Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 39
  1. #1
    New Lounger
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    5
    Thanks
    1
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
    I apologize if this topic has been beaten to death already. Please feel free to reply with links if my questions are already answered elsewhere.

    I have two PC's, one runs Win XP (32 bit) and the other Vista (64-bit). I have no interest in upgrading to Win 7 at this time. I'm looking for some backup software, preferably that would run on either machine. I have looked at many different programs, but haven't found one that does everything I'm looking for yet.

    I would like a backup program with the folllowing features:

    1. Backs up to an external hard drive (USB or eSata), flash/thumb drive, or DVD-R's (blu-ray support would be a plus), or to a cloud account like skydrive. Ability to schedule automated, unattended backups would be a plus.

    2. Encrypts the backups before writing. This is especially important if I'm backing up to a cloud account. I know the Microsoft offers their own encryption, but I want it encrypted BEFORE it goes to their servers. I certainly don't trust them with my unencrypted data.

    3. Compression would be a nice touch but with storage media being so cheap these days not an essential.

    4. Writes recovery data to the backup. Something like Winrar's "recovery record" or par2's "parity files". This would be especially important when backing up to DVD's to ensure that a slight scratch on the disc would not render the data on in unrecoverable.

    5. Authentication data (digital signature) to ensure that backups were not tampered with would be good.

    6. Can do full or incremental backups, allowing me to select entire drives, partitions, folders, and/or individual files.

    7. Most importantly, keeps an index of what it has done. I'd like to view my backups in a directory tree format, showing different versions of backups. For example, if I back up the file "my resume.doc", and then edit it, and back it up again, I'd like the software to show me the two backed up versions, dates they were backed up, and allow me to select which one I want to restore.

    7a. I dont want to have to wade thru individual backup sets to search for those different file versions. I want the software to keep track for me and present the different versions ON ONE SCREEN and allow me to select the one I want.

    7. Budget around $50. Would really like 2 licenses to be able to run on both machines for that price. I can push the budget a little higher if the software truly does everything I want. I doubt there are any freeware progs that have all these features, but if there is, by all means, do tell.

  2. #2
    Super Moderator RetiredGeek's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Manning, South Carolina
    Posts
    9,433
    Thanks
    371
    Thanked 1,456 Times in 1,325 Posts
    JM,

    Take a look at Acronis True Image 2010 Home.
    May the Forces of good computing be with you!

    RG

    PowerShell & VBA Rule!

    My Systems: Desktop Specs
    Laptop Specs

  3. #3
    Gold Lounger
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Johnson City, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    3,202
    Thanks
    37
    Thanked 215 Times in 202 Posts
    Quote Originally Posted by J M View Post
    DVD-R's (blu-ray support would be a plus),

    This would be especially important when backing up to DVD's to ensure that a slight scratch on the disc would not render the data on in unrecoverable.
    J M ,
    Hello... Yes Acronis ! Only one more thing to add ..... Forget about DVD backup ....total waste of time and is unreliable.... You will find yourself loading disks and removing, loading, on and on and on ..many more chances for something to go wrong (and it will) Regards Fred
    PlainFred

    None are so hopelessly enslaved as those who falsely believe they are free (J. W. Von Goethe)

  4. #4
    New Lounger
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    London England
    Posts
    2
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
    Have a look at Genie-Soft's "Genie Timeline"

    Fairly new product but works an absolute treat.

    Keep an eye on the website as they occasionally have one day offers where they give it away for free.

    http://www.genie-soft.com/home/home_solutions.aspx

  5. #5
    WS Lounge VIP
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Earth
    Posts
    8,162
    Thanks
    47
    Thanked 976 Times in 906 Posts
    You could try Macrium Reflect free?

    cheers, Paul

  6. #6
    WS Lounge VIP
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Earth
    Posts
    8,162
    Thanks
    47
    Thanked 976 Times in 906 Posts
    Or FBackup?

    cheers, Paul

  7. #7
    3 Star Lounger
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    Location
    Marietta, Georgia, USA
    Posts
    296
    Thanks
    9
    Thanked 4 Times in 4 Posts
    Quote Originally Posted by Fred J Usack View Post
    J M ,
    Hello... Yes Acronis ! Only one more thing to add ..... Forget about DVD backup ....total waste of time and is unreliable.... You will find yourself loading disks and removing, loading, on and on and on ..many more chances for something to go wrong (and it will) Regards Fred
    I agree about NOT using DVDs for backup. I did this two years ago, but it was very slow and tedious to swap the DVDs.

