Sunday, December 26, 2010

Recovering a Single File from Acronis Backup

Step-by-Step: Using Acronis 2010 to recover a single file along with backup commentary. This article was updated and expanded on 2010.12.26 with a discussion on DVD backups and restores.

Related articles:
Acronis 2010 Step-by-Step Backup
Speeding up USB disk Backups in Windows 7 - Very interesting
Disk Imaging Cleanup Steps


I hate to linger on the subject, but a good backup strategy has saved my bacon more often than I care to admit. Case-in-point: I'm writing a book (C# programming) and in one particularly harrowing chapter, I managed to delete a chunk of programming code, but didn't realize my mistake until several days later. I was mortified.

Recreating the code would take a half-day of research and testing. But then I remembered a full-disk backup was made the previous week and the file was resting peacefully there. It took exactly two minutes to restore the file.


I like to use a commercial backup program called "Acronis Home Image 2010," but this article's basic ideas should work with any program. Here are the steps I followed. Although this article has numerous steps, they only take a minute and the steps are relatively easy.

However, I have to add this warning: Recoveries are simple when the restore is made from an external USB drive, where all of the backup files live in one place, but are frighteningly horrible, verging on impossible, when using DVD media. Read further into the article for a discussion on how to recover when the backups are written to DVD's.

Restoring a Single File with Acronis

I had other editing changes in the current document and I wanted to keep both the old and new versions. Because of this, I restored a single file to a temporary directory. These are the steps used:

1. Plug in the external USB disk, where the backup is stored, or if on DVD, insert the last disk in the backup set (e.g. Disk 7 of 7).

2. Launch Acronis.

On the left, choose "Recovery" (e.g. restore)
The list shows your most recent backups (you do have recent backups, don't you?).


3. Click the "Disk Recovery" button near the top-center of the screen.

If available, choose the backup set (date) that you would like to use.

If you don't see the backup in the list, click Browse and look for it on your external USB drive, or browse to the DVD's, as appropriate. When browsing, select the last backup in the backup set. For example, on a recent DVD restore, I pointed the browse to "backup disk 7.tib" (disk 7 of 7).


On the left side, note the "Required Steps," where you will see Archive Selection, Recovery Method, and What to Recover.

Click Next to continue with the Wizard.


4. Choose "Recover chosen files and Folders". Click "Next"

Caution: Be sure to choose "Recover Chosen files" and not "Recover whole disks." This article is recovering a single (or small set) of files. If you choose "Recover whole disks", you will restore the entire disk, overwriting everything! Recover entire disks when there is a horrible calamity; this is not that time.



5. Decide on the destination:

Choose a "New Location" if you want to preserve the current document. In my case, I wanted to keep both versions and I chose "New Location."

Choose "Original Location" if the current document can be overwritten.

With a new location, you are prompted to browse a temporary folder (such as the desktop or C:\Data\Temp. Any folder will do. If I am restoring a number of files, I like to create a new temporary directory (C:\Data\Recovery).

Click Next.

6. Choose files to restore:

Important:
In the "What to recover" screen, it is important to uncheck the default "C:" drive -- or else you will restore everything from that backup. I wish Acronis would default this to unchecked. If you are using DVDs, unchecking this box will cause numerous prompts to insert various DVD volumes. Persevere and insert the disks as prompted or read the end of this article for a better way.



Tunnel to the file(s) you want to restore.
Click the check-box [ ] next to each file(s) you want to restore.
Click Next, and allow the restore to proceed.

The Actual Restore:

If you are restoring from a USB disk, the restore will take a few seconds and there will be no complaints or issues.

If you are restoring from DVD, you will be prompted to insert various DVDs, with many prompting multiple times. Follow the on-screen prompts. The more files you are restoring, the more frustrating this will be.



