Cannot Validate Image Creation

Discussion in 'Acronis True Image Product Line' started by max53000, Jan 25, 2008.

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  1. max53000

    max53000 Registered Member

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    I had previously used Acronis True Image Home, call it TI, v8, v9, v10, and V11, and never had a problem restoring images made with any of them, until I purchased a new state-of-the-art computer with factory installed Windows Vista. At first I noticed that virtually none of my TI Vista partition's backup image files were validating. Then I discovered that validation failure invariably led to image restoration failure. That was disquieting, so I downloaded Acronis Disk Director v10, call it DD, to enable me to move and copy partitions directly. Then I did two experiments using DD and TI. I used DD to copy my Vista boot partiton to another partition on another drive. Except for the Vista Volume ID and the much smaller partition size, I reasoned that the copied partition should be identical to the Vista boot partition, which was verified by running Chkdsk /r /x on the copy, getting no errors, and making certain that the copy's total bytes and numbers of files and folders were exactly the same as those of the Vista drive just before the copy was made. Then after rebooting, using Sysinternals VolumeID utility to modify Vista copy's Volume Id to make it identical to that of Vista's boot partition except for its size, thus creating a virtual clone of it, booting DD using its recovery CD, securely wiping Vista's boot partition, copying the virtual cloned partition to it, restoring the boot partition's size in the process, booting using Vista's DVD, and selecting repair Vista, I was very much relieved when I was given the choice of repairing either the Vista clone or the much smaller virtual Vista clone. After booting back into Vista, having found no errors after a Chkdsk /r was run, I made a new TI backup file of the error free Vista boot partition, mounted that file to a drive letter, and ran Chkdsk /r /x on it. To my dismay, an error was found in one of the mounted partition's clusters. To make matters worse, Chkdsk announced that the error could not be repaired because there was insufficient space on the drive. So while Chkdsk could find and localize the errors, it could not be used to repair them. I did manage to correct the filename of the otherwise perfect copy of a system file, but the unmounted image still would not validate. Thus either my system was introducing errors or TI was introducing errors in TI's partition backup file. For the last two weeks, I have been doing nothing but running diagnostic and stress testing programs on all my computer's hardware and software. I am eliminating sources of error one by one, hoping that I can find the cause of the TI backup file's corruption. I now have a shiny six week old computer that I can't trust. I have spoken on the phone with my new computer's technical support group, and they claim the fault must be with Acronis not being able to handle one of the new computer's hardware drivers, that the imaging software they are using works perfectly, and they have not had a single instance of a similar computer producing a Chkdsk error because of their intensive one week long "burn in" testing program. I have emailed Acronis support repeatedly about this problem for more than 30 days, using the same title as this thread, (the actual case number has not been listed due to privacy concerns), mentioned my computer manufacturer's claim 14 days ago, and have repeatedly asked if Acronis would be willing to help me determine the cause by providing either diagnostic or debugging software, but that request has not been responded to and no other helpful suggestions have been forthcoming thus far.
     
  2. como

    como Registered Member

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    Try making a VistaPE disk with mustangs guide and script, if that can validate a image then the fault is with TI's drivers not working well with your hardware. If you search on VistaPE and mustang on this forum you will find the links.
     
