How can I test bootability of an Image ?

Discussion in 'Acronis True Image Product Line' started by alan_b, Jan 5, 2009.

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  1. alan_b

    alan_b Registered Member

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    Hi

    My old Laptop now has a new HDD with 100 GB of extra space.

    I would like to use 20 GB as an alternative System Drive.

    I always validate an image when created, so I can try again if it is not valid.
    Before I restore a previous image, I re-validate just to be sure.

    Then I worry because I have read that even a validated image may fail to boot. In which case I not only have an unbootable system that needs the Boot CD, but far worse - my working system C:\ drive is destroyed and it is lost for good, unless I first spend time, effort, and external drive backup space, creating and validating the latest System C:\

    Now I have the space, I would like to restore to an alternative partition.

    It would be really nice if I could use Dual Booting, but I have heard this is something that needs to be organised before software is installed, in which case my problem is that I am using an image taken from an old HDD that had windows pre-installed, I have no installation Disc.

    Alternatively could I run a simple "toggle" script / batch file to automatically remove the C:\ from the original system partition, and allocate C:\ to the alternative partition.
    I assume that this might be possible in Safe mode, but probably needs to use an O.S. in a boot CD.

    Under normal conditions I then have the desired image working, and using the alternative partition, but if it fails I simply re-run the toggle script and the original partition is reactivated to restore bootability.

    An additional benefit is that I can create an image immediately before a tedious lengthy procedure to upgrade or replace a software suite or set of applications, and after that procedure I could restore the previous image to the alternative partition, and then the "toggle script" will conveniently toggle between the old system and the new system to facilitate rapid comparison between old and new features, after which I can decide whether to continue with the old or the new version.

    Please help me with any scraps of useful information. Do not hesitate just because you cannot offer a complete solution. I am aware of various sites I can fall back on for general advice upon dual booting etc., but this is the only place I know to give Acronis specific advice.
     
  2. Xpilot

    Xpilot Registered Member

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    Do you still have your previous 60GB? hard drive?

    If so the best and only way to be 100% sure is to remove the new drive and replace it with the old one and run a restore. This is assuming you have your backup images stored on an external drive and the used space is less than the size of the old drive.

    It is not much more difficult than changing a lightbulb and you will put nothing at risk.

    Xpilot
     
  3. alan_b

    alan_b Registered Member

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    The original drive is 30 GB, of which 18 GB is System C:\ and 12 GB is Acronis Secure Zone.

    My new system has a slightly larger C:\ which I suspect means its images would not fit into an 18 GB partition.

    My 30 GB drive is fully functional, and it is now carefully protected (ant-static shipping bag + aluminium kitchen foils + sealed dust proof plastic bag) and safely stored away.
    I do not intend to bring it out of storage unless :-
    1. Disaster strikes and I cannot restore normality on my new HDD
    2. There is no other way to get on the internet for assistance, diagnostics etc;
    3. And to avoid further mishaps, only after a good night's sleep.

    I like to have at least 3 layers of defence between myself and disaster.
    If I ever get to the situation of "I will try this and as a last resort I can always ..."
    then I want to throw in the towel - I know Windows has been waiting for my moment of weakness and it is poised to strike ! !

    Sorry, your suggestion is a good one, but now I am retired after a long career as a real time computer hardware and software designer, I cannot break my habit of always anticipating and averting unlikely disasters - a habit which has often saved my employers money and me from embarrassment.
     
  4. seekforever

    seekforever Registered Member

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    It sounds to me like you want to create or have an extra partition on your large drive to do a test restore to. If so, then you have the issue of the MBR pointing to the correct partition for the test. I'm no genius with this stuff but there are others on the forum who know all about such things - assuming this is indeed the case.

    However, if you have done restorations with TI images with no problem and you can validate the image then you very likely will not have a problem.

    The people who tend to come unstuck after saying they validated and it doesn't work are the people who have only validated in Windows and have never tried to do a restore. Once you have done a test restore and know TI works with the TI Linux recovery environment there is little reason to anticipate it won't work later.

    If you can't do a test restore then the next best thing is to validate the archive using the TI rescue CD so you are using the Linux recovery environment which will demonstrate you can read the archive into memory accurately. Then go through the restore wizard on the TI CD up to the point where you have to click on Proceed to start the restore and cancel out instead. This demonstrates TI can see your archive and see your target drive/partiton.
     
