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Disk Imaging/restore Solutions


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#1 Larry T

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Posted 10 September 2006 - 11:42 AM

This is my first post here and I hope that at some point I can contribute more than I take. But, since I have to start somewhere, I thought I'd open this question up and soak up as much as I can.

I know that there are MANY products and have tried a number of them (Ghost 5.1, DriveImage 5.0, TrueImage 9.0), but I'm still on my quest to find reliable "ghost like" disk imaging & restore product that will save directly to

- network drive
- CDRW or DVD with bootable image and automatically spanning across multiple disks
- Restore can be started from bootable DVD, CD or floppy w/o having Windows active
- Restore to different size drive for upgrading to new drive
- Imaging can be run either from within or outside of Windows
- Compatable with FAT/FAT32/NTFS
- Compatable with GoBack (preferably with it enabled)
- Simple interface for novice users
- NOT from Symantec
- under $50

I am raving fan of GoBack (ver 3) for transient recovery and my ideal solution would to be able to be able to create a bootable image file from any restore point. I suspect we would have had this by now if Symantec had not purchased it and screwed it up beyond use. I'm currently using GoBack + TrueImage 9.0, (disabling GB prior to using TrueImage), but have not had the opportunity (or guts) to actually restore from TrueImage. I tried to save TI files directly to DVD using my Sony DRU-820), but was unsuccessful for some reason which I haven't had a chance to diagnose; otherwise it is meeting most of my criteria. Anyway, I'm always looking for a better solution and would like to hear yours.

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#2 tos226

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Posted 11 September 2006 - 10:11 PM

Larry, I asked a similar question here
http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/forums/t/65049/looking-for-a-proven-good-backup-utility/
so I'll be watching this thread as well, since your requirements are stated more clearly than mine. The only thing I won't care about is the CD writing, because I have a harddrive. And no Norton as well :thumbsup:

Question to you: have you done recovery from Acronis True Image 9? Any hints will be welcome as it has been recommended to me as a good product.

#3 Larry T

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Posted 13 September 2006 - 12:41 AM

java script:emoticon(':thumbsup:', 'smid_19')
:thumbsup:I finally had the opportunity to do a restore and it went quickly & smoothly. I created back-up image of my laptop 33GB hardrive, disabling GoBack before I started. The back-up gave me one "unable to read sector xxx" error (which I said ignore & continue) but otherwise went smoothly. I also asked our IT tech at work to create a ghost image of my drive; but when he tried this, he aborted it telling me that my HD was about to die and that he was seeing so many errors that it was going to take over a day to create the Ghost image. I went ahead and purchased an 80GB drive and brought it home tonight to see if I could restore my TI back-up image onto my new HD. I stuck the new unformatted HD in my laptop, booted up to the TI recovery CD, selected the back-up image off of my USB HD, and the restore went flawlessly taking only about 35 minutes. I rebooted and everything came up fine, including giving me the option to re-enable Go-Back which I did successfully.

I subsequently saw that my restore created the same size partition that was on my original hardrive and that I had 45GB unallocated. In retrospect, I see what I should have done was to restore only the MBR first, and then go back and restore the active partition so that I could resize it to fill the entire drive. This is a very nice feature since odds are that when you do need to perform a restore, it's going to be to a new and larger HD. I'm now repeating this process to restore only the Pri,Act partition to resize it for my larger drive.

In summary, I have to say that I'm very impressed with TI (but not our Corp IT!). I have no idea why TI was able to create a back-up image while Ghost was not; but this is certainly a confidence builder. I suspect it may have been interaction with GoBack, even though I disabled it before turning PC over to IT tech. I did have to go to Acronis forums to figure out that I could only resize by selecting only partition and not whole disk. It would have helped to make this clearer in their documentation, but I suppose it's obvious once you think about it.

I'll continue my search for my ideal product, but for now am pretty happy with GB+TI

#4 tos226

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Posted 13 September 2006 - 03:45 PM

Wow, what a great description of your adventure :thumbsup:

I'm not sure it it's wise for me to ask questions since your thread asks for advice. If you prefer that I move what follows to my own thread started in another section, we'll ask the Moderators to do it, ok?

