The support forum

Portable use

Alex Pankratov :

Jun 08, 2013

highend: Do you accept feature request as well, Alex?

An option to store all logs, ini files, etc. in subfolders relative to the app directory would be very nice. In application mode it would make it a portable application...

The default option should still be the current user folder (or the installer could ask for it).


You can start bvckup2.exe with "-c <path_of_the_config_directory>" and it will use this path for all its configuration files. The updater, if invoked from a running instance of bvckup, will take care to update spawning process .exe rather than the *installed* one. In this sense bvckup is as portable as it gets.

The problem however is that it's not clear to me how to license portable use. Standard installations are licensed based on a hardware fingerprint of the host machine. The portable versions however is whole different game as the host machine may change at will. So...

What I am considering is binding the license to to a removable media, like a thumb drive. Do you think this would work? Because I'm not an adept of portable usage myself, I'm only guessing how people employ it.

highend :

Jun 08, 2013

Thanks, I'll try the command line switch.

Hardware fingerprints can also cause issues when you have to replace single components (or if you want to upgrade one / a few) but ofc this depends on how reactivation of licenses will work. But I understand your point to protect it as good as you can.

Of course binding a license to a removable media would be an appropriate way.

Please take a look at:
http://www.startisback.com/#faq
"Trial, licensing and activation"

That's a (imho) fair solution when binding a license by fingerprint.

highend :

Jun 08, 2013

It's a sad thing, that we can't edit previous posts...

@Alex
Regarding the command line parameter for defining the config directory:

1. You have to be careful what path you use, e.g.:
bvckup2.exe -c "D:\Temp\Configs\"

A trailing slash doesn't work at all, because you'll never see an instance of Bvckup after executing this command.

Defining the path without the trailing slash works fine.

2. If "C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Local\Bvckup2" already exists when I execute it with the "-c" parameter, it will write / modify the file
bvckup2.ini in the user folder, instead of creating a new one in the path that I've just used with "-c".

Alex Pankratov :

Jun 08, 2013

Thanks. Fixed both, will be BR14.

Alex Pankratov :

Jun 08, 2013

http://www.startisback.com/#faq

It doesn't address portable use. The rest is pretty much how Bvckup's v1 does it.

highend :

Jun 09, 2013

I can't confirm that the bug with defining a config directory with a trailing slash was fixed with v14.

bvckup2.exe -c "D:\Temp\Configs\"

Doesn't start (or maybe: starts but quits before showing an interface) Bvckup while
bvckup2.exe -c "D:\Temp\Configs"

works fine.

The second bug with using "the wrong" config file (in the user's application dir) was fixed, neither the folder (C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Local\Bvckup2) nor any files in it are created when running in portable mode :)

heeerrresjonny :

Jul 03, 2014

Regarding binding a license to a specific removable drive: This would be frustrating for me because it doesn't follow the norm for "portable" software.  Typically, portable software is used on a flash drive, and flash drives are viewed as interchangeable, flexible, and replaceable.  If you tie the license to a specific flash drive, I think many users will be surprised when they replace that drive and find out their license no longer works.

If you granted a full license (without tying to hardware at all) for portable use, I think it would be fine so long as you ensure only one copy with that license can run at the same time.  If anyone attempts to use the portable version to backup multiple systems, they'll have to deal with a lot of inconveniences such as manually moving a flash drive around, or using scripts to start and stop the process in different places on a schedule to keep multiple instances from running concurrently.

I think those inconveniences would prevent large-scale abuse of a more flexible portable license.  However, if you still feel the need to further protect the software in a portable use case, here are some ideas:
- If you tie the license to an individual drive, allow users to "move" the license to another drive once every 2 weeks or something.
- Detect and track unique hardware IDs used by a portable bvckup 2 install, only allow it to work with at most ~3 IDs for the Personal license. (A different strategy for the professional license would make sense)
- Detect and track the network that the portable process is executed from (IP or DNS, or some other method), and only allow it to work from ~2 networks for the Personal version.
- Make the portable process a "companion" to a standard Bvckup 2 installation, and require the portable process to "check in" with the master Bvckup 2 install the first time it runs, possibly with scheduled check-ins every so often after that.  Possibly allow only ~2 distinct check-in locations (this lets the master Bvckup 2 install track unique IDs instead of a central server)
- Create a separate, portable version with a subset of features targeted at the portable use case.  Leave out the more powerful features of a full install, and encourage simple, mirrored backup as the intended use.

I think any of those strategies, or a mixture of them, would be more pleasant for users than tying a license to an individual drive.

Alex Pankratov :

Jul 04, 2014

.

The thing is that Bvckup 2 wasn't designed as a portable software per se. It just keeps all its configuration data on disk and in a single folder, but it does that because I like things to be tidy and I typically like to keep my program data in a custom location.

As such, the true portable use of Bvckup 2 is not something that I've given much consideration to nor, to be honest, it's something that I think a lot of people would actually need to begin with. Put it bluntly, I am not convinced that spending time on adding full support for general-purpose portable use is the best use of my time.

Can you talk me through a scenario that involves Bvckup 2 and portable use? I.e. what will it be used for exactly?

MWorthington :

Mar 01, 2016

Alex,

Not too late to add, or has all this been superseded?

Scenario : a locked-down PC at work! Can't install software (though can sometimes copy the Program file over etc).

