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  1. #1
    Star Lounger
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    What if your image restore fails?

    Let's say you make a backup image of your main HD including OS, and store it on an external HD. We are commonly advised to immediately Restore this image back to the original HD as a kind of test, to make sure the image is valid. But what if it isn't???

    It occurs to me that if the image happens to be defective, or the Restore operation goes awry somehow, you'll end up with an inoperable main HD, or you trash the OS, or you lose data or programs. If you then resort to a previous (hopefully, more valid) image, all you have accomplished with the day's effort is to regress your computer system a few days/weeks/months/whatever. A backup should not entail that kind of risk.

    Is there some way to test the validity of an image without risking this damage to your HD/OS/data?

    Specifically, I use Macrium Reflect Free to make backup images. I can't find any way to verify the image before committing to a Restore operation. (You can only verify as part of the Restore operation.) Do any of the other free backup utilities (such as Acronis) offer verification after creation of an image? I would like to verify it immediately, so that if it were found to be defective, I could immediately re-do the image.

    Or am I just worrying about a non-existent problem? Is verification during Restore a sufficient protection against my nightmare of getting partway through a Restore operation, then having the program report a damaged Image and stopping, leaving me with a partially restored system that won't run properly.

    TIA, and cheers.
    Collier
    Last edited by cosmlou; 2012-10-02 at 00:27.

  2. #2
    Super Moderator CLiNT's Avatar
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    You WILL need to test the software you have chosen.
    No way to get around it




    Is there some way to test the validity of an image without risking this damage to your HD/OS/data?
    Yes and no. The only true way to test the integrity of an image just created is to restore that image. And the best way to
    do that would be to do so by means of the bootable recover disk that you just made. (or should have made)
    Many 3rd party imaging applications will provide an option to "verify" the integrity of the image just made.
    But you will still need to test it.
    It occurs to me that if the image happens to be defective, or the Restore operation goes awry somehow, you'll end up with an inoperable main HD, or you trash the OS, or you lose data or programs. If you then resort to a previous (hopefully, more valid) image, all you have accomplished with the day's effort is to regress your computer system a few days/weeks/months/whatever. A backup should not entail that kind of risk.
    You would have had to have seriously messed things up in order to get that outcome. It sounds to me like you need to go back to the documentation
    and spend more time reading up on all aspects of the procedures involved in creating and restoring an image
    .
    [You don't need to test every image you have created for there everafter, you just need to be confident in the regimen you have chosen. One test is sufficient if the software is new to you and you have not previously used it].

    Specifically, I use Macrium Reflect Free to make backup images. I can't find any way to verify the image before committing to a Restore operation. (You can only verify as part of the Restore operation.) Do any of the other free backup utilities (such as Acronis) offer verification after creation of an image? I would like to verify it immediately, so that if it were found to be defective, I could immediately re-do the image.
    Macrium Reflect is fully capable of verifying an image upon creation:
    3.jpg
    But this by no means negates the need to test by restoring the image just made.

    Or am I just worrying about a non-existent problem? Is verification during Restore a sufficient protection against my nightmare of getting partway through a Restore operation, then having the program report a damaged Image and stopping, leaving me with a partially restored system that won't run properly.
    Not in itself. In order to be confident in your backup regimen you will need to test it by doing a full restore. You will also need to test your
    boot disk as well.
    Would prefer to test your backup regimen only when you are faced with a situation where you are forced to restore a backup?
    Last edited by CLiNT; 2012-10-02 at 01:26.
    DRIVE IMAGING
    Invest a little time and energy in a well thought out BACKUP regimen and you will have minimal down time, and headache.

    Windows 8.1, 64 bit
    Motherboard: DX58SO2*Chipset: X58 Express/Intel ICH10*BIOS: SOX5820J.86A.0888.2012.0129.2203*Processor: Intel Core i7 CPU X 990
    GPU: Nvidia GTX 580*Memory: Corsair 12 GB, 4x3@1600*PSU: Corsair HX1000*Hard drives: REVO X2 160GB*OCZ VERT X3 120GB*5 mechanical storage drives (12 TB) total.

  3. #3
    Platinum Lounger
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    I had this problem the other day after my hard disk failed. Turns out I had the boot files on the second partition and only had an image of the first partition - partition 2 is data.
    You only find out when you try to restore and the only way to test properly is to start with a blank disk. I suggest you beg, borrow or steal a blank disk to test with.

    cheers, Paul

  4. #4
    Super Moderator CLiNT's Avatar
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    Yes, I know. That happened to me too Paul when my drive recently failed.
    But with the creation of a properly configured boot disk, preferably one created with WinPE, one can restore the boot files that were
    placed on the other drive.

