Can not get my backup program to create a verifiable ISO

By justgeorge ยท 43 replies
Nov 7, 2010
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  1. I have 2 programs for creating ISO images, Macrium Reflect and Acronis for WD. I bought a My Book 1TB external HD to back up to, but it's not much good if I can't use it to the purpose I bought it for.
    I've run ExactFile checksums until I'm blue in the face. I can run them back to back and the results are never the same. It shows files I know haven't had any changes to, at least not for months. Plus it comes up with a different number of errors each time too.
    I'm at my wits end trying to figure why the image won't verify. My system is falling apart, my AutoPlay doesn't work nor does my system restore.

    The My Book has a feature called SmartWare, it backs up all changes made within the documents and picture files. It's does not back up programs or the system files. I've run 2 dskck and that came up with no problem. I ran a sfc/r a few weeks ago and it said there were errors that it could not fix. This is after I spent a whole day messing around doing an inplace upgrade. It took hours to download all of the additional update beyond that. I've even tried disabling the Smartware.

    Can anyone tell me how to go about finding the problem? I would really appreciate it.
  2. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 11,138   +985

    hmm; your topic
    doesn't match the description at all imo. I would never expect any backup to create an ISO. Acronis & Ghost do create
    a disk image for recovery purposes.
    hint: not all disk images must be an ISO file
  3. justgeorge

    justgeorge TS Member Topic Starter Posts: 39

    Hi Jobeard
    As you can tell I'm kinda new to all this high tech stuff.
    The reason I bought Macrium Reflect was to create an ISO image to backup my HD in case of a crash. When that failed to create a verifiable image I tried Western Digitals Acroinis. That failed to pass on a verifiable image too. Both forums told me to run a checksum. I've done that but I can't find why the ISO image fails every time, not once in a while, every time.
    Maybe I don't understand this process. (What a surprise that would be, did I mention I hate computers?)
    When you say it doesn't match the description "imo" what do you mean?

    I keep most of my documents and photo's backed up to hard copy (CD), just a habit I got into. The external HD was a recent purchase. I thought this was going to be so easy. Burn an ISO image to the new HD and I'd be somewhat safe.
    The SmartWare keeps all of that stuff backed up as changes are made to those files. It's my System files I'm worried about. I have even made sure I have hard copies of all of my program installations.
    The problem is it would be so much simpler if I knew which direction to go first. I can't tell you how many Tech forums I have searched trying to figure this mess out.
    I spent a month and 1/2 working with a Microsoft Tech on the AutoPlay problem, we never even hit on the System Restore problem. They finally sent me a disk of Vista w/SP2 on it and told me to do the in place upgrade. After I did it and it didn't take care of the problem they just said they didn't know any other answers.
    I'm a cabinet builder by trade, custom kitchens actually. I use a program that is graphic intensive and it store the different customer files with the program. If I lose all of that I'm in deep crap. Sending them individually to the external HD is a pain in the neck. One file requires another folder to work, it's a complicated mess. My biggest worry is how do I get into the external HD to extract all of that back to a new HD if I can't get this stupid thing to boot from a CD. Yes, my BIOS are set to boot from CD, it doesn't do it. You can heard the HD spin up, but it goes right past the CD and straight into Vista.

    Oh Please somebody help me or shoot me and put me out of my misery.:dead:
  4. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 11,138   +985

    There's several ways to protect User Data Files(UDF) (which is far less complicated that creating a HDD Image for a system)

    System ISOs take
    • lots of media
    • lots of time
    • and need a bootable CD to perform the recovery
    • AND if there's a new system as the target, it may well not boot anyway
      (eg: the box fails utterly and you just get another)

    UDF have
    • no dependency upon the hardware
    • can frequently be opened by more than just one application
    • can sometimes even be recovered to a different OS {Mac OSX, Linux} and used there

    Two major concepts for UDF:
    • replication: just copy the UDF to any other media than the original
    • backup; run a program to compress and copy into a file that can be used to restore them

