Dual Boot Sata system

Discussion in 'Acronis True Image Product Line' started by LSHorwitz, Mar 11, 2006.

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  1. LSHorwitz

    LSHorwitz Registered Member

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    I am wondering if a system with 2 SATA drives connected to the primary and secondary SATA controller can each contain a bootable XP system so as to permit me to select which drive to boot from, by using the BIOS?

    It is my impression that one (and only one) drive can be a bootable drive with an active partition, and that 2 drives with these attributes cannot or should not be connected simultaneously.

    If I can select one drive or the other to be "OFF" in the BIOS, perhaps this woould allow the machine to boot from the other drive? And if I fail to turn off one drive while turning another on for booting, do I run the risk of clobbering either or both boot drives?

    This approach is attractive to me for 2 reasons......the first to allow me a "warm" backup which I can switch to if the other drive fails, and also........allows me to have 2 very different configurations on the 2 boot drives, one optimized for video editing (with very specific display resolution and other settings) and the other optimized for Internet use (with all the associated antivirus, firewall, antispyware, and other background garbage),

    I have also considered running an 18inch SATA (7 pin data) cable out of the back of the Dell with phyically swapping the boot drives, but this is not physically very attractive.

    I also would like to use True Image 9 to image the boot drives to other blank SATA backups for security and recovery purposes.

    I have installed and used boot managers and had multiple bootable partitions on the same drive, but basically do not like this arrangement, especially when it comes to backup and recovery.

    Any thoughts or suggestions would be very welcome. Many thanks in advance.

    Larry
     
  2. Howard Kaikow

    Howard Kaikow Registered Member

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    tHe best way to have a multiboot system is to allow the Windows loader to handle this.

    1. Install one OS on th eC drive as you normally would.
    2. Then Do a CLEAN instal of a second OS in a different logical drive than the other OS. Does not matter if they are on the same hard drive.

    When you boot the system, you will then be given a choice of from which OS you wish to boot,

    You can set the default to be either OS.

    This is a well supported mechaism and avoids having to mess with the BIOS.
     
  3. Howard Kaikow

    Howard Kaikow Registered Member

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    I forgot to mention that the method I suggested requires that the C drive be present as that is where the loader and boot.ini file resides.

    If the hard drive on C dies, you'll need to replace it anyway. YOu can do this by formatting th drive with, say, Partition Magic rescue disks, use, TI or Ghost or ... to recover the hard drives files.
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2006
  4. LSHorwitz

    LSHorwitz Registered Member

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    Thanks for the replies!

    My past experience with boot managers and multiboot systems has been fine except for disk failures and recovery. As you state, the boot.ini and loader rely on one drive in order to reach the other. I do NOT WANT a system which has this failure mode. As I recently learned, True Image 9 may not properly restore a multiboot drive, and I want an approach which allows me to switch my startup disks without regard to a specifc drive only working on a specific controller or only working when a boot manager on another disk is present.

    Removable trays with different drives is another approach I am considering. I am mostly curious as to whether 2 or more bootable drives can be simultaneously connected or not. And can a partition be made active or inactive with a simple patch to the MBR, regsitry, etc.?

    The BIOS switching concept is admittedly not a great solution, but perhaps there are other approaches avaiilable?

    My experience with backup and restore of disks managed by Boot Commander, LILO, and Windows boot manager has been very frustrating so I am trying to find a simple and foolproof way to ensure I can immediately recover and reboot. I would have to think that certain mission critical machines have methods that make this approach work very easily.

    Thanks again.

    Larry
     
  5. Howard Kaikow

    Howard Kaikow Registered Member

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    When doing a drive backup, TRue Image and Ghost and ... really have no idea that the system is multiboot. They have no reason to treat boot.ini as anything but a normal file and they sure better not mess with ntldr, etc.

    I have 4 OS on my system.

    I've restored using Retrospect and restored using GHost 10, not with True Image.

    The safe way to restore is to boot with, say Partition Magic and format the drives.

    THen boot with TI or Ghost or ... and restore the FILES, not the drives, so the partitions can be any which way but loose.
     
  6. LSHorwitz

    LSHorwitz Registered Member

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    Thanks Howard. I have had relatively little experience with Ghost or Dantz Retrospect, but my experience with True Image 9 has been anything but easy. The program literally hangs when I attempt to use the file and folder backup option to create an image. It damaged my properly working source disk TWICE when using the clone mode even though I meticulously set it to clone the source onto another disk, and neither the source disk or clone would boot.

    I would not have expected True Image to modify any files, but boot.ini was definitely referencing partiton 2 on a disk which only had patitions 0 and 1 present. Until boot.ini was replaced, the disk would not boot. Fortunately I could get to boot.ini with the Windows Recovery Console.

