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Old dog trying to learn new tricks. Help, please

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My partner has made the switch from a traditional desktop to a Surface Pro 7.  I am trying to create a disaster recovery procedure to protect and recover from future catastrophes - especially given that Microsoft has made the Surface product line unrepairable. ; i.e. soldering the HDD onto the motherboard,etc.

I've got a couple of current issues. 

1. When I try to boot from a USB Acronis Rescue, I get the video parameter error. Will the bootwiz files referenced in KB 62646 work for True Image 2016?  I know I could just try but given the various glitches and weirdness that I've already run into so far, my septuagenarian paranoia is creeping in.  Or do I just bite the bullet and upgrade to True Image 2021 (with all of its bells and whistles that I really don't want)?

2. My plan is to continue to make daily full disk copy backups to an external USB drive.  In the case of catastrophe, once Microsoft presents me with a replacement Surface Pro (multi year insurance contract), I will boot it to the USB Rescue stick and perform a full system restore from the latest backup.  Preferred result is a new hardware platform running  the last good software configuration; files, programs, etc.). From that point I will perform all the Windows updates released in the interim and be good to go.  Right?

Any and all comments, good, bad or indifferent, gratefully accepted. 

I'm getting too old for this.

Mucho gratias, David

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David, welcome to these public User Forums.

Given you have invested in a new MS Surface Pro 7 system, then I would strongly recommend investing also in a later version of ATI than the current 2016 version that you have!  This is because there are significant changes in device / component support in the newer ATI 2020 and 2021 versions.

I would suspect the soldered SSD might be a NVMe type drive for which the later versions have better support, including within the Windows PE rescue media now used by default in ATI 2018 and later versions, and which can be created from the Windows 10 recovery environment of the Surface Pro.

If you don't want or need the extra Cyber Protection features of ATI 2021, then upgrade to the Standard (perpetual) version from your ATI 2016 and ignore the trial offer for protection.  You will need to uninstall ATI 2016 before upgrading to 2021 and have the serial numbers from both versions available to activate the new version.

See KB 65495: How to upgrade to Acronis True Image 2021

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Thanks Steve:

I will upgrade to 2021 and decline the Cyber protection, as it is already covered with other solutions.  Having read your previous threads on recovery issues, will my simplistic recovery plan (2.)  work?  I will research the Windows PE technique. Its just another 'new trick' I guess I'll have to master.  I figure if I can boot to the rescue OS, be it Linux or Windows PE,  and 'see' the backup media, I have a good shot at success.  Your opinion?

Thanks again. David




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David, a daily full disk backup to an external USB drive may be overkill unless you have some very critical data on the PC and have a very large backup storage drive!

You haven't mentioned what size of SSD is in the SP7 but if I assume a daily backup image size of 50GB (for OS, Applications and user data), then you will need around 350GB storage per week of backups if doing a full backup each day.

If you have critical data on the SP7, then you really need to share your eggs into different baskets rather than all in just one! 

Recommended best practise for backup is to create 3 different backups to at least 2 different locations with 1 backup stored off site / away from the PC.

See Acronis article: The Ultimate Guide to Computer Backup - Acronis which has a longer more detailed description.

For the backup scheme, you may wish to go for an Incremental backup with an initial full backup followed by 6 daily incremental backups, then repeat with a new full for the next chain.  This will result in lower backup storage requirements, plus the daily incremental backups will be much faster to run. 

The next key configuration for such a backup, is to set the automatic cleanup rule for managing the number of backup files so that your backup drive doesn't get full and stop the backup from running!

My preference for automatic cleanup is to use "Store no more than X recent version chains" where X is normally set to 2 for my own systems.  Using the assumption above of a backup size of 50GB for a full backup, then a backup chain of 1 x Full plus 6 Incremental backup files might potentially double the size to 100GB per chain, so the backup location needs to be able to store 2 x 100GB (using X=2) plus a further new Full 50GB file before cleanup is run and removes the oldest set of files (100GB).

