Dell MediaDirect functionality(not) post TI imaging

Discussion in 'Acronis True Image Product Line' started by Rickk, Jan 15, 2007.

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  1. Rickk

    Rickk Registered Member

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    Just to confirm as per what *goodel's site and other's on this forum have said:

    Apparently, one cannot easily image (using either TI or Ghost) a new Dell laptop containing "hidden partitions" such as MediaDirect and expect these applications to function normally after restoring such an image??

    This is because if they are truly "hidden" in the first place, then obviously neither Ti nor Ghost will see them, right?
    :-(

    bobcat: thx for some of your replies to another thread, in which you suggested to FIRST creat a backup TI or Ghost image of the WHOLE laptop before proceeding with any re-partitioning... just in case.
    Problem is as above, goodel implies that even Ghost and TI will not image those hidden partitions (even if one specifies to image everything)
    because as he says: "think about it... if they are hidden pertitions, then they are hidden from TI and Ghost as well!"
    Have you or anyone here had any experience to the contrary?

    regards,

    Rickk

    *http://www.goodells.net/dellrestore/mediadirect.htm
    The HPA-based MediaDirect partition creates special maintenance issues for users. Since utilities are unaware the HPA exists, using Symantec Ghost or Acronis True Image to backup your hard disk will fail to include the MD partition. If you replace your hard disk, cloning/copying utilities will fail to copy the HPA. They will see and copy only the area in red in Figure 1.
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2007
  2. Menorcaman

    Menorcaman Retired Moderator

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    Hi Rickk,

    An interesting new article by Dan Goodell (the technical areas of his website contain some real golden nuggets). I wonder what Acronis Support have to say about Dell's implementation of HPA?

    Regards
     
  3. dld

    dld Registered Member

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    I have another question re the linked Dan Goodell article where he says the following:

    "The DSR process wipes the hard disk's second partition (which in a stock Dell system is the main XP partition) and refills it with the contents of the image. Note that DSR only refills the partition, it does not alter the disk partition layout. This means that if the partitions have been resized or the disk repartitioned, the new partition layout will not be undone by DSR."

    This quote is found at the bottom here.

    This to me is important because it would imply that repartitioning a computer with a Dell System Restore does not destroy the functionality of the DSR. Does anyone have experience to show otherwise? Or am I reading this incorrectly? In fact, if the DSR is an image of the OS partition only, then would that not exclude the MBR? If so, then restoration of the DSR would not fix a problem with the MBR?
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2007
  4. DriveBy

    DriveBy Registered Member

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    Here's my experience with a new Dell Inspiron 6400 and an Inspiron 6000. The 6400 has Media Direct and the 6000 does not.

    6400 Partitions: Media Direct (hidden); Dell Diagnostic (hidden); Dell System Restore (hidden); C Partition (visible).

    6000 Partitions: Same except no hidden Media Direct.

    Using TI8 v937 I can clone and create/restore images of BOTH systems successfully with full functionality of all hidden partitions.

    Using TI9 v3677 I can clone and create/restore images of the 6000 with no problems. I have not tried to use TI9 on the 6400 (no need to). It should work, though.

    Here's what I know for sure:

    If I try to MANUALLY resize any partitons when cloning either system drive, the cloned drive will attempt to boot but I'll get a missing NT Loader error message and a hang (in other words, failure to boot).

    As long as I do not try to MANUALLY resize during cloning, the clone will boot even after cloning to a larger drive when automatic (proportionate) resizing occurs.

    In every case where I try to clone to a slightly smaller drive (with huge open space in all resulting downsized partitions) the clone either fails to boot at all or boots with error messages. The Dell System Restore function NEVER works in this case.

    In ANY case where I modify the MBR, whether cloning or imaging, the Dell System Restore and Media Direct functions break.

    In ANY case where I restore/resize partitons and MBR separately using TI9 the Dell System restore function breaks.

    The only way all hidden partition functions continue to work is by cloning/imaging/restoring the ENTIRE disk. Any variation and the DSR and Dell Media Direct functions will break.

