Macrium Reflect...Imaging VS Cloning, and how to keep drive J mirrored

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  1. Posts : 5
    windows 10 pro
       #1

    Macrium Reflect...Imaging VS Cloning, and how to keep drive J mirrored


    Hey how's it going guys good to be here :)

    OK so I'm running Windows 10, and I purchased the full retail version of Macrium Reflect, and have now cloned my main C: drive to another SSD drive, using the "Clone this Drive" option. The backup drive, we'll call it "J", is now a 1:1 copy of my C drive. This is good and is what I wanted.

    However, here's the question....did I make the right decision by cloning my C drive, as opposed to Imaging it to the J drive? I've read several articles explaining the difference between imaging and cloning. Imaging appears to be where all the system files are archived and can be restored in case the main drive goes bad, correct? Where as with cloning, the entire drive, including all the necessary partitions, is copied verbatum, allowing me to, for example, removing drive C and boot from drive J without any differences in data.


    What I want to know however, is how do I set Macrium Reflect so that it keeps the backup drive updated and at 1:1 with my main drive(ie similar to Raid 1 mirror), on a monthly basis. If I wanted to accomplish this, without having to manually move files and folders over to drive J, do I simply "re-clone" drive C to drive J every month? If I do this, is Reflect smart enough to simply copy and change only the data that is new, without going through the entire clone process and overwriting everything from scratch?

    I like the sound of what Incremental and Differential does, but those features are limited to imaging, and not cloning. How can I reproduce this with the a cloned drive? This is the reason I was initially thinking about going with a Raid 1 mirroring configuration, because with mirroring, this task is done automatically.

    Please let know your thoughts and suggestions. Thanks in advance :)
      My ComputerSystem Spec

  2.    #2

    See comments in line:

    isamu said: View Post
    did I make the right decision by cloning my C drive, as opposed to Imaging it to the J drive?

    That depends on your intent--why you bothered to do either of those things.

    I've read several articles explaining the difference between imaging and cloning. Imaging appears to be where all the system files are archived and can be restored in case the main drive goes bad, correct?

    That's isn't how I'd say it. Although you COULD fish out individual files from an image and restore those individual files, that isn't why most would use imaging. Imaging is typically used to restore an entire installation (those partitions needed to restore Windows and applications) in one fell swoop, after an outright drive failure or any situation from which you can't easily otherwise recover. Like in 30 minutes or an hour. NOT to restore this file and that file. Imaging has a formal "restore" process. Cloning does not. An image file includes ONLY the partitions that you deliberately decide to include in that file. You can exclude C if you want to.

    Where as with cloning, the entire drive, including all the necessary partitions, is copied verbatum, allowing me to, for example, removing drive C and boot from drive J without any differences in data.

    Yeah, cloning does that. The principal advantage is that you just need to connect the drive and don't have to "restore", as you would with imaging. The disadvantage of cloning is that it wastes a drive--it sits in your closet until needed. And that clone is going a little more stale day by day. Anecdotally, cloning may be a bit crankier and more apt to have negative surprises than imaging.

    Dunno, the "going stale" thing might be a larger problem these days when Windows 10 is updated whenever MS takes a notion, like it or not.

    Cloning seems to be most often used when migrating from a properly functioning system and drive to a new larger and/or faster drive. As opposed to getting out of a jam of some type.

    I certainly would not put 100% faith in any clone or image. If you make a clone monthly, you should confirm it works. You hope it works, but you have Plan B if it doesn't.



    What I want to know however, is how do I set Macrium Reflect so that it keeps the backup drive updated and at 1:1 with my main drive(ie similar to Raid 1 mirror), on a monthly basis. If I wanted to accomplish this, without having to manually move files and folders over to drive J, do I simply "re-clone" drive C to drive J every month? If I do this, is Reflect smart enough to simply copy and change only the data that is new, without going through the entire clone process and overwriting everything from scratch?

    I'm not highly familiar with cloning or RAID. Offhand, I'm not aware if Macrium can "automate" or schedule cloning in any way.

    Please let know your thoughts and suggestions. Thanks in advance :)

    If you have some over-riding reason to stay with cloning as opposed to imaging, go for it. Most wouldn't regard cloning as a full-fledged backup, but we may not entirely understand the finer points of your motivation. Most here are interested in disaster recovery and getting out of bad situations in the most reliable way, with as few complications as possible.

    Personally, if I wanted to "update" a "backup drive" monthly, I'd just make a new image file of the non-backup drive monthly and take the 30 minutes to restore it to the backup drive monthly to make sure the backup is not stale. But I have no interest in keeping a live-ready-to-go drive in my closet, so I don't restore anything if I don't have to. Nor do I clone.


