Alternative locations with grandfather, father, son backups


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exterrestris
exterrestris
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How do alternative locations work with grandfather, father, son backups? My laptop backs up to a network share, and I'd like to set an alternative location of an external disk for use when I'm not at home. If I do that, what will Reflect do once the alternative location is used? Will it just create the next incremental/differential/full as appropriate, or will it start from scratch? What I'd like is for it to just carry on creating the usual backups, and to then copy/move those to the usual storage location once I return home to integrate them with the primary backup set. Is this what Reflect will do by default, and if not is there a way to implement it?

Nick
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@exterrestris

Thanks for posting. 

A new image set will be created and maintained for each location saved to. I'm afraid It wouldn't be possible to do this any other way as previous images in the same set are required to create the current Inc or Diff. 

Kind Regards

Nick - Macrium Support

exterrestris
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OK, so if I copied the latest full, diff and any incrementals for that diff to the alternate location beforehand, I should then be able to get the effect I'm after - is that correct?
Nick
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OK, so if I copied the latest full, diff and any incrementals for that diff to the alternate location beforehand, I should then be able to get the effect I'm after - is that correct?


No, I'm afraid that creating two or more independent backup sets in this manner may cause problems and should be avoided at all costs.  Each backup set has a unique identifying Image ID that's created when the Full image or File and Folder backup is created. This ID must be unique for each set. 

Please see here for more information on how backup sets are created and maintained: http://knowledgebase.macrium.com/display/KNOW7/How+backup+sets+are+created+and+maintained


Kind Regards

Nick - Macrium Support

jphughan
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Each time Reflect runs it will try to create the type of backup specified by the schedule at the highest-ranked target in your list that's available.  If the backups that currently exist at that destination make that impossible (i.e. your schedule says Incremental but there are no backups there), it will make a Full instead.  The alternative locations feature results in multiple independent backup sets, not multiple replications of the same backup set.  It's mostly intended for people who use a disk rotation strategy, but it can certainly be used for your scenario.  As an example, I use Incrementals Forever with Synthetic Fulls with backups running every weeknight and I have a rotation of different disks for different days of the week.  Each of those disks contains a separate backup set with its own set of Incrementals.  Note that unlike some other backup applications, Reflect makes each target's backup set self-contained, i.e. if I run an Incremental on Monday to my Monday disk, then run another Incremental on Tuesday to my Tuesday disk, that second Incremental will build off of the most recent backup on the Tuesday disk, NOT the most recent backup that Reflect performed (to the Monday disk).  This means you'll never have a situation where you'll need to have multiple disks from your rotation available to complete.a restore, as you would with some other solutions.  Also note that the retention rules are applied on a per-destination basis, not in aggregate, i.e. my policy is to retain 7 Incrementals, so I end up with 7 Incrementals per disk, not 7 Incrementals across my entire rotation pool, although if you specify retention rules on a time basis rather than number of backups basis, this distinction is moot.

The bottom line is that if you just want backups to carry on while you and your primary location aren't there, then this will do what you want, without any need to "seed" the alternate location with backups from your primary location -- and as Nick said, you do not want to do that.  If you actually WANT to have redundant copies of your backups at multiple locations, the appropriate way to do that would be to have two definition files that are identical except for the destination they specify. In that case, Reflect will run separate backups to each destination every time.  If you want to avoid that inefficiency and simply make copies of your backup files, then you have to make sure Reflect never sees both copies at the same time, which means never telling Reflect to back up directly to that second location and making sure the "Folders to search" list in the Restore menu never causes multiple copies of the same backups to be listed.

Edited 24 June 2017 3:27 PM by jphughan
exterrestris
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Nick - 24 June 2017 2:31 PM
OK, so if I copied the latest full, diff and any incrementals for that diff to the alternate location beforehand, I should then be able to get the effect I'm after - is that correct?


No, I'm afraid that creating two or more independent backup sets in this manner may cause problems and should be avoided at all costs.  Each backup set has a unique identifying Image ID that's created when the Full image or File and Folder backup is created. This ID must be unique for each set. 

Please see here for more information on how backup sets are created and maintained: http://knowledgebase.macrium.com/display/KNOW7/How+backup+sets+are+created+and+maintained

But isn't the Image ID is based on what has been backed up, not where it's backed up? Therefore, copying the most recent full, diff and incrementals for the current backup set  to the alternative location would provide the chain necessary for Reflect to carry on as if nothing has changed - bar the location. It's no different than if I moved all the backups from the primary location to another drive and deleted all the previous diffs (e.g. because I ran out of space, or reorganised my folder structure).

