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  1. #1
    Plutonium Lounger
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    Shadow Protect Strategy Question

    I know there aren't that many of us, but I'd be interested to hear opinions on this test I did today - what are YOU doing, etc.

    I have three partitions on two physical drives: XP on the primary physical and Vista / Windows 7 on two partitions on a second drive. Both drives are SATA. My "main squeeze" is still XP and I run a full image weekly from within XP, setting up three separate jobs with the output destination an external USB drive. I usually setup those THREE jobs to run in series, knowing in advance approximately how long each will take. That has never resulted in more than ONE minute of overlap where the first hasn't finished and the second one starts up. I've not had a problem with this strategy and it took, last week, <big>52 minutes</big> end-to-end to finish all three images.

    Today I was feeling a bit capricious so I decided to setup all three jobs to start at the same time, to the SAME external drive, just to see if SP and XP could handle it without collisions or errors! It seems to have worked like a charm and my brief looks at the output files indicates that they're OK. This time, the total elapsed time for all three jobs was <big>47 minutes.</big> The only thing unusual that I noticed was that the job that finished first was Windows 7 and SP's main screen didn't show it as completed. The second job to complete was the Vista partition and it DID show up in SP as completed, so I was worried that the first one might be bad.

    When the third job (my XP partition) finished, suddenly the first one did pop to completed so I checked the SP log and it had all the "normal" entries including the usual final one that all "snapshots" had been destroyed. My "conclusion" if that's appropriate is that there isn't anything to be saved or lost in terms of time, one way or the other.
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  2. #2
    3 Star Lounger
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    Re: Shadow Protect Strategy Question

    Hi Al,
    I also am using SP now but am still using TI11 - TI for my desktop, and SP for my laptop. (I won't be updating TI - but will continue to use it for my desktop needs).
    Your tests do seem to indicate that either way will not produce much of a time saving for running the backup jobs.
    Kudos to Bob Archell's in-depth description of his routines - should satisfy most anyone.
    While I follow your setup (almost to the letter) I do have one observation though - I noticed you are still using the date file format where you indicate the date of the backup within the filename. Wondering why you didn't go with the 'file retention policy' from SP? Bob's graphic (above) shows the file naming convention used by SP and it 'auto-magically' follows itself down the incremental as well as the full backup jobs without any further user input as well as auto deleting any sets above a defined maximum number of backups. Works much more betterer for us 'older users'. <img src=/S/smile.gif border=0 alt=smile width=15 height=15>
    Nothing wrong with the way you have yours named, it just that it's .. so .. TI'ish.

  3. #3
    5 Star Lounger
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    Re: Shadow Protect Strategy Question

    Hi Al,

    Edited to add one step I forgot. I clear out System Restore Points before doing the defrag check when it's time for monthly backups.

    Here's my BU procedure with Shadow Protect.

    Background
    <UL><LI>I have three internal 500GB Sata drives (setup as per snapshot attached) and one external USB/IDE 500GB drive.
    <LI>I have two scheduled tasks 1) weekly full backups with daily incrementals and 2) monthly full backups.
    <LI>Before the weekly backups, I run CCleaner (manually) and have a scheduled defrag of Data and Work1 for 1:00PM every Sunday.
    <LI>The weekly scheduled backups of System (C: ), Data (D: ) and Work1 (I: ) run at 6:00 PM Sunday and place output on Backup00 (F: )... all scheduled as one task.
    <LI>The daily incrementals on the above three drives... output stored on Backup00 (F: )
    <LI> forgotten monthly BU step Turn off creation of System Restore Points and after clearing, turn SRP back on and create a new point. This saves up to 15GB of storage taken up by a monthly accumulation of SRPs.
    <LI>Before the monthly backups, I run CCleaner and defrag of System and AudVid (if deemed appropriate).
    <LI>The monthly scheduled backups of System, Data, Work1 and AudVid run at 9:00PM on the 1st of the month and place output to external drive Backup02 (K: )... all scheduled as one task.[/list]The attached snapshot shows the weekly full backup of February 1, starting at 6:00PM with each partition being backup one at a time. The detail log (not shown) indicates that the backup of the 2nd partition is not started until the 1st is completed and the 3rd only starts after the 2nd is complete. Once all BUs are completed, the snapshots for all three are deleted. Total time for all three partitions... 41 minutes.

