Failed to create Secure Zone. Can't recover space

Discussion in 'Acronis True Image Product Line' started by tichtich, Aug 20, 2008.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. tichtich

    tichtich Registered Member

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2008
    Posts:
    10
    Hello. My attempt to create a secure zone on my system disk failed, but the 40Gb I wanted to allocate has still disappeared from my main partition. A second attempt failed too.

    I don't mind not being able to create the secure zone, as I'll put it on an external disk instead. But I do want to recover the lost space, and I haven't got a partition management tool. How can I do it?

    More details... I'm using TI 11.0 with Vista Home Premium (SP1) on a Dell Inspiron 1525 laptop.

    Each attempt to create a secure zone resulted in the following message (after rebooting)...
    The operation then proceeded up to 99%, and then gave this message:
    Retry and Ignore just resulted in the same error message again. Ignore all made the PC hang, and I had to do a cold reboot, which went OK.

    The partition in question is one which Dell puts on its new PCs. I understand it contains the MediaDirect program.

    Can anyone tell me what's causing this error and/or how I can recover the lost disk space? Any help would be much appreciated.
     
  2. Wandering2

    Wandering2 Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2008
    Posts:
    110
    The main point of a secure zone it to create a place on the boot disk where the system software cannot get to it. There is little point in creating one on an external disk or in a separate partition from the operating system. It is a separate partition.

    You should be able to recover the space in Vista Disk Manager, buy deleting the incomplete partition if it is there, and then expanding the system partition into the space left behind. Vista is sometimes unwilling to expand a partition on which it is installed, so you can download and burn a Ubuntu disk, run it live and run Gparted to do the same thing. Then reboot into Vista, and all should be well.

    It's not clear from your post if you were trying to use the space reserved for the recovery software for the secure zone. It is best to hang on to this relatively small space for those few cases you want to create a factory new condition, like when you sell or give away your system. Don't want all your data on it, do you?

    It takes little space in any event. Though once you have a recoverable backup, you really don't need it for backup purposes. Acronis does that for you.

    I hope this helps.
     
  3. Xpilot

    Xpilot Registered Member

    Joined:
    May 14, 2005
    Posts:
    2,318
    On getting a message that a sector cannot be read the first thing I would do would be to run CHKDSK R all the partitions of the disk. After all the message may be telling the truth and CHKDSK may well fix the bad sector.

    If the sector repair suceeds the next step would be to try to complete the creation of the secure zone. If you have changed your mind about having the zone on the system disk you can then delete it using the TI management tool and the space will be available for re- allocation.

    Edit. It is possible that an incomplete secure zone has been created. As this is a hidden partition CHKDSK will not see it to check that part of the disk and other measures may have to be used.

    Xpilot
     
  4. shieber

    shieber Registered Member

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2004
    Posts:
    3,710
  5. tichtich

    tichtich Registered Member

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2008
    Posts:
    10
    Thanks for all the replies.

    I thought it would give me some extra security, even on an external disk. Hopefully destructive malware would have difficulty getting at it. At the very least, it would make it more difficult for me to delete backups accidentally, and would mean that TI handles the deletion of old backups when I run out of space.

    That worked! The lost space was shown as unallocated, so all I had to do was expand the system partition. I didn't know that such a tool existed in Vista. Thanks.

    Oh, I wasn't trying to delete the recovery partition. I've already made use of that once, when I corrupted my master boot record or something, and couldn't start Vista. I didn't have a recovery disk, so I restored my system to its original state from the recovery partition, reinstalled TI and restored my system from a TI backup.
     
  6. tichtich

    tichtich Registered Member

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2008
    Posts:
    10
    The trouble is that the partition that's causing the problem is hidden, and I don't know if there's any way to run CHKDSK on a hidden partition. I ran it on the two visible partitions anyway, but no bad sectors were found.

    I'll probably just leave my partitions alone for now, and stick to backing up to my external disk. I may revisit the problem in the future when I have more time.
     
  7. shieber

    shieber Registered Member

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2004
    Posts:
    3,710
    The SZ would be hidden and not accessible to the causal user, but it would offer little protection against from the more determined.
     
  8. tichtich

    tichtich Registered Member

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2008
    Posts:
    10
    Following on from my original question, I've just discovered that Dell laptops like mine come with 4 pre-existing partitions, as described in this forum reply to someone else:
    (http://www.dellcommunity.com/suppor...vista&message.id=57903&query.id=231590#M57903)

    Could it be that the existence of 4 partitions on the disk already is stopping TI from creating a SZ, or should TI be able to handle this, by creating a new logical partition within the extended partition?
     
