Defraging Image files

Discussion in 'Acronis True Image Product Line' started by NielN, Nov 14, 2005.

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  1. NielN

    NielN Registered Member

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    I have a 250G hard drive that is used only to hold image files. It is formatted FAT32. My OS is Win98SE. The drive is accessable from other computers on the network for the purpose of sending image files to it.

    Some of the images were created from an early version 2.259 of TI9 running under windows, and others were created by the stand alone version ot TI8 937, after I gave up on the unstable TI9. All the images were verified after creating them.

    I had the drive about half full of image files, and I tried doing a Norton Speed disk defrag. Norton reported that the drive was significantly fragmented, and I told it to go ahead. It took about 6 hours to defrag the drive, and I could see that it was doing MAJOR rearranging.

    After it finished, I tried booting from TI8 937 and checking the image files. Not a single one would verify. When I tried to verify them, I would get a messages of "The selected file is not an Acronis TrueImage archive. The image is corrupted". or "This is not the last created volume of the image archive. Please insert the last created volume to start working with this archive". Not a single image would verify.

    I tried running the Western Digital drive test program, and it read and checked the entire drive, and it said there were no errors.

    It looks like the disk management done by the Acronis boot disk is not completely compatible with Windows. I use the Norton Defragger all the time, and have never had it scramble anything before. This is very troubling.

    I ended up deleting all the image files and re-creating all of them from the various computers. I'm afraid to go near the drive with the image files again with the defragger, after what happened. I had planned, when the image drive got full, to use Windows to delete the oldest image files. If the file system created by TI is not compatible, will deleting older image files with Windows corrupt the drive?

    NielN
     
  2. Xpilot

    Xpilot Registered Member

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    Certainly if you if you examine any drive containing TI images a defrag program will show lots of fragmentation. This is not a fault or a problem of any kind. It is due to they way TI is designed to work.

    As you have found out the defrag process destroyed your images. Solution- do not defrag a drive containing Ti backup images unless they are safely tucked away in an Acronis Secure Zone. In such a case a defrag program will leave them alone.

    You certainly can use Windows to delete TI images that you no longer require. If you want to explore or otherwise work within the images they will have to be plugged in (mounted) using the TI program.

    Xpilot.
     
  3. NielN

    NielN Registered Member

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    Xpilot,

    Thanks for the reply. I read in other places on the forum, posts from Acronis that the defrag shouldn't hurt the image files.

    Do you have ideas on why the defrag corrupted the image files? I had assumed that these files were like any other file--made up of multiple clusters, and not all clusters contiguous. Normally, making a file's clusters continguous doesn't change the file at all. Are these not normal files in this sense?

    Thanks,

    N
     
  4. Xpilot

    Xpilot Registered Member

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    In no way am I a technical guru so I cannot give you a definitive answer as to the normality of TI images. My understanding is that they are created on a sector by sector basis and thus look completely different from normal files.

    I have seen references to defrags in this forum but I do not remember any that recommended defragging TI image files. I cannot see any need to defrag a TI image storage area. One is either writing a new image to it or accessing one image from which to restore. How would a defrag help?
    The posts I have seen suggested that if one feels the need to defrag ones data and programs drives it is better to do this before making the next full image. Defragging before creating an incremental or differential image will cause the imaging program to take as long as a full image as it will see lots of changes made by the defrag process.
     
  5. TheWeaz

    TheWeaz Registered Member

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    As I understand it, this is not the case. A TI image is just like any other file, albeit a large one. Its large size is what can contribute to the amount of fragmentation the file has. Defragging a TI image should not harm it in any way.
     
  6. Doug_B

    Doug_B Registered Member

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    Right. If the defrag program did not err, it shouldn't really be any different (from a file "consistency" perspective) than copying the image file from one medium to another.

    Doug
     
  7. plover

    plover Guest

    There really is no need to defrag a drive/partition that contains images or any backup files IMO.

    Defragging is done primarily for performance reasons not to reclaim space. In fact defragging does not reclaim any space, just consolidates it.

    As far as performance goes, backup files be they images or backup files, by their very nature are not used all that much. Do you really care if it takes a few seconds longer to do a restore because of fragmented files? I'm just happy that I had the good sense to make a backup in the first place. :)

    All my years of using disk imaging software and defragging software I have not defragged my image partitions on any regular basis. Maybe once in a blue moon but not as a routine thing.

    Any image I needed to access or restore did so just find no matter how fragmented it was.

    Just my 2 cents on the issue.
     
  8. Xpilot

    Xpilot Registered Member

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    Rather than theorising I have just run the Windows defragger on a USB drive containing a 12GB .Tib image file. Windows did not touch the .Tib file and reported that it could not be defragged. So in this case the image file survived.
    I am now running Norton speed disk on the same USB drive. Norton originally reported 85% fragmentation and is having a go at the defrag. This looks as if it will take some time. Only 10% done after about 10 minutes. I will post again when the defrag has finished. I am prepared to be surprised but I bet that the image will no longer be usable.

    Xpilot
     
  9. Allen L.

    Allen L. Registered Member

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    After Norton gets through with a lot of things they are not usable! :D

    Just kidding a little, but some of Norton's disk utilities need a different utility to fix what they just attempted to fix in my opinion.

    ...Allen :-*
     
  10. TheWeaz

    TheWeaz Registered Member

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    How much free space does the USB drive with the 12GB image have?
     
  11. Xpilot

    Xpilot Registered Member

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    Well 75 minutes later, my longest defrag ever, surprise surprise Norton did actually defrag the *tib file and it is still mountable and apparently usable. So the OP's defrag problem must have had another cause.

