanks.

    One of the things missing from this list is "best practices." Two issues: First, other than validation and mounting an image, there is no way to test whether the image is sound short of restoring it, and I don't have the disk space to do that, either on my system drive or my external hard drive. Am I missing another step? Is there ANOTHER way to test the image other than validating and mounting it, or is that enough.

    Two: I'm just curious how people use the program. I'm considering a twice a week image, making a Wednesday and Saturday backup location folder and keeping each current every week. I back up my data daily with Second Copy. And I'm going to load FDISR when I can get my head around its concepts.
     
  6. shieber

    shieber Registered Member

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    Validating from the CD or doing a Restore can take significantly longer than did the original image creation form within Win. And USB 2 is much slower than internal IDE or SATA. Best to do validations from within win if speed is an issue.
     
  7. normanm

    normanm Registered Member

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    Why would validating through the CD (Acronis OEM) be any more reliable than validating through the program (WIN running)?
     
  8. seekforever

    seekforever Registered Member

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    Because the environment you run with the CD is the one that must run to restore an active partition, typically the C drive (unless you are using BartPE). It is Linux, not Windows, and has a completely different set of drivers, a Linux verison of TI, and a different OS.

    Saying it runs in Windows and will therefore run in Linux is like saying my document prints correctly in Word so it should also in WordPerfect. It may, but ...
     
  9. normanm

    normanm Registered Member

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    Seekforever,

    I understand. Makes sense if you want to test your startup disk, make sure it works, make sure you can access the exterior drive that holds your archive. Clearly the disk must allow you to see that drive. But aside from this, if all you just want to do is validate/test/make sure that archive is not corrupted, is there a difference between booting the compter into Acronis and validating the archive from there versus validating the archive from within WIN?

    Seems to me you have neatly divided "testing" into two tasks and given me something else to consider. I have booted the Unix OEM disk but did not check to see if I can get to my archive from there, but I will now. Then, second, is to determine the "surest" way to validate the archive. Do I have this right?
     
  10. seekforever

    seekforever Registered Member

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    The method used to validate the archive is the same, calculate a checksum of the data in the file and then compare it to one that was calculated when the archive was built and included in the archive file. They must agree perfectly.

    So the methods are the same and to clarify my previous answer you should do the validation with the recovery CD to make sure it can see and accurately read your archive. After you have done this a time or two then validating within Windows is fine since you know the Linux rescue environment works with your system. If you change external HDs or make some other related changes then you should test the CD method again to make sure it is still happy.

    The reason I am hung up on doing a few validation tests as a minimum with the CD is the various reports that the "archive validated OK but now I can't restore it". For this reason, making sure you can validate in the same environment you need to restore the archive rather than Windows, should give a better level of confidence.

    Validating an image with the rescue CD is a pretty good test but the only sure one is to restore an archive to a spare HD and confirm it runs.
     
  11. normanm

    normanm Registered Member

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    Makes complete sense. Good advice. Thanks very much. Can you also describe your best practice: Do you image more than once a week and so forth? And do you happen to use FDISR as well?
     
  12. seekforever

    seekforever Registered Member

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    To determine the need for system backups you have to determine how critical your data is and what are the impacts if it is temporarily not available or gone forever.

    My PCs are used for personal use, not business so that eliminates a big part of the problem. I would not like to lose my photos, spreadsheets or documents but being without them for a day or two is not the end of the world.

    I carefully file away my purchased OS and Application CDs so I know where they are should I need them. Downloaded purchased applications like TI are often burned to a CD and filed with the other CDs but their main storage is on a HD on a system I keep all my data on. In some ways this is another backup for the OS/Apps. If you read this forum a lot you will get the impression that are a lot of people who have a lot of programs on their machines that they couldn't replace if they can't restore an image. When I download some usefull free utility that I want to use, I store the downloaded file so I can reinstall it later if necessary. Websites have a nasty habit of disappearing.

    If a PC caught fire I could bring its replacement back to life by reloading Windows and all the apps. Take some time but it can be done. In fact, when I buy a new PC I do just that as a refresher exercise in Windows and apps and to have a nice clean install.

    As far as the OS/apps go I make full images only and whenever I feel like I should. Like I said, this stuff is reloadable. My PCs have second internal HDs and I always image to them. Very fast and reliable and an ideal way if you want to image before testing and restore. So convenient and complete I do not use FDISR, or Windows Restore.

