RoboCopy Question


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harrymacrium
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I just upgraded my licensed copy from V6+ to V7+ on my Windows 7 computer.

There is an option now called RoboCopy. As I understand it, this feature 'ensures that existing files cannot be moved etc.'  I frequently move older.mring files from my normal hard drive that contains Reflect files to another hard drive, using Windows Explorer, when the 1st hard drive is getting full. If I want to use one of the old .mring files to recover from it, I move it back.

Will RoboCopy prevent me from doing this manual moving? If yes, is all I need to do is uncheck that feature  for me to do my manual moves?


Harry

jphughan
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I think you're confusing RoboCopy with Macrium Image Guardian.  RoboCopy is a command-line tool built into Windows; you can see how it works and what it can do by opening Command Prompt and running "robocopy /?".  Macrium Image Guardian is a feature that blocks anything except Macrium applications from modifying your Reflect backup files, including you attempting to manually delete them within Windows Explorer.  However, within certain constraints, MIG will (by default) allow Robocopy to modify backup files. The reason is that a somewhat common use case for Reflect is for the user to have a script that calls Reflect to run their backup job, and then calls Robocopy to replicate their Reflect destination folder to some other location.  If that other location is another local disk, then Macrium Image Guardian can be used to protect both your "primary" destination and this secondary location.  But for example, suppose Reflect had automatically purged or consolidated some older backups at your primary destination according to your retention policy.  If you were using Robocopy to have your secondary destination always mirror your primary destination, Robocopy would have to delete/modify some backup files at the secondary destination.  If it weren't for the option to allow Robocopy, MIG would have prevented that -- but since that's a widespread use case, Macrium allowed RoboCopy to get special treatment, againwithin certain constraints.  You can learn more about MIG, including how it works with Robocopy, at the MIG KB article.

But to answer your main question, if you need to be able to perform manual image moves within Windows Explorer, MIG will block that while it's active, so you would need to disable it at least temporarily when you wished to do that, which you can do under Other Tasks > Macrium Image Guardian settings.

Edited 4 February 2018 8:57 PM by jphughan
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As a follow-up to the above, if you need to restore an image that is no longer on your primary hard drive and has instead been moved to your "archive" drive, why do you move it back to your main hard drive first?  You should be able to run a restore directly from that archive drive.  The only exception would be if you were doing something like capturing a Full backup and then several Diffs, and you were only moving old Diffs over to the archive drive to free up space, without ever copying the Full over there.  In that case, it wouldn't be possible to restore an archived Diff from the archive drive.  Theoretically you could be doing the same thing with sets of Incrementals if you made certain you only archived sets of Incrementals that were no longer being appended to and would not be consolidated on the main drive, but manually archiving Incrementals would be a somewhat riskier strategy, since if the Incs stored on the main drive are later modified, then it could be a bit challenging to figure out exactly which backup files you had to bring back from the "archive" drive in order to run the desired restore.  Again, it would seem less error-prone to simply have a copy of the parent backup(s) on the archive drive so that restores could be run directly from that drive.

If simply buying a larger primary hard drive so that you can keep all of the backups you actually want at that location isn't an option (spinning drives are cheap, after all), then at the very least I would recommend that you make sure your archiving strategy would never require you to reintroduce an archived backup onto your primary drive in order to run a restore, i.e. make sure you have full backup sets on the archive drive rather than just fragments of a set.  Having a second set of backups on another drive is certainly a good idea (and incidentally, more storage would allow you to keep two copies of every backup), but shuffling backups back and forth between drives can create problems or at the very least confusion, although the potential for this admittedly varies depending on the backup strategy you're using.

However, if you do decide to implement full replication rather than archiving (in which case, RoboCopy may be worth looking into), then be aware that Reflect should never be allowed to see multiple copies of the same backup files at the same time.  Under the Restore tab, you'll see a "Folders to search" link.  There you can add any folder that contains backups you're retaining, but notice that each item also has a checkbox to enable or disable it at any given time.  If you end up replicating rather than archiving backups, make sure that only one of your locations is enabled at any given time.  I remember a thread a while ago where someone had two locations containing identical backups enabled at the same time, and when he chose to delete a particular backup on one of those drives within Reflect, that backup was deleted from BOTH of the locations where it existed.

