Jump to content

Welcome to MSFN Forum
Register now to gain access to all of our features. Once registered and logged in, you will be able to create topics, post replies to existing threads, give reputation to your fellow members, get your own private messenger, post status updates, manage your profile and so much more. This message will be removed once you have signed in.
Login to Account Create an Account



Photo

ImageX for system backups

- - - - -

  • Please log in to reply
10 replies to this topic

#1
edadat

edadat
  • Member
  • 9 posts
  • Joined 07-December 05
I've been researching disk imaging/cloning tools for the purpose of creating a one-time backup image of my C:\ drive, for use in the event of a hard drive failure. My system is XP Professional SP3. I've used BartPE many times in the past; this is my favoured maintenance environment. I recently came across ImageX - part of the Automated Installation Kit - which looks potentially very useful in this scenario. It is file-based rather than sector-based, meaning I don't have to worry about the partition size prior to a restore. It is also a command line tool, apparently fast and has a high compresion ratio, all of which appeal to me.

I was thinking of using the following to backup:

imagex /capture source: dest:\XP_backup.wim "Windows XP Professional" /compress maximum
And to restore on a partitioned and formatted drive:

imagex /apply source:\XP_backup.wim 1 dest:
bootsect /nt52 dest:
(last line to restore an XP boot sector)

Can anyone see any problems with my proposed method?

I've since come across a number of posts which suggest that ImageX should not be used as a backup tool, and one which - although specifically targetted at Vista users (which I am not) - worries me slightly:

You cannot use the ImageX.exe tool as a backup tool on a Windows Vista-based computer
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/935467

The following are the issues when you use the ImageX.exe tool as a backup mechanism:

    * Extended attributes are lost.
    * The ImageX.exe tool only applies reparse points that are symbolic links or junctions.
    * Sparse files on the system are captured and applied. However, the sparse files are no longer sparse after they have been applied.
    * Object IDs on files are lost in the capture process or in the apply process.

This article strikes me as slightly odd, given that ImageX was released for Vista. Presumably these issues also apply to Windows 7 users? It says here that the ImageX tool and the format are unchanged for Server 2008 AIK, so if this is the case - with no "fix" for these issues in the latest imagex.exe - one would surmise Windows 7 users are also affected.

How much of a practical issue is this for home users? Are these non-capturable NTFS features particular to just Vista/7? I see these limitations are also documented on Technet, under Limitations of ImageX.

It's tempting to forget ImageX altogether and use a purpose built tool such as DriveImage XML. What other (free) tools do folk use to backup their systems?

Thanks in advance! :D


How to remove advertisement from MSFN

#2
Tripredacus

Tripredacus

    K-Mart-ian Legend

  • Super Moderator
  • 10,006 posts
  • Joined 28-April 06
  • OS:Server 2012
  • Country: Country Flag

Donator

The reason there are problems using Imagex to back up the system is due to the fact that it (may) keep file permissions. You shouldn't use it to back up the entire system, but you can use it to back up files... do not use it to back up the registry or the Windows folder, for example. It isn't too horrible if you don't mind having to deal with the Advanced File Permissions screen! Another reason is due to changes in how Windows imaging works starting with Vista.

However, this method that you show here SHOULD work for XP. I say "should" because the only problems you "may" run into is needing to Activate Windows after a restore.

The other problem you have when it comes to doing HDD to HDD restores with Imagex and XP images, is that it doesn't always work. I ran into this issue when I made a recovery partition. Things may be different with WinPE 3, however certain instances of "volume locking" had appeared and resulted in failure of the restore. This problem was not solved (because there was no longer XP support for me at the time) but it had something to do with restoring images to the same physical drive. This problem only showed up with XP, never had a problem with Vista or Server 2008.

Interestingly enough, Windows 7 and Windows System Image Backup work with Windows RE and Imagex to make backups of the drive. This process is fairly automated. The entire idea behind how Imagex works is the basis behind such cool OSes like Storage Server 2008 Enterprise, which uses SiS (Single Instance Storage) and this is the feature that most people like about WIMs.
MSFN RULES | GimageX HTA for PE 3-5 | lol probloms
tpxmsfn1_zps393339c1.jpg

#3
edadat

edadat
  • Member
  • 9 posts
  • Joined 07-December 05
Hi Tripredacus - Thanks for your reply.

You shouldn't use it to back up the entire system, but you can use it to back up files... do not use it to back up the registry or the Windows folder, for example.

