Disk Cloning?

Discussion in 'Acronis True Image Product Line' started by abraxus, Apr 20, 2006.

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  1. abraxus

    abraxus Registered Member

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    Hi

    I've just bought True Image Home 9 and thought I knew what I bought it for, but having read through the instructions and many of the posts, I'm now not so sure.

    I have a Toshiba Laptop with twin 100gb sata hard drives and have the operating system and programs installed on the C drive and my document and data on the other (D) drive. The operating system is XP Media Centre and can sometime be temperamental towards new software. I currently have it set up as I want it and working perfectly and want to back this up before making any changes.

    As I have a spare (third) sata 100gb drive in an external enclosure, I was intending to clone the C drive to the external drive, using the manual option to "keep data" on the existing drive. When finished I would disconnect the external drive and stick it in a box for safe keeping, leaving the existing drive in place to carry on as usual. In the event of any later problems with newly installed software, I would remove the existing drive, replace it with the previously made clone, power up and be back to square one as if nothing happened.

    This was my belief anyway, however on reading various posts I'm not sure if this would cause any problems, namely with drive letter assignments. i.e. if I did the above, could I put either of the two drives in the laptop, as and when I pleased, and it would boot up as normal? Would they effectively be interchangeable?

    Basically, I don't want to replace my existing drive, just have an exact copy of it that I could just slot in and switch on if ever want to revert to my system as it currently is without having to do any kind of recovery or re-installation.

    Sorry if I'm being a bit thick or long winded but I don't want to make any mistakes that I wont discover until it's too late.

    Many thanks

    Bill
     
  2. TheKane

    TheKane Registered Member

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    Hello,

    I have the same problem with TI 9 Home Edition, I try my old TI 8 without problems.

    Best regards,
    Kane
     
  3. Acronis Support

    Acronis Support Acronis Support Staff

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    Hello Bill,

    Thank you for choosing Acronis Disk Backup Software.

    Please note that there are two approaches available:

    Clone Disk - transfers the entire contents of one disk drive to another;

    Backup - creates a special archive file for backup and disaster recovery purposes;

    Please read more in this FAQ article.

    Actually, Clone Disk approach is usually used to upgrade the hard drive (e.g. install a larger disk), while Backup approach is basically dedicated for the complete data backup and disaster recovery purposes.

    Since you want to clone your hard disk with the operating system to the new one, we would like to note the following:

    -We recommend you to unplug one of the hard drives right after the disk cloning process has been finished, since keeping both original and cloned hard drives connected might cause different boot or drive letter assignment problems.

    -In order to clone your Windows system to a different hardware, you should first prepare Windows using Microsoft System Preparation Tool (Sysprep). Please take a look at this FAQ article.

    -We recommend you to create the bootable rescue media and clone the source hard drive to the destination one in rescue mode. Please note that Acronis bootable rescue CD contains a Linux kernel and can display drive letters different from those you see in Windows because Linux has its own rules of drive naming. So, we recommend you to name your C and D drives.

    You can also find more information on how to use Acronis True Image 9.0 Home in the respective User's Guide.

    Thank you.
    --
    Tatyana Tsyngaeva
     
  4. mark3

    mark3 Registered Member

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    You want have any problems at all as long as you do not have the two drives connected at the same time. Keep in mind that as you install new software, you will not be able to interchange at will. The clone will become out of date, re new software installation, but it will still be a good backup and you will have a peace of mind.
    Once you have created a clone, don't forget to test it, by replacing it with the original to see if it works, before putting it away.
    Now and then you could renew the clone to ensure that it is up to date with your original disk.

    I would ignore this point as you are not cloning to different hardware.
     
  5. Chutsman

    Chutsman Registered Member

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    In the Acronis Support response, I have to disagree with the wording in the Clone Disk sentence. The word "transfer" implies taking the contents from one and putting on the other thus leaving the one without. For example: Transfer the luggage from one airplane to another.

    The Clone procedure does NOT transfer .... it copies. So your source drive will still be how it was originally.
     
  6. abraxus

    abraxus Registered Member

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    Thanks everyone for your replies, I think I understand things a bit better now.

    Tatyana, I'm not sure you grasp what I'm trying to do, or maybe I didn't explain it well as I had already read the bits you pointed me too and was none the wiser. I will only ever be using the same hardware, and don't wish to recover in the case of wanting to revert to current state, just slot in the cloned drive that I made, fire up and expect my system to boot as it does today.

    Mark, thanks for your reply, I think you've answered my questions, but for peace of mind would just like to clarify a couple things.

