How to Create an Acronis Bootable USB Hard Disk

Discussion in 'Acronis True Image Product Line' started by MudCrab, Jun 7, 2007.

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  1. MudCrab

    MudCrab Imaging Specialist

    Several recent posts requesting instructions on installing True Image on an external USB hard disk and being able to boot from it have prompted me to create a guide on the subject.

    Including both general instructions for those familiar with True Image and step-by-step instructions for those new to the process, hopefully anyone with True Image 10, a USB flash drive and USB hard disk can successfully create an Acronis Bootable USB Hard Disk. For those still using True Image 9 (build 3,677 or later), the process is only slightly different.

    This will allow you to boot into the Acronis media (True Image, Disk Director, etc.) from your storage drive with no need to boot from the rescue cd or from a flash drive. If you have created a BartPE cd or flash drive, you can use the same instructions to boot BartPE from the USB hard disk.

    Many thanks to Menorcaman for his suggestions and help in getting the guide posted on the Acronis support forum. I also want to thank K0lo for his continued help, suggestions and ideas throughout the entire process.

    Enjoy the guide! :)

    Guide for Creating an Acronis Bootable USB Hard Disk

    EDIT (August 23, 2007):- Further testing of the procedure detailed in the Guide has found that Acronis Media Builder does not always write the MBR to the flashdrive during its creation. This results in a flashdrive that will not boot and any image created from it and restored to a USB hard disk will also not boot.

    To try and rectify this problem, I have created two "empty" images that can be restored directly to either a USB flashdrive or a USB hard disk. The images contain the MBR, the boot sector and an empty ACRONIS partition.

    Details on the procedure can be found here.

    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 29, 2007
  2. K0LO

    K0LO Registered Member

    I want to vouch for the method that MudCrab has come up with. I've done it and it works great.

    I did this last year but the hard way, by using dd to copy bootsectors and then manually patching the partition boot record with the hex editor in Acronis Disk Director. While educational, it was not easy.

    MudCrab's method is very simple and takes all of 5 minutes to do. Great job, MudCrab.
  3. Menorcaman

    Menorcaman Retired Moderator

    A nice bit of lateral thinking MudCrab and a well produced guide. Thank you.

    I've placed a link to this thread in the True Image forum sticky titled Product Links, FAQs & Useful Forum Threads under the subheading "Wilders Security threads on common True Image problems and solutions".


  4. pja123

    pja123 Registered Member

    That's excellent guys - well done!! Hopefully this will become a full feature of TI 10 as a future update, as it rightly should be.
  5. Powie

    Powie Registered Member

  6. K0LO

    K0LO Registered Member


    To a USB hard disk or to a USB flash drive?
  7. Powie

    Powie Registered Member

    Well the format tool shows my USB hard drive, as well as my flash drive, I guess I should say I have only tried it on my 4G kingston flash drive, but since it worked with that, I don't see why it would fail on the USB HDD (60g), it just happens to be full of data at the moment and I don't feel like zapping it. :) This tool requires disk with bootable files, I just formatted a regular floppy as bootable, and used that as the source.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jun 9, 2007
  8. MudCrab

    MudCrab Imaging Specialist

    I have tried the HP tool with my 80GB USB hard disk and it failed to create a valid format/partition. I don't think it works with large drives.
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2007
  9. K0LO

    K0LO Registered Member

    OK, so the HP format utility is capable of formatting your USB hard disk. Windows can format your USB hard disk too. That's not the main focus of Mudcrab's article.

    The article shows you how to use a USB hard disk as the only tool required for backing up and restoring image files. In the past you always needed two tools; one to run the stand-alone recovery version of TrueImage and another to hold your image files. For example, to recover your PC from a backup image you would need the recovery version of Acronis TrueImage on a CD or a flash drive. You also need the image file which can be on CDs, a DVD, an external USB hard disk, internal hard disks, or on a PC on your network. The recovery process may require you to boot the PC from a CD and then restore the image from an external USB hard disk, for example.

    The heart of MudCrab's technique is a method for using an external USB hard disk as the only tool needed for backup and restoration. You boot your PC from the USB hard disk and the image file needed for restoration is also stored on the same hard disk. The originality of his method is that it requires only one program -- Acronis TrueImage -- to create this tool. Other methods that have been used have required partitioning tools like Acronis Disk Director, PartitionMagic, or equivalent. His method does not require additional software.
  10. Powie

    Powie Registered Member

    Thought I would double check and copied my data off, and you are correct! I apologize, but maybe I helped someone with a USB flash drive. :oops:
  11. MudCrab

    MudCrab Imaging Specialist


    What version of TI are you using?

