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Create a universal backup and keep it updated with VMware or VirtualBox: can I use Snap Deploy for this?

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Good morning,
I opened this thread to have a good and detailed guide on how to create a universal backup with Acronis.
I need to create a backup that can be restored anywhere with just a few steps.
Also, I need to be able to keep this backup up to date otherwise I have to update Windows 10 repeatedly after the restore. If possible I would like to keep the version of Windows 10 configured ad hoc on Virtual Box or a similar program to avoid buying a dedicated computer.
My goal is to have a backup that is reusable on different computers. Installing Windows 10, installing utilities, installing Office, making updates, configuring everything becomes too cumbersome and laborious.
Can Acronis help me? What other programs should I get?
How many backups do I need to create for maximum compatibility?
I saw the video about Acronis Snap Deploy but that's not exactly what I want to do because I want to distribute the backup using a USB stick. I fix computers, I don't work in a company and I don't have a server. I would like to open VMware from time to time, update Windows 10, change some utilities or update some programs, redo the backup file and finally restore the backup file on the new computer. I'm not interested in buying servers. I have a small business.
Also I prefer not to have a computer set up for this task. Is it possible to use VMware or other similar programs like VirtualBox?
Is Acronis Snap Deploy sold individually or is it a module included in some other Acronis product? If so, which one?
I opened a thread in the Acronis True Image forum and was sent back here. All the utilities I install are free. I use volume licenses for Windows 10 and Office. The computers I prepare are very different. I can build a computer with Ryzen 5800X, a 2015 laptop, an All-in-one with the Intel E7500, etc.
Thank you in advance

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My Disk,

Hi, I read your post in the True Image Forum and followed it here.  Have you considered using MS built in tools to accomplish your objective?  I think they may be well suited to your requirements. 

My suggestion here would be to first prepare an OS installation including software and then Capture and image as either a .WIM or FFU format.  I think that using an FFU format is what you are looking for but WIM may be more to your liking.

I am posting links to these below for your convenience:

Capture Windows Image using FFU

Capture Windows Image WIM for Deployment

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Thanks for your reply but what you recommend is too complicated and requires too much work on my part. Using Snap seems simpler, just insert the bootable pen drive into a USB of the PC, the hard disk with the .tib file in another USB and restore. At the end of the work I start windows update which updates the drivers and makes the latest windows updates. Once a month I start the PC with the windows installation, update it and recreate the .tib backup in the same way. I don't think there is anything more comfortable in the world. The only aspect to consider is the possibility of keeping the PC with the original copy of windows on a software like VMware. Can you show me some videos that explain how to prepare this version of windows 10 with programs, utilities and updates? From the videos you understand a lot about the convenience or otherwise of following this alternative procedure that you suggest. In the pages you post it seems that there is some code to write. With Acronis you don't write code and it's all automatic, just press 10 buttons. Anyway, I would like to deepen, in your opinion, what are the advantages of one method over the other? With Acronis, if I set Google as a search engine, it remains, with FFU or WIM these settings remain also? What is the difference between FFU and WIM?

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There are a few videos on the net that cover the use of native DISM tools usage to Capture then Deploy or Apply images however, I doubt you would get a good feel of the actual process by watching them.  Having said that and given that I have spent some time in teaching I recognize that there are those whom learn best by watching.  if you are one of them then you probably will find some of the videos available helpful.

A few basics here may help you understand a bit better why I suggested using MS tools rather than a third party solution.

Using a WIM image is appropriate for use when it is desired to use a system partition for deployment to multiple machines.  Please note that a WIM Capture can only be performed on a single partition on disk or a single file,.  This method of capture then is suited best for a shop that builds many machines all using the same hardware.

Using the FFU image format is appropriate when it is desired to Capture an entire disk (all partitions) on a sector by sector basis and ideally would be used when it is necessary to replace a full disk that has failed.  So your objective then is paramount in deciding what method you use.  One caveat of FFU is that this image format if applied to a disk that is of larger capacity than the one from which the capture was made, the result will leave unallocated space at the end of the disk of the remaining size over and above the captured image size.  In other words if you capture an image from a 500GB disk and apply it to a 1TB disk you will end up with 500GB of unallocated space on the end of the 1TB disk.  At this time there is no method of proportional adjustment to compensate for the difference in disk size like there is when using third party tools.

I think that if the demands of your purpose can be filled by Snap Deploy 5 then by all means use it.  If however native tools will fill the need albeit at a bit of a learning curve, you might be better served by going that route.

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Thank you very much, very kind, I await the feedback from the Acronis Team to evaluate the differences and choose.

With FFU what happens if I perform a restore on a smaller partition? For example if I switch from a 1TB HD to a 500GB HD?