Recovering from DVD Backups:

As much as I like Acronis, it is nearly unusable when recovering "selected files" from a previous DVD backup. Case-in-point, I needed to restore 4 small data folders from a backup last year. The backup was housed on 7 DVD's. Acronis would prompt to insert Disk 1 of 7 then it would want disk 3, then disk 1, then disk 5, then disk 1.... this went on for literally 30 or 40 prompts. I am sure if I continued, the files would have recovered, but not in my lifetime.

In their defense, if I were recovering the entire disk (say from a disk crash), the DVD's would restore in sequence -- but recovering selected files was frustrating. I have no earthly idea why the would prompt to insert disk1 so many times, and then intermittently ask for disk 5, 6, and 7 another dozen times.

A better solution:

In the end, I manually copied *all* of the DVD's to a local hard drive and restarted the restore, telling Acronis to browse for the recovery disks. Once this was done, the files restored in a few minutes and I deleted the DVD copies. Unfortunately, I did not reach this solution until after 40 disk-swaps. Copying the DVD's to a spare drive added several hours to the project and it meant I needed enough free-space to hold the disks. This was not a good experience and is my main complaint about the product.


Recommendation: When restoring selected files from DVD, copy all DVD's to a temporary directory and point Acronis to that location when beginning the restore.


Why use DVDs in the era of cheap USB drives?

This does not imply that DVD backups are bad. On the contrary, DVD backups let me keep multiple generations of backups -- I have backups from several years ago and I can recover from any of those dates. Also, I periodically move the DVD's to an offsite location. This is hard to do with external USB drives. This type of media still has its place -- although admittedly, its days are numbered.

Alternate Method:

You can also mount an Acronis Backup as a "Disk" -- the entire backup appears as a new disk drive on your system. Once mounted, you can drag-and-drop individual files from your backup to your original disk. From Acronis, see the top "Operations" menu and select "Mount". From here, you can tunnel into the backup, selecting individual files for restore. This feature only works when the backup files are on an internal or external hard disk; this will not work while the files are on a DVD.


The Take-Away / Lessons Learned

Backups for disaster-recovery are a must, but here was an instance where a single file was helpful. This same backup set can be used for both types of restores.

In reality, my USB disk is large enough to hold multiple full-system backups for this machine and I had several copies of the same document -- one from a week ago, and a second from three weeks prior. Additionally, I had multiple offsite quarterly DVD backups. It is comforting to have several options.

As you can see, I'm a fan of backups. You may be using a backup program that came with your external USB disk -- these are adequate and the same basic recovery steps can be used. The related articles, listed below, will improve your backup speeds regardless of your software.

Related articles:
Acronis 2010 Step-by-Step Backup
Speeding up USB disk Backups in Windows 7 - Very interesting
Disk Imaging Cleanup Steps

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Acronis Problem - Not the last disk in the Backup Volume

Acronis 2010 bug: "This is not the last DVD disk in the backup set..."

Related to this Keyliner article: Recovering a single file from an Acronis backup, I ran into this problem during the restore, when in the middle of a restore: "This is not the last DVD volume (in the backup set)" -- when I knew in-fact, it was.

Likely Solution:

Especially after multiple DVD swaps, Acronis appears to forget where it should be looking for its files.

To solve the problem, click "Browse" and browse back to the same DVD.
Double-click the ".tib" file
Continue with the restore.

This appears to be a bug in the restore program.

Related Articles:
Recovering a single file from an Acronis backup (includes how to avoid disk-swaps)
Acronis 2010 Step-by-Step
Speeding up USB backups in Windows 7 - Very interesting
Disk Imaging Cleanup Steps - a must for full volume backups - speeds up the backup


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Wireless Printer fails after Power Failure

Howto: Wireless printer quit printing after power failure. Solution: Change the printer's Channel configuration.

My Brother HL2170W wireless printer quit talking on the network after a neighborhood-wide power failure. When the router reset, it picked a different channel and the printer did not see the change. This can happen to any wireless device and most seem to recover - but, at least in this instance, the Brother printer did not. It had to be fixed manually.