I have an external drive 80gig, USB connection. I have a laptop with 40 or 60 gig drive, and it's precisely the scenario you described that I'm interested in. And I wouldn't give my laptop to the techs at work :flowers: after I see how they treat the work ones.

I've read a bunch of reviews of verious backup utilities. NOT ONE describes the recovery. And since this is THE KEY point of doing a backup, the reviews are of no help whatsoever. Your description, above, gave me more information than all the reviews.

Having seen your mention of Acronis about which I heard good things, I went to the forum at Wilders. It appears the support looks good, and the docs on a quick look appear pretty good. I'm impressed that real Acronis people answer posts, request clarifications from the users and answer so quickly.

But I'm still confused about the options. For instance, why not use free NTBackup or Robocopy, other than both are a pain in the neck to use. The reason I'm on a hunt is I heard that you can't get a good recovery from NTBackup and with one computer I have no way to experiment.

What if your laptop drive was really dead and you couldn't get to the Acronis application? Wouldn't do you much good would it? I am clearly missing some important knowledge about how the system works.

I don't understand what you wrote about the partition size issue. I get the drift of the purpose but not yet the process to do it well.

What is the talk/writing about a boot CD? Isn't the entire system imaged so the extra thing would not be needed? What role does the recovery CD play (if any). To me it's a worthless piece of junk containing Windows XP without SP2 and some 120-140 patches.

As you see, millions of dumb questions. If you could fill some of the information for me, I'd be grateful. Thanks in advance.

#5 Larry T

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Posted 13 September 2006 - 10:32 PM

Appreciate your kind words regarding my description! You are absolutely correct in your concerns about the restore process because this is what it's really all about isn't it. If you're not a Seinfeld fan, skip this next part, but it's kinda like Jerry at the rental car counter ... "See, you know how to take the reservation, you just don't know how to *hold* the reservation and that's really the most important part of the reservation, the holding. Anybody can just take them."

Anyway, to better answer your question, the first step of the restore process is to boot the dead PC using the Acronis Recovery bootable rescue CD (which is created from the Tools menu after you install TrueImage and obviously BEFORE you find yourself needing to do the restore). In my case, I just stuck the raw (unformatted, non partitioned) new drive into my (dead) laptop and booted to this CD. (Note that you may have to change your laptop's BIOS boot order to boot to CD before trying to boot to HD). Upon boot-up, a GUI comes up similiar to the normal TI start screen that gives you the opportunity to perform the restore! So you don't really care if the TrueImage program on your HD is working or not so long as (1) you have the Recovery CD in hand and (2) you created a back-up image after you installed TrueImage (or have at least the installation disks required to repeat the install).

If you decide to give it a shot, be sure to post back to let us know how it went! Good luck.

#6 tos226

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Posted 14 September 2006 - 04:01 PM

This is my first post here and I hope that at some point I can contribute more than I take.

You sure did. And not at some point but now. Many thanks for offering more than I've seen before, and yes, I will report back.

#7 usasma

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Posted 16 September 2006 - 09:20 AM

I've used Acronis True Image since version 7.0 and am very satisfied with it. I've been a beta tester for them since version 8.0 and am currently using Acronis True Image Enterprise Server version 9 both at home and at my wife's office.

I've done many restorations using it. I have had one failure - and this was when I had to recover the image from a deleted partition. So, I suspect that this was a problem with the recovery rather than the Acronis program (it reported the image as corrupt when I tried to restore it)

FWIW - I prefer to run Acronis True Image from the Rescue CD. This way there's nothing interfering with the process while it's working. I have only had one problem with this - which was with my Toshiba laptop which wouldn't run in normal mode. Safe mode disabled the USB drivers, so I couldn't restore the image from another drive.

The workaround was to establish an Acronis Secure Zone on my laptop's hard drive and image to it.
My browser caused a flood of traffic, sio my IP address was banned. Hope to fix it soon. Will get back to posting as soon as Im able.