Edited 4 February 2018 9:19 PM by jphughan
harrymacrium
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jphughan - 4 February 2018 9:17 PM
As a follow-up to the above, if you need to restore an image that is no longer on your primary hard drive and has instead been moved to your "archive" drive, why do you move it back to your main hard drive first?  You should be able to run a restore directly from that archive drive.  The only exception would be if you were doing something like capturing a Full backup and then several Diffs, and you were only moving old Diffs over to the archive drive to free up space, without ever copying the Full over there.  In that case, it wouldn't be possible to restore an archived Diff from the archive drive.  Theoretically you could be doing the same thing with sets of Incrementals if you made certain you only archived sets of Incrementals that were no longer being appended to and would not be consolidated on the main drive, but manually archiving Incrementals would be a somewhat riskier strategy, since if the Incs stored on the main drive are later modified, then it could be a bit challenging to figure out exactly which backup files you had to bring back from the "archive" drive in order to run the desired restore.  Again, it would seem less error-prone to simply have a copy of the parent backup(s) on the archive drive so that restores could be run directly from that drive.

If simply buying a larger primary hard drive so that you can keep all of the backups you actually want at that location isn't an option (spinning drives are cheap, after all), then at the very least I would recommend that you make sure your archiving strategy would never require you to reintroduce an archived backup onto your primary drive in order to run a restore, i.e. make sure you have full backup sets on the archive drive rather than just fragments of a set.  Having a second set of backups on another drive is certainly a good idea (and incidentally, more storage would allow you to keep two copies of every backup), but shuffling backups back and forth between drives can create problems or at the very least confusion, although the potential for this admittedly varies depending on the backup strategy you're using.

However, if you do decide to implement full replication rather than archiving (in which case, RoboCopy may be worth looking into), then be aware that Reflect should never be allowed to see multiple copies of the same backup files at the same time.  Under the Restore tab, you'll see a "Folders to search" link.  There you can add any folder that contains backups you're retaining, but notice that each item also has a checkbox to enable or disable it at any given time.  If you end up replicating rather than archiving backups, make sure that only one of your locations is enabled at any given time.  I remember a thread a while ago where someone had two locations containing identical backups enabled at the same time, and when he chose to delete a particular backup on one of those drives within Reflect, that backup was deleted from BOTH of the locations where it existed.

jp:

Thanks for answering this thread for me.

I had read the file you reference about RoboCopy, but I missed that it was a Microsoft Program.

I am buying a 4TB hard drive to supplement the 1TB I have that I currently use to backup to. Should be delivered next week. But it has been issues with the other topic you have been helping me with (Rescue Media error message: so far so good; I hope to wrap it up later this week and send you the results) that is making me buy this extra drive. I am currently making Image backups every day or so, so I don't lose much if there is a problem. I don't have enough room on my backup D: drive for all of them, so I am manually moving some over to a hard drive I have in another computer, but on my network. That allows more backups on D:. If I need one that I moved  so I can do an Image Restore,  I will just move it back and do a swap. Also, before I take my computer in to the shop to have the new hard drive installed, I will move (or copy if enough space) my latest Image to my other computer, as a safeguard to any problems that might occur when the new hard drive is installed. Then if it had to be moved, I will move it back when the shop has installed the 4TB drive, and I am sure nothing got screwed up.

In the long run. I will probably put all of my Image backups on the new 4TB drive and this will become a non-issue. But I have to deal with the problem that I have now.

So it sounds to me like that until I have created enough new image backups that anything that was not installed by Reflect on the new 4 TB drive is obsolete,  I should disable Image Guardian. Besides, I have been doing Image backups using earlier versions of Reflect for years, they did not have an Image Guardian, and no one stole anything.


