44546: Why can't ATI2013 or 2014 reliably schedule & manage backups (why is something like chain2gen still needed?)

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Scott Hieber
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The problem a user describes in the text below is the kind of thing ATI needs to overcome to be a star product. It's a report from a user of ATI2012"

"I had my machine off for several days while I moved. When it started up, ATI wanted to do all the missed backups (I indeed had it set that way) but didn't need all those identical backups. So I cancelled the backup (for my "c" drive backup), and figured I would just let ATI backup according to schedule. Except that after the cancellation, all further scheduled backups stopped (which I did not realize for two weeks). So I ran it manually hoping that would restart things. But validation said it was corrupted. And scheduled backups won't run with such a condition. I went through this backup merry-go-round several times with the same result (each time, the validation ties up all my 12 GB of memory for about 20 minutes making the machine pretty much unusable). Meanwhile the interface started showing new backup templates (or tasks or whatever you want to call them) in the list. And ATI wasn't deleting old backups ... and it was all getting quite messed up. I manually deleted unwanted backup templates (tasks), also deleted unwanted validation-failed backups. Everything was getting more messed up. ATI was mixed up.

I spent a couple of hours looking at alternative programs. Almost pulled the trigger on a couple of them. Finally ATI successfully ran my main backup with a good validation - so now it will run on schedule (I can hope can't I?). Of course I'll have to babysit my backup directory until the automatic delete process catches up.

All I want is dead reliable full backup that will run on schedule. I'll even manage the backup directory manually. I have pretty much had to do that with ATI anyway - I even once turned off the autodelete feature for about a year or so - figuring that was less time consuming to manage the backup directory manually. At least when I manage it manually, I know exactly what's going on, and I don't randomly discover that nothing has been backed up for weeks (unbeknownst to me)."

I quit running the more recent versions of ATI on a schedule. So I ask, can anyone attest that ATI2013 or 2014 performs better on scheduing and managing backups or is something like chain2gen still necessary?

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Whooaahh
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Can't you just tell the backup to make a full backup every X backups? There is also a place where you tell it to keep the first chain, or completely disable automatic clean up.

thomasjk
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So far TI 2014 has followed the rules correctly for me. I only make full backups and keep 2 recent backups. The issue I have seen is the built in Shutdown does not work properly. I'm now using the my shutdown.cmd file as a post-processing task to see if that solves the problem. I used this approach with Chain2gen with TI 2010 which worked quite well for me.

tuttle
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I have ATI 2013 scheduled backups set on some PCs, and they work as expected including confirmation e-mails sent to me.

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GroverH
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SCOTT wrote:
So I ask, can anyone attest that ATI2013 or 2014 performs better on scheduling and managing backups or is something like chain2gen still necessary?
My answer would be both Yes and NO.

As the preceding posters have indicated, their response was favorable. Mine would be as well.
-----------------------------
BUT, a big however, much will depend upon the user and their experience level with the software. For example:

a. If the user asks the system to store more backups than space permits, the program will eventually error out. Most users do not understand that the program creates a replacement proior to deleting the old backup. This temporary need for additional storage space can sometimes cause a "disk full" error as user has not planned for this extra space need.

b. If the user modifies the original task settings, sometimes those changes are more than the program can redirect. Most often, the results of the changes are not what the user is expecting. Rather than edit an existing task, a new task produces better results.

c. If the user restores an old backup, the program finds it difficult to continue the prior backups without some kind of backup numbering change or may continue the backups until complete new cycle has complete--requiring much more storage space than planned. When a restore is made, new tasks should be created rather than expect the old tasks to continue without problems.

d. If the user fails to connect the external target drive, the program will error out based on a "cancelled by user" message as the program has timed out due to failure to attach target within a specified time period (user controlled).

I wrote a simple batch file as a reminder to attach target disk immediately prior to scheduled backup time.

http://forum.acronis.com/forum/44532#comment-139229

e. There have been several reported problems with the consolidation option which involves merging of data.
But, I have found that automatic cleanup seems to work best--or at least for me. A setting of custom/full or custom/inc or custm/dif--all with automatic cleanup has been my recommendation.

f. So, if you are aware of these "traits of the program" and adjust your settings or actions accordingly, then my experience has been that the program will perform backups when indicated and will do its cleanup correctly--when tasks are set according to program space limitations. My link #2 below illustrates ( figures 11-Full; or 11-Inc; or 11-Diff ) some examples of how the program might be properly custom configured. These work for me.
---------------------------
g. I would discourage using the automatic cleanup settings based on "elapsed days" or "space limits" but both 2013 and 2014 automatic cleanup has worked very well based on keeping "x number of recent version chains" (providing user provides adequate storage space) and leaves the original task unedited.

------------------------
h. If you want the program to shutdown the computer at backup completion, I find that putting the shutdown command inside the batch file and having TI run a post command to execute the batch command works most consistently for me. Usually, using a "cmd" extension rather than a ".bat" extension works best for any pre or post command execution.

http://forum.acronis.com/forum/38609
----------------------------------------
Chain2Gen--This program is still applicable due to its many special features such as (just to list a few):

   If you want backups files to be deleted before replacement is created
   Run backups on a specific day of the week such as on a specific week, etc; or if you need to have multiple batch programs run before TI starts, C2G is capable of doing this.

