Saturday, August 11, 2012

DRM wiped my hard disks contents

That's a fairly provocative title, of course DRM didn't wipe out my hard disk contents ... BUT ... I'm angry at myself.

Once upon a time I used Acronis True Image to backup all my PCs, most of them being multi-boot Windows/Linux configurations.   Before that I'd been using Ghost (in the early 2000's) but I was spending my time writing DOS batch files to try and automate some of the process.  Then came along Acronis with an easy to use GUI which handled my complicated partition schemes like a charm.
I loved it for it's

  • Easy to use GUI
  • Ability to backup from a running Windows (but not Linux)
  • It's boot CD (which I hacked to run from a USB key as it was Linux based)
  • It's ability to backup all my disks with multiple partitions, file systems (Linux's ext2)
The problem is that they had to improve it with every release and they wanted to protect the software.
I remember being surprised when they managed to have the boot CD only work on a licensed PC.
How did they do that, writing to some non-volatile memory somewhere ...

That was with Acronis True Image 2010 I think.
So I stayed on my previous release, TI Home 10?

But along came Windows 7 with some difference to it's disk cluster management and the previous versions of True Image would backup but the restored image wouldn't be bootable.
So I decided to buy the latest version of True Image.
I bought a family pack of 3 licenses.
I didn't care much about the new features I just wanted the same dependability I'd known in the past.

I made my first few backups, then at some point when I wanted to restore a backup it wasn't possible.
Acronis was claiming that my software wasn't licensed/registered !!

I exchanged a few times with their very friendly support staff but didn't get anywhere and didn't want to waste more time on debugging their software.

The problem is that I stopped doing backups!
Then last Friday, disaster my Windows 7 disk died.
Of course I don't have a backup as I just kept putting off the day that I try again with Acronis.

I didn't lose any sensitive data as I have "data" backup schemes, but I miss my system image !

So the moral of all this:
  • Do backups before you need them ;-) !!
  • Don't use DRMed backup software

In the meantime I've made several backups of other machines using
  • Macrium Reflect Free Edition (seems very good, quick to do backups from within Windows)
          Would be better if it was really free of course but at least there's no DRM on the Free edition
  • Redo Backup (nice bootable CD, I didn't complete the backup because of lack of disk space)
  • CloneZilla (Very basic bootable CD, does the job ... but much slower than Macrium)
For the moment I haven't found my Acronis replacement, but I'm dabbling with the alternatives.

Maybe I should see if there's a hack to repair a Windows 7 restore from an old version of Acronis?

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