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Author Topic: ShadowProtect Desktop or Macrium Reflect?  (Read 9236 times)
tranglos
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« on: December 21, 2009, 03:48:53 PM »

I have a registered but old and never-upgraded copy of Acronis TrueImage Home. Version 2010 is coming up on Bits du Jour tomorrow (Tuesday) at $24.99, but I think I'll pass. It's getting bloated with lots of features I won't need, and then there are many stories, here and elsewhere, about restoration problems.

So my choice now boils down to waiting for the discount on ShadowProtect Desktop to materialize or buying Macrium Reflect. With the discount, the prices for each will probably not be too far apart. (Sans the discount, there is no contest; ShadowProtect is way too expensive.)

ShadowProtect has one distinct advantage of HAL-independent restoration, but this isn't a critical feature. Macrium should be perfectly able to restore to a disk with a different geometry, which is the most I'm asking for. I've been running the free version of Macrium, and its service seems to be less resource-hogging than Acronis, which is good.

On the other hand, when booting from the Macrium rescue disc, the bootstrap system not only does not see my NAS drive, but it won't recognize the external MyBook drive, connected via Firewire, either. That last thing is a big letdown, since in a real emergency I may not be able to restore at all. (For a planned restoration I can put the system drive image on the second internal drive.)

On the third hand, the Pro version of Macrium Reflect comes with a WinPE disc, so hopefully it should see the external drive. Or maybe connecting the drive via USB instead would help. I cannot ask (on the fourth hand now!) since "Support forum registration is now only open to customers who have purchased Macrium Reflect" (http://www.macrium.com/support.asp) - sigh! I'll try emailing support, but officially that too is for registered users only.

I want to make the decision soon. My wife is getting me Windows 7 Pro for Christmas (yay!) and I want to image my XP system just in case before I move on to 7, and once running 7, I want to be making images regularly.

What to do, what to do?
« Last Edit: December 22, 2009, 08:25:43 AM by tranglos » Logged

SKA
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« Reply #1 on: December 22, 2009, 04:00:34 AM »

Dear T

To back up XP PRo - some other choices(apart from Macrium) :
- Drive Snapshot
- Image for Windows

For Win7 Pro: It has its own Backup/Imaging system built-in, which seems to work fine.

SKA
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MerleOne
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« Reply #2 on: December 22, 2009, 06:39:04 AM »

Regarding Win7, the system imaging is a very nice addition, but I think it doesn't support incremental or differential imaging, so it's almost useless IMHO.  Regarding Macrium vs ShadowProtect, I find that Macrium is the most impressive in terms of speed, and differential backups are incredibly quick, whereas with SD, duration of a full backup = duration of any differential backup.

I don't know if Macrium has a refund policy, if yes, you don't risk that much by buying the real product and ask a refund if it doesn't work with your setup.
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f0dder
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« Reply #3 on: December 22, 2009, 06:53:56 AM »

The p2v and v2p features of ShadowProtect sound very useful to me, if they work properly - it would be so nice being able to tweak a system setup in a virtual machine, and then restore to real hardware... so personally I'd wait for the ShadowProtect discount.

Guess I should testdrive it first, though... unfortunately, I'm a bit strapped for time before exams in January.
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MerleOne
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« Reply #4 on: December 22, 2009, 07:32:07 AM »

I think there is a free tool for creating virtual HD from a real one on Sysinternals ?
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f0dder
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« Reply #5 on: December 22, 2009, 07:39:54 AM »

MerleOne, p2v isn't that big of a deal - but v2p certainly is!
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rjbull
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« Reply #6 on: December 22, 2009, 04:20:33 PM »

I don't know if Macrium has a refund policy, if yes, you don't risk that much by buying the real product and ask a refund if it doesn't work with your setup.

Quoting the Macrium Purchase page:

Quote
30 Day Money Back Guarantee:

All purchases from us come with an unconditional guarantee. If you are not satisfied with one of our software products, contact us within 30 days for instructions on obtaining a refund.
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tranglos
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« Reply #7 on: December 29, 2009, 12:39:02 PM »

Now that the discount for ShadowProtect is active (thanks, Mouser!  Kiss ) the choice hasn't become any easier smiley

I have a slight preference for the UI in Macrium Reflect. It is more compact and requires fewer clicks to perform common operations. In ShadowProtect, for example, it takes way too many clicks through a wizard interface to mount a drive image. On the other hand, Macrium performs its tasks in modal dialog boxes, while ShadowProtect UI remains available while it is creating an image (a minor thing, until you want to move the window out of the way while the program works: with Macrium you can't, with ShadowProtect you can.)

ShadowProtect starts up immediately, while Macrium takes a long time to start, as it analyzes all disks and partitions. (Why not do it in a thread once the main window is already available?).

Both apps create a base image of almost exactly the same size: 24 GB for some 39 GB of data on my system disk, using the default medium compression level. Both take about 9 minutes to create the base image - no perceptible difference there.

However, one point against Macrium seems to be the size of an incremental image. I created a base image first (24 GB), then created an incremental two hours later. During this time hardly anything changed, except a few more messages received in TheBat, and a few more files in Firefox cache. I wasn't even using the computer for one and a half of those two hours. Yet the resulting incremental image is 242 MB in size, roughly 10% of the base image size. That's huge, given how little has changed on the drive. At this rate it could quickly become impossible to keep the daily incrementals.

I'll now replace Macrium with ShadowProtect to see if its incrementals are smaller (since I didn't think about it before!)