Symptoms:
  • Windows control panel shows "printer offline"
  • Print jobs stacked in the queue
  • Printer configuration looked good - IP Addresses were preserved
  • Printer did not respond to a ping over the wireless
  • Rebooting the wireless router did not help
  • Could not login to the printer's configuration page over wireless, but could over a wired connection
  • Printer would print on the wired network but not the wireless
See also these similar symptoms:
Brother Printer in Perpetual Sleep


Did you just install a new Router?

See this Keyliner article:
Brother Wireless Printer Fails after New Router.

Testing:

Although not required: Assuming you followed this Keyliner article: Setting up a Brother Printer on Wireless, you would have configured the new printer for both wired and wireless --using the same IP Address.

In my case, the printer would choose 192.168.200.250 over either connection. With this setup, testing is easy: Plug in a cat5 network cable and print a test document. This proves the printer is functional and you do not have a workstation problem.

Additional testing:  From a DOS prompt, type "Ping 192.168.200.250"  (no quotes and your address may vary.  If the printer responds in xx milliseconds while on the wireless network, this article may not be the solution.  Note that a PING over a wired network may succeed when the Wireless network fails.


Likely Issue:

After the power failure, when the wireless (linksys or other) router rebooted, it re-negotiated a new channel because all of the other wireless routers in the neighborhood were doing the same thing at the same time. My network changed from Channel 3 to Channel 9 but the printer configuration remained on Channel 3.

It is best to leave the wireless router on the new channel. It chose that channel because of interference with other routers. Because of this, you will be forced to re-configure the printer.

If you have recently upgraded or replaced your router, it will have likely been set to a new channel.  Follow the steps in this article to teach the printer the new location.

Likely Solution:

In summary, follow these steps. See full details here: Setting up a Brother Printer on Wireless. Different-brand printers will have similar steps.

1. Connect the printer to a wired network.  Confirm status lights on NIC card.

It is *highly* recommended to use a wired connection when changing Wireless settings.

2.  Obtain the printer's IP Address:

Press the printer's GO button 3 times to print diagnostic pages.
On the network configuration pages, look for the wired IP Address on the 10/100Base-TX node.
Example address:  192.168.100.200

3. Launch a browser.

For the URL, type the printer's IP Address.  For example:  192.168.100.200

A configuration screen opens; this may take several moments.
On the top menu, click "Network Configuration"
On the displayed menu/screen, click the "Wireless" tab

4. Click menu item "Configure Wireless" (about halfway down the screen).

Of interest, note the currently-selected Channel number.

5.  Click button "Browse" (browse for Network SSID)

Choose your network's SSID.
Note the new Channel number; likely different than before.
Click OK to save.



6. On the Brother configuration screen (illustrated below), backspace all four WEP Keys (assuming you are not using WEP -- you should not be)

WEP Key1 (set all four to blank)
WEP Key2
WEP Key3
WEP Key4



7. PassPhrase

Type the passphrase used in your router's setup (hopefully, you have that documented somewhere -- this is the key all wireless devices must use to attach to your network.  Laptops would use this same key.  If you do not have this key, you will have to reconfigure the network router.).

Leave the USER ID and Password fields blank

8. Save (submit) changes.

This will re-negotiate / re-set the channel
You may see this message:



Unplug the Cat-5 cable
Wait about 1 to 2 minutes.  The printer will cycle itself.  Do not power off.
Close the Browser windows; you are done.

TEST

To test, disconnect the wired connection and reboot the printer.
Test printing over the wireless.
If desired, from a DOS prompt, you can PING the address:  PING 192.168.100.200


Router Reboot Notes:

If you reboot your router, it will likely keep the same channel it had before because all of the other routers in the neighborhood will be stable. But if the entire neighborhood is rebooting after a power failure, the odds of keeping the same channel are slim.