  5. bodgy

    bodgy Registered Member

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    The answer is of course another spare harddrive - eSata if the PC has an eSata port or maybe a swappable bay.

    Colin
     
  6. alan_b

    alan_b Registered Member

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    Colin
    It is a 4 year old laptop with only one IDE drive and no Esata or Firewire.
    It has 4 off USB 2 ports, but the BIOS does not have USB drivers at start-up.

    I normally use a an external USB Keyboard, but it is totally dead at start-up, and if I want to boot into BIOS or SAFE MODE or ACRONIS RECOVERY it always fails unless I remember to use the built in keyboard.
    I therefore do not believe I could boot from an external USB device unless I update the BIOS - which is something I never had to do when I worked in an electronic design laboratory with all the latest equipment and software.
    Now I am retired I have a £5 multi-meter that can check fuses and tell me if 5 volts is present.
    I am now totally unprepared to take such a risk.

    Seekforever
    You are correct. I have the space to create a new 20 GB partition for restoring to, and that is what I would like to do.

    I knew the MBR would give me problems, but I hoped that renaming the partitions so the new partition became C:\ would take care of matters, but if the MBR does not aim for C:\ but something else (e.g. Track/Sector identity of the start of the new partition) I guess something more clever is needed.

    I have made very little use of the Recovery CD
    I have only used the Recovery CD to restore the 30 GB drive image of C:\ onto a new empty 160 GB HDD.

    I was not aware that people with un-bootable problems were like me and had only validated in Windows.
    Thank you for that, I will probably continue to depend upon Windows validation to decide at the point of creation whether I need to re-create the image, since I assume it will take much longer for booting into the Linux system and then restarting.
    Till now I had always assumed the un-bootable problems were after a complete image had been restored with no error reports, but that the BIOS tripped and fell over something special.
    I will definitely remember to use the Rescue CD for a final validation before I make the commitment to over-write a viable original C:\ partition.

    But if I could use the Rescue CD to restore to an alternate partition and had the ability to achieve some sort of dual-boot capability so a failed restoration allows me to revert to the original and undamaged partition, that would be nice.
     
  7. bodgy

    bodgy Registered Member

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    Well, you could still purchase a removable drive carrier and hard drive and then just swap the drives. Not sure how much the carriers are now in the UK, been away too long, but ebay may be your friend or Maplin even.

    Colin
     
  8. Xpilot

    Xpilot Registered Member

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    I made a simple rule for myself.
    Never restore to the current hard drive. Instead put in a replacement and then commit the restore in perfect safety.
    You would need to boot from the recovery CD but that is what it was designed to do.

    The recovery CD is equiped with USB drivers. Boot from the CD and see if it sees a USB drive. If not Acronis can usually supply an ISO for a recovery CD that will work with your equipment.

    BTW I am a great fan for the TI secure zone but I have it on a secondary internal or external drive because I do not like the idea of backup images being on the same hardware that is being protected.

    Xpilot
     
  9. seekforever

    seekforever Registered Member

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    I think we should keep in mind he has a laptop and unless he has the plug-in style of HDs changing them can be a bit of a PITA. If so, the external USB drive is probably the best archive storage solution. Windows will not boot from a USB drive even if the the BIOS and hardware supports booting. It may be possible but it isn't something that the average person would fool with.
     
  10. bodgy

    bodgy Registered Member

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    I keep forgetting this is a laptop!

    Windows won't boot from a USB drive full stop. It should with eSata, but then there is the expense of hunting around for a PCMCIA card which the BIOS may or may notallow booting from.

    SO I can now only think of two things - one physically swap drives (I use to so this with a Linux/Windows system and is a pain!), or two install a VM and restore to there, not too sure how well TI home versions like playing with VM's.

    Colin
     
  11. MudCrab

    MudCrab Imaging Specialist

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    I agree that keeping the original drive safe is important, especially if a restore hasn't been tested or done enough times to feel confident in its success.

    However, if what is wanted is just a simple setup to allow booting into the "restored copy" of XP on another partition, that can usually be done quite easily.

    Note: It's best to have an Entire Disk Image backup prior to making any partitioning changes. If something goes wrong, you may need to restore it.