    My disks are partitioned into OS/apps, Games and Data. I don't want to waste time backing up other stuff just to do an OS/app backup. I really am not a game player but do have Flight Simulator, Train, and my wife has CSI etc. These files take a lot of space and hardly ever change. For that reason, I install them on a separate partiton and only need to image them once in a while to keep it current.

    Now we get to the real important files from the data perspective - the personally created photos, spreadsheets, etc. None of them are stored on the PC but on a "server" PC which stores all the datafiles and feeds my 2 printers. I do not like using a proprietary container file for my data files since some corruption in a critical place can render the whole archive unreadable. I use SyncBack Free (the are others) to make a mirror copy of the files and folders on a second internal HD in the machine. This runs in the middle of the night.

    I don't move My Documents etc to a different drive, I just don't use it other than a scratch area. If the file is valuable it gets moved to my folder structure on the server box.

    I don't move my email to another drive other. It gets imaged when C gets imaged but the principle backup is achieved by leaving copies on my ISP's server. I clean it up every now and then.

    You see that my principle backup media is a second HD in the PCs. This is very fast and convenient but it is only one backup and the PC could catch fire or get stolen. Having only one backup is not a good idea.

    I copy selected backups to an external HD from time-to-time - both images and copies of my mirrored data files. I actually use 2 USB HDs which I rotate rather than put machine A on one and machine B on the other. I often will copy an image to my server box which works well over a gigabit network. At larger intervals, I will make copies of images and data on DVD. All of my DVDs are made by burning the file from HD using Nero; I never use TI's DVD dircect-burning feature.

    I have DVDs stored at a friend's house in case of complete disaster. I told him if I come looking for them I was either robbed or the house burned down. I never clean up old images/backups until I need the space. It doesn't cost anything to keep them and if the lastest goes bad for some reason you have the one before.

    Do I think some of this is a bit over the edge? Yes, but it makes me happy. In one previous life I used to be a system manager and developed a strong appreciation for good backups. My friend remarked the other day I run my household computers like I was still at work. Guess I do.
     
  13. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

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    Good thread. I'll take the validation issue one step further. I am not sure at least to me it's worth the time, and in fact I don't bother. I have learned validating the image only proves it validates. What I do is mount it and see if I can extract a file or two. If no, bad image. If yes, then I restore the image. Not to a spare drive, but I flat restore the system. Now I know for sure the image is good.

    Ah but what if the image is bad. Good question. Thats where layers come in. I also use FDISR archives, and keep those refreshed very frequently. So should my latest image fail, no sweat, go back to an earlier one, and restore it.(remember it already restored once). I then use FDISR to get current.

    Ah but what if it's the first image, and I restore it and it's bad. Okay, this is where FDISR comes in. As long as I have a windows CD, or a recovery mechanism, I can get the computer backup. Once done, I can install FDISR and then bring myself current.

    Some points about this scheme. I do it because my backups are critical. Forget CD's or DVD's, you need another hardrive, internal or external. I also recommend simplicity. Don't use the fancy features, just image, and it will be more reliable.

    Pete

    One other point since it relates to the thread title. Acronis is no longer my primary imaging program. It has admittedly never failed to restore, but my faith in it isn't as high, and that is precisely because the timers are stupid and don't work right. They never have for me. Makes me wonder what else might be flaky.
     
  14. normanm

    normanm Registered Member

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    Thanks, seekForever. Appreciate the time. Got some good ideas from you.

    Peter2150: Makes me wonder what image program you ARE using?
     
  15. bulldog356

    bulldog356 Registered Member

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    Well, what a thread this has turned out to be.

    I have read, in this forum and elsewhere, that the only 100% for sure way to know whether a backup image is good is to restore it to the original disk (or partition) from which it was made. Everything else is a simulation.

    I actually do this from time to time (make an image and immediately restore it) as a way to check that True Image is working properly. This is no guarantee that all images I have will be good...I'm just checking to see if the program is working. You can also get a feel for how the program is working by reviewing the log.

    I used to use validation because...why not? But in TI 10 validation validates the entire Backup Location, which can take ages, so I stopped doing it.

    As for best practices, chacun a son gout. I really want only two things out of True Image: a full backup of my system partition and a full backup of my entire hard disk. The former happens every day (and sometimes more often, like before installing major upgrades) and the latter happens at least once a week. Yes, I know, I'm not using nearly all of the program's capabilities.
     
  16. shieber

    shieber Registered Member

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    sometimes the windows drivers can access the disk properly and validate an image but those damnable linux drivers on the boot/recovery CD won't -- you don't want to find that out when you are trying acrucial restore. So you need to see if the boot cd can deal with the disk and the file. Best test is to do a an actual restore to a spare drive.

