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  • #16
    I'm glad this is how the review is starting. too many people come to me in a panic after a hard drive dies.

    I'm not so much into imaging, I just image the OS + strategic programs although I am religious about backing up data. However, what I'm finding is that as I accumulate more and more data, it takes hours to back up just, for example, a drive with all the backup versions and updates of programs. I know that a lot of times, there really are only a few changes and yet I end up backing up everything, "just in case."

    Does anyone have recommendations for incremental backup programs that back up only what's changed, and leaves the rest of the backup untouched?
    N E W S O N G ! To Say 'No' Would Be a Crime (Remix) is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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    • #17
      Ghost does entire backups, or incremental, or just certain folders/files, on demand or on a schedule etc.

      I primarily use it for full backups on a manual basis. Don't think I've ever used it on a schedule basis or for incremental backups, or for just backing up certain folders.

      For individual folders that change a lot, I just copy those to external drives as needed.

      I'm up to Ghost 15 (started way back with the dos-based 2003 version) and it's never screwed up yet. I sense it's not the most popular brand, but it works cool for me.

      Plus, with the way I back up, it's nice to be able to think ..."go ahead drives, screw up in any way possible, any time you want. A quick restore is always only 15 minutes away".

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      • #18
        Norton Ghost has been around for a while and I agree that it's a good backup utility, probably one of the most useful tools in the Norton Suite. Other options include Acronis True Image and Paragon Drive Backup. There are also Linux backup utilities included on Linux boot CDs and can be used to do your cloning, file level backups, and incremental backups.

        Ghost does entire backups, or incremental, or just certain folders/files, on demand or on a schedule etc.

        I primarily use it for full backups on a manual basis. Don't think I've ever used it on a schedule basis or for incremental backups, or for just backing up certain folders.

        For individual folders that change a lot, I just copy those to external drives as needed.

        I'm up to Ghost 15 (started way back with the dos-based 2003 version) and it's never screwed up yet. I sense it's not the most popular brand, but it works cool for me.

        Plus, with the way I back up, it's nice to be able to think ..."go ahead drives, screw up in any way possible, any time you want. A quick restore is always only 15 minutes away".

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        • #19
          The backing up info has been great. Would like to turn the discussion in a different direction: RAM. I have 32GB in my machine and I'm assuming that one reason why everything runs so smoothly is because a lot of stuff is sitting in RAM. But, I have two basic questions.

          1. In a video I shot at NAMM, Gregory Butler of PCAL talked about 8GB as being the "sweet spot" with respect to bang for the buck although he does mention the advantages of having enough RAM to pretty much load everything you might ever want for a session. Does 8GB sound about right for someone wanting to do a Windows 7 x64 system?
          2. Is there any value in using USB memory to do the Windows "speed up my system" option, given that I already have a lot of RAM? Or does that matter only for systems with really limited RAM?
          N E W S O N G ! To Say 'No' Would Be a Crime (Remix) is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

          Subscribe, like, and share the links!

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          • #20
            Norton Ghost has been around for a while and I agree that it's a good backup utility, probably one of the most useful tools in the Norton Suite. Other options include Acronis True Image and Paragon Drive Backup. There are also Linux backup utilities included on Linux boot CDs and can be used to do your cloning, file level backups, and incremental backups.


            +1 for Acronis TrueImage. On my current audio PC (Win XP, dual Xeon, Seagate Barracuda system & data drives) I use TrueImage to do image backups of the system drive with OS and all programs, and over the past 10 years I have successfully used these backups several times to recover from a hard drive crash and a malware attack. I use TeraCopy to do direct file copy backups of data drives to external USB HDs, where image backups are not necessary (eg to preserve program function or bootability).

            I do have a question for PCAL Fred (or anyone else) regarding solid state drives. Fred, I noticed on the PCAL website none of your standard configurations use solid state system drives, although you do offer that option for custom configurations. Do any of the 3 image backup programs you mention work reliably to back up from and restore to a solid state system drive? The support forums for all 3 have lots of complaints about problems with image backups of SSDs not aligning right, not running correctly, giving BSODs, and generally not being ready for prime time use with system SSDs.

            Do you have any recommendation for a back up program that you have found to easily and reliably back up from and restore to a solid state system drive, so the OS and all programs will run exactly as before the crash or virus?

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            • #21
              Great question, we'll see what Fred has to say...I'm using an 80GB SSD for data. I've noticed that on a massive project with dozens and dozens of tracks and plug-ins, Sonar drops audio more frequently when running from the SSD. I don't recall having the same problem with standard HD, but maybe it's a USB bottleneck...I dunno. I've been tempted to use an SSD as a system drive, but don't want to pay the $$$ for a drive with enough capacity to handle what I need from a system drive unless there are major, unambiguous advantages.
              N E W S O N G ! To Say 'No' Would Be a Crime (Remix) is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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              • #22
                Apologies for hijacking the thread over to the SSD backup question, I started a separate thread on that.
                Any other opinions on the RAM question? For non-extreme use, is it worth the investment to get 32 GB to make the computer run more "smoothly"?