    ---

    alan_b,

    Hopefully, you have room for another Primary partition.

    You'll need a partitioning program. This can be Acronis Disk Director, GParted, Parted Magic, etc. Most Live Linux CDs (like Ubuntu) have partitioning programs on them.

    To setup the hard drive:
    1. Resize the existing 100GB partition smaller to create the 20GB of unallocated space you need for the new partition.
    2. Create a new 20GB partition in the unallocated space. Make it Primary and set it Active.
    3. Hide the existing XP partition.
    4. Now, boot to the TI CD and restore your XP image to the new partition.
    5. After the restore, XP should boot from the new partition. You can verify this by looking in Windows Disk Management.
    To switch back to your original XP:
    1. Boot back to your partitioning program.
    2. Hide the 20GB XP partition.
    3. Unhide the original XP partition.
    4. Set the original XP partition Active.
    5. Reboot.
     
  12. seekforever

    seekforever Registered Member

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    I knew somebody on the forum had the answer on how to fiddle the partitions to do a bootable test restore to the same HD given enough room (and the software tools).

    I think I'll copy your info Mudcrab for future reference.
     
  13. AKAJohnDoe

    AKAJohnDoe Registered Member

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    I have a laptop and bought a second, identical, internal harddrive so that I could validate backups. It is really the only way to go. If you have only one and restore to it and it does not work you have destroyed your system. Further, having a second drive permits extensive "what-if" testing with a fully functional fallback. One only need restore to the spare, do the "what-if" testing, then reinstall the "real" hard drive. Finally, should your hard drive fail, you already have a spare and reduce your downtime accordingly.

    A backup strategy that has not been fully tested, that is, restored, is highly suspect and could easily prove to turn out to be write-only data.

    My strategy is described fully here.
     
  14. DwnNdrty

    DwnNdrty Registered Member

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    Actually, depending on the laptop, sometimes it is easier to remove a laptop drive and install another one than do the same on a desktop.

    Alan, if you post the make and model, maybe someone can point out which panel on the underside has to be removed, and if it is an easy change to make.
     
  15. alan_b

    alan_b Registered Member

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    Gentlemen

    Thank you for all your feedback. I am overwhelmed !

    #7 Colin
    The laptop does have a plug-in style of HDD

    #8 Xpilot
    I have always wanted to apply your rule and preserve my C:\ partition from a failed restoration - unfortunately I had no alternative.
    I invariably cross my fingers and use a Windows Restoration to my C:\ partition.
    My second attempt failed - I decided the "green" power saving mode of the external archive drive saw that the computer shut down as Acronis re-booted for the restore, and the "green" feature immediately shut down the drive, and the drive was still shutting down as the P.C. booted up, and when the Acronis loader tried to restore the image the external drive had not quite got back on line. So Acronis aborted and fortunately left the system drive intact.
    I flipped the "green" switch on the external drive so it would never again shut down with the P.C., and since then a Windows restoration has never failed.

    My fingers ache with being crossed so much, so now I have suddenly got an extra 100+ GB of unused space, I want to use some of that so I can preserve the "standard" system partition whilst I do a full restoration of an image to a "spare" partition - AND DO A FULL ELECTRICAL POWER DOWN and reboot using this "spare" system partition before I can say nothing went wrong. If I achieve this, then I can safely restore an image to the "standard" partition - and if for any reason it is un-bootable then I can immediately fall back on the "spare" partition. This is my goal.

    I will make use of the CD Restore - until I started this thread I was not aware that it would give me any extra "safety". But I will not relax during a restore unless I can tolerate a failure and depend upon a proven and instantly usable "spare" partition.

    #9 Seekforever
    My hardware experience of this Laptop has been :-
    Successful installation of 1 GB supplement to original 256 MB RAM;
    Observation of my eldest son performing the HDD replacement.
    The HDD that came out was unlike the replacement, until he slid it out of some sort of carrier and then I could see they were mechanically interchangeable.
    I think that your description of Plug-in style applies.

    #10 Colin
    I vaguely remember reading that MicroSoft decided to specifically prevent booting from USB devices, but that a special bit of software could be installed on such a device to fool the BIOS into thinking it was a CD.
    I chose not to pursue a proprietary fixit that could be neutralised by Microsoft's next Patch Tuesday security update.