    A) a simple technique is to attach a removable drive and then just drag-n-drop the folders
    containing your UDF. Issue is that files not modified since the last time you replicated will be copied again (and again and again ...)
    There are some nice (and cheap) programs that compare the modified dates on the originals to the copied files and only transport changed file - -
    saving time and media. Recovery is straight forward; reverse the source vs target locations OR
    just drag-n-drop what you need (when you need it)

    Personally, I have a great fondness for Allway Sync

    B) the backup technique has at least three variations, but to recover, you still need this same program to recover anything.
    The variations are:
    1. full backup: lots of media required for every backup which duplicates everything
    2. differential: using the full backup as a base, the differential technique captures everything since the full backup was taken.
      Next time to backup, it does the same thing,
      so you have three files; the full, first differential and the second seven days later.
      If it's necessary to recover, ONLY the full + the second differential are necessary.
    3. incremental: much like the differential, but each backup captures only files changed since the last one.
      Thus a recovery requires ALL the files; full + diff#1 +diff#2 ...
  5. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,491   +184

    Seems jobeard and I are often on opposite sides of the fence. And here we are once more.

    Let me give my own opinion/point-of-view for starters
    Folder/file backups allow you to restore your personal data but don't help much if your system if it gets corrupted or your hard drive crashes and you're faced with a fresh reinstall (and IMO being prepared for this crisis is critical especially when you rely on your computer for your business)
    > You have reinstall Windows and all its updates
    > You have to reinstall all your programs and utilities
    > You have to and remember and customize all your programs, preferences, etc. all of over again. And more of pain-in-the-@@@ stuff you needn't care about if you do occasional system backups

    As to my own backup strategy i do a system backup about quarterly (or as needed if if i make a major change to my installed system). Then i do data backups frequently.

    You can use Acronis to do both. Here's some overviews to help get started
    > How to Create Windows Partition Backup with Acronis True Image Home
    > HOWTO: Explore Archives and Mounting Images in Acronis

    Also note
    > Note Acronis creates TIB files (i.e. files with the extension .tib). Acronis doesn't create ISO backups
    > You should create an Acronis Rescue Media if you should ever need it
    > If you want to backup to CD in addition to HD you can tell acronis to split the archive files (that's an Acronis Option). But suggest you first get familiar with normal Acronis bacukps and restore
    > Also when you do an Acronis backup note one of the settable options is tell it to verify the backup

    OMG and Yikes! :rolleyes: I can't believe we're back to the question of only doing folder/file backups vs. also doing system backups. And we're here just a few short months after your own machine got corrupted and you lamented you only had file backups and feared a reinstall from scratch (you can click the quote for the actual post)
    As well as also sheepishly admitting you wished you had done a system backup and cloned your hard drive

    (And especially) when someone relies on their computer for business would you really trust simple file/folder backups to allow them to recover their machine (and their business) if disaster strikes??
  6. justgeorge

    justgeorge TS Member Topic Starter Posts: 39


    Part of why I like Macrium is because it has so many options.

    These are the Back Up Task
    1 Backup files and folders into a compressed virtual FAT32
    2 Create a backup image of an entire disk or selected partition(s)
    Once I get into the backup wizard I'm given a choice of full, incremental and differential . I can then chose which drive or folders I want to back up.

    These are the Restore options
    Restore files from a files and folder backup
    Restore a partition image
    browse an image or backup file in Windows Explorer
    Detach a backup image from Windows Explorer

    Under Other Tasks
    I can verify an image or files for errors. (This can also be done at the time it's being backed up, saves you from thinking you have a good copy when you really don't)
    Create a Bootable CD

    Because I have the Paid version I can also add Macrium to the boot menu as an option to start the recovery environment. Plus with the paid version you get access to the support forum. Non paying can only search they can't ask questions.
    I ended up having to pay because Vista does not have a PE, since they have to pay Microsoft for that license, you pay to get it. Another + for Vista. Even with Windows 7 you don't get the ISO option unless you buy the Pro version. Microsoft got ya come'n and a go'n!