    I had to restore the image, then separately go back in with the boot disk and restore the bootfiles.
    That does not happen too often thankfully, but it is recoverable.
    Last edited by CLiNT; 2012-10-02 at 20:29.
    DRIVE IMAGING
    Invest a little time and energy in a well thought out BACKUP regimen and you will have minimal down time, and headache.

    Windows 8.1, 64 bit
    Motherboard: DX58SO2*Chipset: X58 Express/Intel ICH10*BIOS: SOX5820J.86A.0888.2012.0129.2203*Processor: Intel Core i7 CPU X 990
    GPU: Nvidia GTX 580*Memory: Corsair 12 GB, 4x3@1600*PSU: Corsair HX1000*Hard drives: REVO X2 160GB*OCZ VERT X3 120GB*5 mechanical storage drives (12 TB) total.

  5. #5
    Plutonium Lounger Medico's Avatar
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    I actually go a little further and Create my Images using my Rescue Boot Disk as well as test my Images using this disk. I used to create my Images from within Windows, but found the Images created from outside Windows (from the Rescue Boot Disk) before Windows even starts is a little quicker, and this eliminates problems with Windows somehow creating errors in my Image. Should not happen, but then again Imaging is so important that I just feel better taking this extra precaution.

    To be absolutely sure your Image will work, you really do have to Restore it. That's why I advocate keeping your Images Up To Date. My newest Image is always less than one month old. I also keep my data separate from my OS and back the data up separately
    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

  6. #6
    Star Lounger
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    Thanks for the reply.
    As stated in the OP, I use Macrium Reflect Free, not Pro, thus the "verify on creation" option is not available.
    So I am back to the original problem: If I restore from a defective image, is it not true that at least some of my data/programs/OS are at risk of being overwritten by faulty bits? Or will Macrium catch the error before doing any damage? Even in that case, I am left with no (recent) image to restore from. I suppose the answer is: Don't rely on FREE software for critical tasks....

  7. #7
    5 Star Lounger
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    FREE software is not the issue here. I use Macrium in both the paid and free versions. You can test image integrity by mounting the image and checking that your files and file structure are intact. If the image mounts and you can see your files in the drive that is created, it is pretty certain that the image is good.

    The inability to restore an image is a much different problem and will probably be because of something other than a corrupt image. It will more likely happen because the restore boot disk does not recognize your hardware or for some reason is unable to access the image location. Even more likely is that two years from now when your hard drive crashes you will find that you have not backed up (if the process is manual) or your backup location is full and your backup has failed every day for the last year (if your backup is automated).

    The bottom line is that an untested backup solution is no backup solution.

    One way to test is to boot your machine on the restore media and make sure your hard drive is recognized and the USB/NAS/DVD's or wherever you store your image is recognized and you can see the images on it.

    To test the whole restore procedure so that you are not learning how it works while under the stress of a crashed system, you can restore to a Virtual Machine using Virtual PC or one of the other popular virtual systems. Be aware that this restore may not boot if your imaging software does not have the capabilities of restoring to dissimilar hardware

  8. #8
    Super Moderator CLiNT's Avatar
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    I agree, it's got nothing to do with whether the software is free or not.

    Incidentally, Macrium Free does offer the verify, I know because I've
    used it in version 5 prior to moving up and deciding to pay for the pro version.

    But that is not the point of these discussions. The point is you will always stand to loose data through some corrupt or faulting process, be that
    corrupt or faulting process hardware, software, or more simply and most likely...you.


    One can do much to mitigate these potential problems by not fully relying on one form of backup alone. There will always be more than
    one way to backup valuable data and I would encourge the use of multiple approaches.

    If you are looking for a singular and all encompassing approach that you can rely upon every single time with the minimum of effort then you will
    be sorrily disappointed because it does not exist. All of these things take work and effort to achieve.
    Only scammers and charlatans will make such claims.
    Bottom line is if you put in a half a**ed effort, you will get a half a**ed return.

    Using multiple approaches and testing them is the only way to ensure your losses will me minimized.

    Likewise you do not need to "test restore" every single image created, just those images created when using software you are yet to become fully
    familiar with, and maybe on a brand new system too.