  9. K0LO

    K0LO Registered Member

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2006
    Posts:
    2,591
    Location:
    State College, Pennsylvania
    Yes; that's it. The SZ needs to be in a primary partition. See this thread and especially post #5.
     
  10. tichtich

    tichtich Registered Member

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2008
    Posts:
    10
    Aha! Thanks for that. It seems a bit wasteful of Dell to use up so many partitions.

    Oh well, I don't really need a SZ on my system disk. I'm backing up to an external disk, and I've now made a bootable recovery disk (on DVD), so I don't need the recovery manager. I had a hankering for trying out the Try&Decide feature, but I can do without it.
     
  11. Doug_B

    Doug_B Registered Member

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2005
    Posts:
    120
    Location:
    Central New Jersey
    Even if you had one less primary partition (say the Dell Utility partition wasn't there), you would have at least risked not being able to boot to the Media Direct functionality directly from the dedicated pushbutton above the keyboard if you had created another partition between the Vista and Media Direct partitions. Instead, Dell provides a CD to rebuild your partitions (and thus the entire HD) from scratch in case you want to place another partition in such a position. So Media Direct 3 is only a partial improvement on Media Direct 2.

    I think Media Direct 4 is their latest incarnation; I thought I read that this version does not even need a distinct partition, as it is installed to the OS (Vista) partition. I don't know if the capability to boot to Media Direct 4 from the dedicated button is still supported with this version, but hopefully they got it to work.

    Doug
     
  12. tichtich

    tichtich Registered Member

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2008
    Posts:
    10
    I'm not sure whether that function is working correctly now (I may have broken it already). When I press the MD button while in a shut down state, the MD splash screen appears, but then Windows boots and MD is not available until Windows bootup is finished. That's not how it's supposed to work, is it?
     
  13. Kimberlito

    Kimberlito Registered Member

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2006
    Posts:
    43
    This a big surprise to me. I have one disk with three primary partitions (with WinXP, FreeDOS and an empty one) plus extended partition with logical drives going down to letter "V". After all those drives, there is a SZ. I've been using this setup for two years, at first with TI Home v9 and recently with Echo Workstation on BartPE, without any problems. I wiped out (formatted) drive C (containing Windows XP) and then restored it from SZ a few times in the past and it all worked like a charm.
     
  14. K0LO

    K0LO Registered Member

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2006
    Posts:
    2,591
    Location:
    State College, Pennsylvania
    Kimberlito:

    Could you post a screenshot from Windows Disk Management or Acronis Disk Director showing your partition structure?
     
  15. tichtich

    tichtich Registered Member

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2008
    Posts:
    10
    That's good to know, but it wouldn't help me as all 4 of my partions are primary (according to Windows Disk Management). From what I've read in the Dell forums, some Dell PCs have Media Direct in a logical drive within an extended partition, while others have it in a primary partition.

    I also seem to have some bad sectors in that partition. When I tried to back it up, TI reported bad sectors. Another attempt ended up with Vista crashing. :eek:

    So if I do decide to have another go, it looks like I'll have to delete the Media Direct partition (which doesn't seem much use anyway), create an extended partition plus logical drive in its place (or merge the space into my system partition) and then run CHKDSK on it to fix the bad sectors.
     
  16. Doug_B

    Doug_B Registered Member

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2005
    Posts:
    120
    Location:
    Central New Jersey
    Based on my testing with my wife's Inspiron 1526 (has the same partition structure as your 1525) and a spare disk, it took very little change to the partitioning of the disk to result in this behavior (don't ask exactly what I did, I don't have a record, but it was probably something like a very small resize of the MD 3 partition). Other, more aggressive changes resulted in more disastrous consequences, like the Vista partition getting corrupted when the MD button was pressed. In fact, even after placing the original, untouched hard disk back into the laptop after one of my testing intervals, the MD button press resulted in a boot to windows before opening MD 3, just as you describe (not an issue for my wife).

    The one item I did not test completely was following Dell's instructions to repartition the disk using their special CD, reinstalling Vista and drivers, then reinstalling MD 3. Instead, I tried this with an ATI restore of the Vista partition, and the best result was the MD button -> boot Windows -> start MD 3 behavior.

    There are numerous war stories on the 'net of all such kinds of behavior with Dell's PCs/laptops with MD. So I suggest proceeding with caution no matter what you do, particularly as it applies to pressing the MD button after any changes have been made. Best bet may be a complete wipe of the HD if you're not interested in Dell's tools and apps. Definitely better to use a spare disk, though as I mentioned, my results had at least a small impact on the behavior of the "untouched" original disk vis a vis the MD button functionality. YMMV.

    Doug
     
  17. tichtich

    tichtich Registered Member

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2008
    Posts:
    10
    Thanks for that, Doug. I've little interest in using MD. But I've decided not to mess with my partitions any more for the time being. I have however made use of this page which explains how to reprogram the button to do something more useful (with Vista already running).
     
