Image and restore a failed boot disk??

Discussion in 'Acronis True Image Product Line' started by Seawulf, Aug 17, 2007.

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  1. Seawulf

    Seawulf Registered Member

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    I am in the process of absorbing the user guide and the Guides to creating adn restoring a TI full disk archive...but have not really figured this out yet.

    I just had my boot disk fail to boot(Vista OS). I saw MBR Error 2 and MBR Error 3 alerts during the boot attempts. After working through all of the options and running various tests and repair routines with Dell phone support, I was told the only solution was to do a clean install of Vista.

    Instead of doing so on the only hard disk in the system, I purchased another disk, installed it and loaded Vista on it, retaining the original disk in the system. All of the files on the original boot disk are readable.

    I don't know why the original (6-month old) disk failed to boot. But, I have an image of the disk AFTER it failed to boot. My question is - again, as I am just getting up to speed on TI - will it be possible to restore that image to either the original disk or the new disk and recover my original system/applications? I see the option to restore the Master Boot Record when doing this operation. If the MBR is faulty - and that is the reason for the failure to boot - can I still get a full restore to function?

    Thanks,
    Charlie
     
  2. jmk94903

    jmk94903 Registered Member

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    Did you get a Vista installation DVD? Were you instructed by Dell support to boot from that DVD and do a Repair installation?
    That was darn smart. You can always find a way to use an extra drive, but you can't go back after wiping the original drive.

    At this point, you could reinstall the original drive and try the Repair if you didn't already try it.
    You can make an image of the entire new drive (all partitions) so that you can get back to where you are now easily if your experiments fail.

    Try restoring only the C partition from the old image to the new drive which has a good MBR. If it boots, you are in hog heaven. If not, let us know what messages you get on attempting to boot.
     
  3. Seawulf

    Seawulf Registered Member

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    John,

    Thanks for your quick response.

    Yes, I did have a Vista Install disk and we did run the Vista Repair function as well as chkdsk /r in the Command Window and it did not fix the problem.

    My major problem in troubleshooting my system problems is that I have only one system and when it is down, my internet connectivity is null. So, I hesitate to do anything at this point - stable system, but not all of my previous applications re-installed and updated, etc - that jeopardizes my tech forum communications. The Dell support was via phone and I was quite surprised that it was very straightforward with no waiting.

    I re-emphasize that the image I have of my previous system was taken AFTER the disk failed to boot and I assume that means that whatever is in that image wrt the MBR and Trk 0 is bad.

    You suggest restoring only the C: partition of that image to the new drive after saving an image of the current, stable system to use in case of subsequent boot problems. As I say, above, I am anxious risking the current system and its internet connectivity. I have little confidence in my ability - at this point - to go through all of the steps required to restore a bootable image, since there seems to be so many ways of screwing that up.

    Anyway, looking through the Beginners Guide to restoring a basic full disk archive I saw the following in Note 3.c: "If the restoration is being applied to a new hard disk, then ensure the MBR and Track 0 is ticked as shown in image R-6. " Image R-6 shows all partitions as well as MBR and Track 0 options checked. If I do that with an image that has faulty MBR/Track 0 information won't I cause the new disk to stop booting - like the original one?

    Your recommendation seems to imply that if I restore the image to the "new drive with the good MBR" it should/may work. So, if I do that, do I leave the MBR and Track 0 box unchecked?

    As an aside:

    I understand from your post that, with a likely problem with MBR on the original disk, it could not be used as the target for the image restore and expect it to boot properly. How would I repair that disk to return it to a bootable status?

    I had lots of recent computer problems around the first of the year and I solved that by purchasing the Dell. Now that I have had problems with it, I really want to understand how to properly use these Acronis (Disk Director and TI) tools - if only to maintain my sanity...

    Thanks, again for your help and patience,

    Charlie
     
  4. jmk94903

    jmk94903 Registered Member

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    Well, the good news is that you have the installation DVD. Too bad the Repar didn't work, but at least you tried it.
    Very reasonable. A second old computer is a nice fall back in cases like this, but we can work with this restriction. That's why I suggested making an image of the system now that it is working. Security!
    Yes, you were very clear on that. In this image, the MBR and Track 0 are probably bad, so you don't want to restore them.
    Well, you still have the old disk. since you have an image of it, you might experiment on that one now. I doubt that you want to buy a third disk.

    What I would do is validate the image you have of the old disk before proceeding. The best way to do this would be to boot from the TrueImage Recovery CD and validate the image from there. You didn't say where you stored that image, but I'll assume it is on an external USB drive.

    After a successful validation, I think you are in a good position to experiment on the old drive.

    What I would do is to make an image of your new disk (the whole disk, all partitions). Restore this new image to the old hard disk including the MBR and Track 0. The old disk should now be bootable and work just like the new one. Best of all, this confirms that you can successfully restore an image! That's the ulimate test of a backup system.
    Yes, it wold. You've a good understanding on how this process works.
    Exactly! But this would put your new disk at some risk.

    However, if you do the restore of the new image to the old disk first, you can do the restore of just the C partition in the old image to the old disk. If this is successful, you will have your old system back to full operation. I think this is the safest way to proceed short of buying a third hard drive.

    The restore of the new image will do that as well as test your ability to do a successful restore. Nothing like killing two birds with one stone (if you like dead birds and are short on stones):)
    Oh forget about sanity. You can't have that and a computer too.

