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Solved: Please respond if you have used a system image product to successfully restor

Discussion in 'All Other Software' started by ozegirl, Jan 29, 2013.

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  1. ozegirl

    ozegirl Thread Starter

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    I am planning to get 2 new computers running Windows 7. I want to do everything right now to prepare for inevitable times when things go wrong.

    There are several products on the market both free and paid-for that will take a system image and restore it. Win 7 itself has a built in system image function but I believe it’s pretty ordinary and extremely slow at backing up.

    That’s not to say I want an extraordinarily complicated-feature product either.

    I just want something that will backup my entire disc including operating system, MBR etc without me having to tell it what is what to the nth degree (i.e. as straight-forward user friendly as possible), that doesn’t need me to go fiddling around changing partition sizes or drive letter names etc etc….

    However I do have a question to do with partitions and restoring. Let’s say you had a 500GB drive with 150Gb date on it and backed it up. You get a new drive that is 400GB. (unlikely I know but for the purpose of the exercise…)…will there be a problem putting back the 150Gb data from the 500Gb image because the new drive is only 400Gb? Is this sort of thing not possible, or possible but only with changing settings of partitions in the restore process? And I presume the answer to this is also dependent upon the software used? Same scenario, but restoring to a larger drive? That’s only about as complicated as I think I could get with having to fiddle with partitions.

    I want to store this on a USB external drive rather than CD’s or DVD’s because I think they are more prone to damage, and also because in the case of an unbootable system, you need to insert a recovery CD in first to prepare the system for restoration via first booting into some recovery options panel from where you select your source, destination and recovery image…..so it’s nice to have the recovery CD available in the CD drive and the backup elsewhere.

    So far I’ve looked at Macrium, Acronis True Image, Rollback RX and Shadow Protect. I am now hopelessly confused over which does what. At my local IT shop they told me I could simply backup from the Shadow Protect management console to my USB drive and for disaster recovery all I had to do was put my USB external drive in and boot up from it – and it would load the recovery console and from there I would select the backup from the same external drive. However having come home and reading the Shadow Protect website it seems that a recovery CD is supplied which has to be used first, in conjunction with the backup location, it didn’t seem to indicate that the whole thing could be loaded from the external drive….is this correct?

    I would only be looking at the Desktop version. The guys at the shop would use a Server version and perhaps it’s different…maybe he got mixed up with what he was saying or misunderstood me. He also told me of the function Virtual Boot which is very useful and the Hardware Interface which means you can restore your backup to a completely new hardware system (which is probably one of the scenarios when you would need a full system restore)…however if the Windows 7 OS is an OEM, surely this would mean that when loading either the Virtual Boot of the image file, or a backup onto a new computer, that Windows would “see” that the hardware configuration is not that of the original machine and would need to be re-activated….and if it’s not on the original machine surely that means ringing Microsoft to pay for a new licence??? Would it all still load but then ask for activation?

    OK that’s not a deal-breaker for having system image software but it might be a deal-breaker for paying for a brand that has that function built in if you are not going to be able to make use of it…..though it’s still probably better to be able to load your existing system and pay for a new licence than to do a clean install of Windows…which would still need to be licenced, but of course this depends upon how much tweaking and installing has been done on top of the “pre-existing” Windows system prior to the crash.

    So here is what I want to be able to do:

    Make a full backup of my system which can easily be restored from an external drive….question here: if I am using a recovery CD to boot up to a recovery console which then has to browse for my USB external drive, how do I know that the driver for my external drive will be loaded by the recovery CD and that my drive will be found and recognised? Or when making the backup to that external drive using the software, does it make note of the driver for the backup destination so it can be re-loaded at recovery boot?

    From the backup, I would make incremental backups at intervals.

    I want to be able to do 2 things basically:

    (1) Do a complete system restore to an earlier time from a system image

    (2) Optionally but not 100% necessary as I do data backups anyhow, it would be nice if it had the option to browse for an individual file in a particular dated backup and restore that one file

    I assume that once you do a restore of either (1) or (2) that the image file you just restored still remains as a backup on your backup media….

    The ability to produce a virtual boot as per Shadow protect would be nice but if it’s then going to load Windows & ask for activation, not much use.