- John  (my website: http://www.carrona.org/ )**If you need a more detailed explanation, please ask for it. I have the Knack. **  If I haven't replied in 48 hours, please send me a message. My eye problems have recently increased and I'm having difficult reading posts. (23 Nov 2017)FYI - I am completely blind in the right eye and ~30% blind in the left eye.<p>If the eye problems get worse suddenly, I may not be able to respond.If that's the case and help is needed, please PM a staff member for assistance.

#8 tos226

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Posted 17 September 2006 - 09:06 PM

Usama, thanks for your views. This thread is not going to win any popularity contests!
It's embarassing to ask so much here, but I could use a bit more information/clarifications, such as

1. Why should I buy a $50 thing instead of NTBackup? what does it offer in your opinion/experience?
2. It certainly looks like a solid thing - do you use it all the time for both image and backup of files such as My Docs or any selected directories?
3. Does it backup everything you want, or skip files if archive bit is set wrong. Reason I ask this one, I know someone who was backing up files and found incomplete backups, probably because some files never got backed up due to the archive bit.
4. When you say you run it from Recovery CD, do you mean the one Toshiba gave you or the one you made through Acronis? Can you explain this whole process a bit more, please.
5. If you run the image backup, what do you do with resident applications - firewalls, anti-malware and system stuff that runs? Based on Larry's descritption, that should be no problem.
6. On a 80gig external USB drive, how many images would fit, 2? 3? Are these images compressed and readable or not? Do you rotate them?
7. What's this about making some partition for the image (??) on the current hard drive? I don't have partitions. It's all on C drive, one and only.
8. I, too, have Toshiba laptop (Satellite), and safe mode only runs few, roughly 10 things, no drivers, nothing.

I've been looking at the Wilders forum and am reading the 60 page (ouch) manual, but I don't seem to be getting it all. Perhaps you can explain a bit more. Larry has already enlightened me tremendously, but, as you see, questions remain. Thanks in advance!

#9 usasma

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Posted 18 September 2006 - 09:50 AM

1. I use Acronis True Image because of previous experiences with NT Backup that didn't work out. But, since using Acronis I haven't taken the time to try any other solutions (there are many out there - some of which are freeware). I'm also a beta tester for Acronis - so I haven't had to purchase any software from them since I originally bought Acronis True Image v7.

2. I use it all the time for imaging. The images that it creates are too bulky for routine backups. FYI - here's a link to the strategy that I use at my wife's office: http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/forums/ind...st&p=357653

I don't use it for backups because of the size issues. I use SyncBackSE for my backups (although I hear that Cobian Backup is just as good, if not better). It's free and I can schedule it to run automatically. It emails me reports and can even FTP the backup files to another computer.

3. An image is an exact copy of the drive that you're imaging - that's everything! It also keeps track of where on the disk each item is - so that your boot sector, etc is put back into the right place.

4. I don't like to run Acronis from within Windows (no problems, just personal preference). I do this because I don't want to take the chance of anything conflicting with the making of the image.

The Acronis rescue CD allows you to boot to an environment that allows Acronis to run without having to load Windows. This leaves the boot drive idle - so that no other programs are accessing it. From there you can make images or restore images.

This may be limited in some PC's by the availability of the USB drivers (my Toshiba laptop is an example). Since it's a laptop I don't have a second drive - so I have to use a USB drive to backup the data. But the Toshiba's are very proprietary - and Acronis doesn't like to run in regular mode from the rescue CD - so I have to run Acronis in it's own "Safe Mode" (not the Windows Safe Mode). And when it runs in it's Safe Mode, it can't access USB drives . Grrrr!!! The workaround is to establish an Acronis Secure Zone on the laptop's hard drive and make images to there.

5) Resident applications don't seem to cause any problems (I've run it from within Windows a few times) - so I wouldn't be concerned about that. Just as a precaution I'd stop any applications from running while making the image. As I said earlier, I prefer to run it from the Acronis Recovery CD rather than in Windows.

6) I fit 6 or 7 images onto a 120 gB external USB drive - so I'd suspect that you could fit at least 4. This depends on how packed the hard drives are and how much compression you use when making the images.

7) Acronis will make (if you ask it to) a partition called the Acronis Secure Zone. It stores images there to keep them safe. There are other utilities available that will partition your hard drive into 2 or more drives. In other words, on one physical hard drive you can have multiple drives (C:, D:, E:, etc).