I'm curious what happens with Snap when the source size is different from the target size too. I look forward to it.

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.

 

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My Disk,

With FFU what you create is a disk image on a sector by sector basis.  Therefore it is advisable to use as small a disk as possible to create the base image so that you can use partitioning software to expand the partitions if necessary.  unfortunately doing the opposite is not possible.

I am providing a link here for an excellent Forum thread by a true expert in this field that is worth reading through.  I bet a lot of your questions could be answered by reading.

FFU Imaging tutorial

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Thank you very much but for now I am interested in Snap Deploy and I have many questions about this software, I don't understand why no expert from the Acronis Team intervenes.
I apologize for the "." but I had posted something by mistake and had not been able to delete the post.

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The forums here are user based thus rarely are Acronis support people posting here.

Snap Deploy may well work for your needs  Understand that you will need to use WinPE (Windows Pre-Installation Environment media when working with the product and OS disk images.  MS Sysprep is another Power tool used to Generalize a disk image prior to Applying that image to a new or different machine.  Driver files for target machine chipset, network adapter, and most importantly storage disk controllers will be necessary as well.

Bottom line is that the work you desire to do here is far from an automated process.  Trying to cut corners will likely result in more failures than successes.

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I don't exactly understand the meaning of WinPE. On the internet it says that WinPE can be added to the Snap Deploy ISO or not. I don't understand what WinPE is for, I don't understand what happens if I don't add WinPE. If something is needed, it is added otherwise no.
Thank you so much for your support, you have been very kind

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My Disk,

WinPE:  used as the running environment from which the Snap Deploy components are used  It can be added to the Snap Deploy PXE Server component allowing the Master machine hosting the server to be booted into and ran.

You need to understand here that Snap Deploy is a powerful application and can achieve your objective however, there are many steps and considerations in setup of an OS deployment to multiple computers.  Once setup of the process is completed then automation happens but until setup is done automation is not in the picture, setup is a manual process.

I am providing link to many videos covering use of Snap Deploy 5 which is the current product.  Do Not view videos for any prior versions of the product as they may not apply to version 5 of the product.  Watching these videos will hopefully give you a better understanding of Snap Deploy and its usage.

Snap Deploy 5 videos

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Thank you very much, very kind. I have 13 questions about the resources you recommended me to see.

 

The series of videos to watch are these:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M6pOBPe0JAs&list=PLxwQL_xkpKXGG7WVrTRkI…

 

Video 1
All clear. I don't understand the final part but it's not a problem because the author waits for the installation to finish and does not perform other operations. I can only read in English, not listen.

Video 2
The PXE server that is used to deploy the operating system on my new computers works in the local network so you have to configure VMware in such a way that the virtual OS is visible from the real OS on which I have installed VMware. This part of configuration is missing or the author says how to do it but I can't understand.
1) I would need help on this point if possible.
Also, to connect my VMware computer to the physical PC I want to perform a reset on, I need a router.
2) What kind of router should I buy and how should I configure it?
In my laboratory I have a desktop PC which is connected to a satellite network via this device:
https://www.amazon.it/dp/B07M69276N
The video assumes some network configurations that I may not be able to do.

Video 3
All clear.
3) When I perform the restore Snap Deploy does it end up on the final PC or is it automatically removed?

Video 4
4) Are the drivers that the author adds to the PXE server related to the physical PCs on which the restore operation is performed?
5) On the internet I read that a user has prepared a .tib file and then uses this file on different PCs with different hardware to restore the backup, without worrying about drivers.
6) Is this step essential?
7) Could it happen that the backup restore does not work with 5% of the new computers I build?

Video 5
This video doesn't interest me because I don't have a web server.

Video 6
8) How does the licensing issue work?
I can purchase a Snap Deploy license, upload it to VMware and then use the PXE server to deploy the virtual OS to infinite physical machines.

Video 7
9) I don't understand what this video is for, can you explain to me?
10) Can I skip this video?
11) If I restore the same image on multiple PCs, all the computers will have the same name and maybe problems can arise. Should I settle for changing the computer name after installation or is there some trick / tool more useful?

Video 8
12) I don't understand what this video is for, can you explain to me?
13) Can I skip this video?

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You said:

Video 2
The PXE server that is used to deploy the operating system on my new computers works in the local network so you have to configure VMware in such a way that the virtual OS is visible from the real OS on which I have installed VMware. This part of configuration is missing or the author says how to do it but I can't understand.

The PXE server is a software component installed on your Technician computer along with the other components of the Snap Deploy package.  It is not a stand alone machine.  You would only have need to use the PXE server if you have need to deploy a single previously configured OS image to multiple other computers at the same time.  I get the impression this is not something you will be doing often if ever correct?