Just to be clear as to what I'm proposing for when I'm travelling is to continue the existing backup set as follows:
  1. Day 1 - Home
    • Primary backup location available - contains: Full 1, Diff 1, Inc 1, Inc 2, Inc 3, Inc 4, Inc 5, Inc 6, Diff 2, Inc 7, Inc 8, Inc 9, Inc 10, Inc 11, Inc 12, Diff 3, Inc 13, Inc 14, Inc 15, Inc 16
    • Secondary backup location disconnected as it isn't needed
    • Reflect creates Inc 17 in primary location
    • Prior to departing, I copy Full 1, Diff 3, Inc 13, Inc 14, Inc 15, Inc 16, Inc 17 from the primary location to the secondary location to provide the latest complete chain of the current backup set
  2. Day 2 - Away
    • Primary backup location not available
    • Secondary backup location available - contains: Full 1, Diff 3, Inc 13, Inc 14, Inc 15, Inc 16, Inc 17
    • Reflect creates Inc 18 in secondary location
  3. Day 3 - Away
    • Primary backup location not available
    • Secondary backup location available - contains: Full 1, Diff 3, Inc 13, Inc 14, Inc 15, Inc 16, Inc 17, Inc 18
    • Reflect creates Diff 4 in secondary location
  4. Day 4 - Away
    • Primary backup location not available
    • Secondary backup location available - contains: Full 1, Diff 3, Inc 13, Inc 14, Inc 15, Inc 16, Inc 17, Inc 18, Diff 4
    • Reflect creates Inc 19 in secondary location
  5. Day 5 - Away
    • Primary backup location not available
    • Secondary backup location available - contains: Full 1, Diff 3, Inc 13, Inc 14, Inc 15, Inc 16, Inc 17, Inc 18, Diff 4, Inc 19
    • Reflect creates Inc 20 in secondary location
  6. Day 6 - Home
    • Primary backup location available - contains: Full 1, Diff 1, Inc 1, Inc 2, Inc 3, Inc 4, Inc 5, Inc 6, Diff 2, Inc 7, Inc 8, Inc 9, Inc 10, Inc 11, Inc 12, Diff 3, Inc 13, Inc 14, Inc 15, Inc 16, Inc 17
    • Secondary backup location available - contains: Full 1, Diff 3, Inc 13, Inc 14, Inc 15, Inc 16, Inc 17, Inc 18, Diff 4, Inc 19, Inc 20
    • I copy Inc 18, Diff 4, Inc 19, Inc 20 from the secondary location to the primary location and disconnect secondary location, thus providing a complete valid chain in the primary location
    • Reflect creates Inc 21 in primary location
I can't see any reason why this plan cannot work - Reflect is always working with the same backup set, and always has a complete backup chain to work with. I suppose I could copy the entire set across initially, but given that each diff only requires the full rather than the previous diffs, that should be unnecessary.

jphughan - 24 June 2017 3:15 PM
The bottom line is that if you just want backups to carry on while you and your primary location aren't there, then this will do what you want, without any need to "seed" the alternate location with backups from your primary location -- and as Nick said, you do not want to do that.  If you actually WANT to have redundant copies of your backups at multiple locations, the appropriate way to do that would be to have two definition files that are identical except for the destination they specify. In that case, Reflect will run separate backups to each destination every time.  If you want to avoid that inefficiency and simply make copies of your backup files, then you have to make sure Reflect never sees both copies at the same time, which means never telling Reflect to back up directly to that second location and making sure the "Folders to search" list in the Restore menu never causes multiple copies of the same backups to be listed.

In this instance I'm not looking for redundant copies (although I plan on doing that independently of this), just to provide the ability to take backups whilst away as part of the existing backup set - so I'm not maintaining multiple random sets consisting of a few backups a piece. If that can't be done then I'll just forgo backups whilst away as I do currently.



Nick
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@exterrestris

Thanks for the explanation.  

Yes, that's OK. It means  that you are always working on the same backup set so you wouldn't create two different files with the same  {IMAGEID} / File number pair. That scenario must be avoided.

Or you could also just use RoboCopy to sync the two destinations prior to swapping the locations.  I'm not sure of the necessity of this copying strategy though. I guess I'm not fully understanding why there is an availability issue with the primary network location when you're away. 

Kind Regards

Nick - Macrium Support

exterrestris
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Great. My primary backup location is a server/NAS on my home network, which isn't readily accessible over the internet. Typical issues with internet availability, connection (upload) speeds and usage limits whilst at hotels etc. mean I wouldn't generally attempt to backup over the internet whilst away, so I'd be using a portable external drive for backups instead.


Nick
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OK, I completely understand. Thanks.

It may be worthwhile having a dedicated external drive for your backups that maintains a separate backup set for when you're away.  You'll have the same number of restore points, albeit split over more than one location, and you wouldn't have to sync any files between the network and external drive.  I'm sure you've thought this through and decided against this strategy, I'm just highlighting that it's easier to maintain. 

Kind Regards

Nick - Macrium Support

jphughan
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@exterrestris, as Nick said, an Image ID is indeed based on what is backed up, but every new backup set gets a random new ID, if you create a Full backup stored at one location and then perform the same Full backup of the same content to another location, you'll have different IDs for backups of the same content. This is exactly what I have across the 9 disks in my backup rotation.

Anyway, the scenario you posted above will work just fine, but again, you need to make sure that Reflect never sees both copies of your backup files at the same time, so either remove the secondary location from the "Folders to Search" list when you're home and/or be very meticulous about connecting the secondary drive to copy to/from the NAS well outside your scheduled backup times, and also make sure you don't accidentally leave it connected at home after those copy operations.  Or as Nick said you could just let Reflect back up to each location independently (resulting in different IDs at each location) and dispense with all the copying back and forth, in which case you still have all of your backups, but they'll merely be distributed across two locations, so if you were home and wanted to restore to a time when you were traveling, you'd need to grab that hard drive rather than using your NAS.

Also, one change you might want to consider is that if you were to remove Diffs from your schedule, then if you're NOT using Delta Incremental Indexes (which is likely because it's disabled by default in V6) AND your schedule never involves any Incremental Merge operations, then you would only need to copy the most recent Incremental from your primary to your secondary location in order to keep backups going on the latter. You would not need to copy over the parent Diff and parent Full.  See this KB mentioning this as a benefit of using Full rather than Delta Incremental Indexes. However, creating a new Diff requires the parent Full to be available, precluding this option if you want to keep using them.

Edited 25 June 2017 4:18 PM by jphughan
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