      My ComputerSystem Spec

  3.    #3

    Cloning is primarily to make a full copy of an existing drive to a new drive so drive can just be swapped or put in new PC with no fuss.

    Images are basically same but stored in a compressed format like a zip file. You need to use a Macrium Rescue iso to restore (similar to unzip) the backup.

    This is primarily to recover OS to same pc but can also be used to create a clone as above for new drive.

    You can have multiple image backups at different stages and choose which ever you like.

    You can only have one clone on a drive.

    Images are more flexible and you can have diffs and incs as well, to schedules as well.

    For backups, images are the right tool.

    With the paid versions of Macrium Reflect, image restores to same drive can be amazingly fast as it has Rapid Delta Restore which just restores changes rather than everything.
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  4. jimbo45's Avatar
    Posts : 7,161
    Windows / Linux : Centos, Ubuntu, OpenSuse
       #4

    Hi there
    If you want to mirror a drive in Windows (aka RAID 1) - I think for YEARS people have asked for software RAID (not talking here about Hardware RAID controllers) like mdadm in Linux to be a feature added to windows - however you can take a risk by using Windows Storage spaces -- IMO though these break easily and seem to cause problems when upgrading Windows to new releases.

    If you really must mirror drives in Windows you'll have to get a RAID controller and implement RAID 1. If you go this route get a decent RAID card - most cheap controllers designed for home computers are pretty lousy in performance though. Decent SAS type system will set you back a bit though !!!!

    Also in mirroring backup can be a problem - you'll probably need to backup the entire array - I've never messed around with trying RAID on Windows for any length of time so it's up to you.


    Cheers
    jimbo
      My ComputerSystem Spec

  5.    #5

    Imaging - base+ differential/incremental images- allows restoration to any of the previous dates your image supports.

    Thus if a problem arose before your most recent image was created, you could restore an earlier one.

    You could only reproduce that if you use cloning by having a number of drives, used in - er- dare I say rotation?

    Now consider this: if you adopt the practice of keeping personal data off C: - on a separate partition- which is a great idea- then you can adopt different strategies for your Windows partitions and your data partition(s). Here, the speed of imaging may be a factor in favour of doing that vs cloning. Creating an incremental image will be much faster than cloning.
      My ComputersSystem Spec

  6.    #6

    dalchina said: View Post
    Imaging - base+ differential/incremental images- allows restoration to any of the previous dates your image supports.

    Thus if a problem arose before your most recent image was created, you could restore an earlier one.

    You could only reproduce that if you use cloning by having a number of drives, used in - er- dare I say rotation?

    Now consider this: if you adopt the practice of keeping personal data off C: - on a separate partition- which is a great idea- then you can adopt different strategies for your Windows partitions and your data partition(s). Here, the speed of imaging may be a factor in favour of doing that vs cloning. Creating an incremental image will be much faster than cloning.
    Never tried it but paid version has a facility call Rapid Delta Cloning (similar to Rapid Delta Restore) whereby you can update a clone version with changes only. This should be at least as fast as making a diff.
      My ComputerSystem Spec

  7.    #7

    - would that leave you with just the one backup at one date... rather than a series of possible dates as in (e.g.)
    4 possible dates with base image + diff1, diff2, diff3?
      My ComputersSystem Spec


  8. Posts : 5
    windows 10 pro
    Thread Starter
       #8

    Much appreciate the answers guys, lots of helpful information.

    @ignatzatsonic;

    ignatzatsonic said: View Post
    If you have some over-riding reason to stay with cloning as opposed to imaging, go for it. Most wouldn't regard cloning as a full-fledged backup, but we may not entirely understand the finer points of your motivation. Most here are interested in disaster recovery and getting out of bad situations in the most reliable way, with as few complications as possible.

    Personally, if I wanted to "update" a "backup drive" monthly, I'd just make a new image file of the non-backup drive monthly and take the 30 minutes to restore it to the backup drive monthly to make sure the backup is not stale. But I have no interest in keeping a live-ready-to-go drive in my closet, so I don't restore anything if I don't have to. Nor do I clone.
    Your comments have me re-thinking my strategy. My purpose and objective is the same as most of you....I just want to back up my data and keep it up to date with my main drive. Sounds like cloning was a mistake and I should have gone with imaging instead? I don't need the convenience of being able to immediately boot from the backup drive, but I'm still confused as to how imaging works:

    If I make an image with all the partitions to the second drive, is it going to copy *ALL* of my data(including folders and files) and my entire OS installation? If so, how do I get the backup drive up and running, if the main C drive crashes and is no longer usable at all? How do I get to where the backup drive is bootable and running the same and the C drive? This is where things get confusing for me.
      My ComputerSystem Spec

  9.    #9

    See comments in line:

    isamu said: View Post

    If I make an image with all the partitions to the second drive, is it going to copy *ALL* of my data(including folders and files) and my entire OS installation?