Harry

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A few things to consider here:

Despite the term "ransomware", the threat that Macrium Image Guardian protects against isn't theft, at least not in the traditional sense.  The way ransomware works is that a piece of malware gets onto your PC, then in the background it encrypts all of your files with a key known only to the attackers.  After that's been done, it pops up a message on your PC saying, "Pay us X amount of money within a certain period of time if you want the encryption key to get your files back, otherwise we destroy the key and your files become unrecoverable."  Of course if the victim has a recent backup that's intact, they can recover their data -- but if the ransomware also encrypted their backups, then they're stuck.  The best defense against this threat is keeping backups that are offline as often as possible, i.e. physically disconnected from your PC and not accessible over the network/Internet either -- but since that isn't always feasible, Macrium Image Guardian exists to thwart attempts by ransomware to modify your backups such that you can't use them.

I can't say I agree with your logic that you can do without Image Guardian simply because you've never had a problem in the past.  The fact that you've never suffered a problem in the past should never be seen as a guarantee that you won't have such a problem in the future.  After all, you didn't wait until you suffered a catastrophic data loss to start performing backups, did you? Smile

There are certainly alternative precautions you can take to achieve the type of protection Image Guardian offers, or even better protection with a physically offline backup, but even if you're employing those measures, it's arguably still worth running Image Guardian and disabling it only as needed.  After all, how often do you manually move backup files from one drive to another?  It only takes a few seconds to disable Image Guardian when you need to do that, so you may as well leave it on for the vast majority of the time that you're NOT moving backups, especially since it sounds like even the need to temporarily disable this protection will be going away once you get a larger hard drive.

Hopefully you never suffer a situation where Image Guardian's protection is required, but if you do, you'll be grateful you had it.

Edited 5 February 2018 6:44 AM by jphughan
harrymacrium
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jphughan - 5 February 2018 6:40 AM
A few things to consider here:

Despite the term "ransomware", the threat that Macrium Image Guardian protects against isn't theft, at least not in the traditional sense.  The way ransomware works is that a piece of malware gets onto your PC, then in the background it encrypts all of your files with a key known only to the attackers.  After that's been done, it pops up a message on your PC saying, "Pay us X amount of money within a certain period of time if you want the encryption key to get your files back, otherwise we destroy the key and your files become unrecoverable."  Of course if the victim has a recent backup that's intact, they can recover their data -- but if the ransomware also encrypted their backups, then they're stuck.  The best defense against this threat is keeping backups that are offline as often as possible, i.e. physically disconnected from your PC and not accessible over the network/Internet either -- but since that isn't always feasible, Macrium Image Guardian exists to thwart attempts by ransomware to modify your backups such that you can't use them.

I can't say I agree with your logic that you can do without Image Guardian simply because you've never had a problem in the past.  The fact that you've never suffered a problem in the past should never be seen as a guarantee that you won't have such a problem in the future.  After all, you didn't wait until you suffered a catastrophic data loss to start performing backups, did you? Smile

There are certainly alternative precautions you can take to achieve the type of protection Image Guardian offers, or even better protection with a physically offline backup, but even if you're employing those measures, it's arguably still worth running Image Guardian and disabling it only as needed.  After all, how often do you manually move backup files from one drive to another?  It only takes a few seconds to disable Image Guardian when you need to do that, so you may as well leave it on for the vast majority of the time that you're NOT moving backups, especially since it sounds like even the need to temporarily disable this protection will be going away once you get a larger hard drive.

Hopefully you never suffer a situation where Image Guardian's protection is required, but if you do, you'll be grateful you had it.

jp:

I'll admit all I know about ransomware is what I read in the newspapers, and on some of the forums. When it attacks, doesn't it encrypt program files, and perhaps Windows files, as well as data files? If it does, how do you get to Reflect to access the files protected by Image Guardian?