    In all cases, the Diagnostic partiton works - pretty hard to break it unless you move it from the beginning of the drive.

    And, 'hidden' does NOT mean TI can't see or image the partitions. It only means that it's not visible in Windows. You can still see the partitions in the Disk Management function. I can't speak for Ghost but TI DOES detect and back them up.

    That's all I know after 2 years of experimenting with TI8 & 9 on Dell drives.

    Good luck if you can do it differently.
     
  5. Robin A.

    Robin A. Registered Member

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    In my experience (one desktop, one laptop), If DiskDirector 9 "moves" the Dell Restore Partition during an operation to create new partitions on the disk, this partition becomes damaged and unbootable, even after the MBR is "fixed" according to Mr Goodell´s procedures. However, it can be repaired.

    Note that Dell Restore is P3 partition. The order is: P1 Dell_Utility (diagnostics), P2 Windows, P3 Dell Restore.

    About Media Direct, what I understand is that it is only lost after a restore to a new disc. Normal restore operations to the same disc which has MediaDirect does not damage this function. But it appears that MediaDirect can be damaged if certain files that are critical to its operation are deleted from C:. This should be repaired restoring an image of C:.

    If Windows XP is reinstalled, MediaDirect gets damaged but can be repaired using the Dell utility. From Dell: "Dell MediaDirect Repair Utility tool will restore Dell MediaDirect functionality after the system MBR gets corrupted through manual re-installation of the operating system."
     
  6. Rickk

    Rickk Registered Member

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    Thx DriveBy,
    I guess I'll give it a shot one of these days to find out if I can also reproduce similar results to yours (with imaging and restoring back to the same drive) using TI 8.0
    .............................................................................................


    RobinA.
    So, if Mr Goodel's dsrfix won't repair it, what will?

    .................................................................................................
    Good to know, thx,

    Rickk
     
  7. Acronis Support

    Acronis Support Acronis Support Staff

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    Hello everyone,

    Thank you for choosing Acronis Disk Backup Software.

    We are sorry for the delayed response.

    Please note that I have forwarded the question about support of Dell HPA (Host-Protected Area) to our Development Team and will post the information as soon as I receive the reply. As this can take a few days, I apologize in advance for any delay with the response.

    Would also like to mention that the size of hidden system partitions is probably set by vendor for a reason, so resizing might render them unusable.

    Thank you.
    --
    Aleksandr Isakov
     
  8. nswartz

    nswartz Registered Member

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    So I have a new Inspiron E1505 with MediaDirect. I used TI9 (latest version) to resize the C drive to make room for a Secure Zone. It moved the DSR and MD3 partitions.
    Whenever I try to use MD, it appears to start up, but after about 3 screens I get BSOD. STOP 000F4

    I tried the repair disk (boot off disk and run MD3/REPAIR) It says "Done!" but this did not help.

    The partition table is quite corrupt. The disk shows as 148GB, when I only bought a 100. The Secure Zone. MD, and DSR partitions show up twice. (one is "free") The offsets overlap!

    I tried the MD re-install. It craps out after a few percent and offers to send a report to Microsoft!

    I finally got desparate. I did a backup to DVD, removed securezone partition, removed MD partition, removed DSR partition.
    MD craps out still. Hitting the MD button still gets a few screens and the BSOD. (I wonder if it still can get to the HPA!)

    Dell support suggested using Windows Repair. (I did not imagine it could work, but after running it, I am back where I started)

    Now TI9 claims I do not have a hard disk!
    I may try a re-install of TI9.

    Any suggestions?
    o_O
     
  9. Rickk

    Rickk Registered Member

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    nswartz,

    Mine is (was) an Inspiron 1405 and a similar thing (ie. blue screen BSOD message) happenned to me after using TI (version 8 though, not 9), except, I didn't re-size the C drive via TI. Instead, I re-partitioned it first using Acronis DiscDirector so as to eventually have 3 partitions: 1 for Windows, 1 for programs and 1 for Acronis images. Only then did i use TI...
    You said:
    My partition table did not show corrupted values like yours though. It showed "normal values". How do I know they were "normal" values? Because Dell sent me a new laptop after trying to troubleshoot the "bsod stop oooF4" blue screen code... and I've compared the two before sending back the TI imaged one.