However, if the user wants a simple backup created (with or without x inc or dif) and a replacement created after x number of backups or a replacement chain after x number of chains, then 2013 or 2014 has performed correctly and C2G is not needed--keeping in mind the limitations or requirements listed above.

Yes, program modifications/corrections would help and the comments above are just personal comments on how to make the program work without user inflicted issues. I find custom backup schemes perform better than any default backup scheme settings. For reliable results, user must be aware of how much storage space will be needed and getting this informtion is often times a matter of "trial and error" backups before an error free backup task can be created.

My apologies for such a long post but a short answer does not due justice to the user or the program.

thomasjk
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Quote:
GroverH wrote:
If you want the program to shutdown the computer at backup completion, I find that putting the shutdown command inside the batch file and having TI run a post command to execute the batch command works most consistently for me. Usually, rather a "cmd" extension rather than a ".bat" extension works best for any pre or post command execution.

I agree with this. My backup last night using the the shutdown batch file worked as expected. When I tried the Shutdown check box under Advanced Settings I was not successful unless I opened the Full TI GUI. Something causes the Shutdown and consolidation not run using this setting.

Scott Hieber
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Thanks folks, I quit using the scheduler several years ago because of the unreliabliity. It will be great if marketing (release every September no matter what) finally let the programmers get it right before release.

regards,
sh

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Whooaahh
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Scott Hieber wrote:

Thanks folks, I quit using the scheduler several years ago because of the unreliabliity. It will be great if marketing (release every September no matter what) finally let the programmers get it right before release.

regards,
sh

WTB new Marketing Department staff...

Len C
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I scheduled a backup (ATI2013) to create a differential chain of 1 full followed by4 differential backups. The first chain ran fine creating the backups as expected (1 full, 4 dif.). I received the confirmation emails. But that was the end, no more backups. there is plenty of space on the disk (attached USB drive), etc, and nothing changed except the expected 6th backup, which should have been a full one, did not run, nor did any subsequent ones. (WinXP Pro SP3)

I think there is a problem with the backup scheduling, and it is not ready for prime time. To bad, I was hoping to use this company wide for backup, but unrealiable backup = no backup.

I don't think I'm missing anything, since nothing changed (I didn't even open the program) between the first chain and what should have been the second one. Happy to hear suggestions though.

Thx,
Len

Scott Hieber
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Whooaahh wrote:

Can't you just tell the backup to make a full backup every X backups? There is also a place where you tell it to keep the first chain, or completely disable automatic clean up.


Yes to all of that.

His prob occurred despite that.

[\quote=Whooaahh]

Can't you just tell the backup to make a full backup every X backups? There is also a place where you tell it to keep the first chain, or completely disable automatic clean up.

[/quote]

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GroverH
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Len,
Step 1 in troubleshooting would be to look at the TI log file and see what information is provided. The log should indicate if they started and did not complete and perhaps an explanation or error message.

How much free space on the attached usb target drive.
What size was the last full backup?
Current free space on the target disk must exceed the used space on the source disk.

Scott Hieber
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It sounds the same since ATI2010 when Acronis adopted this new model of scheduling and managing backups--instead of using Backup Locations set up with control files, ati switched to using a database that keeps track of backups provided absolutely nothing goes wrong and you don't edit the tasks or try to run manual backups from a task ( which can confuse the database into treating some backups as being a different tasks).

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Scott Hieber
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Thanks Grover, we appreciate the help. However, my point is that the prob is more systemic and more serious than that--all of which is reflected in the Amazon reviews, e.g, where recently over 47% of reviews were 1-star, the lowest possible rating out of 5 stars, and well over half of the reviews were only 1-star or 2-stars. This is not atypical for ati.

In the immediate case at hand, none of the normal conditions were violated except that he turned off the machine for several days to physically move it and, when he turned pc on, since running all the missed backups would just be duplicates, he cancelled the first missed backup. At which point ati was expected to keep running the schedule but instead stopped running the schedule at all. The best advice for him at that point was to delete all tasks and remove all backups to another off-machine location, and start with new tasks. And, I put it, that is a very sad fact. That's a lot to ask of a user that just wants to reliably make simple full disk image backups and why ATI isn't, at least not yet, a star program. Right now it's still a lot of duct tape. Using ati successfully is too often learning workarounds to use it despite its persistently faulty operation. I appreciate that the programmers want to make better code. I've spoken with them briefly about this. alas. . .

GroverH wrote:

Len,
Step 1 in troubleshooting would be to look at the TI log file and see what information is provided. The log should indicate if they started and did not complete and perhaps an explanation or error message.

How much free space on the attached usb target drive.
What size was the last full backup?
Current free space on the target disk must exceed the used space on the source disk.