I first thought about buying an external 4TB drive, even though data transfer is slower than for internal. About 4 years ago, I bought a Western Digital 1TB external for my laptop. I have had no problems with it. So when searching for a 4TB external, I read the comments on Amazon, and a couple of the large computer retailers. They were terrible for both Western Digital & Seagate. The comments indicated that the quality has deteriorated significantly over the last few years. Lots of disk crashes, bad sectors, etc, within the first few months of ownership. So I purchased an internal drive, assuming (hoping?) that because they are used by lots of businesses, that they are more reliable. That may or may not be correct.

Harry

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Most ransomware only goes after your data files, because attackers want to keep the PC running to make it easier for you to, well, pay the ransom.  There's also far less value to encrypting Windows and program files since those are (relatively) easily replaced with a reinstall, whereas your documents and photos would be much harder or even impossible to replace if you don't have a good backup, so you're more likely to pay to get those back.  There are some variants that will encrypt your entire disk and show the ransom message as a boot message, but those are less common.  But even if you get hit with the latter type, in terms of how you get Reflect to access your backups, well you would boot your PC from your Reflect Rescue Media of course! Smile  That will run Reflect in a totally clean environment, so as long as you still had an intact backup (which might be the case only thanks to Image Guardian after a ransomware infection), you'd be able to restore that backup.  Also note that Image Guardian a) runs only within full Windows, not in the Rescue environment, and b) only prevents non-Macrium applications from modifying or deleting your backup files; it does not interfere with reading those files, e.g. to perform a restore or to mount them in order to browse their contents.

As for external drives, if we're talking about spinning drives rather than SSDs, a modern USB 3.0 drive shouldn't perform noticeably worse than an equivalent drive installed internally because USB isn't the bottleneck anymore; it's now the performance limits of spinning drives in general.  If you're looking at the very portable USB-powered drives, those would have 2.5" drives (typical laptop PC drive size) installed inside them, so they might be a bit slower than a similar 3.5" drive (typical desktop PC drive size) because at a given rotational speed, the larger platters of a 3.5" drive means that more data will be read per rotation of the platter, but thanks to other optimizations within the drive, even that performance gap is shrinking.  I use 4TB Western Digital USB-powered drives and can typically sustain 80-110 MB/s write speeds when writing large files like backups, and that's not too far off what I've seen from internal spinning drives.  As for reliability, unless you're looking at specialized drive variants such as those billed for enterprise usage or NAS enclosure usage, you shouldn't expect reliability to be any different between external and internal drives because a manufacturer's external drives are just their internal drives that they've stuffed into a USB enclosure.

In my case since I have a laptop that doesn't support multiple internal drives, I bought one 4TB drive to use as my main external drive, then I periodically clone that drive onto a second 4TB drive.  That second drive remains physically disconnected at all times except when it is being updated, so that if I get hit by ransomware, the overwhelming likelihood is that my second drive will not have been connected at the time and will therefore have an intact copy of my data.

Edited 5 February 2018 9:57 PM by jphughan
harrymacrium
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jphughan - 5 February 2018 9:44 PM
Most ransomware only goes after your data files, because attackers want to keep the PC running to make it easier for you to, well, pay the ransom.  There's also far less value to encrypting Windows and program files since those are (relatively) easily replaced with a reinstall, whereas your documents and photos would be much harder or even impossible to replace if you don't have a good backup, so you're more likely to pay to get those back.  There are some variants that will encrypt your entire disk and show the ransom message as a boot message, but those are less common.  But even if you get hit with the latter type, in terms of how you get Reflect to access your backups, well you would boot your PC from your Reflect Rescue Media of course! Smile  That will run Reflect in a totally clean environment, so as long as you still had an intact backup (which might be the case only thanks to Image Guardian after a ransomware infection), you'd be able to restore that backup.  Also note that Image Guardian a) runs only within full Windows, not in the Rescue environment, and b) only prevents non-Macrium applications from modifying or deleting your backup files; it does not interfere with reading those files, e.g. to perform a restore or to mount them in order to browse their contents.