    The Acronis is even more complex so I just shot for the ISO image burn. I have a 1TB external HD, space is no problem. Plus both programs give you the options of how many images to save. You can save just 1 or 10, just a matter of space.
    I was saving 3 until I found out they had to be verified to be any good:eek: Talk about a DUH moment.
    Macrium has a free version, give it a look. Meanwhile I'm going to check out your favorite.
  7. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 11,138   +985

    I lamented the missing System State, not an ISO image.

    I'm not interested in debating here and confusing the O.P. further - -
    I'll just back out and let you rant - - have a good day sir.

    (ps: that means I've unsubscribed from the thread)
  8. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,491   +184


    I'm familiar with Acronis but just glanced at the Macrium documentation. They both provide similar functionality.

    One clarification: ISO files are a very specific type of image file. (Neither Acronis nor Macrium create ISO files)
    > ISO files have ISO extension
    > Acronis files have TIB extension
    > Macrium files have MRIMG extensions
    So while you are creating disk image backup files (also called "archive" files) they're not ISO files (to avoid confusion).

    My underlying points in my post above:
    > Especially as a business owner, you need a recovery method you can rely on and recover from easily if your system gets corrupt or hard drive crashes
    > You can't afford to realize (only when disaster strikes) and "in hindsight" there's something else you wished you had backed up and now isn't available
    > IMO trying to reinstall and reset all your programs and system settings can be pain and can require much work (sometimes impossible if something is missing!) vs recovering a system image and then overlaying it with a recent file/folder backup

    I suggest you first assure you can create a full system backup correctly (and use the validate option on backup). Then assure you browse the archive file. Then can move to next steps.....
  9. justgeorge

    justgeorge TS Member Topic Starter Posts: 39

    Hi LookinAround

    Acronis True Image for WD must be different from the other Acronis, that or I'm reading the help file all wrong, which wouldn't be a first either. See attachment (never mind, sorry)

    Didn't see your second post, sorry. I thought that is what an "image" was? I think I got "ISO" from their forum

    Attached Files:

  10. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,491   +184

    Yes, there will be some variations between versions of Acronis

    Which also makes it a tough call to decide which we have you try to use
    > You have a paid version of Macrium and also get phone support from them
    > I'm familiar with Acronis tho the two products should be similar

    I'd suggest we try this:
    > We can walk through Acronis to try and get it to work and you familiar with the steps
    > As then i think you easily reapply those steps to Macrium

    So let me first ask you: am i correct about the file output extensions i mentioned above for acronis and macrium (tib and mrimg). Or are you actually seeing ISO extension files created anywhere when you do backup operation????
  11. justgeorge

    justgeorge TS Member Topic Starter Posts: 39


    Nope don't see ISO anyplace, just image which I got confused with ISO.

    Do I even want to ask what the O.P. stands for?
  12. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,491   +184

    LOL.. OP = "Original Poster" (i.e. just the acronym for the person who started the thread)

    Btw... while backup operations won't create ISOs you should see an ISO when you create your Rescue CD. (You use the rescue CD as last resort if machine can't boot so you can reach your backups and be able to restore to your machine). The "Create Rescue" operation creates an ISO you then burn to CD

    That said, forgetting about checksums for the moment
    > have you been able to create system backups in Macrium and/or Acronis to your HD?
    > Did you create the backup with the Validate backups on (this compares the backup files to the original disk. This step is run as soon as the backup completes. Validation step will take as long or longer then the backup itself)
    > Have you then explored the backup archive to at least prove you can open it and it looks good at first glance?
  13. justgeorge

    justgeorge TS Member Topic Starter Posts: 39

    This is where I think I saw ISO, while burning the rescue CD. Now the problem with Acronis is; I can't boot from the rescue CD because for whatever reason the DVD drive doesn't work. Fortunately I have Macrium in the boot menu, but it's not much good if I don't have anything backed up to restore from (in the event of a crash, which I assume is the next thing to happen)

    I can create the backup I just can't get the sucker to validate that it's any good. They both abort the process if I have it set to "validate upon completion" of the image.
    If I don't ask it to validate I can take an image to the external HD. I have successfully mounted one and looked at it, but unless I can check it file by file, by sub files then I don't know what I'm even looking at.
    I wish one of these programs would just stop right where the problem is and throw it out there and say "hey stupid, here it is".