    As you say, I wont have both drives connected at the same time and will test the clone once I've done it to make sure it works. I assume that before I add any new software, I can stick in either the existing drive or the newly made clone at any time and they will be seen as the C drive and "just work". What I'm getting is that any continued swapping of the drives wont confuse the system about drive letters will it?

    Secondly, I accept that once I add any more software then the clone will become out of date, but you say I won't be able to swap at will. Do you mean that it wont work, or just that if I do swap at will, when I add the cloned drive it will still work ok but naturally only have the old software on it and not anything new that I've subsequently added? This is what I actually want to achieve in case new software causes problems, I just want to be able switch drives and immediately be back to the previous (working) system.

    As you also suggest, my intention is to periodically renew the clone as I add new software that has proven to be stable.

    I guess the overall assumption that I'm making is, apart from the cost of having to dedicate a spare drive to the clone, that it's much simpler for me to make a clone to have available to just pop in if I ever need it and immediately have a working, proven, system available as soon as I power up, without having to go through any recovery process or have the need for recovery disks. I just wanted to clarify that my assumption was correct.

    Thanks again to you all for taking the trouble to help me out, I really appreciate and am now certain that after clarification of the above points I'll be good to go.

    Thanks

    Bill
     
  7. mark3

    mark3 Registered Member

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    No it want confuse it at all. If the two hard disks aren't identical, what you will notice is that, after the swap and first boot, you will get the message "XP has installed new hardware and needs to reboot". Otherwise you will not notice any difference.

    Yes the clone will work at will minus the new software.

    What I would like to suggest to you is that you make use of System Restore for deleteing any new installed software that creates you a problem. The latter sets a reference point everytime new software is installed and this enables the user to roll back to that reference point should a problem occur. Bear in mind that System Restore does sometimes screw up but then, you have your clone to revert to.
    Set System Restore so that it only refers to C Drive, that way the speed of XP is not affected.

    Based on my own experience of an insurmountable problem, your assumption is correct. I too have a spare disk sitting in the draw, with the system installed, just for that unforseen disaster.

    The recovery process works and you should try and use it by backing up with an image to your second hard disk, followed by incremental backups. In the event of a problem, you would then have three courses of action, System Restore, restoring the image and finally the clone. (A toatal peace of mind).
     
  8. abraxus

    abraxus Registered Member

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    Mark

    Many thanks once again, you've answered all my questions in a way I can understand and now I'm confident in what I need to do to keep my system updated and protected against disaster.

    I take your point on system restore and do use it where possible, however, as you say, it's not perfect and it's often the software that causes the most problems that system restore can't quite fully undo.

    Having recovered my system from scratch, I'm glad I did the clear out, but would prefer not to have to do it again, so the regular making of an updated clone to a stable system will be perfect for me.

    I will also take your advice of creating a backup image as well to give complete peace of mind as that makes very good sense. I assume that I can do this either into a folder on an another drive, create a boot cd and recover when neccessary, or create a bootable set of recovery DVD's?

    Thanks again, you've been a great help in talking me through the options and how it all works.

    Cheers

    Bill
     
  9. mark3

    mark3 Registered Member

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    I prefer to another hard drive, but a bootable set of DVD's is also an option, and the procedure is well documented here -

    https://www.wilderssecurity.com/showthread.php?t=48186
     
  10. abraxus

    abraxus Registered Member

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    Well I finally set aside time to clone my c drive and also create a recovery image on a seperate usb drive I use for backing up data from all my pc's, just to be sure.

    However, I've been having a problem creating an image or a clone of my system.

    First off, all peripherals, ext usb drives, wireless keyboard, media centre remote, network cable & second screen are connected via a USB docking hub, and when I try to clone with this attached, it fails at the reboot point. Basically, it reboots to the cloning screen and in less than a minute says the clone is successful, however on checking, the drive that I'm cloning to is empty.

    Undeterred, I figured that the reboot part may be having issues with some of the peripherals so I detached the hub leaving no peripherals attached and the clone to the external drive seems to go ok. On completion, when it says hit any key to switch off, I do so and then I remove the existing system drive and replace it with the clone to test it, and it doesn't work. The system appears to boot but then I get the screen where it says that windows had a problem and do I want to boot to safe mode, last known working system, or boot as normal anyway. Whichever I select it just reboots and gets back to that screen.

    I have also tried creating an image instead of a clone and recovering the image to the spare drive. Again this appears to go ok but when I put the drive in and start up the same thing happens.

