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multi-boot windows system drive -- best strategy

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i'm wondering what would generally be considered the best practice for backing up a system drive that contains two partitions, each with its own version of windows.

i read saving a partition image saves the MBR as well, so i am guessing a sector-by-sector image of the whole drive (=of both partitions) in this case is not necessary and would only take up more HDD space on the back-up medium. is there however another reason i am unaware of, that would support the sector-by-sector backup when it comes to system drives?

what would you recommend, and futhermore, if i were to just use two separate partition backups (there are two partitions on the system drive as mentioned above), is the incremental backup method fool-proof enough for system drives?

thank you!

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You are correct in that when creating a partition backup, the MBR is automatically included.

Sector-by-Sector image backups are usefull for a variety of reasons, notably to backup unsupported file systems, and to clone/restore to a new drive for data recovery or forensic analysis issues. This method is normally not needed for systems running Windows OS's.

I would suggest that you have at least one full disk based backup in addition to any individual partition backups for safety reasons.

Incremental backups are fine as long as you routinely validate them, and keep the chain (set of files) of incremental backups set to a reasonable number of files. An extremely long chain of incremental backups puts the reliability of the backup chain at risk as the number grows.
In an incremental backup strategy, if there is any corruption (or lost/deleted file(s)) in any incremental backup, all the incremental backups after that point in time will be useless, as the chain would depend on all the incremental backup files being in place and in good condition.

Depending on your available disk space, a differential based backup strategy may work better for you. Only the first full and any one of the differential backup files would be needed to do a restore. Even if one of the differential files was deleted or corrupted, the backup could be restored from any point in time from the remaining differential backups that were still available and in good condition.

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thank you, that sums it up nicely!

i am still a little confused about the minute differences between incremental and differential, but it seems i'll rather stick to a full disk backup for the OS drive. one further question, and sorry if it's a little too OT, but seeing as i only plan to manually do the backups myself after certain periods of time, is it safe to just disable the acronis-related processes included among the msconfig.exe-editable processes executed automatically on windows startup?

thank you!

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Understanding the differences between an Incremental backup and a Differential backup:

The first backup begins with a full backup.

On the next backup, a diff or inc both would backup the changes in disk sector movement and either type would be of the same size. Any movement of the file would cause it to included within the next backup--even if no changes made in the file. Also defragging the disk would cause total changes in the disk and either diff or inc would look like a full had occurred.

On the 3rd backup, is where the difference between the Inc and Diff begin to take place.

...The incremental would backup the differences between backup 3 and backup 2.
...The differential would backup all changes since the full backup.

The fourth run of the backup=
...The incremental would backup the differences between backup 4 and backup 3.
...The differential would backup all changes since the full backup.

As you can imagine, the incremental backup will be smaller in size wherease the differential backup will get larger with each run of the backup task.

Example: Backup has run 100 times (100 inc files definitely not recommened and is a data risk)
1 full plus 99 incrementals
1 full plus 99 differentials.

If the more recent backup needed to be restored (backup #100)
The files needed for restoring:
If differential backup was used:
1 full plus the single differential #100 or two files needed.

If incremental backup used:
1 full plus each and every incremental of a total of 100 files needed for restoring. If any incremental is missing or corrupt or non-readable, the restore would fail (either restoration or validation--whatever is being done) and user would need to select an earlier file via trial & error until the file combination was deemed usable or non-corrupt. Any of the most recent incremental files would be non-restorable because of the broken chain effect. This risk factor is one reason to create more frequent full backups after a smaller number of incremental.

Many users, when restoring, will have the backup validated not only during its creation but immediately prior to restoring. The files chosen for validation at time of restoration would be backward beginning with the file date selected for restoration.
When restoring the disk or system partition, the TI Recovery CD should be used for the restoration/recovery.

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Acronis services--whether needed:

An extract from the posting made by MVP Pat L

"Acronis Scheduler Helper" DISABLE. Notifies the scheduler of logon/logoff events
"Acronis Tib Mounter" DISABLE. You won't be able to mount images.
"Acronis Timmounter Monitor" DISABLE. ou won't be able to mount images.
"Acronis True Image Monitor" DISABLE. You won't see the system tray and the notifications

"Acronis Nonstop Backup Service" DISABLE. You won't be able to use NSB or T&D
"Acronis Scheduler 2 Service" ENABLE. Necessary to run ATI interactively, even if you don't schedule your backups.
"Acronis Sync Agent Service" ENABLE or DISABLE with Fix. Disabling will create COM Surrogate errors. There is a fix that should address these. Putting it on manual doesn't solve the problem. post #43

Disable the integration of ATI with Windows.

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Hello GroverH,
That makes two or three days that I've received my HDD. More precisely, it's an external Samsung D3 station 4 To USB. Up to now, I've done nothing for tow reasons:
1)on the D3 station, it exists a software for samsung backup, and I don't know if I have to run it!
2)in your previous mail, you told me to fix the HD letter (say X, for example). I think it's a good idea, but I'm not sure of the procedure to use; must I great a partition with specifying the letter?
3)suppose I use a daily incremental way, and keep, say 2 or 3 chains, may I be sure to lose no more than one-day work?
Thanks, have a nice day,

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Sorry: please, read three reasons and not two!