Trying to understand "ghosting" vs "imaging" for backup

By macx
Dec 6, 2015
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  1. One of the main things I'm concerned with for backing up, besides the usual ordinary files, is the installed
    apps and all those settings.

    I.e. I would want to be able to replicate Firefox with especially all the bookmarks.

    So - what's best for that?

    I do have an external drive with it's own separate power source, but struggling to understand all these
    terms everyone throws around.

    Is ghosting and imaging the same thing? If not, which would be best for regular automatic backup
    of any new or modified files and apps/settings? Would prefer shareware but will purchase something
    if it is significantly more reliable and easy to set up and use.

  2. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 9,150   +597

    If you need to ensure that when or if you perform a recovery, ALL the aps and their settings are restored too,
    then you need a full system image, at least one copy.

    You will find full images eat storage media and take lots of time, so you're not going to schedule these for
    every Saturday night!
  3. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 11,457   +1,759

    As far as Firefox itself goes, from the menu bar select "Bookmarks", from the drop down menu select, "show all bookmarks". That gives you a panel titled, "Library" Third from the left at the top you'll see, "Import and Backup". There's a drop down menu from there I'm sure you'll be able to figure out.
  4. macx

    macx TS Evangelist Topic Starter Posts: 710

    I do know how to save the FF bookmarks as a separate file, but was hoping a backup program
    could update anything that was changed rather than making completely new copies of everything.
    That was what was suggested as possible by a number of things I've read.

    And I still don't see any answers to my basic question - ?
  5. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 8,430   +2,822

    Then what you may want to look into is incremental backups. With incremental backups there is a full system backup and then periodically there is a new image made with only the changes made since the last image.

    In answer to your basic question, cloning and imaging is the same thing. The only difference is the term the person/developer decides to use.
  6. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 11,457   +1,759

    Well, I had this discussion years ago as to the semantic difference between calling RAID 1 a backup. It does backup all your data. Somebody else insisted it was a "mirror".

    So, there's your answer, either use RAID 1, or use and imaging program such as Acronis "True Image". Which BTW is on sale at Newegg until tonight for $25.00 with a $25. MIR. I guess that's free if you have the patience.

    It has to be mentioned that RAID won't provide you with a clean backup in the event of malware, you have to use your program's incremental backup along with drive imaging for that.

    Most programs with a necessity to backup data, (IE Adobe "Lightroom"), have incremental backup strategies.

    As to the semantic difference between "ghost", and "image", I honest to gosh don't really care.

    EDIT: Drive "imaging" isn't really intended to back up raw data. There's simply too much information involved. You should image the C:/ drive partition after you're finished installing Windows, and all of your programs are in and configured. Data backup is a whole 'nuther separate issue.
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2015
  7. macx

    macx TS Evangelist Topic Starter Posts: 710

  8. macx

    macx TS Evangelist Topic Starter Posts: 710

    Now that's what I was looking for, thanks!! I think. Remaining question after reading the post below yours - does an incremental backup setup also backup new/changed files, or is incremental backup only for the system backups, requiring a complete separate backup app for updating changed files and adding new ones? And of course what app/s would you suggest?
  9. macx

    macx TS Evangelist Topic Starter Posts: 710

    And captaincranky, what app/s would you suggest - sounds like I need one to do the system imaging and another for data backup?

    Or does the Acronis app do both or just the system imaging?
  10. macx

    macx TS Evangelist Topic Starter Posts: 710

    Ouch! I checked out Acronis (2015) at New Egg and found that 60% of reviews
    were VERY negative. Required all kinds of gymnastics I wouldn't have a clue how
    to do. That sure doesn't sound like anything I could deal with.
  11. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 11,457   +1,759

    Since I never do backups per se, I might be the wrong person to ask.

    I do use backup built into the imaging programs I work with. (Photoshop Elements, Lightroom, Photoshop CS). You can't use an outside utility with these programs, since you'd only have to reassemble the entire catalog anyway in the case of a meltdown. In fact, those Adobe apps will go off the rails if you even touch their files in Windows

    AFAIK. Window has some backup built in also.
    Well, if Newegg has poor reviews on Acronis, I'd almost bet they have worse reviews on other imaging programs they sell. Western Digital's data migration software was written by Acronis. (You can download that free but it will only image on the fly, not record an image to external media).

    All migration software is basically imaging software, and it all gets very mixed reviews. So it's hard to tell if it's the software, or the people trying to use it. Maybe a little bit of both.

    Many later mobos have RAID capability. In this circumstance, you would partition the system drive off and create an image of it by itself. All of the "My Documents", "My Music", "My Etcetera", type of poop, would need to be re-targeted to the paired drives, where it would be, "mirrored" in 2 places. For the truly micro- managing paranoiac, you could yank one of the RAID drives out of the machine from time to time, and simply copy and paste the entire drive to another drive, in another machine.

    Keep in mind a "disc image", is exactly what the "restore discs" are in a pre-built system. Accordingly, you aren't going to be "imaging" a 4 terabyte hard drive on a weekly basis.

    So there's no ambiguity, every time I mention "RAID", I'm speaking in terms of RAID 1 (one)
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2015
  12. bluejolls

    bluejolls TS Enthusiast Posts: 100   +8

    Rsync works wonderfully for this. We use it to backup all our servers every night. Recovery process is:
    1. boot from LiveCD
    2. partition drives
    3. create filesystems
    4. mount filesystems
    5. rsync from backups server
    6. reboot

    If your backups/images server runs ZFS, then you can enable compression (and if running OpenSolaris, dedupe) to minimise disk usage.
  13. bazz2004

    bazz2004 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,213   +200

    "Ouch! I checked out Acronis (2015) at New Egg and found that 60% of reviews
    were VERY negative. Required all kinds of gymnastics I wouldn't have a clue how
    to do. That sure doesn't sound like anything I could deal with."

    That sounds like me. You do need to take measures to back stuff up but if it goes wrong you may have zilch with that type of backup. If you're really into computer management it's probably fun and safe but for me it's just too complicated. I used Acronis years ago and then decided to simulate a crisis to check how things would go. I was not in panic mode but it all went wrong. That was the end of my ghosting and imaging. I prefer an external hard drive or usb sticks for data. I've got too many computers to protect everything but I do have in the main desktop a hard drive that's ready to go if the existing drive dies or corrupts. It isn't bang up to date but a few days ago I performed the Windows 10 upgrade from Windows 7 to keep up with the main drive which was upgraded when W10 launched. You've just got to go with what you feel comfortable with.

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