    I've read and received lots of ideas re. MD3 and TI and Disc Director. At this point will sit on the sidelines and wait till the Acronis Team gives their POV.

    btw, the Dell MD3 works on the new laptop, (obviously, since I haven't TI'ed or DD'ed it yet!)

    Good luck, keep us posted and I'll do likewise!

    Rickk
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2007
  10. Rickk

    Rickk Registered Member

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    Dear Aleksandr Isakov from Acronis support,
    Thx for looking into this:

    While you're at it, can you also check to see if it is really the TrueImage or in fact the DiscDirector (or both?) that causes the Dell HPA (MediaDirect & Dell Restore) problems?

    I can't tell because I used both before noticing that MediaDirect became non-functional on my Dell 1405 Inspiron laptop.

    The previous poster, nswartz said it happenned after TIing though.

    Thank you
    Rickk
     
  11. Rickk

    Rickk Registered Member

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    nswartz;

    You said:
    Hmm... not good, check out this thread by dan goodel guy who knows his way around HPAs:
    "Just to be clear, it is possible to repartition the original disk and maintain MD functionality--you can keep what's there already, you just can't transfer it intact to another HDD. (Warning: if you use Acronis, do not let it install its "Secure Zone" stuff or it will overwrite your Dell MBR.)"

    http://www.dellcommunity.com/suppor...ddrive&message.id=58458&query.id=60329#M58458
    Rickk
     
  12. nswartz

    nswartz Registered Member

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    Hmmm, now it is a little late. I guess there is not much I can do.
    I am hoping Dell can help me, but it looks like I have a "dumb mistake" button now (was MediaDirect button):D
     
  13. Rickk

    Rickk Registered Member

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    Hello Aleksandr from Acronis, any news yet?

    Been waiting patiently for a specific response (either via e-mail or this forum) concerning my inquiry re. Dell laptop MBR, MediaDirect & Acronis TI, DD incompatibilities.
    You had mentioned a few days for a response, yet it's been a month already.
    Is there something wrong?
    Please refer to original thread, which began January 15th. Excerpts included below:
    Regards,
    Rickk




    Rickk: February 3rd, 2007 08:21 AM

    Rickk: February 2nd, 2007 02:35 PM

    Acronis: February 1st, 2007 08:45 AM

    Menorcaman: January 15th, 2007 12:15 PM

    Rickk: January 15th, 2007 11:08 AM
     
  14. Acronis Support

    Acronis Support Acronis Support Staff

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    Hello everyone,

    We are sorry for the delayed response.

    I have received the reply from our Development Team.

    Please be aware that none of the current versions of Acronis True Image support Dell Host-Protected Area (HPA).

    Please note that when using Acronis True Image (any edition) under Windows one will not be able to access HPA for backup/cloning operations.

    If using the standalone version Acronis True Image (i.e. when booted from Acronis True Image Bootable Media) HPA can be accessed. However, we can not guarantee that the MediaDirect partition, which is located in HPA will function correctly after restore/clone operation.

    The above also applies to other Acronis products, like Acronis Disk Director.

    We do have plans to implement the ability to support HPA into Acronis Software in the future. However, at the moment the exact time-frame for that is not decided yet.

    Thank you.
    --
    Aleksandr Isakov
     
  15. Rickk

    Rickk Registered Member

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    Thank you for finally answering Aleksandr, albeit after 6 weeks.
    Much appreciated.

    Is this also true for Acronis DiscDirector?
    regards
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2007
  16. Acronis Support

    Acronis Support Acronis Support Staff

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    Hello Rickk,

    Yes, the above applies to Acronis Disk Director as well.