Surely then it wouldn't serve its purpose (i.e. creating system images), no? If I merely want to back up my own data (photos, mp3s, docs etc), then I could use one of an array of tools from MS SyncToy thru to simply manually copying files/folders onto an external drive.

However, this method that you show here SHOULD work for XP. I say "should" because the only problems you "may" run into is needing to Activate Windows after a restore.

Okay, I'll give it a go next week and report back.

The other problem you have when it comes to doing HDD to HDD restores with Imagex and XP images, is that it doesn't always work. I ran into this issue when I made a recovery partition. Things may be different with WinPE 3, however certain instances of "volume locking" had appeared and resulted in failure of the restore. This problem was not solved (because there was no longer XP support for me at the time) but it had something to do with restoring images to the same physical drive. This problem only showed up with XP, never had a problem with Vista or Server 2008.

Okay - this doesn't inspire me with confidence. I guess the key thing is to have a tool that will reliably restore a working and bootable system, so if I'm not confident ImageX can provide this, I'll veer towards using DriveImage XML.

#4
jaclaz

jaclaz

    The Finder

  • Developer
  • 14,813 posts
  • Joined 23-July 04
  • OS:none specified
  • Country: Country Flag

Okay - this doesn't inspire me with confidence. I guess the key thing is to have a tool that will reliably restore a working and bootable system, so if I'm not confident ImageX can provide this, I'll veer towards using DriveImage XML.

Remember that DriveImageXML images drives ;), NOT disks!

JFYI:
http://www.911cd.net...showtopic=22984

A number of tools you can use:
http://www.msfn.org/...aging-software/

If I were you right now I would try ODIN:
http://odin-win.sourceforge.net/

or Clonedisk:
http://erwan.l.free.fr/clonedisk/

Good ol' Selfimage did work allright, though:
http://www.softpedia...SelfImage.shtml

If you want to use ImageX, you might probably want to read this thread:
http://www.911cd.net...showtopic=19355
Particularly the part about the "queer" license ImageX has (or maybe had at the time :unsure:)
http://www.911cd.net...ic=19355&st=132
:ph34r:

jaclaz

#5
edadat

edadat
  • Member
  • 9 posts
  • Joined 07-December 05
Hi Jaclaz - Thanks for the links!

Remember that DriveImageXML images drives ;), NOT disks!

Indeed; I wouldn't want it to image the entire disk, just the drives on the disk that I specify.

If I were you right now I would try ODIN:
http://odin-win.sourceforge.net/

or Clonedisk:
http://erwan.l.free.fr/clonedisk/

ODIN looks particularly promising.

Good ol' Selfimage did work allright, though:
http://www.softpedia...SelfImage.shtml

Looks like development ceased on that one. It looks kinda similar to ODIN.

If you want to use ImageX, you might probably want to read this thread:
http://www.911cd.net...showtopic=19355
Particularly the part about the "queer" license ImageX has (or maybe had at the time :unsure:)
http://www.911cd.net...ic=19355&st=132
:ph34r:

Yep, I came across that thread too. It started to lose its focus, though. And the bit about the licence - well, I don't really want to go there. :wacko:

#6
jaclaz

jaclaz

    The Finder

  • Developer
  • 14,813 posts
  • Joined 23-July 04
  • OS:none specified
  • Country: Country Flag

Indeed; I wouldn't want it to image the entire disk, just the drives on the disk that I specify.

And indeed, without ALSO the MBR and DISK SIGNATURE you won't be able to boot the restored "backup" easily. :ph34r:

jaclaz

#7
Tripredacus

Tripredacus

    K-Mart-ian Legend

  • Super Moderator
  • 10,006 posts
  • Joined 28-April 06
  • OS:Server 2012
  • Country: Country Flag

Donator


The other problem you have when it comes to doing HDD to HDD restores with Imagex and XP images, is that it doesn't always work. I ran into this issue when I made a recovery partition. Things may be different with WinPE 3, however certain instances of "volume locking" had appeared and resulted in failure of the restore. This problem was not solved (because there was no longer XP support for me at the time) but it had something to do with restoring images to the same physical drive. This problem only showed up with XP, never had a problem with Vista or Server 2008.

Okay - this doesn't inspire me with confidence. I guess the key thing is to have a tool that will reliably restore a working and bootable system, so if I'm not confident ImageX can provide this, I'll veer towards using DriveImage XML.


