Can't Boot From Restored Backup

Discussion in 'Acronis True Image Product Line' started by geoMEAN, Mar 7, 2008.

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  1. geoMEAN

    geoMEAN Registered Member

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    Hi-

    Thanks for reading. I'm encountering the following problem with Acronis True Image version.10. I have the latest build (4942) and I'm running Windows XP Professional.

    I'm testing my full backup of my main hard drive C: that is incrementally backed up to drive F: (an external hard drive) each night. I just bought a new internal hard drive and wanted to test to see if I can restore my entire C: drive onto the new drive and then boot from the new drive.

    I successfully restored the incremental backup from drive F: to the new drive, which I called drive D.

    I figured now all I had to do was reboot, go into the BIOS and change the primary drive to my new drive. When I do this, save changes in BIOS, and try to boot Windows, I get a blank, black screen with the blinking cursor.... FOREVER and eventually I have to CTRL+ALT+DEL to restart and reverse my changes in the BIOS to get it to boot to Windows again.

    I would like to be able to boot from my new drive that is an exact copy of my C: drive. (It said i successfully restored the drive to the new drive... so I don't think it is a problem there.) I imagine this has something to do with either drive letters or a master boot sector not being detected?

    I am not a computer professional, but I know how to get into the BIOS and do simple stuff like that so please forgive me if I don't understand certain jargon.

    Thank you for your time and I appreciate any help you may give me.

    geoMEAN
     
  2. Tabvla

    Tabvla Registered Member

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    Hi geoMEAN, welcome to the Forum :D

    There are a couple of things that you need to be aware of when backing up the System partition (or disk if a single partition).

    Please note that you do NOT need to change any BIOS settings.

    There are 3 stages to this process: -

    STAGE 1 : When you create the backup

    1. You must create an IMAGE backup using the "My Computer" option
    2. Include the MBR
    3. Don't give the backup a drive letter - just leave it blank

    STAGE 2 : When you restore the backup

    (Note : If you are using a new disk you should Initialise; Partition and Format the disk before using it).

    1. Restore the backup to the target disk
    2. Include the MBR
    3. Don't give the restore a drive letter - just leave it blank

    STAGE 3 : Booting from the restored partition (or disk if a single partition)

    1. Shutdown
    2. Remove or disconnect the normal Windows XP disk
    3. Connect the disk with the restored system partition
    4. Start

    Your computer will start normally.

    Notes

    1. Drive letters are assigned by Windows at startup. C: will always be assigned to the partition that contains the OS. (There are exceptions to this but that falls outside the scope of this discussion).

    2. You should not have 2 instances of Windows that has the same Product Key active on the same computer at the same time. That is why you should remove or disconnect the normal Windows disk.

    3. The partition that contains the OS must be marked "Active". This should be the default when you restore. Make sure that "Active" is ticked when you go throught the preliminary restore process.

    4. If you receive error message like "Non-system disk" or "NTLDR not found", it means that the MBR does not match the disk geometry or that you did not mark the OS partition as "Active".

    Let us know how you get on.

    T.
     
  3. geoMEAN

    geoMEAN Registered Member

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    Tabvla,

    Thank you for your detailed and orderly response! :thumb:

    I had not previously initialized, partitioned, and formatted the brand new hard drive. Since Acronis told me I had successfully transferred my backup image to the new drive, I assumed Acronis did the initilialization/partitioning for me. There is even a section that asks you how big to make the partition on the new disk.

    Anyway, with my first attempt, I tried unplugging my main drive and only plugging in the new drive with the restored image on it. (Not sure if it makes a difference but it is a 500GB SATA drive whereas the old one is a 100GB IDE drive.) This did not work and I still got the blinking cursor, though it was trying to read this drive as C: / the "main drive" because I didn't have to make any changes in the BIOS just as you said.

    I think my problem may be with the MBR being transferred properly to the new drive. When you say "Include the MBR", where do I do this? I can't find it in the backup or restore dialogs in Acronis.

    More info:

    My backup is of "My Computer" and I set the Restore to "Active."

    I'm going to try again by reformatting, initializing the new disk with windows and then re-restoring the image onto it. Then I will follow your instructions again.

    Thank you so much! I'm so glad I'm testing out my restore now and not when I've lost my main hard drive! :D
     
  4. jonyjoe81

    jonyjoe81 Registered Member

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    When you bootup a computer and it has two windows xp operating system installed. the drive letters on the restored drive will usually get changed around (worst case scenario, the drive letters will get changed on both hard drives). More than likely that's what has happened.