    You are right, these business files are not something I can really afford to lose. Each file represents days worth of work. Some even weeks.

    Update: I knew I saw that somewhere in this stupid program. I was beginning to doubt my own sanity LOL See 2 attachments

    Attached Files:

  14. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,491   +184

    LOL. No worries. Is easy to forget "where" you saw "what" when learning some new software!
    > So fyi.. when you read about or talk of Acronis or Macrium backups you may find them referred to as "backup files" or "backup archives" or simply "archive files" etc.

    That's a plus BUT you should still be certain you have a bootable Rescue CD (for the case where your hard drive crashes and then the boot option is no longer an option since the boot data on the drive is gone!!)

    Test your Rescue CDs to verify it's bootable. Can you create and boot from a Macrium Rescue CD? (or any other bootable CD?)

    Back with more later....

    /* EDIT */
    Absolutely, those data files are important. But the subtle "gotcha" is also making sure you have a disk image with all your installed programs and settings etc. available so should your drive crash or get corrupt you can also easily restore a reasonably recent working disk image with working copies of all your programs and stuff (along with program settings and activation licenses etc.) needed to allow you to still use all your data files.

    Plus I've found you want to do disk imaging time to time to also assure you haven't forgotton or missed something you'll find you'll need later
  15. justgeorge

    justgeorge TS Member Topic Starter Posts: 39

  16. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,491   +184

    If you can boot from CD when HD is disconnected that implies your problem is boot order (the order which the computer looks for bootable system).

    If it checks HD first, it will always boot from HD if it exists with bootable Windows

    You need to tell your computer to check the CD/DVD drive first. I found this link. Is important you ONLY change the boot order. Don't change anything else in the BIOS

    /* EDIT */
    I hear ya. But we'll try and take things step-by-step as best i can
  17. justgeorge

    justgeorge TS Member Topic Starter Posts: 39

    Sorry I should have been my explicit when I said HD I meant the external HD. My BIOS are set to boot from the CD/DVD. It doesn't, but it is set to.

    I was wondering if the virtual CD (SmartWare) was confusing things. I've also found something called a RAID controller, don't know what that does. I've been trying to google that. I don't know why it's on this computer. I don't have multiple internal HD's. At the time I bought it (the computer) I did tell the kid I needed a good graphics card. Would he have put it on there for that? I have a 500GB Sata. This RAID thing must be doing something, because when I went into the Device manager it said it was operating correctly. I'm putting an attachment of it in for you to see.

    Attached Files:

  18. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,491   +184


    Your HD seems to be working fine plus device manager's happy so that's all good. If anything your disk NOT working should cause the machine to boot from CD i think....

    So makes me wonder if CDs are really bootable or not?
    > You can try them to check in a friend's computer if they can work to boot on a different machine
    > ALSO how did you create them? did you burn ISO files? (as ISO's must be burned as IMAGE files not DATA files to create bootable CDs)
    > Did you try creating the Macrium CD using the direct to CD option? (if not, try that option)

    /* edit */
    You create image backups of either
    > The entire disk OR
    > Partitions on your disk (the disk is subdivided by one or more partitions)
    fyi You can view disk partition layout by rt click Computer->Manage->Disk Management and look at lower pane

    But when you image, is best to image the whole disk and be done with it. You want a complete "snapshot" of your HD should it ever fail.