  3. max53000

    max53000 Registered Member

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    I found the hardware problem only seven hours after my first post. I was going to run Vista's ram testing utility, but couldn't access it either directly from the Vista bootloader or indirectly from within Vista. So I downloaded memtest86 v3.4 personal use freeware from memtest86.com, burned the ISO to a CD, rebooted, and ran it overnight. After six hours, there were 54480000 errors on memory slots 0 and 1 and the number was increasing at about 3000 per second. Memtest86 couldn't get past test #8 [modulo 20, random pattern] because of all the errors, and was repeatedly testing memory from 120K - 2048M of 4096M.
    Today, with cautious optimism I downloaded Windows Memory Diagnostic, burned the ISO to a CD, booted and found an intermittent constant single memory error at location 5f39bdf8 with the CPU cache on and at 5f39bde8 with it off. I believe I have enough information to make an educated guess that the bad memory stick is one of the two installed in lower memory.
    I will remove memory sticks 0 and 1, put them both aside, replace them with memory sticks 2 and 3, all four being 1 GB sticks, and run both diagnostics again, hoping for no errors. If none are found, I can spend the weekend reinstalling Vista and using multiple copies of data file backups to restore all my lost or corrupted data files. Then I will call the computer manufacturer Monday, explain the situation, and confidently request the warranty replacement of a matched pair of memory sticks, one of which is defective.
    All that remains for me to do is to tell Acronis Customer Support publicly that I very much regret jumping to the conclusion that their TI software, that had never failed me before, had failed when my precious and obviously infallible new computer couldn't create or validate TI backup image files.
    And though I hadn't planned on purchasing and downloading Acronis Disk Director, I believe that it has performed flawlessly even on my flawed computer, probably because it was so efficient it never used enough memory to reach the bad memory location. I discovered that not only was it compatible with Windows Vista, it was also as capable and as easy to use as Symantec's Norton Partition Magic 8.01 had been with Windows XP. This recommendation for Acronis Disk Director was not made because of a guilty conscience. I emailed the same unsolicited comments about DD to Acronis Customer Support about 20 days ago after I had finished my weekly rant to them about TI.
     
  4. como

    como Registered Member

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    It is well documented that TI tests parts of memory that other programs do not reach, had you not stated that you had a super new computer I would probably have suggested that you carry out a memory test. Hopefully you have found the problem and look forward to seeing a further post that confirms your suspicions
     
  5. max53000

    max53000 Registered Member

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    Immediately after I submitted the last reply early Saturday morning, I went ahead with my plan to pull two sticks of memory out, boot the computer, and run the memory diagnostics again. But the computer wouldn't boot either before or after I restored those same two sticks. With a sinking feeling that I had somehow sabotaged my computer, I realized that it might be wise to do nothing further until Monday after I had discussed the system failure with my new computer's technical support person. I spent the rest of Saturday repairing and tweaking my old computer knowing I couldn't stand doing without computer and internet access for long.
    On Monday, the technical support person, Sony, told me to remove all the memory sticks trying only one at a time and the computer should boot. I was under the mistaken impression that dual channel DDR memory had to be installed in matched pairs to work. What I didn't understand yet was that a single stick of memory would work but at only half the speed since an unbalanced memory load results in single channel speed.
    After I removed three of the four memory sticks, the computer booted normally with the CD into Memtest86 Memory Diagnostic, call it MMD, and the single stick tested with no errors in about 10 minutes. Then I removed the known good stick, replaced it one by one with the other sticks in the same memory socket, and tested again. Three of the four sticks booted the computer and tested without errors. The fourth stick couldn't be tested because the computer wouldn't boot with it. I was able to repeat the result by inserting the assumed bad stick into another memory socket.
    Sony suggested I reinstall the three known good memory sticks, run MMD on all three, and told me he would call back Monday evening to get the results. He wanted to know that there weren't multiple problems that needed attention. When he called back, I told him that all three memory sticks had tested without errors. He then made arrangements to swap the faulty memory stick for a new one and asked if he could call back Tuesday to find out if I could successfully backup and validate Acronis True Image. After I find out, I'll post another reply using the same thread. I owe many thanks to Como for the helpful suggestions and comments.
     