    I am not sure if there is anything you need to shut down prior to imaging or cloning as the instructions don't say so, so don't know if theres anything running that may affect it. The instructions are fairly basic but seem straightforward enough so I can't see where I'm going wrong. Does anyone have any experience of this type of problem and how to fix it?

    Despite using a large external drive for the image, and specifying 15gb break points, TI still insists on ceating three 4gb image files and when I go to recovery it only allows me to select one, so I select mybackup1. I am assuming that it knows that it is one of a set of 3 (as it says so) and automatically restores 2 & 3 as well, as I can't see a way to manually add them.

    Forgive my stupidity here, this is new to me and I'm probably doing something wrong at a basic level, but can't for life of me figure it out as I'm following the user guide to the letter. I'm reasonably adept at things usually and figured this would be a simple process but just can't get it to work, so would be grateful for any help if anyone has any knowledge of this kind of problem.

    Many thanks

    Bill
     
  11. Chutsman

    Chutsman Registered Member

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    The 4 gb splits on the usb drive is because that drive is formatted as Fat 32. And as you have found out, multiple usb devices and sometimes wireless keyboard/mouse tend to make TI do hiccups.

    Try doing your Image backups and Restores using the bootable TI cd instead.
     
  12. rafael

    rafael Registered Member

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    I have a computer with a single hard drive having one partition on NTFS. I used the latest build 3567 of TI 9.0 to clone the existing drive to another drive following exactly the manual cloning procedure. Rebooted the computer using the cloned drive with no problem at all.

    The problem is with my friend's computer, an E Machine. It's single hard drive has two partitions, one for operating system in FAT 32 for restoring the computer in case of problem, and the other in NTFS with drive letter C. We tried cloning the single two-partitoned drive to an empty drive following the same sequence of procedure using a downloaded trial TI 9.0 ( build 3567 ). Cloning finished in one minute or less. Swapped drives and the new drive did not reboot at all and was later found empty. I have no idea where the problem is. Will appreciate assistance. Thanks in advance.

    Rafael
     
  13. mark3

    mark3 Registered Member

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    I have never tried to clone to a USB HD but I have not had any problems when cloning from primary to secondary hard drive.

    I would suggest that you remove your second hard disk and replace it with the extra one and try it out. Dont forget to make the second disk a Slave.

    When you test it, you do not need to replace the second hard disk, but you do need to set the clone as a Master. Then just move the cable from the original to the clone and reboot.

    Once it works, don't bother putting the clone back in the USB housing as you will need to take it out for the "disaster" occasion. Rather, buy yourself another HD off eBay, a cheap one, and use it for extra backup, including images. You could even experiment restoring images back to the clone disk. Of course the clone would need to be formatted beforehand to see if the image is restored.
     
  14. abraxus

    abraxus Registered Member

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    Chutsman,

    Well spotted, the drive that I put the image on is the only fat32 drive I have, all 4 others are NTFS. However, when restoring the 3 images do I only need to select image 1 during the restore process and the software automatically adds the other 2? I will try your suggestion of creating the image and clone from the recovery cd.

    Mark, no cable swapping as the pc is a laptop, but it does have 2 hard drives built in. I tried cloning via both USB and by removing the secondary drive and replacing it with the drive I was cloning to, with same result.

    The drives are SATA so as far as I am aware they don't have manual master and slave settings, and are detected automatically as appropriate.

    Given that the drive when both cloned and imaged seems to start to boot, I assume that it is being detected ok as a master, but then stops at the windows has a problem bit. I'm therefore assuming that something hasn't copied over correctly.

    I will try doing both from the recovery cd as I assume that the source disk is "inactive" doing it this way, and hope that therefore it copies everything across cleanly.

    The orignal (source) drive is created from the manufacturers recovery disk rather than an original Windows install so I can't separate drivers and assume that it also may have a hidden partition, but any configuration this sets should be picked up by a successful cloning, right?

    Any other suggestions welcome, and I'll report back on either success or failure of the above.

    Thanks guys,

    Bill
     
  15. abraxus

    abraxus Registered Member

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    Well first off I tried cloning. I detached all peripherals and used the TI boot cd to run the operation. The first time it would not boot with clone and I got a no system disk error. I booted from the old drive and attached the clone but couldn't access it. In disk manager it had it listed as an unallocated partition.

    I used TI add disk to add it as a primary partition and retried the clone process. I tried twice and each time it got to the last few seconds and then said operation completed but with errors.

    When I boot up with old drive and attach the clone I have it in My Computer as an F drive but if try to open it, it says it is an unformatted disk and would I like to format. I guess I'll have to do this and try the clone again.
     
