HELP! True Image killed Vista!

Discussion in 'Acronis True Image Product Line' started by tasfj, Jun 10, 2008.

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  1. tasfj

    tasfj Registered Member

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    Your help is kindly requested with a very basic problem.

    My wife just bought a brand-new expensive Dell with Vista Ultimate. The machine worked fine for about a week, but as soon as she installed True Image 11, she can't boot into Windows. No matter what she does, a true Image screen comes up, asking her to choose between Test System, Test Memory, or Exit. The mouse doesn't work. Alt Ctrl Delete doesn't even work. If she chooses Exit with the arrow keys, computer reboots and the same thing comes up again.

    We're both pretty computer savvy but really don't know our way around Vista and what goes on behind the scenes like we do with 2000 and XP. Vista came pre-installed, so I think her only Windows CD is a repair disk, or something, not a fresh install disk.

    We chatted with an Acronis guy who sent us an iso file to make a boot CD (I think it's a Windows recovery disk), but the machine won't boot from it (it boots from other bootable CDs). I don't think I've ever made a bootable CD, and maybe there's something special I need to do in Nero (on a different machine) that I'm not aware of. I"m not sure where he was going with that, maybe to freshly overwrite the mbr, to undo what True Image apparently did?

    I apologize for sounding panicked, but she's really freaked out. She has a really expensive door stop right now, and we don't have a whole lot of time to work on this. I have a healthy paranoia of what I don't know about Vista.

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Ted
     
  2. Brian K

    Brian K Imaging Specialist

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    tasfj,

    Do you have a Dell Restore partition on the HD? It's worth calling Dell.
     
  3. tasfj

    tasfj Registered Member

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    Brian -

    Yes, I believe there is one. It's called Recovery I think. I don't know what it is or how to use it, but calling Dell was going to be one of our next steps.

    Thanks very much,
    Ted
     
  4. Earthling

    Earthling Registered Member

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    Ted

    Did you simply copy the iso to a CD, or use Burn Image to Disk? For it to boot it has to be the latter. The iso will be a CD bootable version of ATI, so may not be much help with the present problem unfortunately.

    I've not used a Dell but believe if you start tapping F8 during bootup you will get a boot options menu. Hopefully that will help you find the restore function.
     
  5. tasfj

    tasfj Registered Member

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    I just burned to the CD the .exe file he sent me. I figured there was something special I had to do in Nero to make it bootable, just didn't know what it was. Unfortunately I'm now at work and don't have Nero here, so I can't verify.

    I'll try that when I get home just for my own edification. I guess I've never burned a bootable CD from an ISO image before.

    Not sure what ATI is. My wife is home and on the phone with Dell, and I guess they are having her re-install Windows (she's impulsive).

    You get a boot menu with F12 that lets you explicitly choose which device to boot from. I didn't see anything about restore, but maybe I didn't read carefully enough.

    Thanks very much for responding,
    Ted
     
  6. Earthling

    Earthling Registered Member

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    ATI = Acronis True Image

    F8 takes you to a menu where you can choose from a number of boot options, including Safe Mode (which might possibly be helpful here), Last Known Good Configuration (ditto), and hopefully a menu item which, if all else fails, will enable you to restore the 'factory condition' image from the hidden partition.

    I would be very disappointed if one of these options didn't get your wife's system back on its feet.

    P.S. Not knowing my way around Dell systems I'm almost certainly failing to point you to a simple way of restoring the original image. Hopefully a Dell owner will drop by and tell you how to do it, but it is a last resort. Try the F8 options first.
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2008
  7. tasfj

    tasfj Registered Member

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    Ah, Thanks.
    I know exactly which F8 menu you're talking about, and my understanding is that menu is displayed by Windows during Windows startup. She's not getting that far.

    The machine boots straight into ATI; Windows never starts. It seems likely that ATI overwrote the mbr.

    Ted
     
  8. Robin A.

    Robin A. Registered Member

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    You could try to restore the factory image. Since the computer is new, updating the system wouldn´t be much of a problem.

    I have not used Dell computers with Vista, but in my XP machine, the factory image can be restored using Control + F11 at boot, before Windows loads. You can check this in the machine docs.

    This may not work if the Dell MBR was changed.
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2008
  9. Earthling

    Earthling Registered Member

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    You don't get that menu unless you continuously tap F8 during system bootup before windows starts to load. It is there in case Windows won't start, and it is important to try and get into it before giving up and just setting it back to factory state.
     