Other Possible Issues:
Although not addressed in this article, another possibility is the printer was setup to pull a new IP Address from the DHCP auto-assigned pool. This is a poor way to configure a printer; it should be given a static IP address, far away from the variable DHCP pool. For this reason, I always configure my printers in the upper ranges, such as .240 or .250.

As I recall, if you install your printer using Brother's CD, the installation sets the printer to pull a DHCP address (non-static). This is a mistake. Following the Keyliner instructions, above, you have to go out of your way to configure the printer with a "Static" address and you would have to do extra steps to make the wired and wireless connections the same. This goes a long way towards solving many networked printer problems.

Related Links:
Reference for Brother Printer LED Indicators


Related articles:
Setting up a Brother Printer on Wireless
Brother Printer Toner Cartridges
Brother HL-2170W Laser Printer Review
Brother Wireless Printer Fails after New Router.
Brother Printer in Perpetual Sleep

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Brother Printer Wireless Fails after New Router

Brother Printer Wireless Fails after New Router with "Failed to Associate"

Issue: Brother laser printer HL2170W fails to print after installing a new Linksys (or other brand) router.  The wireless printer used to work on an older Linksys WRT110 router. 


Diagnostics:

A.  From the printer, press the GO button 3 times, printing a diagnostic page

On the printout, look for the Network Configuration Page "Brother NC-7400w IEEE 802.11b/g

Near the bottom, note the Wireless Link Status: "Failed to Associate"


B. You cannot reach the printer's web-config screens from wireless, but the config screens are reachable with a hard-wired Cat-5 cable.

C.  Print jobs may be spooled on the local workstations.

See this article for how to configure the printer to run on both Wired and Wireless networks

Keyliner Article - Configure Brother Printer for Network


Solution:

Summary:  Set the 2.4G side of the router to a WPA2/WPA Mixed mode and confirm the 5G side has a different broadcast SSID.  Then, rebrowse the wireless network from the printer's control panel.

1.  On your router (not the printer), confirm the 5G and 2.4G networks have different SSID names.

For example, on my Linksys router, there are duplicate configuration sections for 2.4G and 5G.
Set different SSID's names for both -- giving each similar names but with an appendage, something like this:

wolfhouse5g
wolfhouse24g

Here is my setup:
Click for larger view
2.  On the same configuration screen,

Set the 2.4G wireless network with Security Mode: "WPA2/WPA Mixed mode"

This way, older devices, such as wireless printers will still work properly.  Leave the 5G set as the default, WPA2 Personal, or as needed.



 3.  Login to the Printer's web-configuration screen. Note: It is *highly* recommended you use a wired Cat-5 connection when making changes to the Wireless settings.

Full Details in this article.
This is the same article you should use if the printer fails after a power failure.
http://keyliner.blogspot.com/2010/12/wireless-printer-fails-after-power.html

Summary:
a.  From a browser, type the printer's IP Address
b.  Login using "admin / (password you set when the printer was first configured)
c.  Open Network Configuration, Wireless Tab, Configure Wireless
d.  Browse for the SSID; choose the 2.4G SSID.  At the same time, it selects the channel.
e.  Cleanup the WEP keys; re-type the PassPhrase
f.  Save changes

4.  Immediately Unplug Cat-5 and wait for printer recycle:

After saving the new SSID, the printer displays this message. 
Unplug the printer's Cat-5 cable and wait approximately 2 minutes. 
The printer will cycle by itself:




5.  Test

From any workstation, send a print job to the printer.
All should be well.

Other Notes:
WPA/WPA-2 TKIP encryption changed with the new routers and if the SSID's for both networks were set to the same name, the Brother printer will pick the 5G network -- which it cannot actually use.

Updating the printer to the latest printer BIOS will not help. 

Other sites recommend using WEP encryption.  They are crazy.



Related Articles:
Brother Wireless Printer Fails after power failure
Configure Brother Printer for Network