MBR restore? (DELL)

Discussion in 'Acronis True Image Product Line' started by labman, Jun 28, 2006.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. labman

    labman Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2006
    Posts:
    3
    Hi,

    Maybe someone in this forum can help me. My Dell laptop does not boot. This happened without any identifiable reason - no change in OS, partitions etc. The unit ran fine, was shut down and does not boot. It does not even get to the Windows/Console selection screen. There is no error message.

    The HDD partitions can be read and imaged with TI (happening right now to an external USB drive). Disk Director Suite did not detect an error on the partitions of the HDD. The Dell diagnostic software does not report an error in a complete test. Dell MediaDirect boots (DELL partition) and scans the other partitions for media files.

    So, the HDD is recognized and can be read. I wonder if the booting problem may have to do with the MBR(s). I have learned that Dell has customized this, but I don't know much about partitions, boot records, etc.

    I have a 2 week old image (when the machine was running fine). I'm making an image right now. Just in case.

    How do I get the old boot record(s) records (when the unit was booting)mated with the current files? Can I selectively restore only the boot records from the old image onto the HDD?

    I looked through the forum and I understand that the boot record can be restored with the files. But can it be restored selectively - without the files.

    Note that Ctrl-F11 does not work, and I'm not interested in getting that to work.

    Any help will be much appreciated. Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Acronis Support

    Acronis Support Acronis Support Staff

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2004
    Posts:
    25,885
    Hello labman,

    Thank you for choosing Acronis Disk Backup Software.

    It depends on which Acronis True Image version you use.

    If you use Acronis True Image 8.0 or older version then the only way to restore MBR is to restore the entire hard drive image. The point is that versions 8.0 and older include MBR into the entire hard drive images only. So, if you have created the image of a single system partition or partition assortment rather than the image of the entire hard drive then I'm afraid there is no way to restore MBR in this case.

    In case you are using Acronis True Image 9.0 Home or one of the Acronis True Image 9.1 Corporate Family products MBR is included in both entire hard drive and individual partition images and can be restored either along with the backed up disk\partition or separately. You can find more information on how to restore MBR in section 6.3.4 of Acronis True Image 9.0 Home User's Guide.

    Please also note that you can always "fix" your hard drive's MBR either by booting the computer from Windows installation CD and issuing the 'fixmbr' command in Recovery Console or using one of the methods described in Acronis Help Post.

    If you have any further questions concerning Acronis software, please feel free to submit a request for technical support or post any of them on this forum. We will certainly try to help you in resolving any issues.

    Thank you.
    --
    Alexey Popov
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2006
  3. Brian K

    Brian K Imaging Specialist

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2005
    Posts:
    8,652
    Location:
    NSW, Australia
    labman,

    When you turn on your laptop do you see the Dell logo screen? What happens next? A flashing cursor in the top left of the monitor? Do you have any USB devices plugged in?
     
  4. Ewyuu4j0

    Ewyuu4j0 Registered Member

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2005
    Posts:
    27
    Alexey -- couple of questions on what you wrote there. When you use True Image 9 from a boot CD, and you back up an entire drive, does that retain all the MBR info, or is it only the Windows version that does this?

    Basically, what I want to do is restore my new Inspiron to it's "sealed state" using it's own restore utility, then boot into TI9 disc, and back up the whole thing (to an image on another drive on the network). I'm hoping that I can then "have my way" with the drive, and still be able to restore it to the sealed state if I ever need to send it in for servicing or sell it. I just know that Dell is doing some advanced customizations with hidden utility, restore and Dell Media Experience partitions (not sure exactly how that last one works), and I want to make sure that TI will work for this before I actually do it.

    Couple of other things to note.

    1) I have made backups of the partitions. I am not able to "mount" them using TI; it hangs for a long time and then gives me an error. However, I am able to restore them to Windows file system (allowing me to poke around and see what's in there).

    2) When I boot into the TI boot CD, I get a couple messages that each of the controllers 0 and 1 (I think) cannot be "probed" (I think). What does this mean, and will it affect the validity of the image?

    TIA.

    -Jeremy

    2) When I boot
     
  5. bobdat

    bobdat Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2005
    Posts:
    316
    1) You cannot mount the Dell hidden partitions.
    2) Ignore the probe messages and wait....you'll get the Acronis startup screen in about 30 seconds or less.