    I really DO NOT want to use a multiboot disk as my prior messages have stated quite explicitly. I appreciate your advice, but it has been my intention with this inquiry to find OTHER ways to deal with the problem. Even though a copied volume should preserve all partitions and all required attributes to boot properly, including the Master Boot Record, my experience with True Image 9 in this regard has been unsuccesful. For whatever it is worth. I used earlier versions of True Image for years with no complaints or problems including multiboot volumes, but this latest version is a POS in my opinion. My only posts and need for help on this forum have arisen in the last couple days when I unsuccesfully attempted to recover for the very first time using TrueImage 9 and discovered how weak the product now is.

    Larry
     
  7. bodgy

    bodgy Registered Member

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    As you have a modern computer, perhaps it might be possible to have a USB memory stick (FAT32 formatted) with the boot info and boot from this after making sure the BIOS can boot from a USB device.

    That would be similar to being able to boot Linux from a floppy or USB drive.

    Colin
     
  8. Howard Kaikow

    Howard Kaikow Registered Member

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    I was not suggesting tat you do a "files and folders" backup, rather, you do a drive backup, but recover files and folders, not the full drive.

    As is documented by Acronis, a restore cannot (necessarily) be accomplished using a files and folders backup.

    I too had a disaster with tI in a restore using the demo of an earlier version. I've not yet tried a full restore with 9.2337, but you can gain some confidence by checking out the backup as follows:

    1. Download http://www.standards.com/index.html?GetFileTypeDistribution.

    2. Run the GetFileTypeDistribution program for all the drives you wish to backup. In this case, I'd recomment using the Text file output, so a separate file is used to report on each drive.

    3. Immediately, run a drive backup of the same drives you analyzed above.

    4. Plug the images of all the drives in the bckup file.

    5. Run the GetFileTypeDistribution program for all of the virtual volumes created by plug image. Again use Text file output,

    6. OPen a command window, CD to the directory in which you ran te GetfileTypeDistribution program, and use the FC command to compare the text files created by GetfileTypeDistribution for corresponding drives.

    For example:

    fc C.txt P.txt > CP.txt

    Where P is the drive letter assigned to the virtual volujme for the backed up C drive.

    There should be differences found, at most, ONLY for th edrive on which the OS is installed, the drive on which the special directories such as REcent files, etc. are located, and those drives on which constantly running programs do things.

    In general, you should find few differences between the physical and virtual volumes.

    Of course, the comapison described above verifies ONLY that the following might be the same on the physical and virtual drives:

    a. The total number of files.
    b. The total number of bytes used on th drive.
    c. The file types used.
    d. The number of bytes used for each file type.

    This should be enough to give confidence that the backup was done correctly.

    Lastly, if you have enough disk space, you can also do the following:

    0. BEFORE doing th backup, for each drive of interest, open a command promp and perform

    dir D:\ /s/-p > Ddir.txt
    Where D is the relevant drive letter.

    1. Create a DUMMY directory on a drive with enough space to which you will recovery ALL files and folders from, say, drive D.

    2. Recover ALL files and folders for the D drive to the directory Dummy

    3. Do a dir DUMMY /s/-p > dummydir.txt and compare Ddir.txt with dummydir.txt.

    In general, there should be no unexpected differences. Some things to note:

    a. I have not verified this, but the date on directories might be different in the DUMMY directory.

    b. Some files might be listed in a different order in Ddir.txt and dummydir.txt.
     
  9. LSHorwitz

    LSHorwitz Registered Member

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    Thanks again for your help. I posted the message below in another thread on this forum, but the bottom line is that I now have an installed V9 True Image build which reliably makes and recovers images to a bootable disk,

    Therefore, I installed identical bootable images on two SATA drives, and have found that I can easily switch the BIOS to allow me to immediately boot from one or the other drive and keep the other drive disabled, thereby ensuring it will not be infected with a virus/spyware/etc. if the active drive is running.

    This was my intention all along, and since I could not get a simple answer to the original quiestion, I eventual was able to create a second boot disk and try the experiment.

    I am pleased to report that it works beautifully, and thus my issue has noiw been answered / resolved.

    For those who may be interested in my other port to this forum, regarding the fact that True Image V9 created huge problems for me in trying to make a duplicate disk (and wasted many many hours of my time), see the thread titled "True Image 9 screws up boot.ini and clone function destroys source disk"

    at https://www.wilderssecurity.com/showthread.php?t=123553&goto=newpost


    True Image V9 is sadly a mixed bag, and my good friend, also a system's administrator with 20+ years of experience, eventually got a refund from Acronis because he also was NEVER able to get his V9 to work properly. I had such wonderful success with V8 that I forwarded an Acronis email to him so he could buy the new version 9 at a discount. He never forgets to remind me of what a horror show he had as a result of my recommendation and has reverted back to Ghost.

