How to Avoid NTLDR Problems

Discussion in 'Acronis True Image Product Line' started by miroesq, Aug 16, 2007.

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  1. miroesq

    miroesq Registered Member

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    I recently wanted to change the HD in my system which had the following 3 partitions:

    1. Primary EXT - 20 GB (Linux)
    2. Primary Swap - 1.026 GB (Linux Swap)
    3. Primary NTFS - 53.3 GB (Windows XP)

    Since I only wanted Windows, I only had one partition on the new drive:

    1. Primary NTFS - 300 GB

    The partition was successfuly retored, but when I tried to boot the new drive, I received the NTLDR is missing error. reading in the forums, I realized that it was due to the fact that the new drive was partitoned differently than the old drive.

    I couldn't boot into windows to replace the NTLDR as the new drive was a SATA on a non-native PCI SATA card and it was a headache to build a new boot CD with the SATA drivers. I basically had to create the two other partitons from the old drive on the new drive and windows booted right up from the new drive.

    My question is, is it possible to somehow avoid this problem in the future when creating an image? To somehow make the image partiton neutral when restored?

    Thanks
     
  2. MudCrab

    MudCrab Imaging Specialist

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    What version and build of TI did you use to restore your XP partition?
    I assume it was just the partition.

    Did you check the boot.ini file after the restore to see if it was pointing to the correct partition?
     
  3. seekforever

    seekforever Registered Member

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    Did you also restore the MBR/Track0 as well as the Windows partition? It would have the boot info for the old configuration.
     
  4. miroesq

    miroesq Registered Member

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    We're using TI 9.1

    Tried restoring the MBR as well, but that did not work.

    We went into the boot.ini file and changed both references to the 3rd partiotion to the 1st partition, but when we tried booting up again, it said that I was missing HAL.DLL which of course we are not.

    We have two options.

    1. Use the Win XP CD to repair the boot sequence.
    2. Use Universal System Restore to restore the partition.

    Any recommendations?
     
  5. MudCrab

    MudCrab Imaging Specialist

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  6. Brian K

    Brian K Imaging Specialist

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    miroesq,

    This strongly indicates a boot.ini mis-match. I'd do some testing with EditBini or DD, looking at the partition slots and the boot.ini.

    A mis-matched boot.ini is one of the causes of "NTLDR is missing".
     
  7. jonyjoe81

    jonyjoe81 Registered Member

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    Check your drive letters, more than likely that's your problem.
    At least rule that out before you start modifying your boot.ini files.
    The reason I suspect that could be your problem is because when window xp boot's up the registry looks for the necessary startup files from a particular drive, if your windows drive is suppose to be c: but got changed to d: during the restoration, you get the "missing file errors".

    The mbr , partition's location, do not have anything to do with it. As long as you have a image backup of a "windows xp" that was working fine when "you imaged it", it will work when you restore it on a sata,ide hard drive. Thats why alot of the times, fixmbr,bootfix etc don't fix these type of problems.

    to your question
    1. when you restore a image backup(windows xp), make sure the partition you are restoring it to is at least 1gb larger than your image partition. And during the restoration, when it asks what drive letter you want to assign"leave it blank"
    Example
    If your backup image partition is 20gb, you need to restore into a 21gb partition. If you try to restore it into a smaller partition, you will get drive letter changes.

    See if the demo of "paragon justboot corrector" can bootup your non-booting hard drive and check your system registry drive letters.
     
  8. jmk94903

    jmk94903 Registered Member

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    I think if you made an image of the entire old drive (all partitions and restored it to the new drive (all partitions), it would boot normally.

    If you then deleted the other two partitions within Windows, I believe the system would still boot normally.

    You now need only to use a partition manager to increase the size of the one remaining partition to fill the drive.

    Alternatively, you could make a new image of the drive now that it has only one partition. When you restore that single partition (not the entire drive), you will be able to resize the partition to fill the drive.

    I believe this is the simplest way to do the conversion to the new drive while leaving the old drive unchanged.

    If you don't care about changing the old drive, then you could delete the other partitions from within Windows on the old drive. Make a new image of the entire drive now that it has only one partition and restore that to the new drive.

    In any event, future images of the new drive should boot normally.
     