  10. jonyjoe81

    jonyjoe81 Registered Member

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    do you have a windows vista installation dvd? you might need to perform a repair of the mbr.

    First backup up the system partition to an external drive with your true image boot cd. Once you have that saved you can start your repairs. The backup is just insurance in case you get some sort of irreversible damage. Remember the MBR and the system partition or entirely seperate, You will be able to restore that partition back and it should be bootable. You can also backup the other partitions and save them somewhere else.

    Below are the directions to repair the boot loader and also the download of "vista repair section of the installation dvd", if you don't have one available.

    http://neosmart.net/wiki/display/EBCD/Recovering the Vista Bootloader from the DVD


    This probably is as a last resort, but usually A MBR repair won't damage the partitions. The only thing that is irreversible is a reformat.
     
  11. bodgy

    bodgy Registered Member

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    This won't help you solve the problem, but I wonder if the Secure Zone option was or the Acronis StartUp Manager was installed at some point. These might cause the problem you are now seeing on a Dell.

    Once you are up and running again, just ensure that these two items aren't activated, and TI should run without interrupting or playing with your MBR. If you don't install the SZ, the Try and Decide feature will not be operative, but it isn't that an exciting feature at this moment anyway.

    Colin
     
  12. tasfj

    tasfj Registered Member

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    Sounds likely.

    Thanks very much for the tips. As it turned out, my wife got on the phone with Dell (she has paid for lots of support, so we might as well use it). First they tried to use the recovery partition, but it apparently had been trashed. We got a dialog box that simply said "error". She wound up simply starting over, deleting all the partitions and re-installing Windows. That's the only way to know for sure that everything is clean. Yes, she does have the install CD.

    She wanted multiple partitions (this is the way we have always managed our computers), and used the partitioning tool built into Vista to create them (after Windows was already originally installed). That, or that in combination with the install of Acronis TI, seems to have messed things up ... I guess.

    I've read a lot on the net that Partition Magic (which is what I've always used) doesn't work with Vista, and there is debate about whether there are currently any satisfactory 3rd-party tools that will. Microsoft and lots of other people say we should use the tool built into Vista instead, but it has a bunch of pesky restrictions and limitations.

    In the interest of education (I'm a developer), maybe someone can explain to me why PM doesn't work. I'm not talking about running it under Windows, but rather booting from the PM CD. My understanding is that when you boot from a floppy or CD, you are executing the operating system on that media, completely independent of any OS (or any other data) on the hard drive. So it shouldn't care at all that what's on the hard drive is Vista. To the PM OS on the CD, the Vista OS should be just a bunch of faceless data files in an NTFS file structure.

    But instead I get:

    Invalid drive specified
    Invalid directory specified
    Command or filename not recognized
    Command or filename not recognized

    (This PM CD works fine on my computer which has XP.)

    Seems like it would have more to do with something like the drive letters being different, i.e., the architecture of the hard drives in her new computer, rather than the fact that the primary HDD has Vista on it.

    Thanks,
    Ted
     
  13. tasfj

    tasfj Registered Member

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    I did go home last night and did a "Burn Image", but I still couldn't boot from the resulting CD. My understanding is that it was supposed to be Windows Recovery disk, not an ATI disk.

    I must still be missing something.

    Ted
     
  14. shieber

    shieber Registered Member

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    These CDs that won't boot, will they boot in other PCs?
     
  15. tasfj

    tasfj Registered Member

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    Hmm, hadn't thought to try that. I will tonight. Other bootable CDs did successfully boot in her computer, though.
     
  16. K0LO

    K0LO Registered Member

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    Ted:

    There are a couple of issues going on here; one with Vista and the other with old software supporting new hardware.

    First, I suspect the "Invalid Drive Specified" error message from PM is because it cannot see the hard disk in your new Dell PC, which probably has SATA drives with AHCI support. You may be able to work around this if the Dell BIOS lets you change the drive to an "IDE Compatibility" mode, but most Dell BIOSes are pretty spartan in the choices and options that a user can change.

    Next, even if you got PM to see your disk you would be greeted by another error message because PM would think that the partition table was invalid. The reason for this is that for years, partitioning tools have created partitions with an offset of 63 sectors. The first primary partition starts at sector 63, and all other partitions are located on multiples of 63 sectors. PM looks for this when doing its consistency checks, and if it finds some other offset it will give error messages.