    There is nothing wrong with your MBR, I never backup the MBR, anytime you restore a partition that has an operating system installed, that backup will automatically be bootable when restored. You only backup the MBR when you plan to restore to the same harddrive. The MBR has the information unique to the old hard drive, if transfered to new hard drive it will give you problems. Example the new hard drive which is 500gb, is going to think it's a 100gb hard drive.

    With windows xp, windows will not always assign the correct drive letter to the system partition. The system drive letter could end up being E:,F:,G: or something different. If your system drive letter is incorrect the restored hard drive will hang/reboot during bootup because windows will be looking for the next startup files in the wrong drive. The only way to fix this is to get into the registry and manually change the system drive letter.

    If it's a drive letter change problem, that's a quick fix with the right utilitys. You can use the windows repair console to fix it but you need to readup on what dos commands you need to use. I use a "boot corrector" that can read and edit the registry on a non-booting hard drive(paragon partition manager 9.0 has the latest version that works with SATA drives) to fix these problems, it's takes me 5 minutes to change the drive letters. Don't waste your time on doing fixmbr/fixboot, repair installations, copying the MBR etc, I tried all those repairs but those won't fix drive letter problems.

    This has happened several times to me, and I prefer to fix the problem afterwards instead of redoing everything agaiin. I consider it a minor nuisance that can be easily fixed.
     
  5. GroverH

    GroverH Registered Member

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    Perhaps my guides can assist. Check my signature below.

    Tabvla,
    Very nicely stated.! We all learn from such precision.
     
  6. Tabvla

    Tabvla Registered Member

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    Thanks GroverH, much appreciated! :D T.


    geoMEAN, you stated....

    When you do the restore, just before you go to the "Proceed" window, ATI will ask "Do you want to restore another partition", answer "Yes". You will then be returned to the window with the partitions listed. There should be 2 partitions - the IMAGE of the System and the MBR. Tick the MBR and continue to "Proceed".

    IMPORTANT - PLEASE READ

    There is a misconception that if you backup and restore the "old" MBR that this will "confuse" Windows when you boot with the restored system.

    This is incorrect.

    This may have been the case in very old versions of ATI. However, in the newer versions, ATI deals with this issue correctly and you can be assured that Windows will not be "confused" if you backup and restore the "old" MBR.

    If, as in your case, you are using a new disk which has never been setup before then you must backup and restore the MBR. If you don't do this the disk geometry will not include a reference to the area (Sector-1 Cylinder-0 Head-0 ) which contains the MBR.

    After you have done this the first time there is usually no further need to restore the MBR because the assigned physical area on the disk now contains an MBR and Windows will manage changes to this area. The only exception to this is if the MBR becomes corrupted and the disk won't boot. In that case you will need to restore the MBR using your latest ATI backup.

    T.
     
  7. geoMEAN

    geoMEAN Registered Member

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    Thank you again to everyone who has helped me.

    Good news! I successfully got the drive with the ATI restored image to boot by itself!

    Everything looks just the same: all programs, files the same.

    Except for one remaining problem that probably has to do with what you fellows are talking about. See attached picture of My Computer. The Total Size is the Total Size from my old drive, even though the old drive is completely unplugged.

    What is the simpliest way to make my computer/Windows think that my new drive is the 500GB that it is, and not the old 100GB? NOTE: I PARTIALLY ANSWERED MY OWN QUESTION BELOW...

    driveConfusion.gif

    EDIT: I just realized why this happened. In the process of getting this to work, these are the steps i followed:

    1) Delete partition/files from first attempt at imaging via Computer Management --> Disk Management.
    2) Reformatted/reinitialized/repartitioned (whatever you want to call it) the new disk in Disk Management. This took about an hour.
    3) Went to ATI and restored the image backup to the newly partitioned drive, except this time it asked me if I wanted to make a new partition and get rid of the one I had just made. On my first attempt, ATI had asked me how large I would like to make the partition (in which case I told it to make it the full size of the drive), but this time it did not ask me, so I guess it just automatically created a partition the size of my old drive and the rest of the space is unallocated.

    newDrive.gif

    To resolve this so I have the drive with the full partition size I imagine I need to redo the entire process and make sure ATI asks me for the partition size this time. I will try to make it ask me by not partitioning/formatting the drive in Disk Management prior to the ATI restore imaging.