  16. Chutsman

    Chutsman Registered Member

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    TI seems to be really particular when it comes to Cloning ... since you have an external USB drive, try doing an Image backup to it then a Restore to the drive you were trying to Clone.

    So the procedure would be:
    1. Boot with bootable TI cd.
    2. Make Image backup to USB drive.
    3. Shutdown and remove original drive and install the other drive.
    4. Reboot with CD and Restore the Image from the usb drive.
     
  17. abraxus

    abraxus Registered Member

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    Thanks Chutsman that's next on my list.

    Final report on failed clone attempt: Reformatting made no difference. If I clone in manual mode and use "as is" option, TI sees the C drive as one large partition and an additional unallocated 7mb partition. It indicates that it will reproduce this format. Cloning begins and ends with "completed but with errors"

    If I set the copy process as "proportional", TI just sees one large partition, without 7mb unallocated partition. Cloning goes ahead and completes and appears successful but when I insert drive I get a failed media message and a prompt to insert system disk. When I put the old disk back and attach the clone via usb it appears in disk management as one large unallocated partition and I get the disk initialisation wizard come up. For the image backup I'll leave the disk as is and assume TI will initialise and format as neccessary.

    I don't know if the 7mb unallocated partition is significant, the laptop is Toshiba Qosmio, with a twin Sata drive raid set up, media centre 2005 and built in tv tuner. Any of which may cause problems. On initial set up I set the raid option for the drives to be two independent drives, one for op system and one for data. After set up I switched off the raid software as I don't use it.

    Right, I'll now create an image to another NTFS external drive via the recovery cd, insert the new drive, recover the image to that and see what happens.

    I'll post the result.

    Bill
     
  18. mark3

    mark3 Registered Member

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    Bill, I looked up my hard disk information using PM 8 and I find that I have 7.8Mb unallocated on the second HD. Initially, I used PM to create the partitions and it chose to leave an unallocated partition. So that appears to be the norm but I cannot explain it. Maybe someone more converse with this will offer an explanation.
    When a clone is created it just overwrites everything so I do not think that the unallocated partition is causing the problem.
     
  19. abraxus

    abraxus Registered Member

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    I didn't think so either Mark, but right now will consider anything.

    Anyway I tried plan B, which was to create an image via the TI boot disk and restore from that. I created the image onto an external USB NTFS drive, swapped out the old C drive for the new, booted from the TI cd and restored the image to the new drive. All seemed to work ok.

    On rebooting I got a little farther than the clone in that the Win XP logo appeared, but I was then taken to the windows didn't start successfully screen and did I want to start in safe mode...etc. All options led me back to that screen.

    I had also asked on the Toshiba Qosmio forum and someone else with a G20 has had problems with TI and said he was sent a special version to cater for the peculiarities of this machine and it's set up. This gave me some hope so I emailed support and asked if they were aware of an issue, and as they'd supplied a special version could they supply it to me. It appears I got a standard reply as they advised me to use the Win sys prep tool,which is pointless as I'm using the same machine. I've replied to that hoping someone will read it this time.

    After putting the old drive back in I connected up the recovered one to see if there were obvious differences. The old one has 14.5gb used and the copy 14.4gb of used space, so not sure what that's about so I unhid system and hidden files and folders and couldn't see anything obvious missing. I opened windows for both C drive and the drive with the restored image and checked file and folder size for each item, all were identical, except documents and setting, but I had deleted some temp internet files so expected that, in any case the contents of the D & S folder shouldn't prevent me from booting up.

    I'm now at a complete loss as all data appears identical on each drive but the imaged one wont load.

    Is it possible that there's a hidden partition on my boot drive that the OEM set up disk put there that isn't being picked up by the imaging or cloning process. I'm not familar with twin drive laptops and SATA Raid setups?

    In case this is so, my plan C is to put the new disk in again and recover with the Toshiba Set up disks first and then try and clone to it, but am reluctant to do this as I suspect that the clone process will only wipe out anything there, and besides the factory recovery also wipes the second drive to put it back to factory state, which is a pain. I wish they still supplied Windows disks and separate drivers.

    I'm hoping support will read my email and are able to come up with something otherwise I'll have to ditch TI and try something else.

    Bill
     
  20. Chutsman

    Chutsman Registered Member

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    Bill, check your PM.
     
  21. abraxus

    abraxus Registered Member

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    Well guys, so far no joy, but here's an update.