    I wish to preserve my spare 30 GB drive as an emergency fall-back position.

    I like the idea of a VM - but unless that VM can tolerate a full shut-down and re-boot to demonstrate perfect restoration BEFORE I make a permanent commitment I would only trust it to demonstrate a FAILURE to achieve a perfect restoration. Otherwise even if the VM restoration appeared adequate I would have to cross my fingers whilst permanently committing those changes.

    #11 MudCrab
    Thank you. This solution appears to exactly meet my needs.
    I do have supplementary questions about implementing this - that will be another long read in my next post ! !

    #13 AKAJohnDoe
    I am in full agreement with your cautious attitude.
    The only difference is that I wish to preserve my original 30 GB drive as a proven stand-by.
    A perceived benefit is an INCREASING assurance that after an increasing number of months (or years) since the Christmas 2008 upgrade, there will have been a longer period of time in which, hopefully, Windows will have continued to work, and there will be no evidence that Patch Tuesday and out-of-cycle security updates before Christmas 2008 caused any damage.
    If I risk the 30 GB drive to prove viability of an image taken earlier in the day, I then have to track down and restore to it the Christmas 2008 image, hoping for success, or my emergency backup will be degraded to something that might have received a security update yesterday, and only survived just one re-boot - who knows how successful to next re-boot will be ! !

    Thank you very much for the link to your backup strategy.
    I assume that computing is your profession, and you have a more than adequate backup regime to protect your income.
    Now I am retired and computing is an interesting hobby and alternative to watching the television, it is a little over the top for me, but there is much I have learnt and will implement.

    #14 DwnNdrty
    I recently added a signature which includes my Laptop specs.
    My son maintains Acer laptops every day. I saw where he had to viciously slap the battery battery unit to change the hard-drive. I can do that - but if I get into trouble he lives 300 miles away !

    After an idealistic 4 year university honours degree course, the real world hit me.
    For 13 years I designed, built, and tested prototypes that were then released for mass production. The technical director insisted upon quality, and a full worse case analysis of everything. No component could be used unless it was approved to government military specifications, plus further approval by himself. It was always easier to use what he had previously approved. Any new plug / socket (and other items at his discretion) had to survive 2 weeks hung on a hook inside his living room coal fired chimney.
    He NEVER permitted consideration of "Insulation Displacement Connectors" (IDC).
    He trained me to realise that if it can go wrong it will go wrong.
    In my next job we bought in equipment from other suppliers.
    A data storage unit failed, and before returning to the supplier I investigated to decide if this model was intrinsically unreliable.
    I found the problem was an IDC connector, compounded by :-
    Use of MULTI core ribbon cables, whilst ALL the approvals and reliability studies were for use with SINGLE core ribbon cables;
    Use of male plugs and female sockets from different connector manufacturers.
    The specifications were the same, but one supplier's family used round pins and the other used square pins, so an unholy mix-n-match gave square pins in round holes.

    After a 40 year career requiring fail-safe and fail-soft designs of hardware and software, I know that things go wrong, and that a plug/socket combination that worked one day may be broken the next.

    I agree that it is easy to swap the drives, but have too much experience to assume that nothing can go wrong - go wrong - go wrong - go wrong !

    I am away now for lunch, but I will be back.

    Thank you one and all for all your information.
     
  16. shieber

    shieber Registered Member

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    As you are skeptical by experience about the reliablitiy of things pc, then keep in mind, the only way to know for sure if the gal can dance is get her on the dance floor when the music is playing.

    You don't know if a backup file (or the program) can successfully backup and restore until you actual do it, even it you do it with a spare drive. The last surprise you want is to have years' worth of backups and the day your hdisk goes south, find out you can't restore a single one of the images with the program that made them. Even ATI Validation won't protect you from such a surprise.
     
  17. AKAJohnDoe

    AKAJohnDoe Registered Member

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    My notebook can only house one drive at a time, so I physically swap them. It is really easier than on a desktop PC. If you want to preserve your original 30GB HDD, and an external backup of it is not enough, you may want to buy two extra drives. In fact, you might want to anyway, just to get bigger drives. They are not all that expensive.
    I have worked in computing for over thirty years; however, my personal computing is not linked to my income. One generally only needs to have (or observe) a catastrophic failure once before taking steps to mitigate. It takes about an hour or two per week, and I don't have to babysit the process. The quarterly validations take about four hours total, but again, I do not need to be there for much of that time.
     
