Acronis Image File Subversioning?

Hello, I am in the process of implementing Acronis Snap Deploy in my environment and am wondering what other experts have done for version control of their master/base images?
Thomas BlakeSystem AdministratorAsked:
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Andrew LeniartFreelance JournalistCommented:
ave done for version control of their master/base images?

I'll say from the outset that I've never used Acronis Snap Deploy to an office environment, however, versioning options should be the same regardless from what I read on the Acronis site.

Assuming you are going to be saving images to a local NAS drive on the network, I generally use the "Incremental" Backup method and have it set to "Create a full version after every 5 incremental versions. (It defaults to 5) I also turn on Automatic Cleanup and also set it to store no more than 20 recent version chains.

For additional piece of mind, I also tick "Do not delete the first version of the backup"

A snapshot of a typical setup that I use is included below.

Versioning in Acronis True Image 2019
Finally, in the Advanced Tab settings, I always have Validation turned on, with "Validate backup when it is created" turned on.

I find that scheme suits the majority of my clients' needs that also use Acronis, and use the same backup settings for my own machines and server. Been using those settings for years, however, your mileage may differ, so simply modify the settings to better suit your own needs and requirements, or simply use one of the default Schemes available.

Hope that's helpful.

Regards, Andrew

Edit to add: As a side note, as I tend to keep my NAS online 24/7, you'll note from the above image that I also send those same backups to Acronis Cloud Backup Storage to protect my backups from a Ransomware hit or similar on-site disaster. I'd highly recommend you do the same. I currently have 4TB of storage space I've purchased and find that's ample to protect my server and workstations.

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noxchoProduct ManagerCommented:
With the Deployment tool such as Snap Deploy or any other you do not create each day new deploy image. This is not actually the goal of using such tool. Other than you are going to use it as a simple backup&recovery tool. Thus the versioning is not really important here.
However if you want to use it as backup&recovery tool then the images create usually have datestamp and you can create backups using backup task which can overwrite the oldest image when storage is short.
Thomas BlakeSystem AdministratorAuthor Commented:
@Andrew Leniart
Right now, we use Acronis Backup Advanced for our backup and deployment solution. It is not meant to be a deployment utility. :) As such, we use individual physical machines (one for each hardware model) for our base image test environment (when we have the equipment to do so.) As such, the tracking and versioning for our base images as they are being developed is... disjointed at best. I know that ABA utilizes Universal Restore to restore to different hardware, but it only slipstreams boot device drivers into the recovery process. So if the devices had different peripheral hardware we would need to manually reinstall, reconfigure, and reboot.

If I am able to implement Snap Deploy in our environment, I will most likely use individual virtual machines (one for each process type, think software differences instead of hardware) which should reduce the amount of base images we utilize. Then utilize ABA to back up these machines, since ABA has a decent versioning type view from the Vaults perspective that would handle the tracking of changes and versioning. Once I have the virtual machine backup files, I would utilize Universal Deploy to recover the machines. Since ASD Universal Deploy handles slip-streaming all device drivers into the recovery process, this should be a better fit for our environment.
Andrew LeniartFreelance JournalistCommented:
Thanks for sharing that info, Thomas. I have a couple of accounting firms that I deployed Acronis Backup Advanced to their server and all workstations and it's been working very well for them - has been for a few years now. Have never had to do a restore (touch wood) but I'm confident in the backups as they are all verified regularly.

In all cases though, I would not recommend restoring to dissimilar hardware. In all the times I've attempted that, (been in the game for 20 years now) I've found that the time that is taken for remediation steps to fix problems, that were always required, far outweighed any time savings of just re-installing an OS to new hardware and recovering the data instead.

I'm a huge Acronis fan, but in my opinion, their Universal restore only works very well in theory - not in practice. Sorry, that's probably not what you want to hear, but I speak from painful experience here. I hope your mileage differs to mine if you ever find yourself needing to use it.

The pic I included above was from my own small network at my home office, so that's why it's Acronis True Image. I do have considerable experience with their business models though and was unsure of your own experience levels when I answered :)

Regards, Andrew
Thomas BlakeSystem AdministratorAuthor Commented:
Do you have experience with Universal Deploy versus Universal Restore? If so, same experience?
noxchoProduct ManagerCommented:
Universal Restore is the same feature as Universal Restore. Universal Restore was originally used in True Image serie of Acronis software and was later overtaken to deploy tool as well. Works the same way - you prepare the boot image with slipstreamed drivers and after restore the HAL will be edited to inject controller driver. After the system boots all the rest of the drivers will be installed back.

As for the experience described by Andrew, I have had different experience and I can understand why some people have to or prefer doing restore to dissimilar hardware. Something you do not have any other choice.
I did not use Universal Restore feature of Acronis much, I am more fun of Paragon Hard Disk Manager tool. It is not a deployment tool but for a single restore its P2P Adjust OS wizard was always the best one.

Now to the question, why to do restore to dissimilar hardware instead of new installation. You have some software configured on your system and reinstalling all that plus reconfiguring it could be a big PITA. I have a big experience with these cases and frankly speaking the ability to move to dissimilar hardware from whatever software vendor is a very great relief for those who need it.

But this is just offtopic.
In short, answering to your last question - there is no actual VS between UD and UR.
Thomas BlakeSystem AdministratorAuthor Commented:
Thank you, noxcho. I may need to have a File Share with a repository of PNP drivers then. Oh, well. At least Snap Deploy will domain join in the recovery process so the device will be able to see the drivers.
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE Fellow)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
We migrated away from "base images" many years ago, because we were keeping too many, and they were difficult to update and keep control off. (when we used other image based deployment technology).

So we've been using Microsoft MDT/SCCM to Deploy workstations, which keeps the hardware devices separate from the software deployment. IT Staff upload the new devices drivers to the Repo, for laptops and new workstations.

We actually have a "single base image", which is a vanilla OS, created from Microsoft OS media (virgin WIM file), and End Users/IT Staff select what options are required at deployment, e.g. Office, Visual Studio, Visio, Project, Nvidia Driver version...

on occasions the base image is changed, every quarter to tweak fixes.

Patches are deployed at build time, and ongoing via WSUS/SCCM. (after build).

The entire process takes about 1 hour to deploy a workstation, with the entire OS and software stack as per user requirements, just booting the PC from the LAN, which any user can do, or assistance from IT Staff. All PCs delivered to site are set to BOOT from LAN by the vendor.

This is joined to domain, with SCCM agents loaded, at anytime, the user can request automated software install of software they are entitled to via SCCM.
Thomas BlakeSystem AdministratorAuthor Commented:
Thank you all for your expert experience. We will most likely move ahead with a virtual machine farm of machines configured with the different software deployments we utilize. These virtual machines will be backed up with Acronis Backup Advanced with a new backup being taken every time there is an "image update". The latest backup will be tested in its environment and once approved will be the image file used to deploy using Acronis Snap Deploy. We will also most likely keep a driver repository located on a file share to aid in recoveries to dissimilar hardware.
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