    I realized that as a result, I was not backing up regularly. Eventually I just bought several USB hard drives (for rotating off-site backups). Each weekend I create the image files on a separate data partition, then copy those to the external drive.
    Rick Groszkiewicz
    Life is too short to drink bad wine (or bad coffee!)

  8. #8
    New Lounger
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Ireland
    Posts
    1
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
    I use Almer Backup for all my clients (rebadged as I am a reseller and provide ongoing support/recovery) but you can buy it direct from Almersoft themselves very cheaply. ( it's a russian company but don't let that hold you back )

    I took a long time choosing the right solution and I have found it very reliable over the years and so far it has worked well on every operating system.

    I generally back up one copy locally for ease of recovery and another direct to an ftp server.

    It has pretty much everything you are looking for including incremental backups and versions, with date and time stamps,

    PLUS I have recently been using it to backup my programs as I am software developer and I find every time I change the program, sometimes hundreds of times in a day, it backs up the previous version which is brilliant news..I don't know why I didnt use it for this before.

    go to http://www.almersoft.com

    you can also download a 30 day demo from there (at least you always could before).

    if you want to buy from me, then by all means and I can give you live online training, but it costs a little more through me, so if things are tight, go direct.

    Good luck

  9. #9
    2 Star Lounger
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Iowa, USA
    Posts
    163
    Thanks
    1
    Thanked 1 Time in 1 Post
    Does Almersoft work on Windows 7? The webpage reference above doesn't say so, although Vista is listed.

    Also, is there any way to test that the restore mechanism works correctly? I have used backup programs where the backup procedures seemed to work correctly, but then the restore procedure did NOT.

    Thanks for any additional info.

  10. #10
    Plutonium Lounger Medico's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    12,631
    Thanks
    161
    Thanked 936 Times in 856 Posts
    Quote Originally Posted by rgrosz View Post
    I agree about NOT using DVDs for backup. I did this two years ago, but it was very slow and tedious to swap the DVDs.

    I realized that as a result, I was not backing up regularly. Eventually I just bought several USB hard drives (for rotating off-site backups). Each weekend I create the image files on a separate data partition, then copy those to the external drive.
    I also use Ext HD for Imaging, but just create the back up directly to the Ext HD rather than a seperate partition then copy to the Ext HD. Saves a step, although this only gives me one copy of the Image rather than 2 in seperate locations. Either way, the real point is that up to date Images work very effectively at solving what used to be a very tedious task.
    BACKUP...BACKUP...BACKUP
    Have a Great Day! Ted


    Sony Vaio Laptop, 2.53 GHz Duo Core Intel CPU, 8 GB RAM, 320 GB HD
    Win 8 Pro (64 Bit), IE 10 (64 Bit)


    Complete PC Specs: By Speccy

  11. #11
    New Lounger
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    LasVegas, New Mexico, USA
    Posts
    16
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 2 Times in 1 Post
    I'm going to answer with a Freeware-Only approach that can...when used creatively...provide nearly all of the functionality you're looking for. To add the "recovery" as you specified in item #4, this 100% free solution might require a couple of augmenting programs (also freeware) and a bit more time on the user's part...but the solution does fit all your specifications except for item #7/7a. Note that step #4 could to some degree also be addressed by setting up each backup "disk" as an appropriate redundant RAID array. That would simplify things regarding recovery, but it makes system configuration more difficult and more expensive...which I'm trying to avoid. I do consider all the suggested freeware to be mature and quality programming. Sources for recommended programs are listed at bottom of this post. I have no personal or financial interest in any persons or organizations referenced directly or indirectly in this post.

    RE: Item#

    1. I recommend either backup program "DriveImageXML" (DIXML) or "Macrium Reflect" (MR). Using MR can simplify things quite a bit.
    Both have free editions that work great for personal use. They both either provide directly for or can be combined with a couple other freeware programs to meet your specifications. They both backup data in XML format which means the backup data can be read by other programs and both can compress the backup data. MR is also faster overall than DIXML, and MR automatically creates a hash of the backup data and the integrity of those data can be checked at any time using MR's built-in backup dataset verification utility. MR free edition also has an option to exclude the pagefile and hibernation files from the backup set. As these can be very large files, this saves some time and backup storage space each time you backup the system partition.