As for external drives, if we're talking about spinning drives rather than SSDs, a modern USB 3.0 drive shouldn't perform noticeably worse than an equivalent drive installed internally because USB isn't the bottleneck anymore; it's now the performance limits of spinning drives in general.  If you're looking at the very portable USB-powered drives, those would have 2.5" drives (typical laptop PC drive size) installed inside them, so they might be a bit slower than a similar 3.5" drive (typical desktop PC drive size) because at a given rotational speed, the larger platters of a 3.5" drive means that more data will be read per rotation of the platter, but thanks to other optimizations within the drive, even that performance gap is shrinking.  I use 4TB Western Digital USB-powered drives and can typically sustain 80-110 MB/s write speeds when writing large files like backups, and that's not too far off what I've seen from internal spinning drives.  As for reliability, unless you're looking at specialized drive variants such as those billed for enterprise usage or NAS enclosure usage, you shouldn't expect reliability to be any different between external and internal drives because a manufacturer's external drives are just their internal drives that they've stuffed into a USB enclosure.

In my case since I have a laptop that doesn't support multiple internal drives, I bought one 4TB drive to use as my main external drive, then I periodically clone that drive onto a second 4TB drive.  That second drive remains physically disconnected at all times except when it is being updated, so that if I get hit by ransomware, the overwhelming likelihood is that my second drive will not have been connected at the time and will therefore have an intact copy of my data.

jp:

I searched on Amazon and found something called a 'WD 4TB Elements Desktop Hard Drive'. Is that what you have? Looks like a 3.5" hard drive in a small computer case. Says it has a fan and AC power.

Your comments on how close the speeds of USB 3.0 and SATA 3 connected hard drives made me run some tests after my new 4TB WD 'Blue' internal hard drive was finally installed. A comparison of various tests is attached. D: is my 1TB internal drive, F: is my new 4TB internal drive, and J: is my 1TB 3.0 USB external drive. You probably know all these things, but it appears that the transfer speed is affected by not only how the connection is made (external [USB] or internal), but also by the number of files being copied, the total size of what is being copied, and how far into the transfer you are.

The top two screenshots on the left compare an internal to external transfer of slightly different number of files and total size. The larger size runs somewhat slower.

The bottom three screenshots on the left show the great impact of number of files being copied and how far into the transfer you are; again between an internal and external drive. Although the total size is only 1/3 of the first comparison, the huge number of files slows this to a crawl; especially as you get near the end of the transfer.

The right hand column screen shots show the transfer between two internal drives. Although the number of files being copied and the total size being copied are both greater than the upper left screen shots, the transfer speed is greater all the way through the transfer.

I like your idea of having an external drive that is never connected to the computer except when copying files. So my plan is to have all three of my networked computers back up to the 4 TB F: which is installed in my Win 7 desktop. I use my desktop every day. I only use my Win 7 laptop when I travel or when I want to test a new program or new upgrade so my desktop is not disturbed if there is a problem. I also still have an XP desktop. I only use it to run a couple of old DOS programs that I still use every week or so (and their data is backed up to floppies), and occasionally to look at an old program that I did not install on my Win 7 computers. All three have Macrium Reflect. I have enough room on my 1TB USB external drive to maintain several Full backups from each of them.

During these last few weeks when I have been trying to sort out problems on my Win 7 desktop (which now seems to running fine—I will provide more info and a couple of questions in the 'Rescue Media error message' thread in a couple of days), I started making Differential backups since they take much less space. My plan is to incorporate more of them as I go forward, which will cut down the space required on my 1TB USB drive considerably.

So I have run several Differentials, and have found a slight problem. I always make notes in the Comments section of Full backups, so I can keep track of the major changes I have made since the last Full backup. But I cannot find a way to add Comments to the Differential backups. I contacted Macrium support, and they said it was not possible to add comments to Differential backups. Is that correct? If so, that seems to be to be a real shortcoming, at least for me. I will have to maintain a separate spreadsheet to log changes, which just seems unnecessary.

So any thoughts would be appreciated. And does you answer also apply to Image Guardian backups (which I have not implemented until I get all my backup files sorted on the correct drives).