    Vista is the first Microsoft OS to add support for future large-sector hard disks, which will (some day) depart from the standard 512 bytes per sector. As a consequence the Vista partitioner will create partitions with a different offset of 2048 sectors. So the first partition on a Vista DiskPart layout will begin at sector 2048 and all other partitions will be on multiples of 2048 sectors. PM will not understand this and will refuse to modify the partition table.

    There is a rather long thread on this forum that discusses the ramifications of this change here (posts #28 - 35 are the heart of the issue).

    But, having said all that, IF you had used Partition Magic (assuming you could get it to see your disk) or Acronis Disk Director or any of the existing partitioning tools to create the partitions on your disk, they would have been created with the older 63-sector offset. Vista is perfectly happy installing to and operating from a disk with the older layout standard. Mine is doing that now as we speak. This may come a little late, now that you have reinstalled Vista, but had you created your partitions with other tools and then installed Vista to the existing partitions, you would have been able to continue using your older tools as long as you avoid making changes to the partition layout with Vista DiskPart or Vista Disk Management console.

    Hope this helps explain why you may have trouble with PM...
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2008
  17. tasfj

    tasfj Registered Member

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    Mark -

    Thanks a million for taking the time and having the smarts to explain! That makes perfect sense. And as I suspected, neither problem is actually caused by the Vista OS itself.

    Yes, she does have SATA hard drives. And the other error would be because of how Vista's partitioning tool (during install) works. (First time I've heard about that one.)

    Just to verify one thing: when you said "tools have created partitions with an offset of 63 sectors", is that 63 sectors per partition table entry (not the partitions themselves)?

    This is why I prefer to dig under the hood (I still write and maintain programs in IBM mainframe assembler): you have a better handle on what's really going on, as opposed to some software doing something funky behind your back.

    We're just dipping our toe into Vista, so there's plenty of this sort of stuff that we don't know. All I've heard is, it's very different.

    Thanks again,
    Ted
     
  18. K0LO

    K0LO Registered Member

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    Not that there's any problem with SATA vs IDE drives, but if PM can't detect a hard disk then it means that the drivers on their boot CD are too old to support newer disk schemes like AHCI. My PM boot disk can see the RAID array of 2 SATA disks on my Dell 8400, so it isn't necessarily a SATA issue. Your Dell's BIOS probably does not present the drive to DOS in a manner that DOS understands.
    This offset stuff refers to how the partition boundaries are laid out on the disk. It's kind of like dividing up a parcel of land into separate lots and your local zoning agency has rules about how far back from the lot you can build your house.

    The older partitioning standard has the Master Boot Record and the Partition Table in sector 0 with each sector being 512 bytes. By the zoning "rules", the first partition would start at sector 63 and would be a length that is a multiple of 63. The next partition would start on a boundary that is a multiple of 63. Here is a partition table from my Vista Disk as viewed by Acronis Disk Director:

    P Table.PNG

    Note on the right side of this figure that every entry under "Relative Sectors" (the distance from the start of the disk to the current partition location) is a multiple of 63, and that every entry under "Number of Sectors" (the size of each partition) is also a multiple of 63.

    The first entry is the Vista System partition (C: Drive), the second entry is an extended partition container with two logical partitions, and the third entry is the boot partition (this is unorthodox; most systems will not have this. I do it for a special reason). If you were to examine the disk you would find stuff in sector 0, and empty sectors 1-62. Vista starts at sector 63.

    If this layout had been created by Vista DiskPart or Disk Management Console then all of the offsets and sizes would be multiples of 2048 instead of 63.
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2008
  19. DwnNdrty

    DwnNdrty Registered Member

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    That .exe file most likely has to be run (executed) to reveal the .iso file which you then burn to a cd using the "burn image" feature.
     
  20. SystemJunkie

    SystemJunkie Resident Conspiracy Theorist

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    This also happens with TI7, just use system repair to reinstall Vista boot sector.
    Anyone knows why TI destroys Vista Boot sector?
     
  21. Acronis Support

    Acronis Support Acronis Support Staff

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    Hello tasfj,

    Thank you for choosing Acronis Disk Backup Software.

    We are sorry for delayed response.

    Please notice that the menu with "Test Memory", "Test System" and "Exit" option is not Acronis True Image one, but a Dell one (see here for comparison). Could you please describe step by step, what actions were performed during and after installation of Acronis True Image 11 Home before the problem appeared?

    SystemJunkie, please notice that Acronis True Image 7 does not support Windows Vista.

    Thank you.
    --
    Marat Setdikov
     
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