You said:

Also, to connect my VMware computer to the physical PC I want to perform a reset on, I need a router.
2) What kind of router should I buy and how should I configure it?
In my laboratory I have a desktop PC which is connected to a satellite network via this device:
https://www.amazon.it/dp/B07M69276N
The video assumes some network configurations that I may not be able to do.

What you are doing here is creating an OS image which you then Apply to another computer.  This image can be placed on a physical disk and then applied to another physical disk.  Both of these disks can be attached physically via USB for example to apply the image to a disk which then can be installed in the client/target computer.

You said:

Video 3
All clear.
3) When I perform the restore Snap Deploy does it end up on the final PC or is it automatically removed?

Explained in the answer above.

You said:

Video 4
4) Are the drivers that the author adds to the PXE server related to the physical PCs on which the restore operation is performed?

Yes

5) On the internet I read that a user has prepared a .tib file and then uses this file on different PCs with different hardware to restore the backup, without worrying about drivers.

So are you asking if this is true?  Simple answer, no.  Drivers are always a concern.  Snap Deploy allows a suer to create what is called a Master Image.  This Master image can be applied to many computers.  In doing this you would need to supply at a minimum chipset drivers for the target computer(s) and storage controller drivers.  This means that the Master image when created has these drivers added for use when an image is applied to a target.

7) Could it happen that the backup restore does not work with 5% of the new computers I build?

Yes

You said:

Video 6
8) How does the licensing issue work?
I can purchase a Snap Deploy license, upload it to VMware and then use the PXE server to deploy the virtual OS to infinite physical machines.

What license are you asking about?  If Snap Deploy license it is applied to the machine on which it is installed.  If the target machine OS image deployed license, you would need to supply that yourself for each new deployment.

 You said:

Video 7
9) I don't understand what this video is for, can you explain to me?

A deployment template can be created to apply settings to images being deployed on a global basis.  This video explains that process.

10) Can I skip this video?

Yes

11) If I restore the same image on multiple PCs, all the computers will have the same name and maybe problems can arise. Should I settle for changing the computer name after installation or is there some trick / tool more useful?

You are missing the point here.  A Master image is whats known as a Generalized image.  This generalization is part of the configuration required of you while creating the Master.  This process removes machine names, drivers, SID, etc. from the image created for deployment.

 You said:

Video 8
12) I don't understand what this video is for, can you explain to me?

This video explains the steps for remote installation of the Snap Deploy product

13) Can I skip this video?

Yes

It should be obvious to you by now that this is far from an automated process.  Creating images, applying those images, and deploying images across multiple machines is certainly something that can be done but is hardly a set and forget proposition.  

I am providing a link below for the Snap Deploy 5 documentation, I suggest you give it a good read.  Most if not all of your questions can be answered there.

Snap Deploy 5 pdf 

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First of all, thank you for your patience. Thank you, thank you, thank you and thank you again!
Yes, what you write is correct, I have no need to distribute a backup simultaneously on multiple computers.
There is a lot of bullshit written on the internet. Luckily there is a dedicated forum!
There is a driver archive that can be added to the ISO or the .TIB file (I don't remember at this time) to make the backup work on as many machines as possible. If a backup worked on 50% of the machines I build for myself it would already be a success. If instead I have to go looking for drivers every time then the process becomes very inconvenient.
This afternoon for example I have an Asus P541U + Crucial BX500 240 GB. What are the drivers I should add?
Thank you

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Good question!  Asus laptops are not well supported unless they are relatively new machines.  Older products like the one in question are a bear to find drivers for.

It looks to me like the P541U could be running a 7th Gen Intel processor so 7th Gen chipset drivers would be on order.  The storage controller driver would also be needed and is likely Intel based as well unless of course the laptop has another processor/chipset.  Problem is finding them.

If these machines yo work on are in running condition then you could extract the drivers on them and then have them available for use during image creation time.  I have used Driver Extractor to grab currently installed drivers for such use.

Driver Extractor

Not all drivers can be installed into an image during creation.  In general chipset, storage controller, nic, are the most important to add with the rest being updated by Windows itself.

 

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What numbers should I download with Driver Extractor when I have a laptop? (see Attachment)
What numbers should I download with Driver Extractor when I have a desktop pc?
Which extension should I prefer?
What file extension does Snap Deploy accept?
There are other programs that save all PC drivers in one folder in one go. I tested a program that produced nearly 1GB of data for me.
Is there a method to load drivers on Snap Deploy faster or do I have to resign and load the drivers one by one?
Will I do damage if I also load unnecessary drivers?
Always thanks for your patience

Attachment Size
570013-213216.png 31.37 KB
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Language differences are a barrier.  Looking at your screenshot I do not know what some of the words say.

