Whether or not to use an Acronis Secure Zone?

Discussion in 'Acronis True Image Product Line' started by marmoset, Dec 30, 2006.

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  1. marmoset

    marmoset Registered Member

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    Hi, I'm new to both the TI software and these forums. I've been doing my best to read up on the Help files and forums for a definitive answer to this question but wasn't able to find it, so I thought I'd post the question myself.

    I have two internal drives, C and D. I'd like to create a backup image of C onto the D drive. Should I do so within an Acronis Secure Zone on D, or just in a regular partition (and why)? Are there any advantages to using the Secure Zone on a 2nd internal drive, or am I making this more complicated than need be?

    I would imagine a possible advantage to using an ASZ would be if a virus on C was nasty enough to find the D drive and corrupt it too. But having such limited ability to view the contents of the ASZ -- through the Restore Data Wizard -- seems like the main disadvantage to using it.

    Thanks in advance,
    Chris
     
  2. foghorne

    foghorne Registered Member

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    The secure zone can give you automatic archive management (i.e. if you keep creating images, once it fills up it will try to expire the oldest one to make space). However I understand this feature is built in as standard to V10 using backup locations, and in any case is doable using multiple/alternating scheduled full and incremental backups.

    Because it uses a non-standard partition type the secure zone can obfuscate data from users. This is a mixed blessing since whilst it prevents users from accidentally deleting backups, it makes it harder for an admin to see what backups exist.

    The secure zone allows users with one disk to be able to backup without needing access to a second one. This is supposedly useful to laptop users, but I'm not sure why since USB access to a second disk is usually doable. In addition (and IMHO) it is somewhat folly to encourage users to backup to the same disk as their source data, as a disk crash will loose the lot. Not only that, if saving to the same disk is needed as an ad-hoc measure to get an image made (say before moving a disk elsewhere) then you can save an image onto its own partition anyway.

    Two other points, it is possible to use the secure zone in conjuction with the startup recovery manager to be able to boot your way to a restoration. Because this involves ATI installing its own boot loader this is something I don't do - I prefer to use the Rescue Boot CD.

    There is a feature called snap restore which allows you restore whilst you are working :blink: . This relies on the secure zone for images as far as I know. Again not something I would personally be interested in.

    Just to balance things a little, there are some credible forum participants who are serious about disaster recovery and who *do* use the secure zone because it works for them. Hopefully they will chip in to this thread to give you a more rounded view of the secure zone. For me personally, I don't find it offers me any added value.

    Using a second disk drive is the way to go (whether or not you use secure zone actually), but you will have to decide whether or not its 'features' are ones which you need. I suggest you create a SZ on your second drive and see how you get on.

    F.
     
  3. Long View

    Long View Registered Member

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    With the hardware you have I can see no reason to use Acronis Secure Zone - really designed for those with one drive.

    I like to keep things simple - full images only to another drive or partition. easy to build up a number of images deleting older ones as you go - easy to keep track of system images and data images.
     
  4. Xpilot

    Xpilot Registered Member

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    As a long term user of the Secure zone to store backup images on a second internal drive I will set out the advantages and disadvantages as I see them.

    1. Nearly all Windows normal processes cannot even see the secure zone so it is less likely to corrupted by something going wrong. This could be a fumble factor,an infection or other cause.
    This does not make it totally fire proof but then what is?

    2. The zone manages images on a FIFO basis and this management of full images fills my requirements perfectly.

    3. Combining image scheduling with the secure zone means that a user need have no further input to the process once it is set up.

    4. Images do not have to be named. They are automatically given a date and time stamp so any particular backup can easily be found.

    5. Just like any other HD backup the images can be explored or mounted and data files and folders can be copied to wherever required.

    The main disadvantages that some users might find a problem are:-

    1. A complete image cannot be copied or moved elsewhere. The workaround is to restore it to another location. That is what I do and I regard a restored drive as being worth more than a thousand images.