  18. seekforever

    seekforever Registered Member

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    This is based on a user who does not need the PC up in very short time because of a business requirement.

    While it is certainly nice to be able to restore your OS with minimum down-time and grief having to do so from scratch for most of us is far from the end-of-the-world. Particularly true if you practiced a bit of care in storing copies of downloaded software and have your serial numbers in order.

    The only files you really have to sweat over are, yes, I'll say it again, your personally created data files such as photos, spreadsheets, movies, other documents, etc that are available nowhere else at any cost.

    It is easy to do a backup and test restore of these types of files. Also, it is even easier if your forget about the proprietary format container file approach and do a straight Windows copy. Or you can use any number of programs such as SyncBack to automate the process, verify the copy, version, etc as you see fit.
     
  19. Tatou

    Tatou Registered Member

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    Have to agree with SeekForever in respect of the proprietary format.
    I do not store my personally created data files using any system other a straight Windows copy (with Karens Replicator) on an external drive (stored remotely after copy)

    I don't rely on having my system drive up for business so the backup is more a matter of meaning I would not having to reinstall the OS and programmes and tweaks etc-although I could if necessary.

    It is sad to see people seeking help here for tib files that won't validate when the tib files are the only source of irreplaceable pictures. If TI decides there is one invalid bit in the tib file- for whatever reason- means access is not possible.

    To some extent this reliance is encouraged by the MyData backup option in TI.
     
  20. alan_b

    alan_b Registered Member

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    MudCrab

    I have very recently obtained EASEUS Partition Manager 3.0 Professional,
    and done a few "safe" experiments with it. I am gradually getting bolder.

    To setup the hard drive:

    I have no problem with creating an empty PRIMARY partition, but :-
    I cannot see any "Active" option. How can I set it as Active ?
    When it is set Active, what happens to the existing XP partition which was Active ?
    Is there any conflict ?

    Stage 4 starts with the existing XP partition hidden, and the future partition empty.
    If the image restoration then fails, is the system unbootable ?
    Would it be safer / possible to restore the image BEFORE making the new partition active ?

    To switch back to your original XP:

    This implies the use of EASEUS under Windows to do the hide/unhide/active actions.
    If Windows is dead, can I perform these actions with the TI CD ?
    If not, please recommend a Boot CD that could do these actions for me.

    I notice the Acronis Secure Zone is at the opposite end of the HDD from the system partition. Is this because a partition is at less risk of "collateral damage" if it is remote from where all the action is ?
    I have a lot of useful portable software I can easily download again.
    Would it be prudent to place this in a "sacrificial" primary partion between the "Original" and "Reserve" system partitions ?

    My first P.C. ran DOS with a 20 MB HDD, which had a parking zone, and HDD access/seek time was denoted by the time taken to step half-way across the tracks from the parking zone.
    Would I notice any difference in speed of operation between the "Original" and "Reserve" system partitions ?
    Or does Windows and all its services never give the HDD any time to relax in any parking zone ?

    Finally (for now) is there anything I ought to know whilst I can still ask questions ! !

    Thanks.
     
  21. Doug_B

    Doug_B Registered Member

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    Since you state that you have the Professional version of EASEUS Partition Manager 3.0, it apparently supports the creation of a bootable CD/DVD. You should definitely create the CD and use it for all partition management functions. The windows version should be OK for viewing the partition structure and related info, but I strongly recommend that disk-affecting changes be performed from the bootable CD environment. I have no experience with the EASEUS program; this is a general recommendation applied to all partition management activities, especially when one has limited experience with a given partitioning app and prior to getting to the point where you're confident that your ATI backups are restorable without issues.

    So after you've restored an ATI image to a newly-created or replaced primary partition, even if you told ATI to make it active, I suggest that you reboot to the EASEUS CD to 1) check that the ATI restore did as you expected with respect to creating the new partition and not impacting any others, and 2) checking / setting the active and hidden flags for the primary partitions as needed for the subsequent boot from the hard disk.