8) Please remember that the Toshiba software/hardware is a bit too proprietary for Acronis True Image. You can create images from within Windows and put them on the USB drive - but you won't be able to access the USB drive from the Acronis Recovery CD. That's why I suggest using the Acronis Secure Zone on a Toshiba laptop.

Finally what I like most about the Acronis software is that it's easy to use. Install it and you're ready to image your drive. You can learn a lot about it by just using it (that's how I've figured it out - never have RTFM!)
My browser caused a flood of traffic, sio my IP address was banned. Hope to fix it soon. Will get back to posting as soon as Im able.

- John  (my website: http://www.carrona.org/ )**If you need a more detailed explanation, please ask for it. I have the Knack. **  If I haven't replied in 48 hours, please send me a message. My eye problems have recently increased and I'm having difficult reading posts. (23 Nov 2017)FYI - I am completely blind in the right eye and ~30% blind in the left eye.<p>If the eye problems get worse suddenly, I may not be able to respond.If that's the case and help is needed, please PM a staff member for assistance.

#10 tos226

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Posted 18 September 2006 - 09:25 PM

1. OK

2. I use it all the time for imaging. The images that it creates are too bulky for routine backups. FYI - here's a link to the strategy that I use at my wife's office: http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/forums/ind...st&p=357653

I don't use it for backups because of the size issues. I use SyncBackSE for my backups (although I hear that Cobian Backup is just as good, if not better). It's free and I can schedule it to run automatically. It emails me reports and can even FTP the backup files to another computer.

Thanks for the description in the other thread. I'll read about those alternatives.

3. OK, but can you explain the Toshiba proprietary stuff for me? I can read external Western Digital USB drive in safe mode but whether good for restoring the image, who knows - this part still needs a bit of clarification, please

This may be limited in some PC's by the availability of the USB drivers (my Toshiba laptop is an example). Since it's a laptop I don't have a second drive - so I have to use a USB drive to backup the data. But the Toshiba's are very proprietary - and Acronis doesn't like to run in regular mode from the rescue CD - so I have to run Acronis in it's own "Safe Mode" (not the Windows Safe Mode). And when it runs in it's Safe Mode, it can't access USB drives . Grrrr!!! The workaround is to establish an Acronis Secure Zone on the laptop's hard drive and make images to there.

And if the hard drive fails then what?, related to your answer 7 as well.

5) OK
6) OK

7) we're probably covering that in #3
8) same thing here, #3 - as you see that safe mode, Toshiba, drivers section is still a bit unclear.

... never have RTFM!

Beneath your dignity, eh? That's the way it should be. Yes, I learn a lot by using, but this time I decided to investigate big time.

#11 usasma

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Posted 18 September 2006 - 11:20 PM

3) You can read a USB drive in Windows Safe Mode. But not in Acronis Safe Mode (it says this on the splash screen when you boot into Acronis). When you boot from the Acronis Rescue CD it gives you the choice of booting Acronis regular or safe - this is not the same thing as Windows Safe Mode!!! So you will not be able to restore from a USB drive. I have not tried swapping DVD's to see if that would work.

If the hard drive fails - well then you're SOL (Sh*t Outta Luck)! For me, this isn't a real big issue - as I don't keep things on my laptop unless they're on my desktop also. But, I'd imagine that there are alternatives available (such as copying the image to DVD - or running it from within Windows) - but since I haven't needed it I haven't looked into it.

I'll line out the sequence so you can see the difference between the Acronis Safe Mode and Windows Safe Mode.

1) Put recovery CD in CD drive and boot from it.
2) Windows does not load, rather the Acronis environment loads
3) You're presented with an Acronis screen giving the choice of running True Image in regular mode or safe mode. Since you're using a different OS, you're not in Windows at all.

Well, I've never been much of a manual reader (preferring trial and error), but with my eye problems (hence my avatar) I really can't read them now!
My browser caused a flood of traffic, sio my IP address was banned. Hope to fix it soon. Will get back to posting as soon as Im able.