    I suppose the ability to transport the backup to new hardware is pretty important because re-licensing of Windows not withstanding, it would be a pretty useless backup if you couldn’t restore it to a new computer or at least not without a lot of pain of getting drivers sorted…yes it’s easy enough to download and install new drivers but depending upon which ones those are, you could end up with a catch-22 situation….if you need to boot the system in order to install new drivers , but you need those new drivers in order to get the system to boot properly…


    So in short I’m trying to avoid all that sort of hassle by getting it right now. Just want to know if you have a very simple backup system image solution which you have used and it works and which can be easily understood and used by a novice.
     
  2. ETech7

    ETech7

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    Get ShadowProtect. Calling to MS and reactivating your OS on different PC won't kill you. USB stick will not have recovery tools unless you put that software there and make it bootable. But then again, I wouldn't use usb stick as a BUp destination, get an external HDD for that. When you power on PC, you should be able to eject CD tray, so don't bother with bootable USB stick. Make a CD and keep it a case. You can browse your backup images and restore separate files leaving images intact. Download drivers for your devices/OS and keep em separately (on different USB 2.0), but It shouldn't be a problem, ShadowProtect recovery environment usually does a decent job. Get a free 30-day trial and try all that for your self, except maybe for HIR (hardware independent recovery) if you don't have a spare box around. But ShadowProtect is pretty much 'da thing', in my opinion.
     
  3. ozegirl

    ozegirl Thread Starter

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    Thanks for your help. I'll just point out though that I was speaking of a USB external drive, not a USB stick. Obviously the same holds as far as the recovery not being included on there. I don't know why the guys in the shop said it would be.

    About the reactivation it's not so much about ringing MS (though that is possibly the worst part LOL) . It's the fact that if I have to buy a new box and pay for a new licence, then unless there is major hardware failure in the very short term, it would probably be a case of getting not only a new box but a newer OS as well so the backup of the older OS is not going to be much use anyhow......I'm sort of that that point now because I was going to get a new box (mine is maybe a decade old, how embarrasing) and I wanted to put my existing XP installation on it so I could get up & running quickly and also because I have some stuff that won't run in Win 7. However if I get a new box with whizz bang specs unless I upgrade to Win 7, I won't be able to take advantage of all that nice hardware grunt. Also it does seem backward not to move forward to a new operating system as the time will come when stuff on XP is no longer supported, as has happened already with some of my software/hardware. So in this case I can't use disk imaging to transfer my stuff across to the new hardware as I am going from XP to Win 7. I presume there is a transfer docs and settings wizard of some sort but I probably prefer to set it up manually anyhow so I get it customised to my wishes.

    I'm not saying the Hardware tool is not useful, just that you obviously still need to backup data separately (which I woud do anyway) for the scenario of upgrading to a new OS as I am now.

    P.S. So I presume that in a major OS crash and upon entering the recovery mode, that any USB external drive is just recognised? I am just concerned whether there are older external drives that might not be recognised??? Or is it a case of if the device was recognised automatically by the system when in use it will also recognise it in recovery mode? Any comment?
     
  4. ETech7

    ETech7

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    Maybe I misunderstood, but I think you are confusing imaging software with files/applications/user settings transferring software. ShadowProtect is good in what it is supposed to do - get up up and running from the same place you left off due to disaster/failure. If you are still on XP, you will have to upgrade in at least a year anyways. So I'd recommend get a new W7 or W8 box now, image your current XP PC, convert that image to VM and use it in your new machine. So you will be able to switch to new OS more gradually while still have XP running. As to drivers, I didn't perform many SP recoveries, but in those which I did I didn't have issues with usb devices. Pretty much any mainstream USB 2.0 device should be supported. Or you can just boot from recovery CD, connect your drive and see if it was recognized. Also, there is an option to load drivers in SP recovery environment. That's if you will restore to bare drive with no OS, but if you will restore to a retail box, you will have access to your installed OS and will be able to load drivers from there if something doesn't get recognized by default. Long story short, don't worry to much about drivers, they shouldn't prevent you from restoring your system, but it's always a good idea to keep your drivers handy on a usb stick.

    Didn't try other software you listed. You can try clonezilla, if you are into free linux stuff. But it's manual and you have to boot off CD every time you clone/restore HDD.