    Also, I believe it was stated earlier in this thread that you'll need to make changes to the boot information of the restored partition, since it's not the first partition on the hard disk. Such changes are dependent on the OS involved (I'm too lazy to look back at the earlier discussion and thus assume the appropriate info has already been conveyed). You may eventually want to use a boot manager to do the active and hiding functions, but note that you may need to reconfigure the boot manager to find the newly restored partition each time you do the restore, depending on where on the disk it's restored, etc, so depending on how much / long you end up testing the restored partition, the value of a "dedicated" boot manager may be mitigated somewhat.

    One other thing to note is to be careful not to forget which OS / partition you're using at any given time. Since the restored partition is in essence a recent duplicate of your main OS, it's easy to get confused. Turn off the PC one night after testing the restored partition, and turn it on the next day and start working on it without remembering that the test partition is still active, and you can end up with unintended data split across both, or other similar issues. It may be wise to spend a few minutes making the restored test partition unique, especially if retaining it for a while. Some suggestions include changing the desktop background, using a different login, loading a unique app on startup, changing the name (volume label) of the partition (though this is more useful when performing partition-related functions). Just a thought.

    Doug
     
  22. alan_b

    alan_b Registered Member

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    Thank you Doug

    I started a thread on the Easeus forum a week ago.
    For every answer I had a supplementary question ! !
    Question 8 is about the capability of their Boot CD,
    I am wanting to see documentation so I will know if the default is adequate,
    or whether I can/should do anything to incorporate the full blown Partition Manager on the CD.

    I learnt today that Easeus will safely copy/shift/resize most partitions even if their file systems are damaged, with the exception being that operating on a corrupted system partition might result in further degradation. I guess that would be like a heart surgery where the patient and the surgeon are the same person.
    This has made me think it might be best to avoid depending on use of the system partition whilst working on it, so I am more than happy to go along with your recommendation to make life-changing disc-affecting changes with a Boot-CD.

    I am hoping that setting my desired partition as "Active" is the only boot data I need change. I have just Googled "boot manager" and got 1,350,000 hits. I bought a stack of 10 blank CD's, and having used one for an Acronis Restore CD I am running a little short ! !

    I intend my reserve/standby system partition to be created only once, and to permanently have the label "Reserve",
    after which the only changes will be within as various images are restored to it.

    I may occasionally think everything was better 6 months ago.
    I expect to restore a 6 month old image to the reserve, and then I can happily and instantly switch from one to the other to observe performance, and also do folder/file comparisons (albeit with a different drive letter allocated to the non-active partition.)

    I do not think I will make the mistake of forgetting when I am using the reserve partition.
    I know that if I do forget then Thunderbird will remind me - as soon as I launch it from a 6 month old status my email server will flood my in-box with fresh copies of everything that was sent since then.

    Otherwise, my main use will be as final absolute proof that the latest image is a valid and bootable, after which I will change the Drive letter to R:\ because :-

    Before I create a new image I like to purge unwanted junk.
    This involved mounting the last image as L:\ and comparing C:\ and L:\ folders and files to see exactly what has been added so I may prune it.
    Ever since "upgrading" to Acronis T.I. 11.0 (build*8,101) I have found that after mounting an image, I am guaranteed to suffer at the instant of un-mount
    Ftdisk system errors "The system failed to flush data to the transaction log. Corruption may occur."
    The only way to avoid this problem is to carefully close every application, and then shut down with the image still mounted.
    In future life should be much easier - no need to mount an image, I merely compare C:\ with R:\.
     
  23. MudCrab

    MudCrab Imaging Specialist

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    As stated by Doug, you should use the Partition Manager CD to make changes and not try to do it from Windows. Some changes may be okay from Windows, but changing things like which partition is Active isn't one I'd recommend.

    You'll need to select the partition and then Partitions > Advanced > Set Active to make the change. Then, click OK and apply the change.

    There can only be one Active partition. An existing Active partition will be set as normal.

    If the Restore fails, the system will probably be unbootable unless you set the original partition back to Active.

    You can have TI set the new partition Active as part of the restoration process if you want.

    You should do the hiding/unhiding/Active changes when booted to the CD and not from Windows. Your Partition Manager CD should be able to do this.

    TI just placed it there. Its postition on the physical drive or in relation to other partitions doesn't make it any safer or less safe.