    You CAN back up your entire Dell drive, including all hidden partitions and restore the entire drive to what you call the 'sealed state' ONLY IF you have yet made no changes to the MBR by repartitioning, resizing, etc. and ONLY IF the Dell PC Restore function CTL + F11 works before you create the TrueImage archive and ONLY IF you select to create and restore the image of the ENTIRE disk and not selected partitions.

    To do this with the highest level of certainty, complete a full Dell PC Restore, restart and then shutdown. When you're ready to complete your backup, boot holding F12 to get the one-time boot menu, select the CD/DVD drive, insert your Acronis CD and hit Enter. Create and save your image being sure to select the ENTIRE DISK checkbox.

    The Dell Media partition allows you to use the direct media button to activate the computer without first booting into Windows when you want to play a CD or DVD. That partition can also be captured by TI9 and should be functional after a TI restore, although I have yet to try it. As you may know, Dell supplies a separate Dell Media CD for reinstalling that mini-OS on your drive.

    Good luck.
     
  6. crofttk

    crofttk Registered Member

    Joined:
    May 15, 2004
    Posts:
    1,976
    Location:
    Eastern PA, USA
    I've successfully restored both Dell's custom MBR and Ctrl-F11 funcionality using Dan Gooddell's utilities after they were wiped out and partitions added and resized. My system partition was reduced in size to free space for 3 other partitions while I restored my Dell to "Out of the box" state to be imaged and burned to DVD. http://www.goodells.net/dellrestore/
     
  7. bobdat

    bobdat Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2005
    Posts:
    316
    I'm happy to hear that you were successful following his brilliant but tedious procedure. It's my opinion that Goodell's fix is far beyond the capability of the average computer user. I was also able to do so but in my case I think I was just plain lucky. ;-)

    I don't usually refer other users to Goodell's page because of its complexity but here it is for the adventurous:

    http://www.goodells.net/dellrestore/
     
  8. crofttk

    crofttk Registered Member

    Joined:
    May 15, 2004
    Posts:
    1,976
    Location:
    Eastern PA, USA
    Well, I didn't get it the first time through, but the second try worked out fine. I prefer giving out the info and letting people decide, most can tell if it's a bigger bite than they can chew. "User friendly" it's not, as Yoda would say.
     
  9. starsfan09

    starsfan09 Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2006
    Posts:
    352
    Croft, when you do "Operation Wipe-Out" or Reinstall XP...doesn't that wipe out Dell's MBR? Also, when you Reinstall XP...doesn't that make a new MBR?

    I have 2 new Dell's. (Dem 8400 & XPS400)
    I completely wiped off that "Control / F11" stuff, deleted the partitions, and Re-installed XP Pro onto a full C:/ drive. All these computer companies like to put a lot "Garbage" on new computers. This computer runs like a F15 fighter jet with all the new updates, and upgraded software!! :D
     
  10. crofttk

    crofttk Registered Member

    Joined:
    May 15, 2004
    Posts:
    1,976
    Location:
    Eastern PA, USA
    I don't believe I ever wiped Win XP completely. IIRC, I lost my custom MBR and Ctrl-F11 functionality when I installed FirstDefense-ISR or when I first began repartitioning. I completely backed up everything before I started the resurrection of my out-of-the box state.

    After I completed the resurrection, I imaged the Dell Utility partition, the out-of-the box C: partition (JUST after restore BEFORE restarting, LITERALLY never booted out of the box state), and the Dell PC Restore Partition from a Boot CD with Image for DOS. I burned these images to a DVD.

    Then I restored everything to where it was before I started and followed that with doing away with the Dell PC Restore partition to regain the extra 5 GB or so of disk space. I left the Dell Utility partition in place since it consumes an inconsequential amount of space. There's been no Dell Media partition on any of my machines.

    As far as the Dell and others' spam software, I prefer removing that stuff by hand. It's only slightly more tedious to me and followup with a registry cleaner seems to get everything pretty clean. I've done this 6 times now, on the 4 desktops and 2 laptops my household now has, and the 5 machines that have ONLY been "cleaned by hand" run no differently than the one machine that I HAVE completely wiped and reinstalled "generically" two or three times.
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2006
  11. labman

    labman Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2006
    Posts:
    3
    Thanks for the reply. I'm using 9.0 Home build 3633. It turns out that the HDD not only had the MBR damaged, but also the content (especially the windows directory. I'm in the process of rebuilding. Thanks.
     