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                • #23
                  +1 for Acronis TrueImage. On my current audio PC (Win XP, dual Xeon, Seagate Barracuda system & data drives) I use TrueImage to do image backups of the system drive with OS and all programs, and over the past 10 years I have successfully used these backups several times to recover from a hard drive crash and a malware attack. I use TeraCopy to do direct file copy backups of data drives to external USB HDs, where image backups are not necessary (eg to preserve program function or bootability).

                  I do have a question for PCAL Fred (or anyone else) regarding solid state drives. Fred, I noticed on the PCAL website none of your standard configurations use solid state system drives, although you do offer that option for custom configurations. Do any of the 3 image backup programs you mention work reliably to back up from and restore to a solid state system drive? The support forums for all 3 have lots of complaints about problems with image backups of SSDs not aligning right, not running correctly, giving BSODs, and generally not being ready for prime time use with system SSDs.

                  Do you have any recommendation for a back up program that you have found to easily and reliably back up from and restore to a solid state system drive, so the OS and all programs will run exactly as before the crash or virus?


                  Good point. We have also experienced issues with imaging SSD OS drives as well. Something that we found out was that if we tried to create a Windows System Image of a 120GB Crucial M4 SSD, it would fail during the process. But if we changed the partition size to 115GB, the creation of the System Image worked, and the image was able to be restored back on to the 120GB SSD without any issues. After doing the Image Restore, we just increased the partition size back up to 120GB.

                  We have use Acronis True Image to restore images to an SSD, but usually these images were created from standard hard drives. We really haven't worked much with any other imaging software as of recently. We find something that works and tend to stick with it.

                  The reason we don't use SSDs in our pre-configured systems is price.

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                  • #24
                    The backing up info has been great. Would like to turn the discussion in a different direction: RAM. I have 32GB in my machine and I'm assuming that one reason why everything runs so smoothly is because a lot of stuff is sitting in RAM. But, I have two basic questions.

                    1. In a video I shot at NAMM, Gregory Butler of PCAL talked about 8GB as being the "sweet spot" with respect to bang for the buck although he does mention the advantages of having enough RAM to pretty much load everything you might ever want for a session. Does 8GB sound about right for someone wanting to do a Windows 7 x64 system?
                    2. Is there any value in using USB memory to do the Windows "speed up my system" option, given that I already have a lot of RAM? Or does that matter only for systems with really limited RAM?


                    8GB is what seems to satisfy musicians. Composers usually want more, like 16 or 24 gigs. Engineers usually want as much as the computer can handle.

                    I don't know about the value of the "speed up my system" option using a USB flash memory stick. Have you tried it?

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                    • #25
                      8GB is what seems to satisfy musicians. Composers usually want more, like 16 or 24 gigs. Engineers usually want as much as the computer can handle.

                      I don't know about the value of the "speed up my system" option using a USB flash memory stick. Have you tried it?


                      I've done it with the PCAL x64 Vista laptop, and it does seem to make a difference. I haven't tried it with the desktop MC64 yet, but I can give it a try. Only issue is it's already so fast that if it becomes 20% faster, I'm not sure I'd notice any difference.
                      N E W S O N G ! To Say 'No' Would Be a Crime (Remix) is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

                      Subscribe, like, and share the links!

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                      • #26
                        Hello all. Talk about opening Pandora's box. I have been building audio PCs for years. Until recently, I would describe my experience as nightmarish, software issues, hardware issues, upgrade issues, and so on. It would have been nice to have a forum like this dedicated to optimizing the PC Audio experience years ago.

                        It is extremely generous for PC Audio Labs to allow their pro review to be used for this type of forum, and so my thanks goes out to them. I would recommend that musicians who want a worry free PC DAW experience, buy a system from them. The time you will save, and the customer service is priceless.

                        First off, I recommend the Windows 7 Backup tool. I have used it to image SSDs and it worked flawlessly. No need to install extra software anymore. Here's a link:

                        http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/products/features/backup-and-restore

                        In my experience, the more RAM the better. 16GB can be had for less than $80 today. which brings up another important issue, namely timeliness. Everything we discuss in this forum will become dated, and obsolete. So when someone asks, how much RAM should I have? The answer is, as much as you can afford, and as much as your motherboard can handle. When buying RAM for your system, make sure it is compatible with your motherboard. Double check, there are so many similarly named types of RAM that it is easy to get mixed up. Always make sure the voltage is compatible also.

                        Let's go through a build. I am building a custom Audio PC. I already have the hardware, but let's say I did not.