    I have also tried another cloning product and have the same issue in that the clone will only boot as far as the "Windows didn't start successfully would you like to start in safe mode...etc" screen.

    Support at the other company have requested logs and are looking into it and have suggested a ram test, which I did and had no problems.

    I have had a further reply from Acronis support, which again said I should use the winows system prep tool. I undestand that this is only needed if you're making a clone for another machine, so fear they still misunderstand my question. Am I being thick, and is there a valid reason for me to do this on the same machine, or is it a misunderstanding their end?

    A Toshiba user on the Toshiba forums, with same laptop had the same problems with TI and said that Acronis supplied him with a special version for the Qosmio which now works. I have mentioned this to Acronis support in all my emails but I fear that parargraph is in invisible ink, as no-one has acknowledged it's existence as a possible good way forward.

    I have also done some digging on the Toshiba forums and spoken to Toshiba support, who are a tad vague and more concerned about getting the point across that it's not their fault. However I have found something out, which although I'm clueless in this area, I suspect may be the key to the problem.

    I think I mentioned earlier that the Toshiba Qosmio has something called Qosmio Player, which is software that allows the use of the cd/dvd player and tv tuner from a front end button without having to boot up. The set up of the laptop (via OEM recovery disks) consists of 3 cd's, one for the operating system, one for additional sofwtare and one for this Qosmio Player. The operating system and additional software install onto a standard windows partition as normal, however the Qosmio Player set up creates a hidden Linux partition and installs itself there.

    I assume therefore that any imaging or cloning software only picks up the main windows partition and not the Linux partition.

    I have advised both Acronis and the other company's support about this detail and await their replies as I have no idea if this is the problem, or if it is, how to fix it.

    Bill
     
  22. Chutsman

    Chutsman Registered Member

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    Dang! ... That is a mysterious situation. Maybe Acronis will come through with that special variation of the software.
     
  23. Acronis Support

    Acronis Support Acronis Support Staff

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    Hello abraxus,

    Please accept our apologies for the delay with the response.

    As far as I can understand, you have already contacted us via e-mail. Could you please let us know your Acronis request # (e.g. [Acronis #123456]) which can be found in the subjects of the letters that you received from Acronis Support Team? We will look through the correspondence and see what more can be done regarding your issue.

    Could you please also confirm or deny the following statements in order to sum up the issue?

    - After you clone your system drive to a replacement disk using Bootable Rescue CD, turn off the computer and install the new disk in place of the original drive the system boots up to the screen advising you to select Windows Safe Mode, Last known good configuration, etc. However, independently of which option you choose the computer reboots and the whole process repeats.

    - After you restore the image of the entire system drive to a replacement disk and swap the drives systems boots to the same screen with only one exception - Windows logo screen appears. Then the whole process repeats again.

    Please also provide us with the following information:

    - Let us know if you nevertheless tried preparing Windows for transferring using Microsoft System Preparation Tool (sysprep) as it is described in this FAQ article;

    - What are the type of your replacement hard drive? Is it IDE, SCSI, SATA, etc.?

    - What exact version and build number of Acronis True Image do you use?

    You can find the full version name and build number by going to Help -> About... menu in the main program window.

    Thank you.
    --
    Alexey Popov
     
  24. Acronis Support

    Acronis Support Acronis Support Staff

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    Hello rafael,

    Thank you for your interest in Acronis Disk Backup Software.

    Please accept our apologies for the delay with the response.

    First of all, please check each partition of both source and destination hard drives by Windows utility:

    - For Windows 9x please use Windows menu Start\Run then enter the command "scandskw" and test all drives;

    - For Windows XP please use Windows menu Start\Run, then enter the command "chkdsk c: /r" "chkdsk d: /r" for every partition of your hard drive.

    Note that you will need to reboot your computer in order to scan the system partition.

    Please also download the latest version of Acronis drivers, install it with disabled logging and see if the problem still persists.

    If the problem still persists after checking the hard drives and updating the drivers then please reformat the destination hard drive (especially if it is brand new and has not been formatted yet) and try to perform the disk cloning process once more.

    If that does not help either then please create Acronis Report and Windows System Information as it is described in Acronis Help Post (please keep both drives connected).

    Please submit a request for technical support. Provide the files and information collected in your request along with the step-by-step description of the actions taken before the problem appears and the link to this thread. We will investigate the problem and try to provide you with the solution.

    Thank you.
    --
    Alexey Popov
     
  25. mark3

    mark3 Registered Member

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    I would say, Bill, that by the time all this has been resolved you will be a clone expert. Keep on persuing the problem!
     
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