ASR versus Ghost and True Image

  Batch 13:56 20 Jan 2006

With my new XP Pro laptop, I am looking to implement a more robust backup strategy. Previously I had 2 bootable physical HDDs on an ME desktop and automatically backed-up data between the 2 HDDs every day, as well as burning the data to CD periodically.

Backing up the data is not a problem, as I will use a similar strategy, but backup across the network.

It is the OS and pgms that I am pondering.

XP Pro includes Automated System Recovery (ASR) as part of XP Backup (the recovery part ASR is not available in XP Home).

This seems to work by copying files (as opposed to disk images), including in-use systems files, by some nefarious means, to a separate partition (it is claimed it can't record to CD / DVD). In addition, it seems to require creation of some diskettes (containing information on disk partitions, system files and detected hardware). The backup can be burnt to CD / DVD latter using standard burning apps.

ASR might be a workable solution but I need to clarify a few points:

1/ The laptop doesn't have a floppy and I don't really want to buy a USB floppy just for this purpose. As far as I can see, there is no way of not using floppies - does anyone know otherwise? This also begs the question as to why Microsoft couldn't have put this info in a separate file that could be located elsewhere (another HDD or CD / DVD)?.

2/ Is it possible that the backup file can be written to the same partition as the source files, or is it absolutely necessary to use a separate partition. Also, can a network drive be used as the target?

3/ Although burning to CD / DVD diectly isn't supported, could packet writing (UDF) software (such as InCD) or use of DVD-RAM, allow direct copy to CD / DVD? By the way, am I right in presuming that where DVD-RAM is supported, you can use it like a large floppy without additional software?

4/ Lastly I get the impression that, in spite of the fact that ASR is file, rather than image, based, it requires the restore partition to be at least as big as the backed-up partition. Is this true?

This brings me to alternatives such as Ghost and True Image:

A/ I gather that, True Image at least, will write direct to CD / DVD using UDF software, but will it write to DVD-RAM without such software?

B/ Is my understanding that floppies are not required correct (as long as can boot from something like CD)?

C/What is a typical compression ratio (my HDD is just XP and programs really at the mo and runs to approx 6.5Gb used).

D/ I believe that all my 60Gb drive be imaged, barring swap / hibernate files. Does this mean that unused sectors are imaged (albeit compressed)?

D/ On restore, what are the requirements of the partition to be restored to? Does it have to be the same size as the original, or just large enough to contain the occuppied space of the original or something else......? One of the first things I want to do is add partitions (thereby reducing the existing partition) and it seems that maybe I should create an image before repartitioning and afterwards (as C: will be smaller afterwards and the presumably True Image isn't intelligent enough to fit the used parts of the original image on to a smaller partition).

A lot of questions, I know, but would be v. grateful for input.

  stylehurst 14:10 20 Jan 2006

I cannot comment on ASR but would offer the following in respect of Ghost v TrueImage.
1 I started off with Ghost but changed to TI as I found it easier to use & more reliable if I needed to do a restore. TI is much faster when compiling an Image file; typically 5min for Image & 3 min for verification (I always verify an image after compiling).
2 I compile my image file to an external USB HDD, and do a complete back up every month. Restoration is done by having a TI boot CD
3 My HDD is split, OS & Programs on 1 partition, data on a second partition; it is the OS partition that is backed up monthly.
4 In TI the size of the Image depends on the compressio ratio used (Higher compression slower compilation & restoration). My OS/Program partition is approx 6.5Gb; and with TI & normal compression the image file is about 3.5Gb
The unused bits of the partition are not included in the image file.

Hope the above helps

  €dstowe 14:29 20 Jan 2006

One bit to add to stylehurst's reply - I would never put an important thing like my backup on to a CD or DVD and most certainly NOT to a rewritable one.

  CurlyWhirly 15:16 20 Jan 2006

"I would never put an important thing like my backup on to a CD or DVD and most certainly NOT to a rewritable one."

Why is this?
I make regular backups using Drive Image 7 but occasionally I make backups of large downloads like 3DMark 06 which was nearly 600Mb in length!

Is there any truth in saying that, generally speaking, DVD RW's are less reliable that 'normal' DVDR's even so called high quality names like in my case where I use the Packard Bell brand?

  €dstowe 15:24 20 Jan 2006

I think you know my (and others) opinions on RW disks - I have had disasters with them in the past such that now, I won't have them in the building.

The reasons I wouldn't use any optical disk for anything of importance is because of their vulnerability - DVDs are much worse than CDs in this respect. One slight scratch on the sensitive surface can often result in a something of little more use than a birdscarer or coaster.

I appreciate there is a risk of loss in all storage media but in optical disks there seems a bigger danger.

  ventanas 15:47 20 Jan 2006

Same here. I never backup to CD or DVD. All images or whatever go to a slave drive and are then copied to a second partition on the main drive (just in case). I have little faith in optical discs.

  stylehurst 16:58 20 Jan 2006

I think I would agree with the comment on RW disks, I do use them but as an addendum to a secoond HDD (just in case the HDD fails. Over the years I have found that an RW disk fails after about a years use, necesitating a re-format; it will then go for another year before repeating the process

  CurlyWhirly 18:28 20 Jan 2006

"The reasons I wouldn't use any optical disk for anything of importance is because of their vulnerability - DVDs are much worse than CDs in this respect."

I can now see where you are coming from as I too have had a scratch on a DVD meaning that when I played it in my DVD player it kept skipping when it got to the part in the movie where the scratch was.

To cure it I used the Skip Doctor and it worked again:

click here

I suppose I could try out a similar operation if one of my DVD's got scratched containing computer data.
To be honest though, I can't see it happening to me as I always put them back in the case when I've finished with them and store them in my cupboard until I need them next time.

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