    This forum is amazingly helpful! :)
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2008
  8. Tabvla

    Tabvla Registered Member

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    Hi geoMEAN

    I am not going to tell you the "simplest" way to do this but rather the way that I consider to be the "best" way.

    It does however mean starting again..... something which you may not want to do :'(

    Normally (not always) the most efficient and effective way to manage a large 500GB disk is to break it up into more manageble sections - which are known as Partitions.

    You could use 3rd party partitioning software to do this but Windows XP Pro has quite competent tools, which will easily do what you need to do. More advanced tools such as Acronis Disk Manager or Symantec Partition Magic are excellent for doing more advanced functions but are not needed for your purpose.

    The following is only to illustrate the principle and does not necessarily reflect how you would utilise the space.

    100GB - Windows and Programs
    50GB - My Documents
    150GB - My Pictures and My Music
    200GB - Option 1 : Don't allocate now but save for future use
    200GB - Option 2 : If you have only 1 disk then use for Acronis Secure Zone.

    NOTE :
    Acronis Secure Zone should ONLY be used in a SINGLE disk system. It is highly recommended to use 2 disks rather than the ASZ.

    Once you have repartioned your disk you can rebuild the System (Windows and Programs) into the first partition, which will also be the "Active" partition.

    The above is a very brief overview of what can be quite an involved process, so if you are in doubt please come back with your questions.

    T.
     
  9. geoMEAN

    geoMEAN Registered Member

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    T.,

    Do they pay you to respond on these forums? ;) Because they should!

    Anyway, in the past I have always kept the entire disk in 1 partition-- OS, programs, files all on one partition.

    This is probably what I would like to do (which involves starting over) but maybe I should just keep the OS and Programs on a separate partition?

    I've heard that this is more secure in the event that I have to reinstall windows and my programs because then I won't have to delete the partition with all my data on it. Is this why people often do this? Are there other advantages to separating the OS/Programs from your data?

    P.S. I learned about Acronis Secure Zone (ASZ) the hard way. At first, I had two physical drives, one which is used as back up and I started using ASZ but soon found out that it should only be used if you have 1 physical disk! :(
     
  10. DwnNdrty

    DwnNdrty Registered Member

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    Here's another way to get back your missing space - and you don't have to start all over:
    ================================
    If you have already cloned/restored your drive and just want to regain the missing (unallocated) space proceed as follows:
    1. Make the bootable True Image Rescue cd, if you have not already done so.
    2. Boot with it and from its main menu choose Manage Acronis Secure Zone.
    3. Create an SZ of any size less than the missing unallocated space. Do not accept the default to activate the Startup Recovery Manager.
    4. OK back to the main menu.
    5. Go right back into the Manage ASZ.
    6. Choose to Delete the SZ.
    7. When asked what to do with the space, accept the default to append it to the existing partition.
    8. Back out to the Main Menu, Exit the process, quickly remove the CD and reboot the system (if it doesn't self reboot).
    ====================================
     
  11. Tabvla

    Tabvla Registered Member

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    Hi geoMEAN

    You are correct. If you only have a single disk system then it is essential that you separate the Windows/Programs files from Data files. There are some very good reasons for doing this.

    1. Backup Types

    The Windows/Programs partition MUST be backed-up using the IMAGE process (My Computer option in ATI v10) and it is essential that you start off by backing up the entire partition so as to ensure that the partition is correctly built. After the first image you can of course do Incremental or Differential backups. My own personal preference is to IMAGE the entire Windows/Programs partition at least once a month, usually after the Microsoft Updates and then do Incremental backups until the next month.

    Your data files can be backed up in a number of ways. In ATI you can use the "My Data" option. So separating the two backup types into separate partitions makes a lot of sense.

    2. Data Types

    Depending on the user requirements, different data may require different backup strategies.

    For example, you may want to backup your "My Documents" folder every day if you use it for work or for storing important documents that you are currently working on. However, your "My Music" and "My Pictures" folders you may only want to backup once a month.

    It makes it logically simpler to manage if you separate very different data types (such as above) into separate partitions.

    3. Cost

    If you use an online facility for storing backups then it does simplify the process and reduce the cost. For example, it is unlikely that your "My Documents" folder will exceed 5GB under normal usage. There are numerous online storage facilities that will provide you with 5GB of storage free-of-charge.