    2. Use "TrueCrypt" to make your entire backup drive(s) automatically encrypt all data you place on the drive. Or, you can setup individual "containers" on a given drive for encrypted data. You can setup the encrypt/decrypt to be "on-the-fly" or on-demand. You can also hide the encrypted data or set it up so the encrypted data exhibit what is called 'plausible deniability'. The final degree of flexibility, security, and ease-of-use is up to the user.

    3. Both DIXML and MR provide varying levels of compression. I recommend the medium setting as higher levels generally don't provide significantly greater space savings w/r the time required to process. MR is faster and more effective than DIXML in this area for arbitrary data.

    4. This one is going to be relatively long as it discusses multiple ways of providing a "recovery ability". Assuming one doesn't setup one's backup "disk" as an appropriate redundant RAID array, "recovery" can be handled a few ways even when the backup software doesn't provide a self-recovery capability. For example: both DIXML and MR allow the user to specify the maximum size of each file in a backup session. You can backup the data in a single giant file (assuming your OS supports that large file) or into relatively small segments of say 1GB. If you create multiple small files then "recovery" from a corrupted backup file is likely via a manual process (a script could be written to automate this process but it's beyond the scope of this post). The user makes N backup sets. The more sets, the greater the probability of a successful recovery if a given file in one of the N sets is damaged. One simply recovers the file from one of the other N sets. (By the way, it is good backup protocol to create more than one backup set and store each one in completely separate geographical locations. If one already uses this multi-dataset backup protocol anyway, then this "recovery" approach isn't adding to the backup workload.) One determines if a given backup file is 'bad' by creating a hash of every backup file in every backup set, and compare them to the original hash of the original backup set (MR has a built-in backup file hash verification function). One could also do direct file/folder comparisons between any of the N sets by real-time use a freeware tool such as Microsoft's venerable "Windiff" (or equivalent) or compare hashes if one has lost the hash data. And/or you can use another freeware hashing program called "DigestIT 2004". Use "DigestIT" and copy and paste the hash data for all the files to whatever file you wish. For example, one might create a file called 'backup_hash.txt', where 'backup' is the name of the set of backup files created and hashed using DigestIT. The principle involved here is that if one of the files in one of the sets of the N sets the user created is different from the original hash string, or the other N sets, then it is the corrupted copy. Majority rules. You simply use a file from an undamaged backup set or you simply select to restore from one of the N sets you've determined to be completely uncorrupted. However, assuming the backup sets were stored directly to hard disks, it is generally unlikely one will encounter a damaged backup set of data and the "pain" of this manual recovery method of a single backup file (if ever needed) should not be a major issue. If the backups were made to optical media that would be of course another matter entirely. Macrium has an option to let you burn the backup files directly to DVDs, but I do not recommend that option.

    5. If you use strong encryption and have secure control of your hash data and password(s) for every backup file, then in this case is digital signature authentication absolutely required? Further protection is achieved by using TrueCrypt's ability to 'hide' your encrypted data. If you use MR and TrueCrypt, then a "bad guy" would have to a) gain access to the media, b) find the datasets on the media, c) have to decrypt all the data, and d) have to create passable substitute data which wouldn't fail MR's internal backup dataset verification routines. Succeeding in all 4 very unlikely. And, if you securely make and keep your own dataset file attributes and hash data as another safeguard, it becomes even more difficult as the "bad guy" couldn't simply substitute an arbitrary MR verified backup dataset for step "d)".

    6. The free versions of the backup programs only allow backup at the partition level, but the retail version of MR provides for the increased granularity you specified.

    7/7a. DIXML and MR don't provide this simultaneous Index/Both-on-one-screen "version control" capability. However, MR (non-free version) does provide for browsing and selective recovery granularity down to the file level. For this type of functionality in a free backup program, I think you have to look at file-oriented rather than system-oriented backup software. There are a number of freeware "Version control" programs and a number of freeware file-oriented backup programs out there. However, I don't need/use that specific degree of functionality and thus I don't have a specific recommendation for you here.