    /* edit2 */
    Again, the backup strategy (works for me and i've implemented for others) but any strategy is up to you....
    1. Run a complete disk image backup on occassion (maybe every 3-4 months or when needed cause you did major changes to your installed programs)
    2. Then run data backups frequently (e.g. overnight)

    You want the full disk image backup so you always have a working Windows and installed programs to fall back on. You can't recover yoru installed programs as individual files like you do data files..
  19. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,491   +184

    In parallel with issue of Rescue CD issue, back to original topic.....
    1. I see ExactFiles is freeware. I'll go check it out
    2. When you say you were "trying to compare ISO's" i assume you meant
    > You created a backup archive on external HD of select files/folders
    > Then you explored the backup archive to copy the backup files/folders from HD to a CD
    > Burned the CD
    > Then tried using ExactfFiles to verify the checksums between CD and original backupfiles? ExactFiles kept complaining about different checksums?
  20. justgeorge

    justgeorge TS Member Topic Starter Posts: 39

    It's not just my boot cd's I can't open. I can't open anything using Autoplay, I have to go through Start>computer>DVD RW drive (E) to even open a CD.

    No, I used the "Create Digest", After it ran; I copied that to notebook, then saved it to "my documents".

    Then I opened "Test Digest" pulled that file from my documents and ran the check. That produced a list of things that failed. I assumed that meant there was something wrong with those???
    Oh let me guess, I don't understand how this program works either.:rolleyes: This is one program where I can truly say the directions suck.

    Speaking of programs, you have a guide for running Driver Cleanup. You don't say specifically where in System 32 to put the Cleanup.exe. I know how to do the administrative thing, just wasn't sure where to put the exe file. Does it go in the "drivers" folder or just put it anywhere in System 32?
    Also, This will uninstall the driver to my external HD, yes? I have a backup copy of the update, both firmware and software. Should I reinstall those when I hook my external HD back up? I think my AutoPlay worked up until I did that last "firmware" update. I asked in the WD forum "if rolling back the driver or completely uninstalling would reset the ex HD to original factory setting"? Never got a straight answer. Some forums are a real pita!

    Sorry forgot to check that boot CD this morning, didn't have my coffee:zzz:
  21. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,491   +184

    Autoplay and boot CDs under Windows
    Note: The CD drive is contolled by Windows AFTER Windows starts. So, Autoplay problems could be (and often are) related to bad Windows settings, or corruption, etc.

    However, when you first power up, your CD drive is controlled by your BIOS (BIOS eventually hands control to Windows.. and that's when you see the Windows start screen). So...
    1. Autoplay issues can be due to any number of Windows issues (most all of which don't apply during BIOS boot when Windows isn't even running)
    2. Only thing to check under Windows
    > Does it recognize the CD is in the drive?
    > Can you can browse file/folders on the CD using Windows Explorer
    3. So... I'd defer any discussion specific to Autoplay problems you're having for now
    4. Questions are:
    > Does your computer recongize a CD in drive when insert the boot CD?
    > Can you use Explorer to browse the CD content (ignore Autoplay issues)
    > Test the CD on yours and test on other machines to see if it's bootable on any of them or problem is just your machine
    > And do try creating a new boot Macrium Rescue CD using their "direct to CD" option

    DriveCleanup Tool
    Copy it to C:\Windows\System32 (not to any subfolder) It should appear as C:\Windows\System32\drivecleanup.exe. The utility will uninstall all the Windows generic drivers for all the currently disconnected USB storage devices. You then get a clean reinstall of the Windows drivers on reconnect. It won't affect any vendor specific drivers/software/firmware

    Problems in verify CD data
    May take me awhile to get back to you as need time to review and check the process you're following giving your bad checksum results. Meanwhile,
    1) see if you can get ANY boot disk to work on your computer (is important to know earlier then later if any disaster strikes! that you can boot from CDs)
    2) Just for heck of it... There's an old and simple tool i used to use to compare folders: AND it will give a report on file mismatches as i recall. So might try playing with QVerify to see what it says and reports about specific mismatches. Pretty simple interface too.
    > Be sure to click Check Data.
    > When it's done, you should be able click on its report, Ctrl-A to select ALL, Ctrl-C to copy, Ctrl-V to paste into notepad or other text document so you can save the results
  22. justgeorge

    justgeorge TS Member Topic Starter Posts: 39


    I ran through a bunch of stuff this morning:
    I made a new cronis rescue CD, that doesn't work, it should but doesn't. See attachments 1,2,3. It goes right past it and opens the boot menu. Once Windows is open, then it tries to open. All AutoPlay setting are correct, but AutoPlay doesn't open on desktop.

    see view from Explorer. It appears the CD is good. I'm sure it's my machine, I just don't know what or where or how to fix the problem.

