Your Own Drive Back-up "Workstation"

Discussion in 'Acronis True Image Product Line' started by Ed Every, Mar 30, 2009.

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  1. Ed Every

    Ed Every Registered Member

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    Your own foolproof drive duplication machine

    My need for ATI 2009 at home is occasional, not routine. Routine backups are handled here by other means.

    What I would like to do is to set up one of our four computers to create duplicate drives for any of the other computers that hold their particular operating system(s). I want keep these duplicate drives pre-tested and ready to install and use in the event of a failure. Using this process, the recovery from a disaster would be at most a physical drive swapping exercise, not a software adventure you may not be prepared for when it happens.

    In other words, I will buy extra drives (they're cheap) for each computer and while the computers and original drives are healthy, create a spare drive for each that is a working copy of the original. I want to set up just one of the computers to perform this task. Let's call this computer the drive-processing-workstation or the "DPW" computer.

    The DPW computer has a Vantec SATA/IDE to USB 2.0 Adapter that will support 2.5", 3.5" and 5.25" IDE/SATA drives. Assume the DPW computer is to be set up with Acronis True Image 2009 of the latest revision.

    To service one of the other computers, the client computer's boot hard drive is removed and brought over to the DPW computer along with the client computer's formatted spare hard drive. The process is to consist of:
    1. Connect the client computer's original boot drive to the USB adapter.
    2. Run ATI 2009 from the DPW's operating system (not from a bootable restoration CD). Create an image of the USB connected original boot drive and store it in the DPW.
    3. Disconnect the original boot drive from the USB adapter and connect the client's spare hard drive. Running ATI 2009 from the DPW's operating system again, "restore" the USB connected drive from the stored image.
    4. Reinstall the original drive in the client computer and store away its spare hard drive as a very quick foolproof means of disaster recovery or a quick way to return to the restored configuration.

    The intent is to have at hand a remedy for disaster that consists of physically replacing something that is ready to use, not having to wrestle with software under stressful conditions.

    Questions:

    1. Is the proposed procedure doable?
    2. Using this method could a client computer have any operating system - including Windows 2000?
    3. What problems can be expected doing this and what are the details of the ATI steps that would have to be taken in this process?
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2009
  2. GroverH

    GroverH Registered Member

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    Re: Your own foolproof drive duplication machine

    1. You probably have a better chance of success using the business version (I have not used) as compared to the Home version. Based on 2b, your chances of a successful bootable clone (external to external) is dismished. The only way you know it will work is to try and you may get different results with different computer combinations. Some IBM & Lenova laptops will only successfully clone or (restore to new) if the rules of 2 b apply. The home version could success using the procedures below.

    2.
    a. When performing creating an image backup (not clone), best results are obtained when the disk being backed up is in its normal boot position as normally used.
    b. When a disk is being cloned, best results are most often attained if the target disk is placed in its intended boot position and the source relocated to wherever--such as to another internal or external or network location. Referred to as reverse cloning.
    c. When a new blank disk is being restored from an image archive, it should be placed same as part b.

    3. My suggestion would be to either following the procedures of Xpilot below; or, use the individual computers to complete their own duplication. You could purchase a docking station such as BlacX (item 7 below). Drop the existing disk (disk being copied) into the docking station while installing the new blank disk into its intended boot position. Boot from the TI Rescue CD. Then you could clone from the docking station onto the new disk. After cloning, disconnect the docking station and store the master away for safe keeping. BEFORE fir bootup using the newly cloned disk.

    4. Should you not want to the cloning procedure, you could again use TI and create a full disk image (all partitions) of each computer. Then, again install the new disk in its intended boot position. Store the original master disk away for safekeeping. Boot from the TI Rescue Cd. Then perform an image restore from the external storage drive (disk containing backup archives) to the new blank target. After restoring, disconnect the image storage drive (and master disk--if connected) before first bootup following restoration. Using the same disk size and performing a disk restore would give you best chances of success. It is best if the target drive is blank --straight out of the box. No format or partitioning needed.

