OK, the change in restore time can't be attributed to an intentional hardware chage. However, you said that using the old ATI 7 boot CD and an old image now takes 4 hours also, so there has to be a hardware difference since this eliminates any software changes to your system or changes in the ATI Linux drivers or program accounting for the change. That's good, and it eliminates an obvious possible problem. Did you also error check the external hard drive? I agree with you about internal backups, but this is a way to separate the USB subsystem out. If the image restores fast from the Secure Zone, then the USB system is the source of the problem. If the restore from the Secure Zone is slow, the something in your system not related to USB functions is the source of the problem. This would be useful from a diagnostic standpoint. The other uses are all within Windows and use the Windows drivers and operating system, so they don't apply directly to the Linux Recovery CD environment, but this does confirm that the hardware appears to be working correctly in Windows. This is really a tough one.