    Yes, assuming you choose the correct partitions when making the image file, which is easily done. If data is on a D partition, it's up to you to include D if desired. I do NOT include my data partition as I backup data through other means. I include only the partitions needed to restore Windows and installed applications. If you are like most users, you probably keep data, installed applications, and Windows on the same C partition and you would most likely include ALL of the partitions on your primary drive in the image file. Not just C. There is a checkbox choice in the Macrium interface to "include all of the partitions required to backup and restore Windows". That's probably what you'd do. That would automatically include C and the 2 or 3 other necessary partitions. I instead choose all partitions manually with individual checkboxes.

    But, it's your responsibility to choose the desired partitions. Through menus and check boxes.

    That would create one file, named something like qeta4et6s355tertstr7setetaetaet.mrimg. Macrium makes the name. Think of it as a representation of the files and folders in the chosen partitions, something like a single zip file that contains thousands of pictures.

    You can save it anywhere you want other than on one of the partitions included in the image file. You can't save it on C if the C partition is in the image file.

    That file would include whatever was in the partitions you chose to include in the image. Your pictures of your cat are in that representation IF the cat pictures are in a chosen partition. Your installation of Photoshop is in that representation IF that installation is in a chosen partition. Etc, etc, to include your spaghetti recipes and your Windows installation.

    But that file is NOT bootable. If you poked it with your mouse, it would open up in File Explorer and you could navigate to your cat pictures and restore them if they had been accidentally deleted. But individual file recovery is not why people normally make an image.


    If so, how do I get the backup drive up and running, if the main C drive crashes and is no longer usable at all?

    You "restore" that .mrimg file to whatever drive you choose. Until you do that, the .mrimg file isn't of much use other than allowing you to fish around in it for your cat pictures.

    Restoration is a formal process done within Macrium. After restoration, the drive to which the restore was targeted becomes bootable, assuming you chose the partitions necessary to restore Windows when you made the image file. If the image file contained only a data partition, then of course a restoration of that image file will not restore Windows.


    Typically, to restore you would boot from the USB flash drive "recovery media" you should make within Macrium right after you installed Macrium. You would see the Macrium interface. You would issue commands with the mouse and menus, directing Macrium to restore an .mrimg file you choose to whatever drive you choose. That can be a brand new drive or an existing drive that you believe is in working order.

    You should confirm that the "recovery media" will in fact boot your PC. It might not. Find out immediately after you make it.

    If your primary drive is still bootable and in good working order, you could boot from it, open Macrium on your hard drive, and restore the image file without using the USB flash drive method. For instance, that might be what you'd do if you got in a minor jam and wanted to go back in time to last week when you made the most recent image. Rather than trying to use System Restore or doing a bunch of trouble-shooting.


    How do I get to where the backup drive is bootable and running the same and the C drive? This is where things get confusing for me.

    See above.

    Do you have a typical installation, with installed programs, Windows, and data all on C? Some people install programs somewhere other than C. Many people save data elsewhere.

    As far as I know, an image file can't include partitions from 2 different drives. My Windows and installed programs are on a Crucial SSD, while my data is on an Intel SSD. No problem, I don't image the Intel drive. I back up data WITHOUT using imaging. I make just one image file (monthly), containing ALL partitions on the Crucial. That's all I need to restore Windows, applications, and anything else that happens to be on the Crucial. That restoration would of course NOT include any changes made to my system AFTER the image file was made. It's a bit stale, but I can live with that. You might make image files weekly or even daily if you are highly concerned with the stale issue.

    Last edited by ignatzatsonic; 3 Weeks Ago at 05:01.
      My ComputerSystem Spec


  10. Posts : 5
    windows 10 pro
    Thread Starter
       #10

    ignatzatsonic said: View Post
    See comments in line:

    Yes, assuming you choose the correct partitions when making the image file, which is easily done. If data is on a D partition, it's up to you to include D if desired. I do NOT include my data partition as I backup data through other means. I include only the partitions needed to restore Windows and installed applications. If you are like most users, you probably keep data, installed applications, and Windows on the same C partition and you would most likely include ALL of the partitions on your primary drive in the image file. Not just C. There is a checkbox choice in the Macrium interface to "include all of the partitions required to backup and restore Windows". That's probably what you'd do. That would automatically include C and the 2 or 3 other necessary partitions. I instead choose all partitions manually with individual checkboxes.