    Let us know what you decide and how it goes.
     
  5. Seawulf

    Seawulf Registered Member

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    John,
    Thanks, again for you quick reply...

    Funny you should mention a third drive...

    When I went out to purchase the new hard drive, the store was having a half-price special on 320GB 7200 RPM 16MB cache SATA II/300 drives. My initial plan was to buy two identical drives to set up a RAID system that had the data writing to both disks as security. I did buy the two drives. But, I'm thinking now that, if I can get the imaging and restore stuff working, I can keep it simple and have 640 GB of new drive storage instead of just 300 with a RAID (1?) setup.

    My Dell XPS enclosure only has space for two HDs, but plenty of SATA ports. I will probably purchase an external SATA disk housing and keep the "old" 250 GB SATA drive along side the 250 GB USB drive.

    So, I guess what you were thinking for a third drive, was to get that drive going and restore the image (without the MBR/Track 0) of my original system to it.

    Since I don't have the disk housing, yet, I could experiment as you suggest restoring the image of the new system on the old drive. I am wondering, though, if the restore to the old drive is successful, do I use the Acronis OS Selector to point to the restored image or just disconnect it for the test?

    I'll let you know what happens...

    Thanks, again,
    Charlie
     
  6. Seawulf

    Seawulf Registered Member

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    Well, it has been a few weeks since my last update. As of yesterday, I thought I would have good news. But, as of my boot up this am, there is both good and bad news.

    First of all, a summary of what has already passed: My 6-month old Dell system Samsung hard disk began showing MBR Error 2 and MBR Error 3 alerts during the bios boot sequence. A week or so later, the disk failed to boot and no chkdsk /r or other repair attempt could make it boot. I purchased a new HD (actually got two identical Maxtor 320 gig drives on sale) and did a clean install of Vista on it. Then spend time re-installing all of my apps. Also found out that the original Dell system disk was readable - just not bootable. I had a TI image of the original AFTER the boot failure and an image of my fully restored system on the new disk (following the "Beginners Guide to creating full disk image...").

    This was 7-10 days after installing one of the Maxtor disks (internal system capacity is 2 HD, but lots of SATA ports) and doing the clean Vista install on it.

    Around this same time, to my horror, on my NEW system disk -the Maxtor-, I began getting that same "MBR Error 2" that plagued my original Dell system disk which ultimately resulted in boot failure.

    Following John's advice, I restored the image of my current stable system to the old HD using the Beginners Guide to Restoring..."). Concerned about the last note (3c) in that text "...windows should not be allowed to see both old and new disks on first bootup..." I removed the SATA connector to the Maxtor drive. The restored image on the Samsung drive booted up just fine. Everything was running fine except for my Adobe Creative Suite package which was not happy with the "configuration change" and insisted on being re-validated.

    My bios routine gives me the option with F12 to boot from a list of devices. So, next, I reconnected the Maxtor drive and selected it in the boot list. That worked fine. Finally, a validation of my ability to use TI to image and restore a complete system! I was now insulated from the nasty process of clean windows installs and reinstalling all of my applications using serial numbers license numbers, license files, updating to current versions, etc, etc!

    That was yesterday. This am, I turn on my system and continue with the MBR Error 2 message and a hang up at the end of the bios sequence on a boot to the Maxtor drive. After a lot of troubleshooting, it is now clear that the Maxtor drive is no longer bootable, but is readable - just like the original Samsung drive when it stopped booting.

    I am still able to boot off of the Samsung drive that has the restored image of the Maxtor drive - good news, since this is my only computer and my only gateway to the internet. But, now my issue is a bizarre duplication of the boot problem on two independent drives within 7-10 days - a virtual impossibility if the occurrences are indeed independent. There must be some common thread.

    One that I am aware of and which, apparently modifies the MBR is the Acronis Startup Recovery Manager application, which was active on both the original Samsung and the new Maxtor drives.

    At this point, I really don't know what to do.

    Charlie
     
  7. thomasjk

    thomasjk Registered Member

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    You may want to get rid of the Acronis SRM. Download Testdisk http://www.cgsecurity.org/wiki/TestDisk and use it to write a new MBR to the drive. You may also want to test the drive with Maxtor's utilities.
     
  8. Xpilot

    Xpilot Registered Member

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    The best way to get rid of the SRM is to delete the secure zone using the TI program and the manage secure zone wizard. Of course any backups in the SZ will also be deleted. This will automatically reverse the MBR changes made by the SRM.

    Xpilot
     
  9. jmk94903

    jmk94903 Registered Member

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    Well Charlie, you've had the same critical error and failure to boot on two brand new hard drives.

    What's the common connection? The motherboard!

    I'm assuming that the SATA controller is built into the motherboard and not a PCI card that could be replaced. If that assumption is correct, then...

    I think it's time to call Dell and demand either a service call to replace the motherboard or a replacement computer of the same model (so you can restore your image to it).

    No company likes to replace whole systems, but you have the best arguement for replacement that I've seen in a long time, and I wouldn't waste any more time trying to fix the problem unless it's by direction of a higher level Dell support person.

    When you call Dell, they will probably want you to repeat the restore that you've already done. Explain that you did it already and it failed again. Ask for a supervisor if the person doesn't offer an acceptable solution. Stick to your guns. Dell is a good company, and they will settle this properly, but they may need to be coaxed.
     
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