On edit: The ShadowProtect incremental, also done after about 2 hours of moderate computer use, is much smaller, only 74 megs. This is still surprisingly large though! (well, it's surprising *to me* smiley ) A notable difference seems to be that SP created the incremental in bare seconds, while Macrium took a minute or so. Of course the difference in sizes and times may be due to whatever inscrutable changes Windows may or may not have written to disk during the mostly idle two hours, as MerleOne noticed below

One other minor point in favor of ShadowProtect: Macrium popped up a focus-stealing modal dialog box as it was writing the incremental image (the main UI was not running at the ttme). The dialog allows you to cancel the operation within a brief timeout, but it would be better done as a tray notification. By contrast, the ShadowProtect service performed the incremental task completely in the background, without putting up any UI at all.
« Last Edit: December 29, 2009, 03:00:25 PM by tranglos » Logged

MerleOne
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« Reply #8 on: December 29, 2009, 02:39:05 PM »

If you ware saving your system partition, such a size for a differential backup is quite normal nowadays, since Windows is always creating lots of files for just about anything.

I have noticed something about shadow protect : you can desactivate the license on a given computer.  It would be nice to know if you can then activate it on another one without limits, so you might protect several machines one at a time (according to what the license permits).  With Macrium, I am not aware of such a mechanism : once activated, it probably remains so.  Macrium user may share their experience on this ?
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tranglos
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« Reply #9 on: December 29, 2009, 03:02:38 PM »

I have noticed something about shadow protect : you can desactivate the license on a given computer.  It would be nice to know if you can then activate it on another one without limits, so you might protect several machines one at a time (according to what the license permits). 

You can probably do it, but wouldn't it become tiresome rather quickly? With having to remember which computer the license is activated for at the moment. Also, I vaguely recall reading in their forum that there is a limit to how many times you can reactivate the license.

With ShadowProtect at least you can ask; the Macrium authors limit support to registered users only (but you can probably write to their sales address).
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f0dder
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« Reply #10 on: December 29, 2009, 06:03:33 PM »

tranglos: keep in mind that TheBat uses a single "message base" file for each of your mailboxes - if the incremental backup is done at file rather than block level, a single new email means the entire mailbox being backed up. Same goes for your registry hive files, which tend to be rather large.

MerleOne: ShadowProtect license is per machine, sadly... so the kind of re/de-activation you want would be license-breaking.

The demo version of ShadowProtect doesn't come with the Recovery IOS image, which is kinda understandable since it's a bit hard to impose registration limits on a thing like that; but it also mean I have no way to evaluate whether the product is useful for me, without either going through the hassle of purchase + refund, or piracy. sigh.
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Jibz
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« Reply #11 on: December 30, 2009, 03:02:44 AM »

You can sign up for the full evaluation to try the ISO. I know it says "enterprise only", but if you read their forums people say that's mostly to stop everybody from requesting it (you can even select Home User under your type of organization).
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mwang
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« Reply #12 on: January 01, 2010, 08:26:02 PM »

Has anyone heard of or tried Farstone DriveClone Pro, currently at v.7.0? I was skeptical at first about a commercial product that seemed relatively obscure at its 7th incarnation, but was pleasantly surprised after trying it. Almost paid for it. Still might do.

A little background first: Since Win 7 I have been using a combination of Image for Linux (IFL)/Bootit NG (both from TeraByte Unlimited) and Rollback Rx v9.1 as my system recovery solution. The way I go about it is to install my system in stages, and at the end of each stage I image the system partition with IFL. After I've set up the system the way I want, I install Rollback Rx for everyday protection, for it's much quicker at taking system snapshots, and restores in seconds (not counting time to reboot the system), similar to Windows' system restore but much more reliable.

In general I like Rollback Rx. There're some nagging issues with its current version, however. Given my low expectation on their service, I decided to try something different when I had to restore my desktop to a stage before Rollback Rx was installed two days ago.

I was tempted by the Shadowprotect discount, given the high regard it gets here and elsewhere (Wilders Security, e.g.). Another disk imaging tool was nevertheless not really what I was after, and it's still pricey for me even after the discount.

When scouting for alternatives I ran into Farstone DriveClone Pro 7. As I said I was skeptical. It seemed to offer everything Shadowprotect had to offer, including hardware independent restore, plus file backups, plus what really attracted me -- "snapshot recovery".

The snapshot recovery feature uses similar technology as Windows System Restore (saving system changes to a hidden place), but it's just as reliable as Rollback Rx, without the issues I have with the latter. I also tried its disk imaging function, and it's fast, with reasonably good compression, and the restoration was smooth (I tried just one restoration, though). It has a pre-OS environment, so unless the system disk is damaged beyond repair, you don't need a bootable rescue disk to restore. (Can't create the boot disk in trial version.) Didn't have spare hardware to test the hardware-independent restore feature.

One disappointment, though. While it's a total package, the disk images it creates doesn't contain the hidden virtual partition which hosts the snapshots. So after restoring from a disk image would loose all the snapshots. (It's the same with Rollback Rx, so it's not really a point against DriveClone, but I expected more from an integrated solution.)

I haven't decided to purchase it because:

1. I've only recently paid for Rollback Rx; and

2. Rollback Rx gives me more flexibility in going back and forth among snapshots. With DriveClone, you loose later snapshots after going back to an earlier one.

If Rollback Rx keeps giving me issues, however, I'll definitely reconsider. With its asking price ($47.77), it seems a bargain for a total file backup/disk imaging/snapshot recovery solution, if everything works as advertised. BTW, they now also sells the snapshot recovery part independently, for $10 less.
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