Mark

Alex Pankratov :

Mar 02, 2016

has all this been superseded?


Not sure I follow. Which part are referring to exactly?

The installer doesn't need Admin rights, so you can tell it to drop program files into any folder, including a removable drive if you are on a locked down machine.

MWorthington :

Mar 02, 2016

Sorry, not clear enough. I just wasn't sure if the thread itself had been supersede by events, as the last date was Jul 14.

I am testing the 2 week version; I located the app etc on a folder on my work PC where it ran fine. In no time, I had created 25 or so backups, got them running concurrently.

The only issue was that it limited me to a 1 hour grace period. I guess that will go when I get the licence.

Mark

Scoox :

May 17, 2017

I would be interested in a portable version, but I see how this would pose a challenge from a licensing perspective. It's a chicken-and-egg one.

For me the compelling thing about portable apps is that when I clean-install the OS, move to a new machine or upgrade my hardware (e.g. bigger hard drive), I don't need to re-install and configure every app all over again from scratch. Instead I keep all my portable apps on a partition separate from the OS partition and everything is up and running instantly with all my preferences in place, my way.

Granted, Bvckup2 doesn't rely on the registry to store settings which means it wouldn't be too hard for it to backup its own settings (I'm assuming this is possible). The good thing about portable apps is that you know for sure everything is in one folder, rather than scattered across your hard drive in various folders. Most non-portable apps store config data either in the registry or in C:\Users\<user>\AppData, but unfortunately many apps perform messy installations to non-standard folders and leave a trail of garbage behind when uninstalled. This is the sort of problem portable apps address.

My understanding is that Bvckup 2 is licensed on a one-license-per-machine basis, rather than on a one-license-per-user basis. The latter is licensing model is harder to implement, and some developers rely iLok etc which is the antithesis of portable.

Binding the license to a host storage device would be a reasonable solution, if viable, but there would be one extra detail: Users who own more than one license (each of which would be associated with one drive) should be able to simply copy a single Bvckup2 folder to any one of the licensed drives and run Bvckup2 without having to re-register. In other words, the configuration directory (which I expect would reside next to Bvckup2.exe) should store licensing info for all licensed drives. This would definitely do the trick for me, because my usage scenario usually involves a laptop and a desktop PC, but I don't like to waste time managing two sets of settings (hence my love of portable apps). Furthermore, it should be possible to run Bvckup2 directly after clean-installing the OS since the registration info would be contained in the program folder itself.

I'm glad to know, however, that one can customize the configuration dir. I like to keep my config data next to the .exe, thus:

Z:\Portable\Bvckup2
    \bvckup2.exe
    \Config\[settings files]

With Bvckup2 there are two ways to achieve this:

(1) You can pass this directory to the app with -c command line option:

      bvckup2.exe -c x:\path\to\the\config\directory

(2) You can create a file called redirect.ini in default config directory and then just put your configuration location as the first line of this file. If there are any environment variables in the location string, the app will expand them.

Method (2) requires redirect.ini to exist outside the program folder (in the default config dir), therefore method (2) is the least portable solution by definition. With Method (1) it's possible to store every necessary file in the program folder, without relying on an external redirect.ini file.

The only problem with method (1) is that, if I move/rename the Bvckup2 folder, I also need to manually modify the command line options. Of course I would end up writing a simple script to get the containing folder path and launch Bvckup2 with the correct path arguments. I just wonder if you might consider implementing the following to at least get us closer to the portable experience:

1. Instead of looking for redirect.ini in the default config directory, Bvckup2 could look in it's own directory (the exe directory).
2. If redirect.ini exists but is empty, Bvckup2 will use <program_dir>\Config\ for settings, otherwise if a path is specified in the file then it will use that path.

This simple solution would ensure everything is in one folder, which is a happy compromise.

I haven't purchased Bvckup 2 yet as I'm reading up on the details before I reach for my credit card, but it seems a great product and not being portable is my only pet peeve.

Alex Pankratov :

May 17, 2017

For me the compelling thing about portable apps is that when I clean-install the OS, move to a new machine or upgrade my hardware.


All these cases are actually well-supported by Bvckup 2.

While reinstalling the OS changes the system fingerprint, the licensing server can understand that only parts of the latter changed and it then issues a replacement license with no questions asked.

On the app's end it looks like a notification saying that the license got out of sync with the machine and a single button called "Re-activate". Click on it and it's done.

Ditto for the hardware upgrades.

For moving to a brand new box - for licenses over certain age threshold the interaction will be similar to that after an OS upgrade. The only difference is that the app will need an explicit OK to revoke existing license and issue a replacement. This will be due to the system fingerprint being substantially different from the original.

For licenses _under_ that age threshold the re-licensing will need to go through the support channel. This is by design... as is not disclosing the exact threshold publicly.

Summed up, this means that the only portable use case that is not readily supported is that of a "traveling user". That is, when there's a drive with all the programs and their data and it's being routinely used with a variety of machines. In this case, Bvckup 2 will expect to have a license for each machine.

Bvckup2 could look in it's own directory


You can do that by putting the following into bvckup2.bat file and launching the app with it -

        SET conf-dir="%~dp0Config"
        START "" bvckup2.exe -c %conf-dir%

Courtesy of https://www.portablefreeware.com/index.php?id=2655

Scoox :

May 18, 2017

Thanks for clarifying :) I'm going to test the demo a little more and see how I get on.

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