    However, your My Music and My Pictures folders will very quickly grow much bigger than 5GB. And, depending on your requirements, you may not need to have these backed-up to an online facility, because they may not be all that important. You probably have copies of this media on DVD, CD, your iPod, MP3.... etc

    Hope that helps.

    T.
     
  12. geoMEAN

    geoMEAN Registered Member

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    DwnNdrty: Thanks for the tip! I may use that if I decide to use all the space as one partition. That's a nifty trick! :D

    T: Thanks for the cost/benefit analysis. I'm sitting here trying to decide whether to regain the unallocated space via DwnNdrty's method or separate my System from my Data.

    After some thought, I would like to have two partitions: 1 for Windows and Programs, and 1 or 2 others for my other My Documents and My Music etc. I can see how having separate partitions also makes it easier to make separate IMAGE backup processes in ATI.

    However, one thing I'm worried about:

    What happens when I transfer all my data files to the new partition and the new partition now has a different drive letter than C. I imagine this may be a problem in various programs that have path references to certain data files. Will this be a problem and if it is, is there a robust solution to work around this?

    Sorry for the endless questions but I feel I have learned a lot about disk management so far and I'm close to having a solution to my current situation.

    Thanks again everyone! :thumb:
     
  13. jonyjoe81

    jonyjoe81 Registered Member

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    If you decide to have 2 partitions a system partition and a data partition. Make sure the system partition on the new hard drive is at least 1gb larger than the partition you plan on restoring there.

    Example, your backup system partition is 100gb, the new system partition on the new hard drive needs to be at least 101gb. This will prevent drive letter change problems. (windows xp system partitions do not like to be downsize when restored.) But you can try restoring to a smaller partition to see if it might work, if it doesn't it's a drive letter change problem "which is fixable".

    As far as putting programs on a different partition, thats no problem. During installation of programs, registry entries are made to the windows xp system partition, the actual program files can be installed anywhere (and moved anywhere later including different hard drives). The only problem I've ever had was when the data partition is restored on a different drive letter. All you need to do is update the shortcuts to point to the new location of the program exe file. Very easy to fix.

    Incidently all my system partitions are only 20gb (6gb in use), I keep it small so that I can backup and restore quickly. Takes me less than 5 minutes to backup and about 10 minutes to restore. All large nonessential programs/games are installed to the data folder.
     
  14. GroverH

    GroverH Registered Member

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    Yes, this will be an issue which needs correcting, but I feel it is a minor issue. Once you open the various programs, and point the program to the new drive, the issue will cease with that program. Any shortucts that carry the wrong path will need editing. Likewise, some *.ini files may need correction. In some cases, you might search the registry and make some of the changes there.

    These path corrections can be corrected without much time or effort.
     
  15. Tabvla

    Tabvla Registered Member

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    Agree. This really is a minor issue.

    Data files that you have created are not critical to program operation. Most well-behaved programs will popup a message telling you that "filename.ext" cannot be found at its previous location. At that point you can simply redirect it to the new location.

    Data files that a program creates (e.g. Libraries, Templates... etc) are usually created in a sub-folder(s) under the main program folder. So this is seldom an issue.

    Changing a drive letter will become a major issue if you do not keep your programs in C:\Program Files (in a Windows system). However, in a normal environment it would be an exceptional circumstance to install programs in a different partiton from the OS - and certainly one that is not recommended.

    IMPORTANT

    You do need to think carefully about partition sizes. Windows requires a MINIMUM of 15% "Free Space" in order to run the Disk Defrag utility. Windows XP Pro plus a good number of programs will take up about 40GB of disk space. Allowing for new programs and applying the 15% Free Space rule means that if you allow about 60GB for Windows & Programs you should be OK for the life of your computer. (Of course if you install Vista Ultimate you will probably need a Mainframe to run it.... :gack: .... but that is a different subject!! o_O ).

    Documents take up almost no room. For example, 5000 Microsoft Office documents will take up about 1GB of disk space.

    Photographs, Drawings... etc probably need about 50GB on an average usage system.

    Video and Music are the big ones. Ideally these may be kept on an external drive dedicated for the purpose. Cost may be a factor here, so consider a disk enclosure and a low-cost, big-capacity disk. This is a cost-effective and very easy to manage option.

    T.
     
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