    TI 9 & 10 can create an Acronis bootable usb flash drive directly. There is no need to use the HP utility.
  12. Powie

    Powie Registered Member

    Well I just bought 10, and tried to make a bootable flash drive with it, and it didn't work. So I went looking for a way to format usb drives on the net, found the HP tool, formatted my flash drive, (and saw my USB HDD listed in the HP tool too) ran TI and had it copy it's boot menu's and such over, booted it, and it worked. It booted 30 seconds faster than a boot cd which I created with TI fine. So not sure what went wrong.
  13. GroverH

    GroverH Registered Member


    A nice--neat--very professional looking and well written document. My hat's off to you :thumb: and to Menorcaman.:thumb:

  14. MudCrab

    MudCrab Imaging Specialist

    Thanks, Grover.
  15. ^Ale

    ^Ale Registered Member

    Thank you very much MudCrab to taking time to share with us. Very nice work!

  16. farmerlee

    farmerlee Registered Member

    Yeah, great work on the guide, its so simple yet works so well. I was considering getting a 32G flashdrive to store my backups, now i can save my money and just use one of my spare laptop hard drives.
  17. cdmazoff

    cdmazoff Registered Member

    Wow... I just found the guide.. I downloaded it and can't wait...

    I use Acronis 9. It has come in really handy... I have cloned my drive to a USB enclosure.....

    I was trying out the Rescue media today and 2 things happened.

    1. my mouse wouldn't work (I got the graphical interface but couldn't navigate, even with cursors)

    2. I found no option for cloning from an external USB...

    So it looks like this will be great..

    Thanks in advance

    CD in Victoria BC
  18. herojig

    herojig Registered Member

    This looks like a cool procedure. I have not tried it cause my usb drive currently has all my backups on the partition (about 200gig). But do I understand this procedure correctly:
    1. create a bootable flash drive partition
    2. put that on the usb harddrive as the primary active partition with updated MBR
    Is that it? Ok.
    I also want to try the bartpe methoud as I already have that disk build for CD. BUT i can't get this tool downloaded:
    there seems to be a redirect and my download fails. Thanks!
  19. MudCrab

    MudCrab Imaging Specialist

    Try and download the PEtoUSB program from here.

    If that doesn't work, send me a Private Message and I'll send it to you.


    If you follow the method outlined in the guide, it will ERASE everything on the USB hard drive. Make sure you have your backups copied off so you can put them back on after you've got the drive setup and booting.

    I have not run tests on creating the bootable USB hard drive and keeping the existing data on the drive. I may run some tests on this later as it would be a nice option. However, since it would involve resizing the existing partition to make room for the Acronis partition, I would still recommend having everything backed up in case something went wrong.
  20. herojig

    herojig Registered Member

    >>Sent, thx.

    >>Well, I tried to keep the data by using another method - DiskDirector - I thought that I could copy the boot partition and juggle things around to get around the losing of data on the USB drive, but that just did not work. I also tried the procedure word for word, and I wound up with a non-bootable usb drive. I suspect the problem is that the only flash drive I have to make the bootable partition is an apple ipod shuffle stick. I made sure to reformat it first, but still no luck. I guess I'll scrounge around for another stick, there must be one here somewhere....

    I also noticed that one laptop using phoenix bios does not seem to be able to see anything but floppy, CD, or internal ide harddrive as a boot device. The other computer has intel bios but the way that works is that you have to choose at Bios boot which DEVICE you want to boot from. For example:
    1st boot device = USB drive
    2nd boot device = CD drive
    3rd boot device = floppy

    There is another setting for assigning boot order for just harddrives, and only the drive listed in the #1 slot there ever appears in the device list above. So it's just weird but workable I guess...

    thanks for any help!
    ps. as soon as i get PetoUSB I can try that, as I do have a working BartPE image working...
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2007
  21. herojig

    herojig Registered Member

    IPOD Shuffle, BartPE, PEtoUSB

    Almost got this working, as PEtoUSB sees the shuffle and puts the bartPE stuff on it. But, when I try to use the stick to boot, I get as far as the WindowsXP slash screen and then the BSOD comes up.:oops: Anyone have any ideas about that? The BartPE CD data directory used in this process works perfect. Thx.
  22. Brian K

    Brian K Imaging Specialist

    Re: IPOD Shuffle, BartPE, PEtoUSB

    Same here. Does anyone have an answer?
  23. MudCrab

    MudCrab Imaging Specialist

    Re: IPOD Shuffle, BartPE, PEtoUSB

    herojig & Brian K,

    There are posts about this on the BartPE forum (posts #139 & #140) and the MSFN forum (post #35) that deal with this.

    You may want to post in the BartPE forum for more specific help.
  24. herojig

    herojig Registered Member

    Re: IPOD Shuffle, BartPE, PEtoUSB

    Thanks mudcrab!
    It seems there might be 2 issues: usb1 PORT vs. usb2 PORT (where usb1 resets on XP boot, killing the load) and fat32 vs. fat16. In my case, it must be the usb issue, as I get the BSOD no matter what format the stick has.

    So now I just have to figure out what usb1vs2 is all about.:blink: How do you tell which is which? There are 6 ports on the motherboard. thx again.
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2007
  25. MudCrab

    MudCrab Imaging Specialist

    Re: IPOD Shuffle, BartPE, PEtoUSB

    Have you tried booting from all 6 usb ports?

    Does you computer support USB 2.0 or is it only USB 1 (or 1.1)?
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