Again, you need to supply drivers for the motherboard chipset (such as Intel 200 series), Storage controllers, and Network Interface Controllers.  These are the most important drivers for boot purposes.

I have attached a screenshot below that shows what Storage Controllers and Network Interface Controllers may look like.  Each machine will have a slightly different look in Device Manager due to differences in hardware. 

Do Not attempt to install all drivers as you will not be successful.  Also, when adding drivers only .inf files are accepted for addition even though the tools used may not complain if other file types are included, they just will be ignored.

In the screenshot below number 1 is the Network Adapter, number 2 are Storage Controllers.

 

image 306

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I think I do this:
1) With the old PCs to be updated (replacement of the hd with the SSD and upgrade ram) I use Driver Extractor to recover the drivers from the old OS and then distribute the image created with Snap Deploy by inserting only the 3 drivers you recommend and checking that these files have the extension .inf (not others).
2) On old PCs, I install Windows 10 quickly and then proceed as in point 1.
The installation to be distributed I would like to keep it on VirtualBox. With the Snap Deploy ISO I perform the backup from VirtualBox and the restor on the repaired pc or new pc. I update the virtual OS once a month or as needed. When I update the OS, in addition to any programs, I recreate the .tib files.
A) What do you think, Snap Deploy is the perfect tool for my needs? Will I be able to speed up my work by 95%? Even if my whole project fails 5% of the time I would save 95% of the time.
B) Is it a problem if I extract the drivers from Windows 7 and load them on a Windows 10 .tib file?
Thanks for all

 

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You said:

A) What do you think, Snap Deploy is the perfect tool for my needs? Will I be able to speed up my work by 95%? Even if my whole project fails 5% of the time I would save 95% of the time.

I do not think Snap Deploy is the perfect tool for your needs.  I think Snap Deploy is much better suited for a large scale production of large volumes of PC's that are clearly more than your needs.

In my opinion, your needs would be better served by the Acronis True Image product and use of the Universal Restore tool included in that product.

You said:

B) Is it a problem if I extract the drivers from Windows 7 and load them on a Windows 10 .tib file?

Yes it is a problem.  You will have unexpected behavior in doing the above.  Today's drivers are written specifically for the OS version where they are applied.  it is not something where substitution is or should be practiced.  Doing so can/will introduce corruption to the OS which will result in failure.

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What is validation for and when could validation fail?
When validation performed after backup fails how do I solve?
I performed two installations on VirtualBox of Windows 10, one with utility and one without. The backup of Windows 10 without utility has been validated, the other one has not, why?
I have also performed the operation several times but this problem always happens.
thank you

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Validation is a checksum comparison of a backup file with a checksum created during the backup file creation itself.  A successful validation only means that there has been no change in the backup file itself since creation but does not guarantee that the file is not corrupted in some way.

I think what you are saying is that a backup using True Image installed in Windows validates whereas a backup using the WinPE media does not.  I cannot say why that is for certain however, my suspicion here is that checksum validation works differently between the two methods.  I believe that a backup created using the installed Windows product stores the generated checksum information in metadata in an internal database within the application.  This is not true with the WinPE method.  In this case the checksum is likely stored in the backup file itself.  So it you run validation from the Windows installed application on the WinPE created backup file the application does not find the stored checksum for comparison so the validation fails.

I have never tested this theory primarily because I do not use validation.  Since you are converting the backups files you create into Virtual Disk images if the resulting image will boot in VirtualBox then that is a very strong indication that the backup restored to a physical disk will boot.  I would say that the success rate in this case to be in the high 90% range.

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No, I have not installed Acronis on VirtualBox.
I installed Windows 10 with utilities on VirtualBox (there is no Acronis among the utilities).
I also installed Windows 10 without utilities on VirtualBox and on a new virtual disk.
Next I added the bootable ISO file to VirtualBox and backed up Windows 10 to an external physical drive. Snap Deploy tells me that installation number 1 (the one with utility) is not validated, while installation number 2 is. Why does this happen? It seems that validation depends on what's installed on Windows 10!

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Please explain what you mean by utilities?

You do not install Aconis on VirtualBox.  VirtualBox is a software that allows the booting of a virtual disk.  

I take it you have Snap Deploy installed somewhere, and where might that be? 

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"utilities" are VLC, Acrobat Reader, LibreOffice, Chrome, etc ...
I made a backup and restore of Windows 10 Pro 64bit to a different virtual disk with Acronis True Image. By applying Snap Deploy on the new OS I was able to create the new backup and validate it.