    However as I implied in my original post on this subject it is absolutely pointless running a defrag on a drive of *tib files. Plover put this far more elegantly than I have done.

    Xpilot.
     
  12. plover

    plover Guest

    While Norton Speed Disk is the granddaddy of all disk defraggers starting in the early DOS days it also hasn't aged very well.

    It uses it's own method of defragging which I am told is not the recommended way MS describes.

    It might be a good idea to check out the other defraggers on the market. There are many good ones that do a better job and are a lot safer the SD.
     
  13. jmk94903

    jmk94903 Registered Member

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    Some external USB2 drives have issues with large files as a result of the USB chip set.

    Did you confirm that the files you wrote could be checked and were valid before the defrag and with the new files that you created. If so, you are in good shape as far as having images that will restore.

    Since Norton scrambled the files such that they no longer can be checked and found valid, I'd try a different defragmenter. For a start, use the Windows defragmenter and check the files again. I've defragmented TI files on external USB2 drives with the Windows XP defragmenter without problems.
     
  14. NielN

    NielN Registered Member

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    I may have found the problem (but don't have the solution yet). The drive is a 250GB drive, the mobo and BIOS are 48LBA capable, but the the ESDI_506.PDR driver that comes with Win98SE can't correctly talk to drives larger than 137 GB. When you write beyond the 137GB barrier, it can wrap back to the start overwriting the first sectors on the drive.

    The 250GB drive was a little more than half full when I did the defrag. Norton Speed Disk was probably using space on the drive beyond 137GB during the defrag, and this is probably what corrupted the files. It really wasn't Norton's fault or TrueImage's fault--it was the OS not handling the large drive correctly. Norton just happened to be the first program to access beyond 137GB.

    I have searched and found someone who sells a replacement ESDI_506.PDR file for Win98 and ME that solves the problem, and will probably buy it. It's only $10.

    This problem of this 137GB wall in Win98 and ME is a stealthy one. You can successfully fdisk and format the large drive, and Win98 correctly shows the proper size of the drive, and everything seems to work normally. It's not until you start writing past the 137GB mark that the problems occur, and you will then have a completely corrupted drive. A lot of people who bought 160GB and beyond drives will have a surprise coming as they start filling up the drive. I hope they have backups.

    Thanks everone for helping on this.

    NielN
     
  15. rharris270

    rharris270 Guest

    If you recall, the original release of XP could also not handle disks larger than 127 Gig or so. Since XP is newer than 98, it is not surprising that 98 can not do it either, without some third-party support.

    I have successfully defraged TI8 images with Norton, Diskeeper, and Perfect Disk. Based on these experiences I do have one other suggestion: You the option to break the TI8 image into files of a user-specified size. I generally pick 650Meg, so that I can later write them to CD, if I choose. All defraggers seem to prefer files that are not gigantic (i.e., not several Gigs). At the same time, avoid making infinite many microscopic files. I once typed "650" instead of "650MB" as the span size in TI8, and eventally ran into problems somewhere beyond 1000+ files.
     
  16. TgFriday

    TgFriday Registered Member

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  17. Chutsman

    Chutsman Registered Member

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    A solution might be to partition the 250 into smaller pieces.
     
  18. TgFriday

    TgFriday Registered Member

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    Small partitions has no use. The 137GB limitation is the whole HDD. If you divide HDD by small partitions, then only the partitions in front <137GB will encounter no problem. Any partitions contains area >=137GB will be no luck.
     
  19. NielN

    NielN Registered Member

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    TgFriday,

    Thanks for the links. My Mobo has Nvidia disk controllers, and the Intel accelerator only works with certain Intel disk controllers. I downloaded the demo version of the ESDI_506 patch today and the routine that comes with the patch that tests for 48LBA support that the problem is solved. Time will tell.

    By the way, for anyone else who needs this patch the link is:
    http://members.aol.com/rloew1/Programs/Patch137.htm
    The guy charges $10 for the full version, and being an engineer myself, I don't mind paying someone for their technical work. Considering what the program solves (it prevents a corrupted disk caused by the Microsoft limitation), $10 seems pretty reasonable. (No I don't have any connection with this person).

    From what I have read, TgFriday you are correct about that splitting the drive up into smaller partions won't solve the problem. The problem occurs when the drive is over 137GB, no matter how small the partitions are.

    For most people putting a large (over 137GB) drive in their Win98 or ME, or early XP system, the drive corruption problem is a time bomb, that will be triggered when 137GB of the drive gets used. If you know of anyone in this situation, do them a favor and warn them about it.

    NielN
     
  20. tachyon42

    tachyon42 Registered Member

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  21. GHammer

    GHammer Guest

  22. tachyon42

    tachyon42 Registered Member

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    I thought these links might provide some insight into the issue particularly since there is mention of such details as:
    "• Operating systems that do not have 48-bit LBA support enabled by default (such as Microsoft Windows 98, Microsoft Windows Millennium Edition (Me), or Windows 2000) that are installed on a partition that spans beyond the 28-bit LBA boundary (137GB) will experience data corruption or data loss."
     
  23. NielN

    NielN Registered Member

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    For Win98 and ME, the solution mentioned in post #19 seems to work fine. I've been using it for a week now and haven't found any problems with it. It's the least expensive solution I know of ($10). The only other solution I've heard of is to add a seperate disk controller board which comes with its own drivers that hopefully don't have the 137GB problem.

    For XP and 2000, Microsoft has service packs that fix the problem.
     
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