    The snapshot also shows the summary log for the weekly backups of February 8. The total time for all three being 34 1/2 minutes. I would suggest that the reduced time is the direct result of the monthly defrag of the System drive run the previous week.

    The snapshot showing the monthly backup includes an extra partition - the audio / video files. The total time for all 4 partitions totalling 1 hour 45 minutes. Remember that these backups are being stored on the external USB drive which has less throughput than the internal and faster SATA drive. If I use the displayed information to eliminate the AudVid drive timings, the result is approximately 50 minutes for the remaining three drives.

    Hope this gives you enough to chew on. If not, just shout.

    Cheers, Bob
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    Regards,
    Bob

  4. #4
    Plutonium Lounger
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    Re: Shadow Protect Strategy Question

    To Bob Archell: Thanks for the very good description of your procedure. It's an excellent tutorial for anyone wanting to start a very organized backup routine. The only drawback in your post is that since you do your imaging "all in one" and I do separate images per partition, we're on a little different path. Your narrative was very informative.

    To "The Other Bob:" My naming doesn't really have anything to do with TI either. I've been doing it for many years, with a lot of other files in addition to backups. But, I admit that I SHOULD try the ShadowProtect naming to just see what happens and get some experience with it. A secondary reason also is that, although I do a full image on Saturday and incrementals each night, I don't get around to doing the full at the same time on Saturday. It depends what's going on that day. Therefore, I need to re-create my backup jobs each Saturday by deleting the old and creating new. The real reason for this is so that I can do my disk cleanup, chkdsk and defrag, prior to starting the full imaging. I suppose I should "discipline" myself into a routine of doing the cleanup, etc. early on Saturday morning and schedule the repeating full image for later in the day. But the backbreaker is that I alternate backup destinations every other Saturday to one of TWO external 500 gig USB drives and I haven't figured out how to deal with that. I'd like to create two jobs with different destinations to be run every OTHER week but I don't think SP will let me do that.

    Now, back to the first Bob. <img src=/S/grin.gif border=0 alt=grin width=15 height=15> If I do multiple partitions in one job, will SP let me mount a single partition in case I need to recover individual files? I'm afraid that I use THAT function more than I would care to remember, but it's saved my bacon on many occasions when I've got a corrupt email file or a browser profile or my Palm calendar has gone belly up, etc.

  5. #5
    5 Star Lounger
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    Re: Shadow Protect Strategy Question

    Hi Al,

    You asked: "If I do multiple partitions in one job, will SP let me mount a single partition in case I need to recover individual files?"

    Answer: YUP. You just request to mount that particular backed up partition and Shadow Protect will load it up with an assigned drive letter. It picks an available letter. You can then browse the mounted drive with Windows Explorer and copy any file you want to any legitimate drive/media. When finished, just right click on the drive letter assigned using Windows Explorer and select the Dismount option.

    Remember that although you have a single scheduled (or even unscheduled task) each partition in that backup stream forms its own backup file.

    WRT your comment to "The Other Bob" about naming conventions... I too used to override the SP assigned names with one of my own chosing. As a matter of fact, very close to the convention used by your example. Then one day, I rapped myself on the knuckles saying I was too A...Retentive and let SP do its thing. <img src=/S/grin.gif border=0 alt=grin width=15 height=15> Never looked back.

    The other thing I did when I switched to letting SP assign and control the names was to set schedules to run at precise times. I again disciplined myself to run the deemed necessary clean up tasks before the weekly and monthly backups were scheduled to run.

    WRT your switching two external units, I seem to remember something on the StorageCraft forum about that particular issue. I'll go looking... because I'm curious... even though I only use one external unit.

    Hope this helps.

    Cheers, Bob
    Regards,
    Bob

  6. #6
    Plutonium Lounger
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    Re: Shadow Protect Strategy Question

    <hr>... although you have a single scheduled (or even unscheduled task) each partition in that backup stream forms its own backup file ... <hr>
    Thank you again! That'll teach me to look a little closer at your very clearly explained ATTACHMENT! You had it there as plain as day but I didn't really focus on the destination file names!

    If you discover anything about alternating destinations, I'd appreciate it if you let me know.

    I might just re-do yesterday's backup just to try the "one job" concept. Thanks...

  7. #7
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    Re: Shadow Protect Strategy Question

    Hi Al,

    OK I checked the StorageCraft forum and it seems that you should be able to swap your external drives while maintaining a scheduled backup cycle.