    You can certainly create a "Data" partition. However, keep in mind that you can only have four Primary partitions or three Primary partitions and any number of Logical partitions. I would normally use a Logical partition for data and save the Primary partitions for operating systems.

    The fastest area of the drive is at the beginning. You may very well see a performance drop when running your "Reserve Vista" since it's located towards the end of the drive.

    Windows generally keeps the OS drive busy. It will shut down when the computer sleeps, but that's about it.

    ---

    You should set the OS partition you want to boot Active and the other OS partition as Hidden. Those are the only changes you should need to make to switch between them.

    I don't recommend that you let the OS partitions see each other. You'll be in for a mess with drive letter problems when you restore later or update your "Reserve" OS partition.
     
  24. alan_b

    alan_b Registered Member

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2008
    Posts:
    100
    Location:
    Lancashire, England
    MudCrab

    Thank you very much for your comprehensive reply.
    My prolonged absence is due to a long series of Q & A between myself an EasEus.

    Two more questions upon MBR etc:-

    When I restore an image of C:\ I can select C:\ or the MBR plus track zero.
    I recently read that it was advisable to select one and at the final stage choose to go back and select the other to also be restored.

    Does it matter which item is selected first ?
    Is it permissible to restore the MBR only from an earlier image ?

    I have now determined that the EasEus Boot CD is unable to change (or even display) Drive Letters.

    I have Windows running in the first primary partition, C:\ = 20 GB.
    I have an Acronis image that is restored to the second partition, R:\ = 15 GB
    (I usually strip out 1 or 2 GB of accumulated junk and ancient restore points before creating an image).

    Using the EasEus main program running under Windows the following should be possible :-
    Hide C:\ ( = 20 GB )
    Change R:\ to C:\ and make it active

    When I reboot, I expect to have Windows running in the 15 GB drive C:\.

    If the 15 GB image is bootable, then Windows is running, I am very happy,
    and I can use EasEus to easily undo the changes, and 20 GB has suffered no ill effects - I even have this morning's emails ! !

    When I am ready to revert back to the latest Windows in 20 GB, EasEus should :-
    Hide C:\ ( = 15 GB)
    UnHide 20 GB, and change to C:\ if it fails to default
    Make C:\ ( = 20 gb) active.
    UnHide 15 GB and change it to R:\

    If the 15 GB image is NOT bootable I have DISASTER.
    The EasEus Boot CD is restricted c.f. the EasEus Windows program.
    The Acronis Boot CD should be able to restore a viable image to 15 GB.
    That gives me a workable but obsolete Windows running in C:\ = 15 GB.

    I want to use the "latest" Windows which is still perfectly preserved in the hidden 20 GB partition. I do have a validated Acronis image - BUT it is unbootable ! !

    If I use Acronis to restore the MBR only from an image, is that a perfect cure ?
    i.e. Will the 20 GB partition become active and unhidden as Drive C:,
    and the 15 GB partition revert to being Drive R:\ ?

    Should I restore the MBR from the very latest image that is NOT bootable,
    or should I restore the MBR from a previously captured and bootable image ?

    Should all else fail, is there something simple you could recommend that I could download and burn as a Boot CD to manipulate the partition Drive letters and which partition is Active ?

    It does not need to be a comprehensive Partition Manager to move and resize partitions - I am more than satisfied with EaSeus for that.
    It would be nice if it had total control over Drive letters.
    Upon disaster the Boot CD would find :-
    20 GB Hidden, and 15 GB = C:\ Active if the 15 GB image was unbootable ;
    20 GB and 15 GB unpredictable if a Windows BSOD struck half-way through a Drive letter juggle.

    I am only hit with a BSOD about once a year so it is unlikely to happen at the crucial second.
    But Windows 98 had several BSODs per week, and every morning it started with complaints that I failed to shut down properly (because I told it to shut down, and 15 minutes later I pulled the plug before the janitor locked me in for the night), and after reprimanding me it had a vast list of CHKDSK fragments for my attention.
    Windows XP never runs CHKDSK unless I tell it to,
    and failure to write to disc gives an unobtrusive Ftdisc error in the System Event log.
    I have a suspicion that XP is far worse than 98, but if it revealed its problems as honestly as 98 then no nation has a large enough population for the Technical Support call centre that would be needed ! !

    Regards
    Alan
     
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