    Then I tried to create a disk image, that failed too. See 4 and 5.
    Maybe you can see something in that log that tells you anything? Other than the archive being corrupt, which tells me nothing really.

    Thanks, gonna go play with QVerify. Will run that driver cleanup too.

    Attached Files:

  23. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,491   +184


    Seems there are two fundamental issues to be reckoned with regardless of the topic of system vs. data backup to run....

    Bootable CD device
    1. I now realize your BIOS is set to USB CDROM. Do have internal CDROM device??? Or only a USB connected CD?
    2. I would still test those CDs on another computer to be certain if they're bootable or not
    3. Again, when you burn ISOs files they must be burned as images. Try burning Acronis ISO again. Try using freeware ImageBurn. Also, See here for a snapshot of its menu
    4. I've seen cases where booting from a USB CDROM is problematic. Hope that's not true for you. So do check those CDs are really bootable on other machine as well. And do you still have any support or warranty from the store you bought it at?

    Acronis Validation Fails
    Also not a good sign that validation fails i think. Try installing CrystalDiskInfo. Use it to check each HD. Does it report everything as Good (with those blue icons)?
    /* EDIT */
    When you get the chance, probably worth trying a Macrium backup/validation as well to see if also fails. Quite frustrating, i'm sure, not to mention these problems take away time from the business of running your business :(
  24. justgeorge

    justgeorge TS Member Topic Starter Posts: 39

    Spent some time playing with QVerify. I decided to start checking folders 1 by 1 to see if anything stuck out. I think the problem is in the Manifest folder in the winsxs folder. Poor Q darn near choked to death checking there. see attachment

    This is where I think that Smartware is screwing things up. I'm not sure which one of the F buttons I pushed have to try it over and see if I can get pull it up again. Anyway it asks what the boot priority should be. It offers me the choice of that stupid virtual thing or the ATAPI. I clicked the ATAPI but it isn't changing in the BIOS to that. I don't remember if I discussed it on this forum or the WD forum but the registry values look to me like they are reversed. I can't remember how I got to where it was in the registry, can't find it now.:mad:

    Today is a good day, kinda slow in the shop. Hard to sell high end kitchens in this economy. Good day to fool with this thing, before I actually have to put it to work and it dies.

    Attached Files:

  25. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,491   +184

    Thanks for the snapshots. They help :)

    Re:Booting from CD
    Looks like your BIOS settings are wrong. You're inserting the boot CDs into your internal ATAPI DVD drive but your BIOS First Boot Device is looking for an external USB CD/DVD drive to boot from)

    See this link again.
    > F2 to enter BIOS setup
    > Then look at changing setting for First Boot Device. Change it to ATAPI DVD (or some similar name as this is your internal CD/DVD drive. It should be among the First Boot Device options you will see)
    > Also remember to save BIOS settings before exiting BIOS (should be F10 per the info in link i found)

    As to your backups
    More later when i have more time to post. But while i'm still concerned if Acronis' or Macrium' backup can't validate their own backup archive, i see a problem with what you're trying to do so yourself (in this case using "Qverify").

    Your Windows system is running and system files always changing. I see you're trying to compare a backup of Windows files to your currently running Windows system files on drive C. That won't work as C:\Windows is constantly changing.

    For now, suggest you try
    1) Run a Macrium system backup also and set it to validate. Acronis and Macrium are the ones who know how to validate and compare your changing Windows files (these backup programs actually work with a Windows service to do this task. You can't compare running Windows system files on your own)
    2) You can still go ahead and use QVerify to check your personal data files

    3) Also, did you try CrystalDiskInfo tool? Do they show you're drives are OK? I'm thinking they are.

    more later...

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