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Scott Hieber
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You know I respect you, Grover, so don't take this as a comment about you rather than ati---but, I guess I'm seeing it like this: it's like yours and the other suggestions for changes in how the user acts are saying look at the wound and see if you can tell what club hit you. And the bigger point, I'm saying, is why should ati be continually beating the bejezus out of its users?

Not to mention, there is plenty of disk space, the last full backup was normal size (he only runs fulls) etc. . . .it's not the body in the wrong place, it's the thing beating the clubs into the body. It's not the victim, it's the guy with the club.

GroverH wrote:

Len,
Step 1 in troubleshooting would be to look at the TI log file and see what information is provided. The log should indicate if they started and did not complete and perhaps an explanation or error message.

How much free space on the attached usb target drive.
What size was the last full backup?
Current free space on the target disk must exceed the used space on the source disk.

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GroverH
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Sadly, I would believe that most users would agree with your assessment. The program seems to add new features and new problems without fixing existing problems.

Scott Hieber
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Having watched Acronis and ati since version 7, I think i's possible Acronis simply does not have the expertise to properly build a scheduler and file manager. More likely it's a questions of where resources are devoted.

In any case Acronis has never delivered a reliable scheduler and file manger, error handling being the weakest area.

As I said recently in a PM, Acronis should get rid of the database and keep all info about a backup file in the file--then ati could report the info no matter where it found it. It could even report what instruction set built it on what date, although that info might not be useful given tht once you change an instruction set, it's not really the same set-- a problem ati doesn't reliably handle now. So many headaches would go away if they got rid of that database and cockamamie interface that they started in 2010. This idea of having an instruction set be the paradigm for making, tracking, and analyzing backups just hasn't panned out.

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GroverH
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At this point in time, if the user wants to continue using 2013, my recommendation for a workaround would be to restart with a completely new task and use the options settings as per this link. Use automatic cleanup and avoid consolidation and the elaspsed time or space limits options.

http://forum.acronis.com/system/files/forum/2009/11/5940/2012-backup-sch...

or if using full type backups, then use
http://forum.acronis.com/system/files/forum/2009/11/5940/2012-backup-sch...

This example uses automatic cleanup and avoids the use of consolidation.

It would help if the user is aware of program traits as mentioned in post #4 above.

This recommendation does not correct the problem but mght provide a workable solution to the issue of backup cleanup and retentiion.

Edit:
Deletion of some backups may be necessary in order to provide adequate space for any subsequent backups.
Perhaps my comments make it appear using the program is more complicated than it really is. My comments are merely meant to imply that these are my recommendations based on my success with the program and other problem postings. The more the user understands the program traits, the fewer the problems there are.

Scott Hieber
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If you jump through enough hoops AND nothing goes wrong othetwise, one can almost make ati work. That's a poor bargain for any user.

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Chloe
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Scheduling incremental backup schemes once a day at shutdown with ATI 2013, either was not reliable or did not work at all. 2nd level support could not get it working after many attempts and finally said it could not be fixed. I upgraded to 2014 and the problem is just as bad.

GroverH
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Chloe,
While I cannot correct the existing problem, I can offer a couple suggestions on how you might achieve the same results via different methods. This is not a fix but a workaround that should work. If interested, you might consider starting a new posting.

1. Use Windows Scheduler (instead of TrueImage) to run a specific backup task at shutdown. The backup task would need to have a post command batch file to shut down the computer.

2. or, At shutdown time, click a desktop shortcut which could trigger the backup task after which the computer would be automatically shutdown. The backup task would need to have a post command batch file to shut down the computer.

Here is one example of a shutdown command batch file
http://forum.acronis.com/forum/38609

Here is one example of using Windows Scheduler to initiate TI backup.
http://forum.acronis.com/sites/default/files/mvp/user285/guides/win7sche...

Scott Hieber
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The Scheduler requires so much babysitting to ensure that it is working more or less correctly, that one puts in about as much effort as one would running tasks manually. In fact, the prudent choice is not to use the ATI scheduler at all but to run tasks manually. This only fails when the user fails, which, it turns out, will be much less often, unless copious amount of alcohol are involved. ;)

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tuttle
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What seem to be the factors that cause ATI scheduled tasks to fail? I've used them on several systems and they work reliably, so I wonder what may be different on the systems on which they fail.

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Scott Hieber
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If you find out lets us know. ;) What I really mean, you won't find out; it doesn't appear to be systematic; more like if anything unexpected happens, then all bets are off. The bugs are many and the error-handling is insufficient. E.g., yesterday, an insufficient space warning popped up and after making space and selecting continue, the program made the backup, tried to and could not validate. So we just ran the same task by hand (Back Up Now).

Once the task completed ATI showed two tasks where there used to be only one, one task including the invalid backup and one, the manual backup. If we deleted the one with the invalid backup it would have deleted all the backups--this we've seen before. I know there are ways to eventually work around all this nonsense, at least until the next unexpected thing happens, then all bets are off again. My complaint is that all the workarounds are still required after 5 years and 5 versions. ATI is a petulant child in dire need of rational discipline.

I certainly cannot convince paying clients that the way ati behaves is acceptable behavior or that the number of support calls I have to make to keep the program in are a reasonable burden for me to bear.

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