                        First question:

                        What processor should I choose?

                        The answer is, the best you can afford.

                        Intel or AMD? Your thoughts please.

                        Your processor choice will limit your motherboard choices.

                        We've already covered RAM.

                        Hard Drives? 7200 RPM at least, the bigger the cache the better. At this time most drives used for audio will be at least SATA II (3GB/s). Your thoughts please. I will go into hard drives more in depth as I choose my file structure and storage design.

                        For this build I am going to use an SSD for my Windows drive. In my experience having the OS on a dedicated SSD, improves performance. Your thoughts please.

                        Onboard graphics or dedicated video card? Your thoughts please.

                        Power Supply? Your thoughts please.

                        Cooling? Your thoughts please.

                        Noise? Your thoughts please.

                        I will give you the hardware specs for this build next time.

                        Sheesh, we haven't even got to the OS yet. Maybe next time.

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                        • #27
                          I've done it with the PCAL x64 Vista laptop, and it does seem to make a difference. I haven't tried it with the desktop MC64 yet, but I can give it a try. Only issue is it's already so fast that if it becomes 20% faster, I'm not sure I'd notice any difference.


                          While we've seen an increase in CPU performance allow one computer to do the work of many and at lower ASIO latency, I think the most noticeable performance boost in the last 3-4 years has been the use of an SSD for the Operating System install. It's a pricey upgrade, but an SSD OS drive can make a Core i3 system feel like an i7 with a 7200rpm OS drive.

                          Craig, remind me which audio interface you use, but what sample buffer size and ASIO latency do you use with your Rok Box MC 64 with the new Intel SandyBridge-E processor?

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                          • #28
                            SSDs are attractive for a number of reasons, speed, silent operation, shock resistance, low heat production, etc, but some have been problematic when using image backup and restore. Are there any specific brand and model # SSDs that you have tested and recommend for the OS drive that allow very easy and reliable image backups and restores? OCZ? Intel? Kingston? Sandisk? Any other model of Crucial besides the M4? Any that don't require resizing the partition after restoring and don't have issues with alignment? According to the very variable info I have seen on forums, brand seems to matter when doing image restores, but no one seems to want to recommend a specific model that restores as well as a spinning HD.

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                            • #29
                              Hey everybody - I'm baaaack from the Frankfurt Musikmesse, and editing videos as fast as I can. Of course, I'm using the PCAL computer and have noticed several things.

                              1. I loaded all my raw videos into my SSD drive. I may be imagining things, but it sure seems like it's smoothing out an already smooth process.
                              2. The PCAL is really quiet until the fan kicks in during long renders, mostly of HD material. With the SSD doing the hard work, I really don't have a lot of hard drives spinning. The overall decrease in ambient noise makes long editing sessions a real pleasure. I'm considering adding a sound absorbent panel hanging down from my desk (the computer is under the desk, but raised off the floor). There would still be plenty of room for ventilation around the back, so no worries there.
                              3. I mentioned the rendering earlier, but wow, what a difference it makes over the course of doing dozens of videos. It was very cool when I did a video and it rendered in a fraction of the time it rendered in before, but it's even cooler when you spend a whole day editing videos and realize how much time was saved over the course of the day.
                              4. Sony introduced several new effects to Vegas Pro a couple revs ago that are great, but were always a pain to use because they brought the system to a crawl. And by that I mean a sloooow crawl. With the PCAL, it's as if they're no different from the older effects. The difference is HUGE. I have no idea what about the new machine is making such a difference, but I suspect it might be the RAM or the faster data handling in and out of RAM? I dunno, but so far, that is the most dramatic difference in terms of taking something that was virtually unuseable in real-time and making it a smooth, fast real time process.

                              Finally, I imaged the drive before I left, and props to PC Audio Labs for their online support materials. Very "hand-holding" stuff, and I have my emergency disk and image safely squirreled away
                              N E W S O N G ! To Say 'No' Would Be a Crime (Remix) is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

                              Subscribe, like, and share the links!

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                              • #30
                                Craig, remind me which audio interface you use, but what sample buffer size and ASIO latency do you use with your Rok Box MC 64 with the new Intel SandyBridge-E processor?


                                I'm primarily using the Roland Octa-Capture for "everyday" applications. I'm typically using 64 or 96 sample buffers when recording, however I'm still in "hit the deadlines" mode so I haven't done significant testing to see how low I can go with real-time processes like amp sims. Also, the projects I've been doing since getting the PCAL have been unusually complex (translation: the timing could not have been better!!) so I'm tending to be a little conservative rather than pushing the machine too hard. Once I start moving away from video somewhat and getting back into audio, I'll have a lot more info for you.
                                N E W S O N G ! To Say 'No' Would Be a Crime (Remix) is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

                                Subscribe, like, and share the links!

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