  6. max53000

    max53000 Registered Member

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    Having allegedly found the problem that was causing Acronis Validation to fail, a bad memory stick, having verified the error free operation of the CPU and all the hard drives, and having run Chkdsk /r during Vista Initiate on all lettered Windows partitions with no problems found, I next eliminated all possibilities of corruption of Acronis' Program files. I used Vista Control Panel's Program Features to uninstall both Acronis Disk Director, call it DD, and Acronis True Image Home, call it TI, normally. Next I carefully followed Acronis Supports' directions and removed all traces of both products from my registry. Next I downloaded fresh copies of both programs, verified that their MD5's were identical with those I had already downloaded, and installed both programs. Finally I used DD to recreate the Acronis recovery boot CD containing both DD and TI.
    I successfully validated about 20% of the pre-existing Vista partition images using both the Windows and the boot version of TI. TI still failed, however, to validate a single pre-existing or newly created data partition image.
    I investigated whether the failure was related to the size of the partition being imaged and validated. While the Vista partition measured only 50 GB, with 15 GB used, the data partition was 931 GB, with 140 GB used. I used DD to non-destructively resize the 931 GB data partition to 150 GB. I ran Chkdsk /r during Vista Initiate on the 150 GB data partition and no problems were found. Validation unfortunately continued to fail exactly as before.
    And so I pose the following question to Acronis Support, the answer upon which the successful resolution of this thread hangs: "What set of criteria does TI v11.0.8.053 use to detect partition image validation failure that Chkdsk /r cannot detect?"
    Only upon receiving the answer to this question can I or anyone else hope to solve this two month long, still unsolved, nightmarish problem once and for all.
     
  7. MudCrab

    MudCrab Imaging Specialist

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    When booting to the TI CD in Full mode, have you tried to limit the RAM to 2GB? (mem=2048M)

    There has been a report that TI sometimes has problems with 4GB of memory. I don't know if that would make a difference in Windows, but you could try it from the TI CD.

    See this thread: 4 GB RAM --> corrupt images?
     
  8. max53000

    max53000 Registered Member

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    I do have some interesting discoveries to relate. But before I comment further I must point out that another forum member has started a thread entitled, "Validate alwaysfails." And before I read your submission, I responded to it, hoping that member and I could combine our threads into one. In fact I can advance an argument that the alleged 4GB ram True Image corruption problem seems not to exist in my 32 bit Windows Vista and also seems not to exist using the boot CD. I haven't yet tried creating a backup image using the boot CD. I have 1.5 GB video ram and 4 GB memory ram on a 32 bit operating system, so either my CD validation or my Windows validation should be definitely affected by the alleged 4 GB True Image corruption, but they now either both fail or they both succeed.
    My only remaining problem now is that only my data partition images get corrupted and fail validation, while my operating system partition images do neither, the only constants being that both original partitions upon being run during windows initiate with Chkdsk /r result in "no problems found," that my original operating system and my original data locations on their respective hard drives have not changed, and that I am still using the same other two hard drives interchangeably for image file storage. My operating system occupies only 50 GB while my data partition occupies 931 GB. Using Acronis Disk Director Suite, I just shrunk the original data partition down to the last 150 GB which includes 10 GB empty space, and the resulting partition image still won't validate, which implies chkdsk /r /x will find errors after at most a few hours. Then I used Acronis Disk Director v10.0 to clean reformat and wipe the remaining partition located at the beginning of the hard drive. After verifying the empty clean formatted partition has "no problems" using chkdsk /r on windows initiate, I will try resizing and moving the data partition back down entirely within the known good end of the drive and see if the problem vanishes. Since I had a bad memory stick corrupting my data and Windows Vista for part of two months, it is no wonder that only 20% of my Vista image backups have validated, i.e., exhibited no chkdsk /r /x errors after being mounted. But all fifteen or twenty of my data backups have failed validation during that same period, including three after the memory problem was corrected and two after resizing the data partition. I used the system file checker to replace all corrupted Vista system files only after I was certain none of my computer's hardware components were causing any further errors. When last I ran Chkdsk /r /x on the mounted resized data partition image, I got a message during file verification that several clusters were corrupted in one specific file, but that Chkdsk couldn't repair the error because there wasn't any space remaining on the drive. Actually there was 10 GB free space remaining on the mounted drive that I could have added to or subtracted from immediately before the chkdsk dismount since I made the mounted partition read/write enabled. Remember that I received a "no problems found" Chkdsk message on the original data partition.
    Please forgive me for including in this thread a paraphrase of a remark I made in the person's thread which was mentioned above. I believe it is really important that the following idea be advanced to Acronis regarding True Image and implemented if possible in the next updated release of v11.
    Acronis should include a "Force Imperfect Partition Recovery" option requiring multiple affirmations by the user that he or she realizes that the outcome of that extreme recovery choice might be either an unrecoverable and unrepairable operating system, any number of unrecoverable data files, or both. That choice together with the disclosure by Acronis that running a chkdsk /r /x on the mounted imperfect backup image would reliably disclose only the number and names of those files that were almost guaranteed to be corrupted would assist the user in making an infomed intelligent decision whether to try such an extreme option.
    In my case, it would make it possible for me to instantly restore all my data files intact except one using image restore instead of having to painstakingly select and recover exactly the same data files a few at a time using the same imperfect mounted image backup.
     