This isn't a problem with Imagex, its more a problem with DiskPart, the program I used to format volumes. Diskpart was changed in WinPE 3 from WinPE 2, I found this by accident. And I only encountered these problems because I had a partition on the HDD that was doing the work.

Network use of Imagex works fine with XP, never a problem!
MSFN RULES | GimageX HTA for PE 3-5 | lol probloms
tpxmsfn1_zps393339c1.jpg

#8
edadat

edadat
  • Member
  • 9 posts
  • Joined 07-December 05
Just to update this thread with notes from the field. Over the last few days, I have conducted a number of mock backup/recovery procedures in order to establish which one I have most confidence in adopting. All my tests were conducted inside the BartPE environment.

First up, ImageX. In short, the backup WIM files were successfully generated and the default fast compression gave a decent file size of ~45GB on a ~70GB NTFS partition. However, it took a very long time - around 9 hours - to generate the WIM file. As I planned to store the WIM file on a FAT32 external USB disk (FAT32 for cross-platform compatibility), I needed to convert the WIM files into split WIM files - SWMs - because of the 4GB FAT32 file size limit. Because this cannot be done as part of the image creation (it has to be done afterwards as a separate process), this increased the amount of time it took to create the backup by about an hour. The next step was to perform a mock restore of the SWMs to an internal drive. Having partitioned and formatted the drive, extracting took around about an hour. No need to add an NT bootsector with bootsect.exe - it booted straight into XP after a restart.

Next up DriveImage XML BartPE plugin by RunTime software. This worked flawlessly. Backing up gives an option to split the files as it goes, though fast compression resulted in ~60GB of backup files, significantly more space than ImageX's file. Having said that, DIX took a lot less time to backup - around 3.5 hours. Restoring to another drive was simple. First, using diskpart, I created a new primary partition, made it active, launched DIX and restored. The only bit that I was unsure about was when a message popped up at the end of the restore:

Your original boot record reports 16 heads while your new target drive reports 255 heads. Do you want to force the new target volume to the cloned volume? Yes No
Yes was the preselected default so I rather blindly chose that option. Then I restarted and it booted straight into Windows XP without a hitch!

My final test was to see whether I could simply create a spanned zip or 7zip archive of my entire system, and successfully restore it to another disk. Well all I can say is it works for me! The gist of what I did was:

To backup

  • Add 7z.exe and 7z.dll to BartPE %system32% folder
  • Boot into BartPE
  • If using an external drive to back up to, you need to assign a drive letter to it in Disk Management.
  • From the command prompt, create the archive:
7z a -r -y -xr@exclude.txt "dest:\Windows_XP_backup.7z" source:\* -v3g -mx=1 -mtc=on

(dest: is e.g. your external drive's drive letter and source: is the drive letter of the drive you want to backup)

To restore

  • Attach the disk to restore to, and boot into BartPE
  • From a command prompt, launch diskpart:
DISKPART
SELECT DISK 0
DETAIL DISK
CLEAN
CREATE PARTITION PRIMARY
LIST PARTITION 
SELECT PARTITION 1
ACTIVE
ASSIGN LETTER=C
EXIT
  • Format the partition
FORMAT C: /FS:NTFS /V:PATA-1 /Q
  • Restore the archive with:
7z x -y "source:\Windows_Xp_backup.7z.001" -oC:
(source: is e.g. your external drive's drive letter and C: is the drive letter of the drive you want to restore to)

  • Reboot.

Notes for the 7zip method

- I used the fastest compression (mx=1). For 70GB data, this took only 3.5 hours using ZIP compression but about seven hours using 7Z compression. ZIP files amounted to 42.5Gb, while 7Z amounted to 39GB.
- For reason unknown, when extracting from the ZIP archive, the folder dates are - for some folders - set to the date of extraction, not the date the folder was originally created, although viewing the archive in 7zip file manager does show that the folder creation date is recorded. Having perused the SourceForge 7Zip forum, this seems to be a common problem.
- One nice feature of 7Zip is the ability to define an exclusion list so you can avoid archiving particular folders. You can see I have done this with xr@exclude.txt above.

Conclusion

My preference is the 7zip solution; the disk space consumption is considerably less than DIX and ImageX, and - using ZIP compression - backup creation time is quite low. ImageX is just way too slow for my liking. Also, its lack of on-the-fly splitting is, for me, a show stopper. DriveImage XML is a useful tool and I would recommend it to anyone looking for simple GUI based drive image backup tool. I hope this helps some people in deciding which backup method to adopt.