  12. labman

    labman Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2006
    Posts:
    3
    Thanks to all for all your suggestions. Looks like I'm back in business. It turns out that the HDD had plently of errors in the C partition. Note that I have several more partitions than original Dell.

    I tried the Goodell utilility -great program- and PTedit to have a look and compare with a known good MBR. The real problem was that the actual HDD content was corrupted. This puzzles me because it was a smooth shutdown on a healthy disk and no shocks. Then on reboot the C partition was mangled. I haven't seen that level of file corruption for a long time.

    For the record: on boot, the DELL screen with the progress bar appeared. The next screen was black with a blue bar on top with www.dell.com and underneath it said: Loading PBR for descriptor 2...Done. This screen usually flashes by very rapidly and then the next screen would have been the selector for the Recovery Console or Windows. Here it got stuck at the Loading PBR message (though apparently that operation was successful). No error message. No blinking cursor.

    For recovery, I used a 1 week old TI image, plus files I was able to get off the current HDD via TI. Amazingly TI worked on that partition even though many files were corrupted, and so I was able to get useful information out of that image. I also have a desktop that is synced to the laptop for My Documents. So, I got files off there too.

    The question came up about USB, in this thread and from Dell. I have a USB mouse and always have had that one and it has not caused problems. Apparently though, "too many" (whatever that is) USB devices can cause problems.
     
  13. starsfan09

    starsfan09 Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2006
    Posts:
    352
    Not sure why you guys want Dell's Control+F11 option. The only thing it does it take it back to the day you first turned it on. You're always trapped in that moment in time with everything that was installed at that moment. o_O
     
  14. bobdat

    bobdat Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2005
    Posts:
    316
    For folks like yourself who just can't figure out why we who like the Dell PC Restore functionality go to such great lengths to retain it:

    If we have to explain it you'll never understand.

    :eek:
     
  15. crofttk

    crofttk Registered Member

    Joined:
    May 15, 2004
    Posts:
    1,976
    Location:
    Eastern PA, USA
    Aaaahahahaha....a good laugh for a Monday morning!:p
     
  16. starsfan09

    starsfan09 Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2006
    Posts:
    352
    Ok, I'll explain it to you ...so you can understand it. Take notes!

    When you use the Dell Control + F11 Restore function, you're always taking the system back to the moment Dell sent it to you. That means you're always trapped at that moment as far as software goes.
    What if you had a new Graphics Card software update? New Soundcard software updates? A New BIOS flash? New Firmware updates for you Optical drives? Full versions of Dell's Standard Edition software that they put on the computer? (Norton, McAfee, Sonic, Microsoft Office, Paint Shop Pro, and etc) What if you want Nero installed, and don't want Sonic? It's a known fact that Nero conflicts with Sonic. Are you gonna uninstall Sonic, and install Nero? If you do, then all the Sonic stuff is still in the Registry that probably will cause DVD writing Errors. And installing new FW for you Optical Drives will leave the previous verion in the Registry to conflict with the new FW. And then people wonders why a program doesn't pick up their DVD Burner.

    Ahhh...you're thinking "I'll use a Registry cleaner program". Well, Registry cleaners won't clean some keys out because you must give Windows permission to remove keys like those from the Registry. The only way to do that is going into each Registry entry, and editing it. That's not really advised unless you know exactly what you're doing in the Registry.

    But if you want to put your system in the hands of 3rd party programs to remove Registry keys (Registry Mechanic, ASO, etc) ...then go ahead!
    I put these kinds of programs to the test on a spare Hard Drive. I had just installed Windows XP, and installed my "Creative Soundblaster Audigy" software. Then I installed "Registry Mechanic" and "Advanced System Optimizer" right after that. Upon an immediate scanning, ...they both wanted to delete a lot of keys from the Registry! Now, how the hell do these programs know it's safe to delete 50 Registry entries that were just put there by Creative software?? How do they know my sound card doesn't need them? I just don't trust any of them. :thumbd:

    I personally guarantee that if you were to freshly install Windows XP, and then install one of these Registry cleaner programs, it will find all kinds of stuff to delete. The question is...how do they know Windows doesn't need those particular Reg entries??
    The list goes on and on! Really, to long to continue.