    But, it's your responsibility to choose the desired partitions. Through menus and check boxes.

    That would create one file, named something like qeta4et6s355tertstr7setetaetaet.mrimg. Macrium makes the name. Think of it as a representation of the files and folders in the chosen partitions, something like a single zip file that contains thousands of pictures.

    You can save it anywhere you want other than on one of the partitions included in the image file. You can't save it on C if the C partition is in the image file.

    That file would include whatever was in the partitions you chose to include in the image. Your pictures of your cat are in that representation IF the cat pictures are in a chosen partition. Your installation of Photoshop is in that representation IF that installation is in a chosen partition. Etc, etc, to include your spaghetti recipes and your Windows installation.

    But that file is NOT bootable. If you poked it with your mouse, it would open up in File Explorer and you could navigate to your cat pictures and restore them if they had been accidentally deleted. But individual file recovery is not why people normally make an image.

    You "restore" that .mrimg file to whatever drive you choose. Until you do that, the .mrimg file isn't of much use other than allowing you to fish around in it for your cat pictures.

    Restoration is a formal process done within Macrium. After restoration, the drive to which the restore was targeted becomes bootable, assuming you chose the partitions necessary to restore Windows when you made the image file. If the image file contained only a data partition, then of course a restoration of that image file will not restore Windows.

    Typically, to restore you would boot from the USB flash drive "recovery media" you should make within Macrium right after you installed Macrium. You would see the Macrium interface. You would issue commands with the mouse and menus, directing Macrium to restore an .mrimg file you choose to whatever drive you choose. That can be a brand new drive or an existing drive that you believe is in working order.

    You should confirm that the "recovery media" will in fact boot your PC. It might not. Find out immediately after you make it.

    If your primary drive is still bootable and in good working order, you could boot from it, open Macrium on your hard drive, and restore the image file without using the USB flash drive method. For instance, that might be what you'd do if you got in a minor jam and wanted to go back in time to last week when you made the most recent image. Rather than trying to use System Restore or doing a bunch of trouble-shooting.

    See above.

    Do you have a typical installation, with installed programs, Windows, and data all on C? Some people install programs somewhere other than C. Many people save data elsewhere.

    As far as I know, an image file can't include partitions from 2 different drives. My Windows and installed programs are on a Crucial SSD, while my data is on an Intel SSD. No problem, I don't image the Intel drive. I back up data WITHOUT using imaging. I make just one image file (monthly), containing ALL partitions on the Crucial. That's all I need to restore Windows, applications, and anything else that happens to be on the Crucial. That restoration would of course NOT include any changes made to my system AFTER the image file was made. It's a bit stale, but I can live with that. You might make image files weekly or even daily if you are highly concerned with the stale issue.
    Thank you sir. I'm starting to understand how all this works. Your explanation was in such a way to make it easy for a lamen like me to comprehend :) To answer your questions, yes I have a typical installation, with installed programs, Windows, and data all on C. I have just performed a clean full image back up "drive B". I made sure I selected the "clone this disc" option to ensure all partitions were checked. Everything appears to have gone well. The "27B043526F48A559-00-00.mrimg" image file is there, albeit smaller than my C drive which I'm assuming is because it's compressed.

    The one thing you mentioned that hadn't done yet was create a rescue media boot file. I didn't do this upon initially installing MR, because I didn't have a USB flash drive handy. But I found a case of blank DVD-R's lying around and used one of them to make a bootable rescue media disc(something I should've done a long time ago).

    OK ignatzatsonic I think I have everything I need now, so let me see if I got this straight.....

    In case a disastrous incident occurs, whether that's my main C drive crashing, or my OS gets corrupted. All I would have to do is....

    1)Insert the rescue media DVD

    2)Use it to point windows to my .mrimg file

    3)Windows start the process of recovering all my data to a new *DIFFERENT* hard drive(???), and back to it's original state, with all my programs in tact as if nothing happened.

    Is all this...correct?

    Here's the thing I'm still confused about....is there a way to use the *SAME* hard drive that the image file is on, to get Windows back in working order when it's recovering data? In other words, are two HDDs required during the recovery process? Or can the same HDD that the image file is on, be used as the target to get a full functioning hard drive? Please clarify. Keep in mind both SSDs are the same size, 2TB(the back up drive is actually a few hundred megabytes smaller for some unknown reason).
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