:w00t:

Edited by edadat, 16 January 2011 - 07:56 AM.


#9
Andromeda43

Andromeda43

    Retired PC Tech.

  • Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,021 posts
  • Joined 14-August 05
  • OS:XP Pro x86
  • Country: Country Flag
Acronis True Image will reliably back up a specific drive letter on a HD with several drive letters on it.

If you have a Seagate HD, you can get the ATI program FREE in the Seagate "Seatools" package, easy to download from Seagate. The ATI program was also available on the MaxBlast CD that came with Retail packaged Maxtor drives.

Worldwide, ATI is a very popular backup tool.

For XP, I'm still using Ghost 2003, which runs from a bootable floppy disk. It works GREAT!

But, for Vista or Windows 7, I have to use Ghost 11.5, which is too large to fit on a single floppy, but runs great from a Flash Drive or CD.

There are just many, many options for backing up your C: drive. You never have to be stuck with just one program that maybe doesn't work right.

But no matter what program you decide to use, doing backups on a regular schedule, like Weekly, is always a good idea.
Every week, I back up my C: drive using Ghost 2003, then I check the update Image File for correctness and then I do an immediate
restore. The result is a perfectly ordered C: drive with NO spaces and of course, NO fragmentation.
The entire operation takes less than a half hour on my PC.

Good Luck!
B)
A person with experience is never at the mercy of a person with an argument.

#10
edadat

edadat
  • Member
  • 9 posts
  • Joined 07-December 05
Hi there!

Acronis True Image will reliably back up a specific drive letter on a HD with several drive letters on it.

If you have a Seagate HD, you can get the ATI program FREE in the Seagate "Seatools" package, easy to download from Seagate. The ATI program was also available on the MaxBlast CD that came with Retail packaged Maxtor drives.

My disks are Hitachi and Samsung, but thanks for the tip. Presumably - if you're performing a disk to disk clone - both the source and destination drives have to be Seagate for it to work? (not just one of the drives). Also, I wouldn't want my backup images to be tied to a particular drive manufacturer (if that is indeed the case).

For XP, I'm still using Ghost 2003, which runs from a bootable floppy disk. It works GREAT!

Yes, Ghost 2003 has been a good friend to me over the years too, but I came a cropper a couple of years ago when I tried to boot from the CD on a newer Intel chipset and it didn't like it. One of the reasons for looking for a more generic solution.

But, for Vista or Windows 7, I have to use Ghost 11.5, which is too large to fit on a single floppy, but runs great from a Flash Drive or CD.

Interesting, doesn't the built-in System Imaging meet your needs?

#11
klapton

klapton
  • Member
  • 2 posts
  • Joined 08-February 11
  • OS:Windows 7 x64
  • Country: Country Flag
I haven't read all the messages in this thread, but I just wanted to chime in with my experiences with ImageX.

I've been using ImageX for creating system images for over 3 years now with very few problems. I had been using Acronis, but ran into problems on certain hardware where I had to run a Non-ACPI version of Acronis in order for it to boot. And Acronis had difficulty backing up systems with heavily fragmented drives. The version of Ghost we used before that required DOS boot disks and drivers which was unsustainable. One of the reasons I chose ImageX is that it seemed a natural starting point for when I would eventually migrate to Windows Deployment Services. Plus, it's free.

There are a couple issues with using ImageX. As has already been mentioned, it's not a disk imaging solution and you will therefore not be able to capture partition information. And I've found that it would fail to create an image if it encountered a file greater than 128 GB. (I was attempting to backup a disk with a SQL database file that was right at 200 GB. Workaround was to exclude the DB and copy it separately.) Also, I would avoid deleting then adding volume images from a WIM file.

For my environment, I've created a bootable WinPE 3.0 (from the Windows 7 AIK) CD, a bootable USB thumb drive, as well as a PXE boot server for network boot. The PXE boot server is just a WinXP machine running tftpd32 to serve up DHCP and TFTP.

The biggest advantage to running WinPE 3.0 is the vast hardware support. I haven't encountered a system yet that it couldn't boot and recognize the drives. Only once have I had to add a network driver that it didn't recognize.

Let me know if you're interested in any specific setup details.




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users