    P.S. Not a ShadowProtect sales rep.
     
  5. ozegirl

    ozegirl Thread Starter

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    Thanks again,

    No I'm not confused between system disk imaging and File transfer. Maybe I gave that impression because I was talking about a hypothetical situation where you wanted to use the Hardware interface (for loading onto new hardware) , but if you were going to upgrade your OS at the same time it would be useless - and that's my exact point - you can't use imaging software to do that because it would attempt to write the old Win XP over the newly installed Win 7! So for that you WOULD use file & settings transfer. But that's what I'm saying about the Hardware Utility option - it's only good if you are going to new hardware with the SAME OS. And my history has always been that when I get a new box, I upgrade to a new OS. So the Hardware Option would only help if for example the motherboard on my box failed in the short term and I had to get a new box and put my existing OS on it.
     
  6. ETech7

    ETech7

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    Hardware Independent Restore (not hardware interface) was designed to do exactly that - restore your OS with everything in it to a box with a different hardware. If you running a business off you PC, or it plays a very important role in your day to day life in some other way, when it goes down (burns, drowns, gets lost or stolen, etc), the main goal is to get you up and running from the place you left off ASAP. You just run to the store, boot from recovery cd, connect backup media and if you know what you are doing you are back on feet in an hour or so. Everybody dependent on your PC is happy. That's the idea behind HIR - get you back in your environment as soon as possible even on different hardware.

    If you are upgrading OS, that's a different story. The recommended route is to always reinstall your apps and re-set the settings, instead of using any migration software to do that.

    Not everybody needs to invest into imaging backup software, file and folder backup may be sufficient enough, it all depends on what are your needs/concerns.
     
  7. ozegirl

    ozegirl Thread Starter

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    Ok fair enough. Yes I understand in that situation time would be of the essence. Though it could be interesting to locate a bare metal box at short notice, mostly they are custom-made in my area...it would probably be a matter of buying one with an OEM OS off the shelf and sacrificing the installation to put the backup over it...... but if running a business, you would just want to get a system up & running....when I buy a computer for home use I tend to take my time....weeks...months...deciding.....:)
     
  8. ETech7

    ETech7

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    That's the thing, it doesn't have to be a bare metal box, it can be pretty much any pc, with or without any OS. It can be used one, or you can run into nearest BestBuy and get something approximate to your failed PC. As I said, the idea is to get you back on track as soon as possible.

    But if you don't mind spending $100, I would still recommend ShadowProtect.
     
  9. ozegirl

    ozegirl Thread Starter

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    Out of interest, have you had experience with any other imaging software in particular Acronis? They have a new True Image 2013 version out which looks nice, and it has an option for the Hardware Independent Restore with the Plus pack. I see you do this for a living, so I guess you might know a bit about comparing different brands....is there any major advantage or feature that SP has over Acronis that you are aware about? I think Acronis should suit my needs and I can get 3 licences for the same price as one SP.
     
  10. ETech7

    ETech7

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    The thing is we have been using ShadowProtect for a while now and quite pleased with it. And from what I heard Acronis is also a decent piece of software. But of course I would highly recommend get your self familiar with trial versions of both going through backup/restore process, also try contacting their support and take into consideration that experience when you be making final decision. The price is always important, but make sure you get what you need.

    P.S. Yes, it is possible to restore to a smaller volume using ShadoeProtect, but you will need to do some tweaking with backup image first. To restore to dissimilar hardware you will have to install and activate ShadowProtect on target machine first.
     
  11. ozegirl

    ozegirl Thread Starter

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    OK thanks for all your help, greatly appreciated. I'll look at getting this set up over the next few weeks and report back as to how I went. Will mark solved for now :)
     
  12. ETech7

    ETech7

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    You are welcome.
     
  13. ozegirl

    ozegirl Thread Starter

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    As promised, I am reporting back to say I got it all up and running. Seems fairly simple but although I have tested the recovery disks I haven't done an actual recovery of a whole disk (just a single file) as I didn't particularly want to do it if I didn't have to...so hope it works if and when the time comes :)
     
  14. ETech7

    ETech7

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    Thanks for reporting back. Glad you got it figured out.
     
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