    "7." (aka Really 8.) Re: the $50 budget, as indicated my intent was to discuss freeware offerings that would provide most of the functionality you're looking for. For personal use they are of course free, and I believe under that restriction a user can use each program on as many individual machines as one owns. Of course, check the licenses for every program as they can change over time.


    EXAMPLE:
    Here's one example of what one might do to perform a full system partition backup (with redundant encrypted backup dataset copies):
    Ahead of time I created multiple encrypted volumes using TrueCrypt. As many as I need depending on my backup protocols. In this simple case I decided on 3 separate drives per backup dataset. One drive will be kept locally for convenience, and the other 2 will be kept in separate locations.

    That was a one-time step. Now each time I want to make a "full" backup I execute these 2 steps.

    A) Using Macrium Reflect I do a "full" backup of the entire desired partition to a folder in the first of my three TrueCrypt encrypted volumes (Macrium backup settings are verification, medium compression, intelligent copy, and individual output file size limited to 4.7gb (size of DVD). Last time it took about 11min for 13gb system disk that compressed to something like 8gb (in a very slow system).
    B) I copy the 1st backup set of files from the 1st drive to the 2 other drives. Since these drives are encrypt the data on-the-fly using TrueCrypt the copied data are also encrypted during the copy process. Note that I can also assign separate passwords to each backup disk. Note that all 3 backup sets if they remain uncorrupted should independently pass Macrium's built-in backup file verification.

    I keep the remaining 2 backup disks away from my house in geographically separate, secure, and controlled-environment locations.
    (Note that if I'm not concerned about a catastrophic failure of the backup drive, then to keep the triple dataset redundancy I could store all 3 backup sets on just the one encrypted drive. The file redundancy would still provide for some degree of recovery in the case of individual file failure (e.g. flipped bit, lost cluster, etc) while greatly simplifying the overall process.)
    (Note that because I opted to set the output file size to a maximum of 4.7gb...I can copy each of the 2 resulting backup files (remember it's compressed) plus the overhead/control files to single-layer DVDs. I can also encrypt the files or the DVDs using TrueCrypt if desired, and these files would also have to pass the Macrium internal verification test.)

    To restore a partition in the event of a system or disk failure, I verify the 1st backup drive. If its backup dataset fails the internal Macrium backup verification (or a separate hash test), I then of course have to try the other 2 drives. If I can't get at least one of the 3 drives to pass verification (highly unlikely) then I likely can combine individually valid files from between the 3 drives to create a merged a backup set that passes the verification test(s) to meet the recovery capability you specified in item #4.


    (Note that only if I want to be ultra conservative, and not just rely on Macrium's built-in hash and backup file verification capability, I could add these 2 steps:
    C) I use DigestIT and hash the files in each of the 3 drives separately, and do an initial compare of the hashes to detect any initial copy errors.
    D) A copy of a text file with the hash data is stored in a special file I created on each drive/backup-folder and I keep a separate printed list in the safe where I also keep the 1st backup drive.)


    DriveImage XML
    http://majorgeeks.com/DriveImage_XML_d4919.html
    http://www.runtime.org/driveimage-xml.htm

    Maxium Reflect
    http://majorgeeks.com/Macrium_Reflec...ion_d6034.html
    http://www.macrium.com/reflectfree.asp

    TrueCrypt
    http://majorgeeks.com/TrueCrypt_d6032.html
    http://www.truecrypt.org/

    DigestIT
    http://download.cnet.com/DigestIT-20...-10387706.html
    http://www.kennethballard.com/module...wSummary&pid=2


    Hope this made some bit of sense...it's pretty long and I'm on pain meds at the moment.

    edit1: to restore some text to its original position. Cut-and-paste error.
    edit2: added very minor comment
    edit3: some minor wordsmithing

  12. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to JackNoir For This Useful Post:

    kydar (2011-02-28),pjustice57 (2011-01-31)

  13. #12
    New Lounger
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    53226
    Posts
    1
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
    Jack, that has to be among the most comprehensive replies that I have ever seen in a forum to a question of this nature. It also has made me completely reconsider my notion of backups and safety.

