Backup software/ imaging or clone?

By Mac29
Aug 18, 2011
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  1. I'm finalizing a backup procedure. Crucial for school. Nobody answers because backup's not sexy, like a new build. Sucks to be me. Deciding between Acronis True Image, Eraseus Todo BU (free ed.). Macrium Reflect free doesn't do incrementals. People swear Windows7 backup is ok or many say it's given them problems.

    Comes down to this: if Acronis True Image makes a partition on C: that is proprietary and unreadable (except by itself) then is that data vulnerable to virus/etc. simply by being on the same drive. I think yes. But this partition is 'hidden'.

    If I can restore from the hidden partition on the same drive that's good. I plan on using DVD images and possibly a clone of the entire hard drive. I know Acronis can burn to DVD and clone. I'll deal with any resizing of paritions if neccessary. Here's what I have to work with: a 320GB w/ Win7 Pro (3 years old) & a new 500GB.

    I want images on DVD that I can easily restore. I don't want to use the 500GB as a clone because I want to load another OS on it (I use a drive bay). My plan is to: A) move the data from C: to a new partition D, thereby downsizing the 'system' size, then B) save images of C: to DVD and to a partition on the new drive (same for data & incrementals).

    I've read and read. Some people swear only a clone is 100% but I imagine that view is due to what imaging software gave them issues. IF imaging/restore from DVD will not fail me, does anyone have recommendations? Anyone feel strongly that clone is the only way to go? I like the fact Acronis True Image can image the system stuff while Windows is running. I think it can also resize an image. Which of these is easiest to use to restore? All seem a better solution for me than Ghost.

    Thanks for the help,

  2. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 3,797   +116

    First rule of thumb with backups is never to have them on the same physical disk as your operating system; a disk failure will wipe out the OS and your backup image rendering your efforts totally pointless.

    This is why the majority of laptop and PC manufacturers always suggest the first thing you should do is make system recovery discs when you start your new computer.

    If you want a sector by sector mirror image of your hard disk (including partitions on that physical disk go for a clone.

    If you just want to create an image of your exact C: disk, then make an image of just that partition. It will then mirror the data on the hard disk, not each sector, saving valuable space.

    Easus to-do backup will also run in the background, and you can even do incremental backups with it as well. I have used this with success on every occasion. I've also used WD's Acronis True Image version with success in the past.

    Both solutions work flawlessly.
  3. WinXPert

    WinXPert TS Guru Posts: 445

    I'm using Drive Image XML, I've tried others but I still prefer this one. This is how I do my cloning, first I get rid of all temps, make sure that the system is clean so I wont be backing up some viruses. Boot from Bart PE CD, run Drive Image XML and create an image on an external USB drive.
  4. Mac29

    Mac29 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thanx for responding

    Thanks Leeky & WinXPert,
    I imagine I can make system recovery discs even after I use imaging to separate system and data stuff (creating two partitions where I now have one). I thought imaging saves space by compression, not by skipping empty sectors. But as far as appls I've been leaning towards Acronis True Image. Easeus's Todo BU apparently has trouble splitting the partition size for DVDs and Ghost seems to limit how much you can burn. Drive Image XML sounds good as well, but maybe by paying I'll have better support, if needed. I like the fact True Image can image or clone so if it'll fit, I can throw a clone on my XP drive.
  5. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,491   +183

    Some of my own personal comments/opinions

    In general, i think people often interchange the use of terms "image" and "clone" (i know i have often do :blackeye:) but in strict usage (i THINK)
    > Cloning refers to creating an exact copy of an entire disk
    > Imaging is creating copies of one or more partitions as well as, optionally, the whole disk

    I also think "cloning" implies creating a "sector-by-sector" copy. With cloning, there's no type of data reduction or compression to reduce the backup file size.

    Imaging can be sector-by-sector or not. I use Acronis True Image too. At least for Acronis, when you "image"
    > you can select to image the entire disk or select one or more partitions on the disk
    > there's a seperate check box to indicate if you want it to create a a sector by sector image or not

    When Acronis does NOT do sector by sector it saves backup file space by:
    > Only imaging data on allocated space
    > Ignoring the pagefile and other system files not needed if you just want to do typical restores (after all, how often does one need to restore a pagefile?)
    > Using data compression techniques on the backup file

    Also just my own personal opinion after using Acronis to split backups onto DVDs... I did that for a long time but decided it was more a pain then just buying two external network drives and keeping copies on each one.
    > Burning then filing and later finding the right DVDs is a pain. Then loading each one is a pain. Now i just keep most of my backup storage on disk storage
    > I found it much easier to have one backup file per backup (whether full backup or incremental) then having multiple files per backup when files had to be capped at max DVD size

    just my 2 cents :)

    /* EDIT */
    As to when do you do sector-by-sector or not: I THINK the general rule is if you're not certain if your disk is corrupt or not you do sector by sector to gurantee you have a perfect image. If you're not worried about corruption you don't need to do sector by sector as you have no need to backup unallocated space, pagefiles, etc
  6. WinXPert

    WinXPert TS Guru Posts: 445

    True clone sometimes had been a misnomer for image. As far as I am concerned, using Drive Image XML to backup a drive with one partition can be called a clone, while backing up just one partition on a multi partitioned drive is an image.

    I agree with LookinAround, save yourself the hassle of making DVD backups, with 320G to backup and say about 50% are free spaces, imaging that would span to numerous DVDs.

    Drive Image XML does both
  7. Steven Pilgrim

    Steven Pilgrim TS Member

    Out of the two id probably recommend acronis true image, because it has a "startup recovery manager" which allows you to backup or restore a backup of your hard drive etc before the operating system even boots which can come in handy just make sure you don't format the your hard drive otherwise the startup recovery manager will be lost
  8. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,491   +183

    I like Acronis TI. I bought a license for their full version but fyi re: their support

    Note you only get support from a human for the first 30 days. There's an incident fee after that if you want a human (unless it's a bug). But they do have lots of manuals, Knowledge base articles and their own forum. And there's plenty of forum people to ask questions of in the various forums if need be

    i've never used DriveImage XL. Does it also have the option view and recover individual files/folders as well as the complete backup image?
  9. WinXPert

    WinXPert TS Guru Posts: 445

    No, it only deals with the complete backup of the partition. I use it to backup the OS plus the program files installed, since my documents are located on a different drive/partition my images are always lean. In an internet shop I'm managing wherein almost all PCs specs are identical I only need 1 image backup. I move My Documents to a different partition on the same drive, so when Windows breaks down or got an infection that is very difficult to remove I can restore the OS without overwritting the Users' Docs.

    Different needs, different approaches.


    There is a Browse option, fact of the matter is that I am not familiar with that feature because I don't do partial Restore
  10. bazz2004

    bazz2004 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,213   +200

    The big problem with depending on such imaging software is that you don't know whether it'll work when lightning strikes. I used Acronis 9.0 to make periodic full backups. When I bought a new Windows 7 computer I had a go at restoring an image on the other XP machine. I couldn't get it to work so it's not fool proof. We keep copies of important documents and downloaded programs on usb stick just in case Windows needs to be reinstalled.
  11. WinXPert

    WinXPert TS Guru Posts: 445

    True sometimes an OS restore won't work and may require some additional tinkering like setting the boot flag off (which I resolve by turning it on using GParted). About my docs, I do backup them using 7zip to an external HDD, some I burn to CD/DVD.

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