Harry

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I use the WD Elements Portable 4TB drive. The Desktop line is 3.5” and requires external power as you noticed. The Portable line is 2.5” and is powered by USB, with no fan.

The performance I mentioned above pertained to copying large files, such as writing a Reflect backup to a drive. All else being equal, that will be much faster than copying lots of smaller files that total the same size because in the latter case, the file system has to be updated with a record for each new file, and that creates overhead.  If you saw the opposite with some large files, it's possible that the large file on the source drive is fragmented, in which case the source disk could have been the bottleneck (more on this in a moment).  You could try testing your drives with a benchmarking tool like CrystalDiskMark, which is free, small, available as a portable application (i.e. no installation required), and its results will not be affected by anything going on with another drive in the system since it tests write performance by having the drive write randomly generated data rather than copying something from somewhere else.  Expect to see a drastic difference between the read/write performance for sequential operations and random operations ("random" here pertaining to the location on the disk, not the nature of the data itself.)  The reason the latter is so abysmal -- and in fairness, CrystalDiskMark creates an extreme case -- is because to read/write data scattered across random locations, the drive's heads have to keep jumping around to various parts of the platter, which is another source of overhead, and which incidentally is precisely what defragmentation tries to address.  The gap between those figures is smaller on SSDs since they obviously don't have heads or platters, but it's still significant because random I/O creates controller overhead and thwarts optimizations like read-ahead caching.  And technically the design of the regular USB protocol is yet another source of overhead compared to SATA, but Windows 8 added support for a protocol called UASP that effectively eliminates that if the USB enclosure also supports it, which any modern USB enclosure would.  However, that particular bottleneck wouldn't be a factor here because USB 3.0 has much more bandwidth than a single spinning drive can fill anyway, so it can "afford" some protocol-related inefficiencies.  SSDs in a USB enclosure are another matter.

As for comments on Differentials, if you right-click a definition file under the Backup Definition File tab, select Run Now, and choose Prompt, you can select a Diff backup and then click the button to set a comment.  I just successfully tested that -- is that not working for you or are you doing something else?  If you’re referring to scheduled rather than manual backups, then I believe Reflect just uses whatever static comment is configured in the definition file settings. There’s a Wish List thread around here requesting support for specifying the desired comment on the command line when Reflect is called that way (and having it override any comment in the definition file settings), because that would open up a ton of possibilities when running Reflect as part of a script. You could have the script pull any sort of data you wanted beforehand, package it all into a comment string, and then send that to Reflect when you called it to run the backup. Hopefully that gets implemented someday.

I’m not sure what you mean when you ask if my answer applies to Image Guardian backups. Image Guardian isn’t something that alters the backups themselves; it just protects any image files that are stored on any drives local to a system that has Image Guardian installed and enabled.
Edited 10 February 2018 4:22 AM by jphughan
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jphughan - 10 February 2018 3:35 AM
I use the WD Elements Portable 4TB drive. The Desktop line is 3.5” and requires external power as you noticed. The Portable line is 2.5” and is powered by USB, with no fan.

The performance I mentioned above pertained to copying large files, such as writing a Reflect backup to a drive. All else being equal, that will be much faster than copying lots of smaller files that total the same size because in the latter case, the file system has to be updated with a record for each new file, and that creates overhead.  If you saw the opposite with some large files, it's possible that the large file on the source drive is fragmented, in which case the source disk could have been the bottleneck (more on this in a moment).  You could try testing your drives with a benchmarking tool like CrystalDiskMark, which is free, small, available as a portable application (i.e. no installation required), and its results will not be affected by anything going on with another drive in the system since it tests write performance by having the drive write randomly generated data rather than copying something from somewhere else.  Expect to see a drastic difference between the read/write performance for sequential operations and random operations ("random" here pertaining to the location on the disk, not the nature of the data itself.)  The reason the latter is so abysmal -- and in fairness, CrystalDiskMark creates an extreme case -- is because to read/write data scattered across random locations, the drive's heads have to keep jumping around to various parts of the platter, which is another source of overhead, and which incidentally is precisely what defragmentation tries to address.  The gap between those figures is smaller on SSDs since they obviously don't have heads or platters, but it's still significant because random I/O creates controller overhead and thwarts optimizations like read-ahead caching.  And technically the design of the regular USB protocol is yet another source of overhead compared to SATA, but Windows 8 added support for a protocol called UASP that effectively eliminates that if the USB enclosure also supports it, which any modern USB enclosure would.  However, that particular bottleneck wouldn't be a factor here because USB 3.0 has much more bandwidth than a single spinning drive can fill anyway, so it can "afford" some protocol-related inefficiencies.  SSDs in a USB enclosure are another matter.