    If I read the articles correctly, it would seem that you would have to ensure that:
    1. <LI>You swap the drives before the scheduled full backup
      <LI>Set the retention cycle to equal total backups per drive. For example, if you wanted 4 complete cycles per external, you would set the retention to 8.
      <LI>You would want to include incremental processing with the set-ups.
    Now, here are the links for three articles gleaned from the forum:
    1. <LI> Backup location rotation on two weeks (external disk)
      <LI> Best plan swapping external drives?
      <LI> ShadowProtect: Simple schedule seems hard to create
    In two of the above links, StorageCraft's "Nate" has contributed some material and he is a great resource.

    Happy reading <img src=/S/grin.gif border=0 alt=grin width=15 height=15>

    Cheers, Bob
    Regards,
    Bob

  8. #8
    Plutonium Lounger
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    Re: Shadow Protect Strategy Question

    Thanks for that hard work, Bob! I've read all three threads and it's good material, BUT... (There had to be a "but" huh?)

    I'm not into "offsite" safety and protection as most people would probably be. I have my two USB drives ALWAYS connected as Drive E: and F: and although I suppose I could try swapping the letters around each week, I don't think I'm going to give that or physicaly unplugging them a try. What I'm after is "alternating" rather than "swapping" so what I really need is a new choice in the SP scheduling structure for "every OTHER week."

    However, what I have gotten from you "two Bobs" is that I think I'll switch to ONE job for the three drives instead of three. It doesn't take me more than two minutes to create and start the job on Saturday and because of the alternating, I'm still not too sure what to do about the naming structure. I'm presently saving THREE backups on each drive, including incrementals, so in total I've got SIX weeks of backup to rely on should one of the files or DRIVES prove to be corrupt. It sounds like what I should do each week if I create a new job, is try letting SP assign the name and tell it I want a retention length of THREE, but I'll have to give that a try to see what happens.

    Thanks again to both of you for your wisdom and guidance! <img src=/S/clapping.gif border=0 alt=clapping width=19 height=23>

  9. #9
    5 Star Lounger
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    Re: Shadow Protect Strategy Question

    Not wanting to sound "cheeky", but is there any reason that both externals have to be connected at once?

    If the units are used for tasks other than backups, then so-be-it.

    However, if only used as a repository for backups, why not just unplug drive F and consider it the "offsite" unit until the need is there to swap out E and replaced by F... using the same USB port? Just a suggestion... and perhaps a cheeky one. <img src=/S/grin.gif border=0 alt=grin width=15 height=15>

    Cheers, Bob
    Regards,
    Bob

  10. #10
    Plutonium Lounger
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    Re: Shadow Protect Strategy Question

    Nothing from you is ever "cheeky" Bob. I always appreciate straight-forward questions. Yes, I do use the two drives for storage of other stuff that's kinda "life important records" and I keep such records on both drives. Admittedly, some are very precious photos and there would be no reason I couldn't unplug one until it's needed. I'll have to think about that one. Old habits die (or change) hard, as they say.

  11. #11
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    Re: Shadow Protect Strategy Question

    Another possibility would be a setup similar to mine. That is, an internal for weekly backups and an external for monthly.

    This assumes of course that you have a spare internal slot. If you do, and it is SATA, then your weekly backups would go a tad faster.

    As shown in the earlier post, I have three internals. One allocated exclusively for the weekly backups (Backup00). Precious photos (and data files) are stored on the prime drive in its own partition (Data). On a daily basis I use XCOPY to copy new/changed files from the Data partition to another drive labelled Backup01. So in essence, my photo and data files are on three drives... the Data partition on drive 0, the weekly backup and incrementals created by SP on drive 1 (Backup00) and copied by XCOPY to drive 2 (Backup01) on a daily basis. Of course supplemented by the monthly backups on the external.

    All hardware is attached to an APC UPS for power and surge protection. So I feel comfortable in knowing that systems and their files are well protected. Oh, I also back up the photo and data files to DVD on a bimonthly basis for offsite storage at my son's.

    Did I say I was A...Retentive? <img src=/S/grin.gif border=0 alt=grin width=15 height=15>

    Cheers, Bob
    Regards,
    Bob

  12. #12
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    Re: Shadow Protect Strategy Question

    Although you are very security conscious, one argument in favor of disconnecting that extra drive is to protect against having its contents encrypted by ransomware, in the unlikely and extremely unfortunate event that you get infected.

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