  9. MudCrab

    MudCrab Imaging Specialist

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    jonyjoe81,

    According to your posts, 99% of all TI problems are related to drive letter changes. I don't believe this. I have have done many restores and have never had a drive letter change problem.

    Checking the boot.ini files is very easy and only takes a few seconds. I would always try that first before paragon justboot corrector.

    Also, your procedure of restoring an image to a partition at least 1GB larger does not make any sense. What difference does the size make? I have restored to the same partition many times without problems (as I think have most users of TI). I have also restored to different sized partitions (larger and smaller), also without problems. Most people will not have unallocated space on their hard drives to allow a 1GB increase in the partition. Most people have no choice but to restore to the original partition (unless upgrading to a larger hard drive). And where do you come up with the magic "1GB" value? You make it sound like it's a given that restoring to the same partition will cause a drive letter change. I know that's not the case.

    As for assigning drive letters when you restore the partition, as far as I know, TI only asks this if you're running the Windows version. Running TI from the CD in FULL or SAFE mode does not assign any drive letters. If someone is starting the restore process of the C: Windows partition in Windows then TI is going to reboot and do the restoration. The drive should be the C: drive as that is what it was when it was imaged.
     
  10. aggronix

    aggronix Registered Member

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    Hi, MudCrab.

    I assume you had your XP on the third partition, now on the first. You have a C:\boot ini which contains the section [operating systems].

    In this section your bot loader ist told where the bootable OS can be found.

    If your OS is in the first partition on the first drive, is shoud look as:

    [operating systems]
    multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINNT="Microsoft Windows XP Professional"

    In your actual boot.ini the line 'shows' to the third partition instead the first because you had your OS on the third before.

    To fix it you can either change your boot.ini or you can change your partitions again.

    To change your boot ini you can use some kind of linux runtime cd or a Bart PE cd.

    I think the easier way would be the second: Throw away your big partiton. Make again 3 Partitons. At first two very small Linux Partitions. You can forget them later. Then your Big NTFS Partition. Now the NTFS is the third again. If you restore your image on it, I think it should boot again.

    hope it helps. Regards, aggronix.
     
  11. DwnNdrty

    DwnNdrty Registered Member

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    You noticed that too, huh. :D :D . My experience parallels yours ... never had to mess with drive letters at all. Jony must have some peculiar system.
     
  12. miroesq

    miroesq Registered Member

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    Can you give me some direction on how to do this. This is actually my friend's machine from work that I'm helping him with. He knows absolutely nothing and he's in charge of their tech. This is normal as it is Egypt :)

    TI 9.1 Build 3854

    Yes, I only backed up the 3rd partition with the Windows OS.

    This is exactly what happened. I restored the image to my SATA drive and I then booted from the IDE drive. I then went to the boot.ini file on the root of the SATA and I saw that it was referencing the 3rd partition in two instances. I edited the file and changed the two 3s to two 1s. After restarting the system, I received the HALL.DLL error message, so that went nowhere.

    I have done this and it did boot normally. I apologize for not stating that in my original post.

    Haven't tried this yet, but I will.

    Odd thing is this. When I tried doing a Universal Restore only loading the SATA drivers, the restore completed with errors (mind you, this was an image of this same machine, I only tried a Universal Restore so I can get rid of my booting problem). I tried to do a Universal restore again without loading any drivers at all, but again, same problem. I then did a Universal restore of the same image but now to a notebook and guess what, it worked!!! I tried it again with the same notebook and again it worked!!! Now my question is, how did it fail to do a Universal Restore to the system it was created on and succeed in doing a Universal restore to a completely different system?!?!?!
     
  13. miroesq

    miroesq Registered Member

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    SOLUTION FOUND

    Thank you so much, that advice was RIGHT ON THE MONEY :) My question is though, was this procedure a 100% fix or might there be a file somewhere or registry key referencing the 3rd partition?

    I knew that windows booted up when I restored it as the 3rd partition and thought that I would just get stuck with it like that till I did a new install. I never thought of deleting the first two partitions from windows after a successful boot into the OS.

    Ok, for those that may find themselves in my situation, here is what I did. I created two partitions, 8 MB each then I created a 3rd partition that was 55.3GB. I restored the Windows image to the 3rd partition after which the system booted right up. When I was in windows, I went into the root directory of the Windows install and looked at boot.ini and saw that it referenced partition number 3. I went to the control panel, administrative tools, computer management, storage, disk management. From disk management I erased the two partitions and rebooted windows and it booted right up. I went back to the boot.ini file and checked and it now was referencing the first partition. I then used DD10 to move the only remaining partition to the beginning of the drive and booted and everything was fine.

    The real tricky issue was that when I now had the windows install working as a first partition on my IDE drive, I imaged that and then restored it to the first partition of my SATA drive, but guess what, it did not boot all the way. It got as far as the windows logon screen then it just froze. You could move the mouse, but it was otherwise unresponsive. I then repeated the same procedure with DD, I moved the windows partition about 16MBs over to the right then I creatied two small partitions on the SATA right before the windows partition, booted into windows and it worked. I then erased the two small partitions, leaving only the windows partition on the SATA and rebooted and it worked.

    I ran that test again by restoring the newly imaged OS to the SATA drive and again it failed to boot all the way, so this time I restored the MBR from the IDE to the SATA and bingo. So remember when you have this crazy situation between different partition numbers, always restore the MBR as well.
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2007
  14. Brian K

    Brian K Imaging Specialist

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    miroesq,

    Well, jonyjoe81 now has a success rate of 2% as this is a drive letter issue. I've done this test several times and it is repeatable. You are breaking Dan Goodell's Rule #1.

    http://www.goodells.net/multiboot/partsigs.htm

    Don't be confused by the word clone. Even though you took the image/restore route you did create a clone of the WinXP partition. The quick solution would have been to zero the DiskID by one of several methods.

    http://www.goodells.net/multiboot/partsigs.htm#method3

    To avoid this problem in the future, delete the destination partition, reboot and then create your image. Now do the restore into the unallocated space. The new OS will boot without hanging at the logon screen stage.
     
  15. MudCrab

    MudCrab Imaging Specialist

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    Brian,

    I would be interested to know exactly what steps you used to determine that this is a drive letter issue.

    The quote you refer to is to AFTER the initial problem was solved. The OP had already "fixed" the IDE drive and then restored a new image of it to the SATA drive.

    The original restore of the 3 partitions to the SATA booted up correctly. There was no drive letter problem (even though Windows saw the drive). Deleting the first two partitions in Windows solved the problem. Then the OP resized the single partition to use the entire drive using DD.

    If doing the restore of the three partitions to the SATA worked correctly and booted correctly into Windows without a drive letter problem, then why did restoring the SINGLE parititon image of the IDE to the SATA create a problem?
     
  16. Brian K

    Brian K Imaging Specialist

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    MudCrab,

    I only thought the final issue was related to a "drive letter'. Not the original problem. Sorry.

    I thought the original issue was a boot.ini problem. As you have determined, TI changes the boot.ini when it restores an image so I'm guessing the boot.ini on the restored HD referenced rdisk(1) and who knows what partition number. When that HD was the master, rdisk(1) wouldn't boot.

    We really need a lot more information. It's a complex situation and non conventional.

    PS jonyjoe81 can't claim success here as the drive letter issue occurred after his post.
     
  17. MudCrab

    MudCrab Imaging Specialist

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    Brian,

    Thanks for the clarification.

    That was my guess too.
     
  18. Brian K

    Brian K Imaging Specialist

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    For those who will experience this problem in the future and those of us caught by it in the past...

    Boot.ini issues occur immediately after the POST. Usually with hal.dll is missing, occasionally with NTLDR is missing or Windows Could Not Start Because of a Computer Disk Hardware Configuration Problem.

    The drive letter issue usually occurs after cloning OS partitions incorrectly. Partition clones. As TI clones whole disks the issue is rarely seen. This manifests as WinXP loading freezing at around the Welcome Screen stage. Sometimes you can enter your username and password and the computer then reboots. But typically you just see a blue screen with a small WinXP logo and no text. It can freeze here or reboot after a short interval. It's easy to fix. You don't need to buy software.

    Any other variations?
     
  19. miroesq

    miroesq Registered Member

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    I tried this without success.

    I disconnected the two SATA HDs and left the IDE HD along with an IDE DVD-RW and an IDE CD-RW. I then booted into Windows and saw that only three devices were visible, C, D and E; the three devices mentioned above respectively.

    I shut down the OS, reconnected the two SATA HDs and booted from the Acronis CD. I then restored the partition I had just created (the one that did not see any other HDs in Windows other than itself) to the SATA HD.

    Again, I was met with the non-responsive Windows logon screen you described.

    I would love to correct this problem if only to understand what is going on so if you would like me to run any more tests, please let me know.

    Again, thanks for all the help including the time and effort that you guys put into this, I really appreciate it.
     
  20. Brian K

    Brian K Imaging Specialist

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    miroesq,

    To allow your WinXP to boot... Download this file

    Or you can use fdisk /mbr from a Win98 floppy. Method #3

    http://www.goodells.net/multiboot/partsigs.htm#method3

    Let me think about your computer.
     
  21. Brian K

    Brian K Imaging Specialist

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    miroesq,

    Did you follow my instructions about deleting the partition on the SATA HD? If you restore the image into a partition you will get this non boot problem. You must restore into unallocated space and Windows must see this unallocated space before you create the image.


    PS Don't forget to remove the IDE HD for the first boot to the SATA HD.
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2007
  22. jonyjoe81

    jonyjoe81 Registered Member

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    My advice is to learn and be proficient on changing drive letters following your restoration. You already had several occasions where this has occured and you have followed the directions that where given to you perfectly. From my own expierence you can't predict drive letter changes on windows xp and true image, you just have to learn how to fix it afterwards. All my restores work, the one's that don't boot up, I change the drive letters and they work.

    Everyone here claims it's not a drive letter problem, but they are suggesting the win98 floppy fdsk/mbr fix, which is a way of tricking windows xp into "changing drive letters". Which is what I suggested all along was the problem.
     
  23. miroesq

    miroesq Registered Member

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    I didn't restore into unallocated space. I also did not do a restore from windows. I disconnected the SATA drives and booted into Windows. As far as windows was concerned, there was only one HD, the IDE HD.

    I then shut down the computer, reconnected the SATA HDs and booted with the Acronis CD. I then restored the image from the IDE to the SATA. I then disconnected the IDE and booted into Windows from the SATA and that is when it would not log on. I had to fix the MBR.

    On a side note, I have been using TI quite a bit lately. I'm backing up two partitions, C & D not from Windows, but by booting from the Acronis Recovery CD. I used to be able to back up a partition, then it would ask if I would like to back up another partition before it starts the actual imaging process. Now it does not give me that option, but rather goes straight to the where to save the archive prompt. How can this be? I'm booting from a disc and it was working fine before.
     
  24. Brian K

    Brian K Imaging Specialist

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    The problem is that WinXP had seen that partition on the SATA HD and its partition signature was recorded in the WinXP registry. So even though the SATA HD wasn't connected when you made the image, the position of that SATA partition was still recorded in the registry and therefore in the registry of the image. So when you restored that image it knew there had been a partition in that area on the SATA HD and took on the drive letter of that partition. The image needs to be made after WinXP has seen the unallocated space so that the registry entry has been deleted.

    Remember, you are cloning a partition even though you are using an image.

    It's not really a MBR problem. The purpose of running fdisk/ mbr is to zero the DiskID (you can also do this with a Disk Editor). This forces WinXP to recalculate partition signatures and forget previously recorded drive letters.

    I know everything is working OK at the moment but if you want to do an experiment, let us know the result. Good luck.

    Breaking Dan's rule #1 is a common mistake.

    A workaround is Method #2.

    http://www.goodells.net/multiboot/partsigs.htm#method2

    By deleting the partition signatures before you image/clone, you can restore/clone into a partition without seeing the boot problem.
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2007
  25. Brian K

    Brian K Imaging Specialist

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    miroesq,

    I used a test computer to replicate your steps with two hard drives and the restored image didn't boot. It hung on the blue screen with the WinXP logo. Restoring into unallocated space was successful.

    This error is not related to True Image. It occurs with all imaging apps. It's operator error.
     
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