    5. You would probably need multiple Acronis licenses since multiple computers are involved. Only Acronis can give you a specific answer.

    6. My experience in using the combo adapters as you describe has not been consistent. Sometimes it works and other times not. For ease of use, I recently purchased a SATA docking unit. This is a combination USB & eSATA. The unit will accept either 2.5 & 3.5 size disks and the disk easily drops into the unit. No screws or cover needed. When in use, the raw disk protrudes out from the unit and makes switching/alternating different disks every easy. I alternate my external backup storage disks.

    This is a dual function unit. The unit can be connected to the computer as a normal USB unit; or, it comes with an adapter plate which can connect to a internal SATA MB connector on a desktop computer. This connector enables the unit to connect as an eSata unit which has a faster transfer rate than USB. This unit accepts SATA only drives. You would need another solution for IDE drives.

    Because of the included rear plate eSata adapter for the case and the 2 year warranty, this unit costs a little more than some with lesser features. I have used mine for 6 months and it has worked very well. For disks, I prefer to buy Seagate brand disks due to their 5 yr warranty. Total cost for both docking unit and a 500GB Sata disk should be slightly less than $100. If you buy the standard external usb unit, the drives are not removable and opening the case can void the warranty which is another reason why I like to buy the parts individually.

    Thermaltake ST0005U BlacX 2.5/3.5 Hard Drive Dock - SATA to USB and eSATA (T925-1252)

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16817153071

    http://www.tigerdirect.com/applicati...29117&csid=_21

    7. I know you want to perform the task from within Windows, but using the Home version, I believe you would get better results performing the task from the TI Rescue CD or from a VistaPE boot disk.

    My Acronis TrueImage Rescue CD is permanently stored away because it has been replaced by something better and more functional. If you want to use a bootcd and also mount TI backup archives, check the links below. Check my comments in the first link.

    Introducing MustangPEBuilder for True Image Home 2009
    https://www.wilderssecurity.com/showthread.php?t=222284

    VistaPE Guide - Creating a VistaPE CD
    https://www.wilderssecurity.com/showthread.php?t=211235

    8. Below is a different perspective by Xpilot where he describes his backup procedures. I think you will find them helpful and informative. He has other postings if you should want to search the forum for his postings.

    Post #7
    https://www.wilderssecurity.com/showpost.php?p=1414684&postcount=7

    Post #221
    https://www.wilderssecurity.com/showpost.php?p=1272558&postcount=221

    post #1
    https://www.wilderssecurity.com/showthread.php?t=136754&postcount=1

    9. Perhaps some of the above might be off topic but the comments are still relevant to the subject. Actually performing the duplication and testing it afterwards will be the only certain way you know what can work for you.
     
  3. Ed Every

    Ed Every Registered Member

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    GroverH

    Thanks for your very informative post. I had a list of questions I was working on here but you answered much of what I wanted. These were the questions:

    Some issues:
    1. One of the questions about this procedure may be a concern about using ATI in the Windows mode to create a boot drive from a locally stored image when the drive imaged is not originally from this "drive-processing-workstation" (DPW), and the target drive is USB connected but will not ever be used to boot this DPW computer.
    2. If as part of this process, ATI operating in Windows asks to reboot, I assume the DPW will boot up its own Windows operating system? If this happens, will ATI just continue on and successfully complete its "restore" to the USB connected drive or will there be a problem?
    3. If the drives to be duplicated are all C:\ boot drives, what drive letter issues (if any) will have to be solved with the various operating systems?

    I started looking into this in order to find a way to create spare hard drives for W2K computers using ATI 2009 (which doesn't support W2K). I wasn’t interested in ATI for routine backup. So the approach of doing the copying on a Vista computer came to mind - thus the idea of configuring an ATI based drive backup computer to very occasionally update the spare drives of several computers.

    It seems odd that the goal of truly “cloning” an identical drive so that there is no difference between them is almost unattainable without playing so many games with the computer and the backup software. In theory it would seem to be possible for Acronis to provide software for any computer, having in addition to its own hard drive a guest “original” drive and a guest target drive also installed, to simply make the target physically indistinguishable from the original – regardless of the history and positions of the drives etc. If that were possible, operating system compatibility and all the rest would not be an issue. Paragon’s products seem to be similarly sensitive. In view of the the dependencies you cite, my impression is that “Cloning” appears to be far from true cloning and the “image” obtained in backup is apparently not consistently a robust and reliable vehicle when used to “restore” a target drive.

    I have no doubt that your comments about the limitations and sensitivity of the software are correct. Your contributions and those of the knowledgeable contributors here make the Acronis software more valuable than it would otherwise be.

    Thanks again.


    BTW I have had very good luck with Vantec's SATA/IDE to USB adapter Model CB-ISATAU2 on Vista and W2K computers and with 2.5", 3.5" and 5.25" SATA and IDE drives. It's a very small multisocket device with a separate power supply. It's twenty bucks at Newegg:
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16812232002
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2009
  4. zapjb

    zapjb Registered Member

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    To be honest I only read the original post & scanned the replies.
    But between steps 3 & 4 I'd install the spare HDD into the client computer & boot it. Then 100% you know it works. Otherwise untested & put away you're just hoping it works. Then you have the option to go on to step 4. Although some people alternate their HDDs.
     
  5. Ed Every

    Ed Every Registered Member

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    Very good point.
     
  6. DwnNdrty

    DwnNdrty Registered Member

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  7. jonyjoe81

    jonyjoe81 Registered Member

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    I also use the vantec ide/sata usb adapter and has proven very reliable for me when doing backups and restores.

    As far as swapping out a harddrive and installing the replacement clone and hope it boots up the first time is sometimes possible, I wouldn't plan on it. I always plan for the worst case scenario (restored drive won't boot) and developed procedures to fix the problem as quickly as possible (5 minutes or less).

    "drive letter" problems is a very real occurrence when restoring any NT base OS (windows2k/server2003/xp). The only way to prevent this problem is to make sure the source windows has never been exposed to the drive it will be restored on. The problem if encountered can be fix quickly in most cases.

    https://www.wilderssecurity.com/showthread.php?t=210322
     
  8. Ed Every

    Ed Every Registered Member

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    Problem in the making

    I am currently creating a full disk image for an old Window 2000 machine. ATI 2009 doesn't support Windows 2000 so I'm using Paragon's Drive Backup Express instead. It is still in process of creating the image as I write this post (very slow on the old computer).

    But reading your comments, I see now where I may already have screwed up.

    Here is the sequence of my activity so far:
    1. I had an unused drive (never had been formatted) that is exactly the same as the drive that holds the W2K system currently (the drive in use just contains C:\).
    2. I connected that drive to the W2K computer in place of the unit's old 2nd drive that was E:\ drive.
    3. I formatted the drive using W2K's Storage Manager.
    4. I couldn't find the new drive listed in Windows Explorer so (unfortunately) I went back into Storage manager and had a drive letter assigned (E:\).
    5. Shutting down, I disconnected the newly formatted drive and reconnected the old slave drive that had been E:\ drive.
    6. Booting up again I installed Paragon's Drive Backup Express program and made a bootable Restoration CD.
    7. Using the CD I initiated a Full Disk Backup of C:\ drive with the image going to the computer's slave single partition drive (E:\ drive).
    8. The "Backup" is still in progress.

    Reading your post and the ones you refer to, I can see that W2K will probably identify the new hard disk (when it is installed later in place of the current C:\ drive) as something other than C:\.

    Given the state of the operation, what are the prospects of heading this problem off or failing that, correcting the problem?
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2009
  9. Ed Every

    Ed Every Registered Member

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