    2. Secure zone validations are in the literal sense a waste of time. When a validation is run, as well as the current image, all previous images are revalidated.
    The workaround is not to validate but restore instead, see 1. above.

    3. The start up Recovery Manager. This does not have to be used thank goodness!

    In conclusion.
    If you have one or more spare hard drives that you can bring into the backup/restore process a secure zone is quite a good vehicle to get you there.
    If you want to rely on multiple images in different locations for security then a secure Zone is probably not for you.

    Xpilot
     
  5. marmoset

    marmoset Registered Member

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    Thanks everyone for the speedy and detailed replies. To respond to a few points...

    Long View, yours is the road I was starting to head down myself -- full backups to my 2nd drive without using a Secure Zone. I sort of wanted to hear it from someone else to make sure I wasn't missing anything. ;)

    foghorne, I'm basically on the same page as you. I prefer the idea of a Rescue Boot CD to the Startup Recovery Manager, and I don't anticipate using the Snap Restore function. I actually did start by using the Secure Zone for a few backups, but am finding it a bit cumbersome remembering how to view what backups I've made and navigating the several steps into a wizard to do so. It's much easier for me to look at a file system and say ok, there they are.

    That said, Xpilot -- automatic management of the backups is a very valid advantage to the ASZ, both in terms of file naming and FIFO deleting. However as foghorne mentioned, and from what I've found in the Help files, FIFO deleting for any backup location seems to (now?) be available in version 10.0, the one I'm using. From the Help file under "Create Backup Location | Backup Rules":

    ----------
    Here, you can set the overall limitations to size/storage time for the backup location. When you start backup to a backup location, the selected location will be checked and, if any limitation is exceeded, the oldest backups will be deleted or consolidated (if possible).
    ----------

    From this, it sounds like a regular partition can be set to automatically delete old images out, which would answer the space management issue. However if I have to name the backups every time for a scheduled backup process, that could certainly get tiresome.

    Finally, I'm realizing a user's paranoia level plays a big part in this decision too. If there were some way to standardize that ("I'm a paranoia level 3 user with two internal drives..."), this question could probably be answered in a line or two. Personally I'm paranoid enough to have invested in this software, paranoid enough to save backups on my 2nd drive rather than my 1st, and now have to decide if I'm paranoid enough to secure my data further within an ASZ.

    If there are any more thoughts on the matter please feel free to add, it's a big help for me. Many thanks!

    Chris
     
  6. Long View

    Long View Registered Member

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    Marmoset - to be really secure it is necessary to have a backup image(s) off site. Secure Zone is, of course, of no use in this regard. Even having an image on another drive is not enough but at least having an image on another drive means that it is easy to copy to DVD or a portable drive to be taken off site.
    I don't believe it is possible to copy an image from Secure Zone.
     
  7. Xpilot

    Xpilot Registered Member

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    A backup image, wherever it is located, is still just an image. Until it is restored it is not my idea of a backup.

    My off site and out of computer backups are fully restored and proven exchangable hard drives that are ready to go at a moments notice.

    Xpilot
     
  8. Long View

    Long View Registered Member

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    Not sure how off site and at a moments notice go together :D but joking apart I understand your point.

    Just for fun ( yes I know I should get out more often) I counted the number of restores so far today as being 7 - and am just about to restore another image.

    If I trust Acronis to make the image, if I have restored more than a thousand times without issue then I am quite happy to accept an image as an acceptable back up.
     
  9. phasechange

    phasechange Registered Member

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    I think a good use for the secure zone is as a roll back area for system disk archives when combined with external backups of Data and System partitions. So if the disk fails my data is elsewhere and I have nice clean system images (one clean, the other clean+AV+core apps) to get me going quickly. I haven't started using the secure zone like this but am thinking of. I have system restore off but need something between that and restoring my clean images (I don't really need this middle ground but it is a nice to have).

    Phasechange :ninja:
     
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