  9. Acronis Support

    Acronis Support Acronis Support Staff

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    Hello max53000,

    Thank you for choosing Acronis Disk Backup Software.

    Please be aware that backup archive validation works the following way:

    - When backup archive is being created it is divided into 256 Kb parts;
    - Acronis True Image calculates the checksum for each part and save the outcome into the resulting backup archive;
    - When backup archive is being validated by means of the Validate Backup Archive tool, Acronis True Image consequently unpacks each of the above mentioned parts, calculates the checksum for the unpacked piece of data and compares the result with the one recorded during the backup archive creation.

    If even a single bit in the archive is changed, the checksum will not match, and the archive will be declared corrupted. Please notice that the actual bit stored on the hard drive might still be correct, but is transferred wrong, the archive will be declared corrupted as well. The most common reasons for faulty data transfers are corrupted memory (as you found out), faulty drive cables, dirty/misplaced/faulty connectors, and so on.

    Regarding the "Force Imperfect Partition Recovery" idea, if you want us to change the behavior of Acronis True Image in any way or add some new features to this product, please feel free to post any of your suggestions in Acronis True Image WISH-LIST thread.

    Thank you.
    --
    Marat Setdikov
     
  10. max53000

    max53000 Registered Member

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    After several months of continuing frustration with the apparent "failure" of Acronis True Image Home v11.0 build 8.053 to validate any image of my new 1 TB SATA data drive, which I had freshly cloned from an old IDE data drive using Acronis Disk Director v10.0, I finally was able to demonstrate conclusively that HP Blackbird Division had sold me a defective ASUS Striker Extreme motherboard inside my new state-of-the-art computer. To their credit, once I pointed out the problem, HP Blackbird Support immediately arranged to ship my computer using UPS expedited freight collect two day service from Texas to Canada, completed the repair and burnin within ten days, and shipped it back to me using the same expedited shipping service. Since then, Acronis True Image hasn't failed to validate any newly created images from within Windows Vista. I haven't had time to validate the same images using the Acronis Boot Disk, but I believe that they will.
    I owe the people of Acronis a sincere apology for assuming that their True Image software, which had never failed me before on my old computer, had suddenly begun to do so on my new one. And further I must express my gratitude to Acronis for creating True Image's Validation function, whose occasional failures pointed to the extremely intermittent operational failures of my new computer within hours after I received it and continued to do so until the computer was finally repaired. Acronis True Image's Validation failure has been shown, in my opinion, to be one of the most sensitive and most accurate indicators of computer hardware failure.
     
  11. Acronis Support

    Acronis Support Acronis Support Staff

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    Hello max53000,

    Thank you for your warm words. We are glad to hear that your issue has been solved and you can use Acronis True Image successfully.

    If you have any further questions concerning Acronis software, please feel free to submit a request for technical support or post any of them on this forum. We will certainly try to help you in resolving any issues.

    Thank you.
    --
    Marat Setdikov
     
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