  18. Kimberlito

    Kimberlito Registered Member

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2006
    Posts:
    43
    Here it is, screenshot from Partition Commander v10, which I use instead of Disk Director. "Unknown BC 17 GB" to SZ (Backup Capsule, this is how some disk image programs call their SZ).

    http://img368.imageshack.us/img368/9302/08242008131827gt6.png

    http://img218.imageshack.us/img218/1521/08242008130455sg0.png

    In case this matters, I run Acronis only from BartPE flash drive (I couldn't get v11 running from the hard drive a few months back so I gave up and never looked back, those issues might have been fixed in the latest built).
     
  19. Doug_B

    Doug_B Registered Member

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2005
    Posts:
    120
    Location:
    Central New Jersey
    Good that you found some of the solutions for reprogramming the MD button in windows. I suggest you also read up on what folks have done to reprogram or disable the button when powered down, if you haven't already, as the button can be very dangerous in the powered down state, and I think even my suggestion for wiping the disk has caveats / may not be a complete remedy. I can't remember most of the writeups I came across a couple of months back.

    Edit: Did a little retracing of my web surfing from a few months back. The program rmbr.exe, on the Dell MD reinstall CD, can be used for reassigning the partitions that the power button and MD button trigger to boot. If interested, do read up on this at many sites to get perspective from many folks before jumping into this.

    Doug
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2008
  20. K0LO

    K0LO Registered Member

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2006
    Posts:
    2,591
    Location:
    State College, Pennsylvania
    Kimberlito:

    You got my curiosity up. The SZ certainly appears to be in a logical partition on your screenshots.
    I'm going to have to retract that statement. Despite what Acronis Support posted in the reply referenced above, it does seem to be possible to create a SZ in a logical partition.

    I demonstrated this by starting with a disk having only one primary partition on it (I used a Virtual Machine for these tests). I resized the primary partition smaller and then created more partitions in the unallocated space. I ended up with three primary partitions and one logical partition. Then I used TI 10 build 4942 to create an Acronis Secure Zone (ASZ) by taking space from the logical partition. The operation succeeded and the ASZ was now resident in the extended partition container as a second logical partition.

    So it seemed to work for me, and it is apparently working for you.
     
  21. MudCrab

    MudCrab Imaging Specialist

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2006
    Posts:
    6,483
    Location:
    California
    It's possible the SZ will work okay in a Logical partition as long as the ASRM is not activated (I haven't tried it).

    Also, I don't see in the TI manual where it says anything about the SZ need to be created using a Primary partition.
     
  22. Kimberlito

    Kimberlito Registered Member

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2006
    Posts:
    43
    I originally had Startup Recovery Manager (F11) activated, using the same partition layout as posted in the screenshots.
     
  23. K0LO

    K0LO Registered Member

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2006
    Posts:
    2,591
    Location:
    State College, Pennsylvania
    Very interesting; I just had to try this.
    (ASZ = Acronis Secure Zone; ASRM = Acronis Startup Recovery Manager; DD = Acronis Disk Director; MBR = Master Boot Record -- blasted acronyms!)

    Continuing with the test from post #20:
    1. Examined the first sector of the ASZ using DD and found it to be a normal logical partition with no boot code
    2. Activated ASRM
    3. Tested to verify that it worked on reboot. After pressing F11 the PC booted correctly from the logical ASZ partition and ran the Linux recovery version of TrueImage.
    4. Examined the first sector of ASZ and found that it now contained boot code (footnote - "Hidden Sectors" remained at 63 and was not modified when activating the ASRM)
    5. Examined the MBR and found it to be modified, containing the custom Acronis boot loader
    6. De-activated the ASRM
    7. The first sector of ASZ was not modified; the boot code remained
    8. The MBR was not restored to the standard Windows XP MBR, but it was modified to boot directly to the active partition. Running FIXMBR from an XP CD restored the Microsoft MBR (This step is not necessary; the Acronis modified MBR will still boot the machine properly)

    In summary, you can install a Secure Zone to a logical partition and you can also activate the Acronis Startup Recovery Manager in this configuration. The post by Acronis Support referenced previously that stated this couldn't be done is clearly incorrect.
     
  24. Acronis Support

    Acronis Support Acronis Support Staff

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2004
    Posts:
    25,885
    Hello everyone,

    Thank you for choosing Acronis Disk Backup Software.

    I'm terribly sorry for misinformation. Acronis Secure Zone can indeed be created as logical partition in case there is already an extended partition present. I have edited the mentioned post accordingly.

    Thank you.
    --
    Marat Setdikov
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.