    I hope the people at Acronis are listening to my complaint and the complaint above. It has been many many months since V9 was released, and only the latest build BEGINS to work properly. All the prior builds were extremely flakey.

    People who use computers to make their livings, and people who depend on their computers for recreation, learning, etc. WILL NOT TOLERATE OR PURCHASE such crappy software as True Image V9 for such a mission critical application.

    The quality control and release of this product needs to be improved tremendously before you begin to win back my confidence.

    Larry
     
  10. Howard Kaikow

    Howard Kaikow Registered Member

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    You still need external drive backup.

    Internal drives, disabled or not, can ALL get toasted by power problems.
     
  11. LSHorwitz

    LSHorwitz Registered Member

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    Excellent point Howard and sincere thanks again for your help. I have the image file on a Firewire drive and am keeping it in a separate, safe location. One lightning spike or power surge would destroy the internal drives, and your advice is an essential precaution

    With 40 to 60 GB SATA drives being closed out for 39 bucks with careful shopping, I may make another bootable drive and store it off the premises. I have mixed results with longer term storage on DVD media so I expect to keep the backup magnetic rather than optical.

    Again, thanks to all...

    Larry
     
  12. bVolk

    bVolk Registered Member

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    Hello LSHorwitz, don't leave yet!

    Would you mind sharing your experience with longer term storage on DVD media?

    I store the images on the second built-in HD at first, but eventually the important milestones get copied to DVD. The "Day 2" image too. I wouldn't like to find it unusable in a couple of years time.

    Thanks.
     
  13. Howard Kaikow

    Howard Kaikow Registered Member

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    Considering the cost of rebuilding a system, one really should have full system backups on external media.

    For most users, the most cost effective way is to have a few external USB/Firewire drives, each large enough to hold a full system backup. Rotate the backups amongst the drives and do NOT have them all connected at the same time.

    Depending on the situation, some of the drives could be rotated off site.

    In addition, non-system files could be backed up to CD-RW, DVD, ZIP, or whatever media, taken off site or not.
     
  14. Howard Kaikow

    Howard Kaikow Registered Member

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    You really should use external USB/Firewire drives so you can keep your backup up to date easily.
     
  15. LSHorwitz

    LSHorwitz Registered Member

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    On the subject of rotating backups, I strongly concur with the idea of an external drive rather than an internal drive, so as to allow for off-line, convenient updates. I am now exploring the use of external SATA drives in an external enclosure connected via an 18 inch SATA 7 pin to 7 pin data cable coming directly off my motherboard. Unlike IDE ATA drives with their shorter ribbon and parallel wiring, it is very easy to bring the SATA cable out of the back of the PC.

    For years I have been using removable trays made by Genica and sold by Computer Geeks to slide removable ATA drives in and out of my prior PCs. True Image (earlier versions) and these removable drives saved my bacon a number of times over the years.

    My experiences with Firewire (400) have also been good. I have tons of Firewire gear here since I also do a lot of Mac video stuff along with my PCs and the Firewire devices like camcorders, DVD burners, external hard drives, etc. move freely between the 2 platforms. As regards using them as True Image backup devices, I have had little or no experience making bootable drives using them, but I do store image files on them frequently.

    With regard to DVD media, I have burned a huge number with 6 burners starting in 2001. My experience has been that cheap media has already begun to deteriorate to the point where 5 year old DVDs cannot play reliably in some cases, whereas better media from name brand companies generally seems to hold up way, way better. The best of my disks using Toyo Yuden, Verbatim, TDK, Pioneer, Memorex, and Fuji brand disks has been very stable. The disks I've made using generic house brands from places like Meritline, Shop4tech, and other big bulk DVD vendors have been very spotty. To further confuse the matter, these are a lot of genuine Ritek brand disks which work great and a lot of counterfeit Ritek disks which don't. A number of places have (knowlingly or unknowlingly) sold disks which are packaged and sold as premiere brand but are actually counterfeits. This fact only becomes apparent if you have the software to read the manufacturer's code written in the header block on the blank disks, since the superficial packaging is entirely identical.

    With the disks being only 4.7 GB capacity, I personally don't like the idea of writing slow backups (even at 16X burn speeds) to spanned DVDs, even if I am confident that the media will be stable over the retention period I need. They are too slow and too cumbersome to handle compared to a cheap, reusable hard drive.

    Larry
     
  16. Howard Kaikow

    Howard Kaikow Registered Member

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    NEVER use media NOT recommended by the drive manufacturer.
     
  17. bVolk

    bVolk Registered Member

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    Hi Larry,

    Thanks for the info.
     
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