    If you loose data on a restore job, then you loose data on a restore job. What are you going to do.
    The answer is: Live with it and move on.

    Even after all is said and done you may still find yourself needing to do a full clean install of everything, despite all the best of whatever
    interventions you have at hand
    .
    Last edited by CLiNT; 2012-10-05 at 02:32.
    DRIVE IMAGING
    Invest a little time and energy in a well thought out BACKUP regimen and you will have minimal down time, and headache.

    Windows 8.1, 64 bit
    Motherboard: DX58SO2*Chipset: X58 Express/Intel ICH10*BIOS: SOX5820J.86A.0888.2012.0129.2203*Processor: Intel Core i7 CPU X 990
    GPU: Nvidia GTX 580*Memory: Corsair 12 GB, 4x3@1600*PSU: Corsair HX1000*Hard drives: REVO X2 160GB*OCZ VERT X3 120GB*5 mechanical storage drives (12 TB) total.

  9. #9
    Super Moderator bbearren's Avatar
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    I've copied this from a post I made in a thread in the Windows 7 Forum -

    My desktop has two 1TB drives, which Windows recognizes as 1.9TB. (Manufacturers sell 1,000,000,000 byte drives and call them one terabyte drives. In binary, they are 953.6743GB, not 1TB. One terabyte would be 1,073,741,824 bytes).

    Total used space on my desktop is 995.66GB. But my drives are partitioned. Disk 0 has three partitions and an extended partition. In that extended partition are seven logical drives, and 101.95GB unallocated space. Disk 1 has two partitions and an extended partition containing six logical drives.

    But when I make drive images, I only make regular images of one partition and two logical drives. Windows is on the partition (on Disk 0) all by itself, the Program Files folder is on one of the logical drives, and the Users and ProgramData folders are on the other logical drive (both those logical drives are on Disk 1). I make images as necessary of the other partitions/logical drives, which is infrequent. The logical drive that holds my pictures gets imaged more often than the rest; the others just don't change very often.

    So my regular and frequent imaging requirements only involve 133GB. I use TeraByte's Image for Windows or Image for DOS (they both produce the same results, and either can read the other's image file) with a bit over 47% compression (1.9 : 1). Imaging and verification of the image ("Verify image" is pre-selected) for my Windows partition takes 12 minutes. All three take less than an hour. From time to time I will restore a freshly made image to make certain that everything is working as it should be.

    Image for DOS is on a bootable CD, and also installed along with BootIt Bare Metal (also from TeraByte) on one of the partitions (8MB) on Disk 0, which is also bootable.

    This has been my regimen for more than ten years. It allowed me to recover from a house fire in January 2011, which destroyed two desktops, with no loss of data.

    In the event of a total hard drive failure (which I've experienced more than once), I don't even have to format and partition my new replacement drive; all I have to do is restore my images of my partitions/logical drives in the correct sequence (yes, I have that written down) and boot up. The partitions are created and formated by restoring the images.

    The external drive that is the target of my image files is a NexStar drive dock connected through eSATA. Drive imaging is about the same speed whether imaging from within Windows or using Image for DOS. I can remove the drive simply by powering down the dock and ejecting the drive, allowing it to be safely stored.

    Also, "Image for Windows utilizes the technology provided by Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) or PHYLock™, an add-on component included in the Image for Windows package. VSS and PHYLock™ allows you to continue using your computer while the backup is locked to a point-in-time. This eliminates the inconsistencies typically experienced while backing up a partition that is in use."

    From time to time I will make an "archival" image set by booting to Image for DOS, and the images are created from outside the Windows environment.

    I have had no reason to do a clean install since Windows 95 OSR2. Until Windows 7, I've always used in-place upgrades to the next version of Windows (skipping Vista entirely), and when I bought this Dell 580 last year with Windows 7 pre-installed, I installed BootIt with Image for DOS in an 8MB bootable partition, and migrated all my drive images (from two desktops destroyed in a house fire) to the Dell. Didn't lose a byte.
    Last edited by bbearren; 2012-10-12 at 10:09.
    Create a new drive image before making system changes, in case you need to start over!

    "Let them that don't want it have memories of not gettin' any." "Gratitude is riches and complaint is poverty and the worst I ever had was wonderful." Brother Dave Gardner "Experience is what you get when you're looking for something else." Sir Thomas Robert Deware. "The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem. Do you understand?" Captain Jack Sparrow.
    Unleash Windows

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