    Namely, when using Acronis Disk Director under Windows HPA is not accessible. When booted from Acronis Disk Director Bootable Media HPA can be accessed. However, we can not guarantee that the MediaDirect partition will function correctly after partition management operations.

    Thank you.
    --
    Aleksandr Isakov
     
  17. Rickk

    Rickk Registered Member

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    Thank you!
     
  18. The4Bs

    The4Bs Registered Member

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    We have a Dell Inspiron 6400 with MediaDirect and I need some clarification before I launch into a new hard drive install.

    We've got ATI 10 and I've made, and verified, a few system images (of the entire hard drive, not just c: ). We have had a few bad sectors appear on our hard drive and it appears there *may* be a new hdd in our future. To that end I'm getting my ducks in a row to do an easy (hopefully) move to a new hdd in the event this one fails. But it seems like MediaDirect potentially complicates the process.

    So I have a few questions hopefully some of you more experienced users can help me out with:

    1. When I make an image of my hdd I only see 3 partitions: the C: NTFS, a 4GB or so FAT 32 partition, and a small FAT 16 partition. I assume these last two to be the Dell system restore and the Dell utilities. Correct? What of the MediaDirect partition? Hidden? (BTW, my images to go an external USB drive)

    2. It seems that the easiest/safest/best restore method is to restore the entire image to the new drive and to avoid restoring the c: partition alone. Correct? I don't really need the Dell Restore partition but it just seems safer to bring it along for the ride.

    3. But what if we end up with a larger hdd? The documentation and forum posts advise, during a restore operation, to select each partition one by one and resize as required (C: only would require resizing for me), finally check the MBR and track 0 and then proceeding to restore the whole image. Will this work with these Inspiron 6400's? Can you resize? If not I won't even consider a larger hdd.

    4. It appears that by moving to any new hdd I will be able to boot into Windows but lose the MediaDirect functionality. Correct? By MediaDirect I assume this means the ability to push the little MD button on the laptop case to start MD without having to boot to Windows first. If so, I don't care if I lose that functionality since, for us, it doesn't work as nice as the Windows version of the player anyway (screen resolution problems). I also assume that the Windows version will still work. Yes? (If not there are other players out there I can use too, so not a big deal)

    5. So in short, the ideal solution for me would be to restore to a larger hdd from an image I have, being able to resize the c: partition in the process. If I lose the MediaDirect functionality outside of Windows, I don't care. If I can't resize to a larger hdd, not the end of the world either. I would just like to know what I can and cannot expect going in.

    Do I understand the information in this thread correctly and do I have a sound plan going forward in the event of a hdd failure?

    Thanks for your time.
     
  19. Brian K

    Brian K Imaging Specialist

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    The4Bs,

    Good question to ask before the following problem appears. You can prevent it happening.

    https://www.wilderssecurity.com/showthread.php?t=167401
     
  20. The4Bs

    The4Bs Registered Member

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    So, when I do a restore should I only select the c: partition and let ATI create it's own MBR? (I think I read that somewhere in these forums). Then I will be done with MediaDirect and Dell Restore (neither of which I want anyway).

    Is this correct or did I completely miss the point?

    Thanks.

    Oh and how do I tell if I have MediaDirect 2 or 3? Sounds like only one of them is problematic.
     
  21. Brian K

    Brian K Imaging Specialist

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  22. The4Bs

    The4Bs Registered Member

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  23. Brian K

    Brian K Imaging Specialist

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    If you can't see the partition in Disk Management it's likely to be ver 2. You can confirm the presence of the HPA with MHDD as outlined in the thread.
     
  24. The4Bs

    The4Bs Registered Member

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    Thanks for your help today. It seems like I now have a plan. :)
     
  25. Brian K

    Brian K Imaging Specialist

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    Let us know how it turns out. As you can see, only a few people have done this with Dells although it should be straight forward.

    Summary:

    Restore an image and DON'T clone

    DON'T select copy the MBR and Track 0.

    Don't bother restoring the Dell System Restore (Ghost) partition because it won't work anyway as a restore partition on the new HD.
     
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