Problems Restoring Bootable Partition To Two Different Partitions On Same Disk

Discussion in 'Acronis True Image Product Line' started by LisaB, Aug 27, 2007.

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  1. LisaB

    LisaB Registered Member

    Aug 27, 2007
    The short version of my problem is this:

    I have a disk with two primary partitions (1 = active and bootable, 2 = regular). I want to create a 3rd partition using free space at the end of partition 2, and then make this 3rd partition a clone of the 1st partition. At the end of this process, my disk should have three primary partitions (1 = active and bootable, 2 = regular, 3 = bootable).

    Now, here are more details on the issues I have encountered trying to do this:

    First off, I should mention that I actually have a second disk as IDE slave, and it has 4 primary partitions as follows:
    1 - active and bootable
    2 - bootable (Acronis Disk Director and True Image installed...let's call this my tools partition)
    3 - regular
    4 - regular

    I do not use Acronis OS Selector. Instead, I just always make sure to put ntldr,, and an appropriate boot.ini file on the active partition of the IDE master, and that does the trick...much faster and simpler in my opinion.

    Now, on to the experiment!
    I boot into my tools partition. I have its OS set to mount the 2 partitions of the IDE master as F and G respectively. F, of course, is the active and bootable partition I want to clone. At this point, I need to make something clear: All three of my bootable partitions have variants of Windows XP installed on them, and all three are set so that they become the C partition when I boot into them! In other words, when I boot into the tools partition, the tools partition mounts as C, and the 2 partitions of the IDE master mount as F and G. When I boot into the partition that I want to clone, it mounts as C, and the 4 partitions of the IDE slave mount as J, K ,L , and M. In this case, K is my tools partition.

    Now, let's continue...
    I have booted into my tools partition, and first I create a full backup of F using True Image. Next, I use Disk Director to resize G so there is unallocated space at the end of the disk. Finally, I go back into True Image and restore the image I just created, using the new unallocated space as the destination, and choosing H as the drive letter (because I want the OS on my *tools* partition to mount this new partition as H).
    So far, so good...

    Now, the first hint I get that Acronis True Image is not supposed to be used in this way comes when I check out Windows Disk Management, where I notice that F is listed as (System) and H is listed as (Active). Doh! Two active partitions on a single disk!? This is not supposed to happen. Especially since when I did the restore I chose the option for Primary, not Active...and yet Acronis went ahead and made it active anyway! Furthermore, the "two active partition" problem cannot be fixed within Windows Disk Management! Apparently, I can fix this in Disk Director by choosing to edit the MBR, but I did not know about this feature at the time.

    Now, the next hint I get of Acronis screwiness is when I go to edit the boot.ini file on F, in order to enable booting into the new partition. Well, apparently Acronis screwed with my boot.ini file. The default ARC was changed from 0,0,0,1 to 0,0,0,2, as was the corresponding entry in [operating systems] section. Also, "WINDOWS" was changed to "windows" on the two altered lines, though this change in case probably doesn't matter. Nevertheless, I'm glad I noticed this, because as it happens, partition 2 is now the only partition on the IDE master that doesn't have an OS installed on it! Anyway, I changed the lines back to 0,0,0,1, and then added an entry for 0,0,0,3 in the [operating systems] section to enable booting to partition 3.

    My recollection of the experiment gets a little fuzzy at this point, but basically, I restarted, booted into the newly restored partition (can't remember what drive letter it mounted itself as), and about a minute after the desktop appears, I get an svchost process crash on me (something that has never happened to me before!). I try the reboot a couple more times, and continue to get the crashing. Anyway, this kind of thing makes me worry that I have created an unstable OS, so I boot back into my tools partition, delete H, and resize G to take the new space, basically putting myself back to square one.

    At this point, I decide to learn more about MBR's, and so look up MBR at and start from there. I believe one thing that may cause problems is incorrect registry entrys in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\MountedDevices. In particular, the entry for "\DosDevices\C:" will still point to the first partition, but we need it to point to the third partition, so that the OS partition will always mount to C, no matter what OS I boot into.

    But, is changing this one registry key enough? What other references might the registry have to the first partition? I don't know, and don't want to end up with yet another unstable OS.

    My final possible fix to the problem might be to just edit the MBR, changing the Disk Signature to some other random value. Correct me if I'm wrong, but since the OS in general, and the registry in particular, references a disk using the Disk Signature in the MBR, this change would cause the OS to see the disk as a "New" disk, causing it to "forget" everything it knew about the disk, and regenerate new and correct registry entries. I don't like this approach, though, since my other 3 OS's would also "forget" and I'd have to redo the drive letter mappings when I booted into them.

    Blah! So what's the solution? Surely someone out there knows the secret to cloning an OS partition to another partition on the same disk!

