Macrium v7 update on Win8, and miserable Macrium support


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EcoQuant
EcoQuant
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I supervise THREE instances of the Macrium Reflect Workstation running on separate systems, a Win7, a Win8, and a Win10. Macrium has worked great for the longest time, with occasional odd things happening on Win10 and Win7, and Macrium support has corresponded with me by ticket, and things were fixed. 

There was a recent update of the Macrium software, followed by a patch (meaning obviously, they did not do their testing well on the update). Judging by the behavior of the Win7 installation, all's fine. 

We run McAfee AV and system security on these workstations. 

After complaints about the slowness of the Win8 system, I took time today to inspect the system logs, and found that the Macrium service was crashing every millisecond and restarting.  I opened a ticket on this, and was told that live support would be the best way to repair.  I already attached a screenshot of the problem to the ticket. 

When the support individual came online, he was on for only a moment, and then complained that the Bomgar remote could not see the screen. Okay. Firewalls are supposed to prevent things, so I offered to research and see if I could shut something off in McAfee to permit the viewing. He then did a HUGE LEAP IN LOGIC, going from his personal (and that of a couple of other guys) opinion that "McAfee was crappy software" or something to that effect, and that we should uninstall it and see if the Macrium service operated. He might have recommended, for example, pursuing some of the steps outlined here: https://www.bomgar.com/docs/remote-support/getting-started/rep-console/troubleshooting-connections.htm

Now, first of all, that's NO KIND of diagnosis. It is a jumping to conclusions and is the kind of diagnosis where one replaces parts until the condition seems to go away.  

Second, we have FULL support. We paid for it. And it is supposed to be phone and other support. 

Third, we cannot operate without an AV and firewall program. McAfee seems to coexist with the Macrium service just fine on the Win7 system. I have not yet been able to examine the Win10 system in order to ascertain if it does there. (I will.) Moreover, it coexisted with McAfee before, and if some change was introduced such that it no longer does, that's a show stopper.

Fourth, and finally, a technician who claims these kinds of things is simply saying they don't know how to do their job. 

I'm HIGHLY disappointed. Macrium was a good product, was recommended, and has worked fine -- up to now.  If in fact we need to leave Macrium before of this incompatibility on Win8, we'll leave it for all three workstations, since I cannot deal with three different kinds of backup mechanisms for these systems I am responsible for. And I'll have to report back to Ars Technica, where the recommendation of Macrium arose that it might have been good once, but no longer. 

Don't know what else to do.



Edited 4 October 2017 9:24 PM by EcoQuant
jphughan
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Sticking to the technical dimensions of this issue, keep in mind that while Reflect of course gets updated, so does McAfee -- and far more frequently.  The AV engine used on Win7 may not be the same as Win8 or 10, so it's entirely possible that something changed with McAfee that broke Reflect, rather than a Reflect update introducing a problem.  I for example have noticed that on my work laptop, which runs McAfee, when I launch Reflect, I can't even see the partition layout of the disk; it just appears as one solid gray rectangle.  Not having the ability to uninstall or even make configuration changes to the McAfee instance on my work system, I have no way to verify that it's responsible for this behavior, but it's a pretty safe bet that McAfee is preventing Reflect from reading the partition map of the disk.

If McAfee has in fact decided to start flagging/blocking some behavior that it considers suspicious but that Reflect needs in order to do its job, there may not be a way for Macrium to code around that. However, it's entirely possible that all you'll need for your Win8 PCs for McAfee to co-exist peacefully with Reflect is a few process and/or folder exceptions.  Hopefully support on that front is forthcoming.

Edited 4 October 2017 9:51 PM by jphughan
EcoQuant
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jphughan - 4 October 2017 9:46 PM
Sticking to the technical dimensions of this issue, keep in mind that while Reflect of course gets updated, so does McAfee -- and far more frequently.  The AV engine used on Win7 may not be the same as Win8 or 10, so it's entirely possible that something changed with McAfee that broke Reflect, rather than a Reflect update introducing a problem. 