- John  (my website: http://www.carrona.org/ )**If you need a more detailed explanation, please ask for it. I have the Knack. **  If I haven't replied in 48 hours, please send me a message. My eye problems have recently increased and I'm having difficult reading posts. (23 Nov 2017)FYI - I am completely blind in the right eye and ~30% blind in the left eye.<p>If the eye problems get worse suddenly, I may not be able to respond.If that's the case and help is needed, please PM a staff member for assistance.

#12 tos226

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Posted 19 September 2006 - 04:32 PM

the difference between the Acronis Safe Mode and Windows Safe Mode.

Got it!! Thanks a bunch again. I'll take it from here. Between Larry and you I have the info I need (I think).

#13 imatechie

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Posted 26 June 2008 - 04:07 PM

Hi, I do something just a little different, the only cost is a little time and a cd-r cd-rw disk or two.

Note: This should be for experienced users only as a bit of a learning curve is involved.

I have laptops that do not have a floppies or second hard drives, I have no access to a USB drive and sometimes I need to test other operating systems but I do have a computer for backups hooked up so here is what I do.

I use a Linux Live CD (Knoppix is one I use) and a program called PARTIMAGE, I create a special mountpoint for the windows computer by opening up a terminal and type the command:

sudo mkdir /mnt/image
sudo mount -t smbfs -o username=<username>,password=<password> //<win-box>/<share> /mnt/<name-of-mountpoint>

For example, if my backup computer was named charlie and the image directory was images, the command would be:

sudo mount -t smbfs -o username=mywindowsusername, password=mypassword //charlie/images /mnt/image

To test it you can do a
cd /mnt/image
dir

You should see your Windows files, if you do, you can use partimage to create an image of the hard drive, partimage also requires a little bit of learning. You may need to unmount the laptop's harddrive before continuing.

When restoring you do the same thing but you tell partimage to restore boot sector first then write partition.

You can use a second LiveCD (I use pmagic2.0 for now because I like Visparted) to resize the partition.

Like I said you do need to be familiar with how Linux handles drive names as it's a bit different than Windows.

I've done this with quite a few laptops without problems, however, the imaging process is quite slow (But that could be that the hard drive on the target computer is slow and the speed of the network), however, the restore process is quite quick

Anyway, for an experienced user or tech, the price is right and it works. :thumbsup:

Jeff
The only real problem that I have with being an I.T. Tech is that I can't use the excuse:
"Sorry, I don't do windows."

#14 zarraza

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Posted 22 June 2009 - 12:30 PM

Hi, I do something just a little different, the only cost is a little time and a cd-r cd-rw disk or two.

Note: This should be for experienced users only as a bit of a learning curve is involved.

I have laptops that do not have a floppies or second hard drives, I have no access to a USB drive and sometimes I need to test other operating systems but I do have a computer for backups hooked up so here is what I do.

I use a Linux Live CD (Knoppix is one I use) and a program called PARTIMAGE, I create a special mountpoint for the windows computer by opening up a terminal and type the command:

sudo mkdir /mnt/image
sudo mount -t smbfs -o username=<username>,password=<password> //<win-box>/<share> /mnt/<name-of-mountpoint>

For example, if my backup computer was named charlie and the image directory was images, the command would be:

sudo mount -t smbfs -o username=mywindowsusername, password=mypassword //charlie/images /mnt/image

To test it you can do a
cd /mnt/image
dir

You should see your Windows files, if you do, you can use partimage to create an image of the hard drive, partimage also requires a little bit of learning. You may need to unmount the laptop's harddrive before continuing.

When restoring you do the same thing but you tell partimage to restore boot sector first then write partition.

You can use a second LiveCD (I use pmagic2.0 for now because I like Visparted) to resize the partition.

Like I said you do need to be familiar with how Linux handles drive names as it's a bit different than Windows.

I've done this with quite a few laptops without problems, however, the imaging process is quite slow (But that could be that the hard drive on the target computer is slow and the speed of the network), however, the restore process is quite quick

Anyway, for an experienced user or tech, the price is right and it works. :thumbsup:

Jeff



THAT'S great - you saved me from having to ask the question about an open source product - I have tried partimage on a live CD but have never been able to get it to hit my server - your instructions may help me resolve my issue
THANKS!




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