    Do you have any suggestions for Roger's question down further in the post to verify and test the backup process? While I understand that the hashes and such will provide me with the security of data integrity, what's the easiest way to test that it really works? I am building up to a reinstall, and imaging the system right after I complete the install and testing the process to restore the image would mean less work if it doesn't do what it is supposed to. But even in the days of cheap multiterabyte hard drives, I hate to spend the money to buy a new hard drive just to have a blank slate to test my restore process. (though if I am paying nothing for the software to do it, buying another drive wouldn't be that bad, I guess!)

    I'm hoping that I am missing some very obvious and easy solution.

    Thanks!

    - Jonathan

  14. #13
    5 Star Lounger
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Burrton, KS, USA
    Posts
    833
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 2 Times in 2 Posts
    You are exactly right that test restores are part of any good backup strategy. This is true for two reasons, When you are under the stress of losing a machine and needing to get it up and running is not the time to be "learning" how to do a restore. The other reason is that there is a chance that a good image will not restore.

    For example, Macrium free has two boot restore disk options. The first is a linux disk that will work 75% of the time. (it has limited driver support for some hardware and may not see your hard drive to restore too) The second is a BartPE disk that must be built using a windows XP install source. (the paid version has another option that they guarantee is compatible with all hardware.)

    IF you have made the Macrium Linux restore CD and after you lose your machine you find that it will not see your hardware, you are in trouble. Unless you have a lot of time, another machine and the full Windows XP install CD you have no way of restoring.

    Of course if you have done a test restore on your machine, you know exactly what to expect and what procedures you need to follow and the chances of doing something stupid that may endanger your data are much lower.

    Your drive for a restore test should not need to be terabyte size unless you have a huge amount of data and have not partitioned the data separate from the OS. I would try to keep my OS partition to a MAX of 100gb with most systems operating nicely in the 20-30gb range.....
    This should be the ONLY partition you need to do a full test restore on as the rest is just data files and you can physically test by mounting the image and opening the files themselves.

  15. #14
    5 Star Lounger
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Burrton, KS, USA
    Posts
    833
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 2 Times in 2 Posts
    I personally would not mess with dual boot as a test although this is only personal preference. I would instead opt for a small second (or 3rd, 4th...) drive. I would do the original test restore right in the beginning with a new machine and would pull the power from all drives accept my test restore drive so the machine would present only a single drive. This allows you to test with a blank unformatted drive which would the most closely simulate a bare metal restore and should be the lowest level at which you could expect an image to work. (the lowest level of all is a completely different hardware platform but I don't think that discussion is for this thread.....)

  16. #15
    New Lounger
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    LasVegas, New Mexico, USA
    Posts
    16
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 2 Times in 1 Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathan Baars View Post
    ...Do you have any suggestions for Roger's question down further in the post to verify and test the backup process?....
    I was playing around with a macro scripting program called "Auto Hotkeys" (I'm pretty sure it was this program) a year or so ago for this purpose, but didn't take it very far. I think it has some potential as it even captures mouse movements etc. Creating some scripts to very specific apps and functionality of a restored system wouldn't be 100% of course, but it would likely point out any glaring errors. For example,I was thinking it could create documents in the word processor, create/manipulate an excel worksheet, create/manipulate a drawing/image processing program, some internet browsing, do some file manipulation across multiple disk, likely create specific network traffic, etc. Then a simple batch program could compare the end results at the file level and provide a report, and/or a person could examine the file manipulations, any error/event logs, and so on. As I recall, I think the problem I became concerned with is if the human interface devices were changed (display, video card, sound, keyboard, mouse) the results of running a macro script created under one configuration might have significantly different results under a different configuration.

    If Auto Hotkey doesn't work out, perhaps some other macro creation program would. I recall I looked at a few others, but AH seemed to be the easiest to use and most reliable.

    One might also want to explore using a great freeware/donationware program like SIW by Gabriel Topala before and after a backup/restore test, create a comprehensive system hardware and software topology report, and compare the two reports for any obvious discrepancies that would lead to functionality issues.

    I pretty much let the effort drop away as I had some medical problems and had to prioritize.

    http://www.majorgeeks.com/AutoHotkey_d4422.html
    http://www.autohotkey.com/

    http://www.majorgeeks.com/SIW_System_Info_d4387.html
    http://www.gtopala.net/

Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •