how to use boot disk

Discussion in 'Acronis True Image Product Line' started by rbig, Jan 10, 2007.

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  1. rbig

    rbig Registered Member

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    I'm running Acronis True Image 8.0.

    I've made a CD boot disk with Acronis. Now I start finding a gap in my knowledge.

    Assuming there's enough left intact on my hard drive after a major problem, but it won't boot up. I assume I put the CD in its drive, then go to START in WinXP. What next?

    Further assuming the CD will boot something up for me, what happens if Acronis has been corrupted or deleted? Will the boot disk run a hard drive restore from my full backup image on my external USB drive?

    I'm trying to visualize how exactly to use the boot disk, and am curious as to how it will work, if I ever need it.
     
  2. Tabvla

    Tabvla Registered Member

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    The Acronis boot CD contains a full version of True Image running under the Linux OS. Under most circumstances you should have no problems restoring your Windows system partition from the USB drive.

    However, you must test to ensure that the Linux OS has a driver for your USB device. To check for this do the following :

    • Switch on the USB drive and make sure that it is accessible from Windows
    • Restart your system and boot from the ATI CD
    • Be patient !! It can take several minutes for the Linux OS to load and ATI to start
    • When ATI has started navigate to your USB drive and make sure that you can see the backup archives
    • Exit back to Windows

    .
     
  3. MTX

    MTX Registered Member

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  4. Tabvla

    Tabvla Registered Member

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    Posted by MTX...

    Hello MTX,

    Please be aware that the information that you have provided is incorrect.

    It is NOT necessary to set the CD/DVD to first boot device in the BIOS.

    On Restart press F11 to open the boot device selection menu. You can then select the boot device from the list.

    .
     
  5. MTX

    MTX Registered Member

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    Not all computer have the F11 capability.
     
  6. shieber

    shieber Registered Member

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    And of some, the opportunity to press F11 is so swift, it's hard to use it.

    sh
     
  7. Tabvla

    Tabvla Registered Member

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    Posted by MTX...
    Hello MTX

    Agree. But as far as I am aware all keyboards manufactured in the past 10 years have had F-keys from F1 to F12 and beyond. I don't think it is reasonable to consider equipment that is older than 10 years. If you know of specific PC keyboard makes and models that have been manufactured in the Windows XP era that do not have F1 to F12 then I would be grateful if you could provide details, because I have personally never seen them.


    Posted by Shieber
    Hi Shieber

    You are right of course, and this can be a real pain. However, if you start pressing F11 immediately after you press Restart, then most of the time you should be able to access the boot options menu.

    My personal view is that it is always preferable to make changes from a Menu rather that changing the BIOS settings. For a technical person changing the BIOS settings is a common enough task, but for a non-technical person this can represent a rather scary task. And of course there is always the opportunity for a mistake which could have unpredictable results.

    .
     
  8. Menorcaman

    Menorcaman Retired Moderator

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    Hi there Tabvla,

    I believe the point MTX is making is that not all motherboards have a boot order menu invoked by one of the Fuction keys. Mine is just over 2 years old and the only way I can change the boot order is by booting into the BIOS Setup screen via the Delete key.

    Regards
     
  9. Tabvla

    Tabvla Registered Member

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    Thanks Menorcaman for clarifying what MTX meant :)

    Secondly - apologies to MTX for the inaccurate wording of my post.... so let me try again.....

    Hello MTX,

    Please be aware that the information that you have provided is not necessarily correct with regards to all BIOS.

    With many modern BIOS it is not necessary to set the CD/DVD to first boot device in the BIOS setup. A boot sequence menu can often be activated at the time of booting by pressing a Function key.

    Many BIOS versions use the F11 key on boot to invoke the boot sequence menu, although some versions also use the F2 or F8 key.

    Before changing the settings in the BIOS I would suggest that users read the User Guide that came with their motherboard or visit the website of the manufacturer of their motherboard to find out if the BIOS that was supplied with their system supports a Function Key boot sequence menu.

    :cool:
     
  10. rbig

    rbig Registered Member

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    I'm an old retired geezer and a doofus on computers. So, bear with a bit while I keep trying to get my thoughts in order.

    I think what you guys collectively have told me is:

    a. after a crash, my first step is to capture the BIOS settings menu, and then select CD as first boot. Makes sense to my pea brain.

    b. then, there will a way to run Acronis restore, which is over in the hard drive image in my external drive, if there isn't a useable Acronis version left on my hard drive.

    Is this about it?

    Oh, and then I'd need to go back into BIOS settings and put C drive for first boot.
     
  11. Tabvla

    Tabvla Registered Member

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    Hi Rbig,

    No.... not exactly.

    When you create a "Bootable Rescue Media" (bootable CD) from within ATI you will have a full version of ATI on the CD. The only difference is that the ATI on your hard disk runs under Windows and the ATI on the CD runs under a reduced version of Linux.

    If the BIOS on your system supports invoking a boot sequence menu (usually F11 on boot) then you don't need to change the boot sequence in the BIOS setup. (If your BIOS does not support an on boot sequence menu then you will have to set the CD as the first boot device from within the BIOS).

    Let us assume that your BIOS supports the F11 boot sequence menu option...

    • Place the ATI CD in the CD drive
    • Restart
    • Immediately after the restart commences press F11 (you have to be quick!!)
    • Select the CD drive as the boot device
    • Enter

    The Linux kernel will load from the CD and then the ATI Linux version will load.

    This can take several minutes so be patient, because it may look like nothing is happening.

    .
     
  12. rbig

    rbig Registered Member

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    OK. I think my pc has a boot sequence, as it systematically goes through each drive on start up. So maybe I don't need to capture the BIOS settings and manually command the boot.

    And, now, if I'm following, the Acronis that will do the restore is an integral part of the boot CD.

    Once I do the boot, it sounds like the rest is pretty much automatic (after maybe a delay while it all loads.
     
  13. Tabvla

    Tabvla Registered Member

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    Hi Rbig,

    If you let me know some of the basics of your system I could make some suggestions as to how you could optimize your backup strategy. What I really need to know is your disk setup, so answers to the following questions would be helpful...

    1. How many hard disks do you have?
    2. How are these disk(s) partitioned?
    3. Are any of the disks external (e.g. USB)
    4. Are the disks SATA or PATA? (PATA is also sometimes incorrectly referred to as IDE)
    5. Which version of Windows are you using?
    6. Which version of ATI are you using?
    7. Do you use Partitioning software? (e.g. Partition Magic)

    .
     
  14. rbig

    rbig Registered Member

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    }}} How many hard disks do you have?
    How are these disk(s) partitioned?
    Are any of the disks external (e.g. USB)
    Are the disks SATA or PATA? (PATA is also sometimes incorrectly referred to as IDE)
    Which version of Windows are you using?
    Which version of ATI are you using?
    Do you use Partitioning software? (e.g. Partition Magic) {{{

    One in my pc, one in my external USB drive

    NTFS - not sure this is responsive to what you asked

    yes---one

    Don't know about SATA/IDE

    WinXP9(home)

    TI 8.0

    No partitioning software.

    My backup strategy is making a new full disk image on my USB external drive every few days, and deleting the previous. Couldn't be much simpler than that.

    While I'm at it, I'd like to thank everyone for enlightening me on this topic. After I made my Acronis backup boot disk, I realized there was a lot I didn't know about how to use it, etc.
     
  15. Tabvla

    Tabvla Registered Member

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    Hi Rbig

    My preference is to classify backups in 2 categories: -

    a) Data - All the files that you create, download, import or acquire

    b) System - Operating System and Programs

    The reason I classify backups in this way is because you can approach Data and System backups in two very different ways.

    Data Backups

    To be perfectly honest (and with apologies to Acronis) one does not need a specialist backup program to backup data. Because backing up data is a simple process you have a number of options available:

    • The built-in option - Windows Backup/Restore
    • The simple option - Copy & Paste
    • The offsite option - Online backup to a storage provider

    All of the above provide more than adequate tools for backing up data. Testing the validity of your backups is also simply a matter of restoring to a folder which you have created for that purpose. These tasks are easily accomplished by even the most non-technical user and are very safe as it is difficult to make mistakes.

    System and Program Backups

    The Operating System is linked to a specific machine in a way that is established at installation. There are some specfic rules that have to be met in order for the OS to boot and to carry out its functions.

    Most software (except for very simple programs) is intricately interwoven into the environment in which they are installed with cross-links to the OS, the Users and the Hardware.

    The OS and the Program Files cannot be backed up and restored in the same way as Data. To create a bootable OS and working Programs one needs to take an "Image" of the disk (or partition) where the source files reside. This is where software like Acronis True Image become essential, because simple backup programs like Windows Backup & Restore cannot create images.

    The real crunch comes when you want to test your "image" backup. You shouldn't restore the image back to the source because if the restore fails you will be left with a useless image and an unbootable system. You should therefore test-restore your System & Programs image backup to a spare disk and then try to boot from that disk and run your programs to ensure that everything is working as expected. This really is the key to a robust, reliable and recoverable backup strategy.

    ====

    Hope that the above has been helpful. If you have any more questions please come back to the Forum.

    :)
     
  16. rbig

    rbig Registered Member

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    Your thoughts on this are expressed very articulately and thoroughly. I agree with everything you wrote.

    One thing that registers with too few people is that just because you have WinXP, doesn't mean your WinXP is like all the others out there. PC makers bundle their software, and there is a degree of mix and match even within the WinXP shell. As a for instance, not all have OE. Not all have Outlook. Not all have MSWorks, etc.

    So, it's essential you have either your factory restore cd, or else a good backup image of your OS system as provided to your machine.

    Another aspect of why a good hard drive image is important is all the peripiheral programs you download and install that are not part of the OS. Each of these takes significant time to download and install again. When you have a hard drive failure, your factory cd can restore the OS, but won't be able to help you with the peripherals.

    Same thing applies to passwords. In some situations, it takes a bit of doing to install passwords. Some people use few or none, others use many. Those are lost in the event of a hard drive failure, without a backup image.

    The thing I'm having a problem with is distinguishing the differences between what is a clone, and what is a hard drive image. Also, how Acronis handles incremental backups.

    My concept of incremental backup is a repeat modification of a single file on an external hard drive. The incremental backup comparing what is in the master file, and then adding or deleting anything from it that has changed since the last incremental backup.

    However, I've seen a few things that make me think maybe that isn't how incremental backup actually works.
     
  17. Tabvla

    Tabvla Registered Member

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    Hi Rbig,

    From your last post....

    One way to think about these two concepts is that a Clone is a simultaneous Backup and Restore in a single operation, the data is read from Disk A and written to Disk B in a continuous process. By contrast when you create an Image you would normally do this with the intent of keeping the image as an insurance against a possible future failure.

    Technically the two processes are similar in that they are both based on a sector-by-sector process. Where they do differ technically is that a Clone will image an entire disk whether or not the sectors have any data. So if you cloned Disk A to Disk B and assuming that A and B were identical in size then you would get an exact matching sector-by-sector copy. A Backup based on the Image process will only image sectors that contain data, unused sectors will be excluded from the process.

    The correct usage of the two technologies is that you should use the Clone process only when you want to move the entire contents from one disk to another disk. Normally this would be when you were upgrading from a small to a larger disk, the Clone process will then create an exact proportional image of the old small disk on the new large disk.

    Backing up using the Image method is most appropriate for backing up the partition that contains the Operating System and the Programs folder.

    Data can be backed up using either the Image or the Files and Folders methods.

    From your last post....

    An incremental backup archive consists of the first Full Backup and the subsequent incremental backups. When you create an incremental backup the original Full Backup and all subsequent Incremental Backup files remain unchanged. The current Incremental Backup file consists of any new files and any changed files since the last incremental.

    So the clever stuff does not happen at the time of Backup. In simplistic terms the Backup asks the question "If this is is a new file or if it is an old file that has changed then include it in the current incremental file... If it is an old file that has not changed don't include it".

    The clever bit happens when you Restore the incremental archive. At that time the entire file structure is "sewn back together", much like your grandmother would have made a single patchwork quilt out of a whole lot of disparate pieces.

    .
     
  18. Menorcaman

    Menorcaman Retired Moderator

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    Hi Tabvla,

    Nice reply. :thumb:

    The only thing I would've changed slighly is your explanation regarding an incremental image. As TI normally backs up the data on the in-use sectors, it's not whether the content of the disk has changed since the last image but which clusters/sectors the content is actually located on. As you are aware, carry out a disk defrag (not having added are or modified any files) and the incremental will likely be as large as the original full image.

    Regards
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2007
  19. Tabvla

    Tabvla Registered Member

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    Absolutely correct!

    I always tend to think of incremental/differential backups theoretically in terms of how Windows views backups, which is on a Files and Folders basis.

    Thanks for the correction.
     
  20. rbig

    rbig Registered Member

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    }}} An incremental backup archive consists of the first Full Backup and the subsequent incremental backups {{{

    So I'm straight in my gourd on this: so there is a full backup file on the external USB drive (in my case), and successive incremental files are added with each incremental backup. Is this right?

    And a restore from incremental backups uses the original full backup, plus it integrates the successive incremental backups into a duplication of what was lost that the restore is needed for. Is this right?

    This would explain why, when I did a full backup and a couple of later incremental backups, I was seeing three backup files on my USB hard drive.

    What it doesn't explain is why one of those was bigger than my full backup file. That one is still bothering me.

    Thanks to all for hanging in there with me. I think people who are using things like Acronis need to understand the intricacies of how these programs work so they will end up doing what the users are hoping they'll do.
     
  21. Tabvla

    Tabvla Registered Member

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    Posted by Rbig...
    Did you defrag the disk between the time you created the original Full backup and the subsequent Incremental backup?

    This is what Menorcaman was referring to in his post.

    If you use a Files-based backup process - such as the one that comes with Windows - then a marker (or flag) is put on the file when you back it up. If the file remains unchanged the marker remains on the file. If the file changes the marker is removed. Files with markers are excluded from the subsequent incremental backups.

    If you use a Sector-based backup process - such as the Image method in ATI - then metadata about each sector at the time of the Full backup is retained. If the sector changes the metadata will change which tells ATI to back that sector up again. Now, if you defrag the disk (or partition) it is probable that many of the sectors will change as the defrag algorithm moves data around. If you now do an Incremental backup ATI will backup all the changed sectors. The resultant .tib file could therefore be bigger than the original Full backup.

    .
     
  22. rbig

    rbig Registered Member

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    No defrag involved
     
  23. Tabvla

    Tabvla Registered Member

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    OK, then it is a bit of a mystery.

    Suggest that you start again. Do a complete Full backup and then Incrementals at whatever interval suits you (daily, weekly...). Monitor the file size and see if the unexpectedly large file size repeats itself.

    If it does think carefully about the actual steps that you took and see if you can identify something unusual.

    Get back to the Forum when you have some feedback.

    :D
     
  24. rbig

    rbig Registered Member

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    I'll do that.

    Thanks again to everyone in the thread for the help and knowledge.
     
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