For rescue media, please see KB 65508: Acronis True Image 2021: how to create bootable media and KB 59877: Acronis True Image: how to distinguish between UEFI and Legacy BIOS boot modes of Acronis Bootable Media

The second document is important as all rescue media needs to be booted using the same BIOS boot mode as that used by Windows 10 (which should be UEFI on your SP7 PC).

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The Surface Pro has 1 TB SSD with 300GB active. The backup drive is 1TB, with 3 daily backups on automatic cleanup. There are several periodic backup versions, both on and off site.  The concern is not so much data as it is custom applications that can not be resurrected as the install media is lost in the mists of time as are the creators.  My goal is a solution that is relatively easy for a non tech to implement and backing up and replacing the contents of an entire drive seems to be the best idea. (Its worked in the past, but computers, although much more hands on, were simpler back then.)

My current concern is your discussions on drive partitions and related issues.  IMHO these are not relevant concerns for my situation as the old vs new will stay relatively the same; OS, hardware platform,  programs and data. BUT I'm not sure, so just looking for a more technologically current opinion.  I was an IT professional, back in those mists of time, and have a strong foundation.  I have also been professionally burned by a backup/restore fiasco - badly  So to call me paranoid would be an understatement.

And since I'm already taking up your time, there seems to be the Microsoft way of creating a bootable WindowsPE drive(?) and an Acronis way. Is there a way to take a Microsoft version and adapt it for Acronis use? A tech document , maybe?  Finally.  You are correct that the SP7 is UEFI based and I will create an appropriate rescue media for it.  My personal PC is BIOS based with ATI 2015 and I have rescue media created for it. Is there anything to be gained from creating a Windows PE version for it or just stay with my creaky old BIOS version? I'd be upgrading to ATI 2021 from ATI 2015.

Thanks for your help. It is making my life easier.


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David, with ATI 2020 & 2021, Acronis have changed from using .tib files that you are used to having with ATI 2015, so with these later versions, new .tibx files are used for Disk backups, and in particular, when creating a Disk backup with Incremental backups, this is now all merged into a single .tibx file, so you would still only have a single backup file to recover from.

The key advantage of this new .tibx methodology is that there is less risk of any incremental files becoming separated, corrupted, deleted etc which would break the older .tib chain, plus having incremental 'slices' (is the new terminology) means having more restore points to choose from when doing a recovery (choosing from a calendar type display showing dates & times).

One other important point with the new .tibx files is that these are now interdependent due to the use of more metadata, so no files should ever be deleted outside of the tools provided by ATI.

This may sound a little daunting but in honesty, if users take more of a 'set it & forget it' approach, letting ATI manage the files, then it is very robust.

The actual process of doing a disk recovery has remained essentially the same as it has been for many years with just the exception of booting from the rescue media correctly and having the correct device support integrated into the rescue media.

The Acronis Rescue Media Builder 'Simple' build method creates media that will include support for the hardware found in the system where it is run, and all media is able to boot on both UEFI and Legacy BIOS systems.

The key difference between Acronis WinPE media and that which could be created in or by Windows is simply that the former has the ATI application whereas the latter doesn't.  WinPE itself should be no different as Acronis uses Windows tools to create it.

When doing the restore of your backup, this needs to be done as a Disk & Partition restore and at the top Disk selection level.

Please see forum topic: [How to] recover an entire disk backup - and in particular the attached PDF document which shows a step-by-step tutorial for doing this type of recovery / restore.

Note: the above PDF document / tutorial was written when I was using ATI 2017 back in January 2017 and remains valid for the latest ATI 2021 version.

After writing all of the above, the best further advice that I can offer to you is to create the new WinPE rescue media and perform some actual testing of booting your SP7 with this.  This is to ensure that you understand (and can document further as needed) how to get the SP7 to boot from the type of media being used (USB stick or DVD or Acronis Survival Kit drive).

In particular, when testing, you need to understand how to connect to and access your backup storage location.  I would recommend making an offline backup using the rescue media too as an exercise to test that all is working as expected, the keyboard layout is correct, mouse working etc.

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Thank You. Thank You.  Thank You. My comfort level is squarely in my comfort zone. I'll proceed accordingly.