    Lisa B.
  2. MudCrab

    MudCrab Imaging Specialist

    Nov 3, 2006
    The changes to the boot.ini files (and the partition table) are detailed in this thread: TI Restore Changes Partition Order in Partition Table

    I think it's probably what's causing the problem or at least making it more difficult to find a solution.

    There are two things I would try to copy the partition:
    1) If you have TI 9, use build 3,677 - This build does not alter the boot.ini file or the partition table. You would need to make any necessary changes to the boot.ini file manually.
    2) Try using DD to "Copy" the partition. I haven't tried this, so I don't know if it messes with the booting files or the partition table.
  3. LisaB

    LisaB Registered Member

    Aug 27, 2007
    Thank you MudCrab. I glanced at the thread and I think it will be very helpful. I'm not too concerned about the boot.ini files, since they are super easy to edit, but partition tables are new for me, so I'll have to study that.

    I just made another attempt, and now I get the dreaded hal.dll missing or corrupt. In this attempt, I actually copied the ntldr,, and boot.ini files to the second partition (the one that has no OS installed on it), and then I made the second partition active! I did this *before* creating the backup, so when I did the backup, I was not backing up an active partition. This fixed the "two active partition" problem!

    I just checked the partition table using DD, and you're right, the restore I did ended up screwing up the partition table order. It almost makes sense to me now. I know the hal.dll error is not due to boot.ini, because I have good boot.ini files copied to *every* partition on my IDE master. However, I can see how there would be a problem if the ARC addresses in the boot.ini refer to the partitions as they are ordered in the partition table, and *not* as they are physically ordered on the disk. There are clearly two solutions to this problem:
    1. Edit the partition table, so the entries are back in the right order. (would fixmbr do this?)
    2. Edit the boot.ini files so they take into account the order of partitions in the partition table.

    It would appear that Windows XP doesn't care about the order of the partitions in the partition table, but ntldr does care! I say windows doesn't care, because I have no problem booting into my tools partition (different disk, different part table), and the IDE master partitions show up and seem to be fine!

    If I am correct about this speculation, then the only real hurdle left will be to delete the registry entry that maps the drive letter "C" to the first physical partition, and adding a registry entry to map "F" to the first physical partition. When I boot into the system, it will see the "new" restored partition, and map it to C, since C will then be available.

    To do this, I will need a tool to edit the registry, that will let me edit the registry of an OS partition that isn't currently booted. I've only ever used regedit, which just lets me edit the currently active registry.

    I am however, a bit concerned about the *other* registry entries in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\MountedDevices, namely the ones that start with "\??\Volume". They seem to be asigning serial numbers to partitions, and there is one of them for each partition that has a drive letter mapping. I don't know what they are used for, or whether I need to edit or delete them for the current case.

    Thanks again.

    Lisa B.
  4. Brian K

    Brian K Imaging Specialist

    Jan 28, 2005
    NSW, Australia

    I think your problems are related to the way Acronis TI handles partition slots and boot.ini but mainly due to "What's Wrong with the Microsoft Way?" You have a variation. See..

    I followed Dan Goodell's instructions and had 15 WinXP installations on the one HD (as a test). There were no boot problems. Each was C: drive when it was booted and the other 14 were hidden. I would never consider using the "Microsoft Way" again.

    As for MountedDevices, see Method #2

    I've used this method several times but I have no idea what it will do in your situation.
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2007
  5. LisaB

    LisaB Registered Member

    Aug 27, 2007
    Thanks, Brian for the extra info, but I have already solved my problem, and did it without having to try and remotely edit the registry (for which I still know of no way to do).

    The trick is actually quite simple...

    Recall that my goal is to clone the OS from partition 1 to partition 3.

    1. make image of partition 1

    2. restore to partition 3

    3. *delete* partition 1 using windows disk disk management will actually reorder your partition table properly when you do this...what a nice added bonus!

    4. verify that you have only one active partition. if you have more than one, then edit the boot flags using the Acronis DD disk editor. if you don't, you may get an invalid partition error and won't even make it to the boot volume selection screen (yes, I ended up making that mistake, too, and luckily had created an Acronis DD rescue disk!)

    5. verify that your active partition has ntldr,, and correct boot.ini on it.

    6. cross your fingers, pray (if that's your inclination), and reboot!

    7. because the original partition 1 was deleted, when you boot into your new partition, it will mount as C and the proper registry entries will be created...i.e., it no longer sees the partition that it once mapped to C.

    8. now, restore your image to the unallocated space that was created when you deleted partition 1. since this is where it was originally backed up from, there will be no issues with the restore, and your partition table will even stay in order (since you are restoring to partition 1.

    9. Voila!

    Now, there may be an even easier way, but I haven't tested it (and don't plan to). Basically, windows recognizes partitions by a combination of the partition table signature and the starting sector of the may not have to *delete* partition 1 at all! Just *resize* the partition using Acronis DD, making sure to have some small amount of "space before".

    Okay, I'll take a look at your links now...hiding partitions sounds fun.

    Lisa B.
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