As for comments on Differentials, if you right-click a definition file under the Backup Definition File tab, select Run Now, and choose Prompt, you can select a Diff backup and then click the button to set a comment.  I just successfully tested that -- is that not working for you or are you doing something else?  If you’re referring to scheduled rather than manual backups, then I believe Reflect just uses whatever static comment is configured in the definition file settings. There’s a Wish List thread around here requesting support for specifying the desired comment on the command line when Reflect is called that way (and having it override any comment in the definition file settings), because that would open up a ton of possibilities when running Reflect as part of a script. You could have the script pull any sort of data you wanted beforehand, package it all into a comment string, and then send that to Reflect when you called it to run the backup. Hopefully that gets implemented someday.

I’m not sure what you mean when you ask if my answer applies to Image Guardian backups. Image Guardian isn’t something that alters the backups themselves; it just protects any image files that are stored on any drives local to a system that has Image Guardian installed and enabled.

jp:

You always have a prompt and through response. Thanks for that.

I'll try the CrystalDiskMark. I realize what I did was not an apples to apples comparison, and of course I have no idea how fragmented my D: back up drive is, but I just took screen shots when I was doing all the transferring, and this afternoon reviewed them to see if I could draw any conclusions.

>>As for comments on Differentials, if you right-click a definition file under the Backup Definition File tab, select Run Now, and choose Prompt, you can select a Diff backup and then click the button to set a comment. I just successfully tested that -- is that not working for you or are you doing something else?<<

I never tried to do my Differentials that way, and I see where one can set a comment. I was going to the Restore tab, and then the Image Restore tab, because there I could see every file, no matter what type, and read my past comments. If you click on a file in that list, then choose 'Other Actions', there is no 'Prompt' option; just Differential or Incremental. Thanks for pointing this out, and I will use that method in the future. I wonder why Macrium support didn't tell me about that option?

>>I’m not sure what you mean when you ask if my answer applies to Image Guardian backups.<<
That question presupposed that I could NOT add comments in advance for Differential, but that there was some trick way to add them after the file was created. And since Image Guardian protects the image files from intruders, I assumed that one could not add anything once it was enabled.

I have a little free utility named File Metadata [ https://github.com/Dijji/FileMeta/wiki ]. Using their File Meta Association Manager, when you right click on a file in Explorer, select Properties, and then the Details tab, the program allows one to add lots of info to the various Properties on that page, and also create new Properties.Then all you have to do is click on the file, and the bar at the bottom of Explorer lists everything that you added [at least on Windows 7]. I use it a lot for image files. I set the program up to recognize .mrimg  files, and I can can add any extra text I want on the Details tab, but then I get a 'Apply Property Error' message. I sent a query to the program developer, but since the icon shown on the message comes from Reflect, you may know better that the developer what it means. So I have attached a screenshot.

Harry

P. S. I just ran another Differential, followed your instructions, was able to add the comment, which now shows in the Imaging Summary. But after you select Prompt, and then the button to chose a comment, on the Backup Comment screen, at the bottom of the screen is 'Save this comment with the backup definition', which can be checked. Was does this mean? I queried the Knowledge Base, and could not find anything that mentioned it.

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Edited 10 February 2018 6:53 AM by harrymacrium
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