     
  17. normanm

    normanm Registered Member

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    The more I seek reassurance, the more this thread seems to fill with caveats. Some thoughts: What the above implies is that a spare test drive is essentail if you want imaging to be your failsafe. It also reflects the the degree of uncertainty here among regular contributors about Acronis. Some swear by it, others hint, or come right out and say, it's not reliable. Perhaps, to sum things up, there are no "best" practices, just best efforts. On a practicle note, I'd ask Shieber: If you find the OEM boot Unix unreliable, do you use BartPE Bootable with the Acronis plugin and is that more reliable?
     
  18. seekforever

    seekforever Registered Member

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    I understand your interpretation but I think the message is the best practice is to stringently test your backup/restore mechanism and to do that with confidence requires making a restore.

    This is not perculiar to TI but is exactly what you have to do with any backup program. Where I used to work new versions and updates, not even a different backup program, would be tested by running backups, restores continuously for days not hours and when the new version was put into service it ran parallel backups with the old system for a while until there was complete confidence.

    TI has its Achilles heel and that is the Linux recovery environment - it may not contain proper or adequate drivers for your hardware. The imaging component either from within Windows or from a working rescue CD is excellent. So the testing must include testing the rescue CD. Once you verify that your hardware works with the rescue CD and you can do a restore there should be a high level of confidence. My only failed validate was due to a marginal SATA cable which brings me to another observation, your hardware has to be totally reliable. This isn't surprising, why would anybody assume you can read/write the entire contents of your disk reliably with bad hardware.

    The more TI functions like incrementals, differentials, backup locations, secure zone, scheduling, Files and Folders backup, email backup, application settings backup that you use the more testing you have to perform. For the way I work most of these features are not worth the bother but that doesn't mean they don't have their use for someone else.

    My view on the BartPE CD is that it is a great workaround when the TI CD won't support your hardware. I have no more confidence in a restore performed with it than with one done by the TI CD after testing. IMO, it takes longer to boot up and needs to be inserted in the drive to run. You can run the TI recovery environment if Windows is still running without inserting a CD which is very handy when restoring a system after testing.
     
  19. bulldog356

    bulldog356 Registered Member

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    "...It also reflects the the degree of uncertainty here among regular contributors about Acronis. Some swear by it, others hint, or come right out and say, it's not reliable."

    You'll read the same about any backup solution. Heck, you'll read the same about any significant piece of software.

    This forum is one of several reasons I'm loyal to True Image. It's been a great benefit to me.
     
  20. seekforever

    seekforever Registered Member

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    A very good point that can be added to, "people rarely post to a forum when everything is working fine".
     
  21. normanm

    normanm Registered Member

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    I've learned more here from a week's worth of posts and replies than from the manual. (In fairness, the manual is not that bad.) Got the program installed, made a couple of images. I have an external HD that I'm going to partition into two partitions, one big enough to hold the restored image as a test. (I take it I can simply restore the image to any parition on any drive as long as the partition has enough the space; other considerations?) I'll test the OEM CD tonight to see if it can see the drive where the image is stored. And as a backup I'll use BART to make a PE boot disk. Thanks again for all the comments and advice.
     
  22. normanm

    normanm Registered Member

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    A quick report and a quick question.

    Report: AH10 running fine. Following the practice of many here, I backup manually, twice a week to a USB external HD. Then, using the AH10 OEM disk, I boot into Acronis/Unix and validate/verify the image. Then back into windows and I mount the image. Straight forward and enough peace of mind. Next is FDISR. Meanwhile....

    The Question: I wanted to make a BartPE Acronis boot disk as a backup, but with a Dell Reinstallation CD of XP Pro SP1 this is neigh on difficult, if not impossible. I've read no less than three sets of instructions, tried it twice. Something always goes wrong.

    Then I realized that from work I can get my hands on a XP Pro SP2 disk and use that to make the BartPe/Acronis Boot disk. I think I know the answer to this question but I wanted to double check: Does it make any difference that I'll be building the PE disk with a WIN install disk that will have a different serial number and activation code? It shouldn't, should it? Thanks again.
     
  23. mustang

    mustang Developer

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    You will need the FixDellXP plugin to add the files that are missing from the Dell Recovery CD. I have modified the Guide to include a link to the plugin.

    It doesn't matter, but there are legal issues. You need to own the disk in order to legally use it for a BartPE source.
     
  24. normanm

    normanm Registered Member

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    Thanks very much. I'll give it another try.
     
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