[snip]

If McAfee has in fact decided to start flagging/blocking some behavior that it considers suspicious but that Reflect needs in order to do its job, there may not be a way for Macrium to code around that. However, it's entirely possible that all you'll need for your Win8 PCs for McAfee to co-exist peacefully with Reflect is a few process and/or folder exceptions.  Hopefully support on that front is forthcoming.

All true, but, as inconvenient as it is, this is true of all AV/Firewall software, and, given the maliciousness of the Internet these days, a fact of life for software developers. McAfee is known, for example, to have problems with Acronis Backup, which was our previous backup solution before we moved to Macrium.
Edited 4 October 2017 9:57 PM by EcoQuant
jphughan
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Yes, it's a constant cat and mouse game.  Macrium has actually altered Reflect's behavior to "appease" AV solutions in the past, e.g. by dynamically deciding between direct disk I/O and using the file system buffer, since some AV solutions were hostile to one or the other.  But those design changes won't always be feasible, and in addition to AV being a constantly moving target, let's not forget that there are a MANY such solutions on the market all constantly changing, so keeping up with all of them is a rather daunting prospect from a developer's perspective.  I believe I remember reading somewhere around here that Macrium is committed to making sure they don't run afoul of Windows Defender, for what it's worth, although of course that doesn't offer centralized management and reporting functionality.

But in fairness to Macrium, an AV solution's inappropriate hostile behavior toward a benign application should not just be accepted as a given.  A strong case could be made that the responsibility for fixing this rightfully lies with McAfee, since its protection is preventing a legitimate application from doing what users want it to do, and therefore McAfee should be refining their own code to minimize the "collateral damage" it introduces.  Even if the process/folder exceptions I mentioned above would resolve the issue, that's technically a workaround.  Have you considered submitting a ticket with McAfee to ask them to investigate why they're interfering with Reflect?

Edited 4 October 2017 10:22 PM by jphughan
jphughan
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I just looked through a few other threads, and Macrium developers have previously mentioned ReflectBin.exe and ReflectMonitor.exe as needing to be whitelisted in AV solutions if users encounter problems. Might be worth trying if you haven't already.

Edited 4 October 2017 10:23 PM by jphughan
EcoQuant
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jphughan - 4 October 2017 10:15 PM
[snip]

But in fairness to Macrium, an AV solution's inappropriate hostile behavior toward a benign application should not just be accepted as a given.  A strong case could be made that the responsibility for fixing this rightfully lies with McAfee, since its protection is preventing a legitimate application from doing what users want it to do, and therefore McAfee should be refining their own code to minimize the "collateral damage" it introduces.  Even if the process/folder exceptions I mentioned above would resolve the issue, that's technically a workaround.  Have you considered submitting a ticket with McAfee to ask them to investigate why they're interfering with Reflect?

Right now, there's no substantial diagnosis to definitively point a finger one way or the other. In fact, part of my frustration is that the tech failed to do any isolation whatsoever, or give guidance, which some Macrium techs have in the past in the ticket, to obtain information so they can do such. It could be a Windows update, for all I know. I certainly am incapable of doing such isolation.

On the other hand, it seems to me that any application or system service which does not go through the OS to get disk services is walking out on a rickety limb. I understand that's often done for things like video games, but ...
jphughan
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As I understand it, for disk imaging solutions, going "around" the OS for disk access or at least using supported but uncommonly used access methods (like direct disk I/O) is beneficial or perhaps even essential for the function they are trying to serve, but I don't know that for certain.  Still, see the small follow-up post I wrote above with 2 EXEs that you may wish to try whitelisting on an affected Win8 machine to see if that fixes anything.

Edited 4 October 2017 10:28 PM by jphughan
Stephen
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Hello, EcoQuant,

I have replied to the ticket you recently submitted.

Please get back to me at your earliest convenience so we can find a resolution to the issue you are experiencing.




Kind Regards

Stephen

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EcoQuant
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Just for completeness, applied patch for Windows 10 this morning, checking before and after than the Macrium service was operating correctly.  It also runs McAfee. 

No errors on Windows 10. 
GO

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