    Bottom line...if you truly want a smooth running machine with all the current software & driver updates, and NO Registry conflicts with previous versions of software & drivers...then submit to "Operation Wipe-Out"!! It's the only way!! :blink: Forget Dell's Restore crap.
     
  17. crofttk

    crofttk Registered Member

    Joined:
    May 15, 2004
    Posts:
    1,976
    Location:
    Eastern PA, USA
    BULL.
     
  18. starsfan09

    starsfan09 Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2006
    Posts:
    352
    Croft, why do you say "BULL"? How do you know it's "BULL", ...when you have NEVER.... EVER Reinstalled Windows XP? Please , by all means...do tell.
    I'm confused by what you wrote below.

    **********************************************
    Croft says - "I don't believe I ever wiped Win XP completely. IIRC, I lost my custom MBR and Ctrl-F11 functionality when I installed FirstDefense-ISR or when I first began repartitioning. I completely backed up everything before I started the resurrection of my out-of-the box state.

    After I completed the resurrection, I imaged the Dell Utility partition, the out-of-the box C: partition (JUST after restore BEFORE restarting, LITERALLY never booted out of the box state), and the Dell PC Restore Partition from a Boot CD with Image for DOS. I burned these images to a DVD.

    Then I restored everything to where it was before I started and followed that with doing away with the Dell PC Restore partition to regain the extra 5 GB or so of disk space. I left the Dell Utility partition in place since it consumes an inconsequential amount of space. There's been no Dell Media partition on any of my machines.

    As far as the Dell and others' spam software, I prefer removing that stuff by hand. It's only slightly more tedious to me and followup with a registry cleaner seems to get everything pretty clean. I've done this 6 times now, on the 4 desktops and 2 laptops my household now has, and the 5 machines that have ONLY been "cleaned by hand" run no differently than the one machine that I HAVE completely wiped and reinstalled "generically" two or three times
    ."
     
  19. bobdat

    bobdat Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2005
    Posts:
    316
    There are several reasons why the Dell PC Restore is advantageous to keep:
    1) Dell Warranty support.
    2) Dell Tech Support.
    3) Dell-installed, machine-unique OS patches.
    4) Almost instantaneous fallback to a known good base OS installation.
    5) Ability to fallback without a stack of CD's and 12 hours of time.

    And lots of other such reasons.

    For you who like to savage a system before you investigate whether it should be retained I say, good luck, it's yours, do what you wish.

    But, when you ponificate that your slash-and-burn technique is the Holy Grail of drive setup, I know you're somewhat 'around the bend'.

    For your information, I have, many times, tested, timed, investigated and summarized the differences between running the Dell PC Restore-installed software environment versus a clean XP install. Although I do not question your statements that there will be registry information left behind after an 'Add or Remove Programs' software change, I will state for the benefit of all others who may be misled by your passionate advocacy-minus-factual-data statements that there is absolutely no difference in the amount of time it takes to start up, shut down, launch programs or complete ANY tasks whether one does a Dell PC Restore and operates with the out-of-box software regime or whether one does a clean XP reinstall.

    My only dislike for the result of a clean XP reinstall is the loss of some helpful Dell-installed machine-specific OS patches. And that's only after juggling several CD's and allocating 10-12 uninterrupted hours of software-rebuilding happy time.

    As I said, I'm sure you'll never understand.
     
  20. crofttk

    crofttk Registered Member

    Joined:
    May 15, 2004
    Posts:
    1,976
    Location:
    Eastern PA, USA
    Did I say NEVER EVER ? No wonder you're confused. I interpreted your question to be STRICTLY within the context of Gooddell's Dell MBR restore procedure -- I never did so as part of that procedure.

    Now that you put it that way, I'd hazard the claim that I've installed Windows XP on various machines more times than you have fingers and toes, even if you've got extras.:cool:
    THAT's how I know it's BULL.
     
  21. Detox

    Detox Retired Moderator

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2002
    Posts:
    8,507
    Location:
    Texas, USA
    Carry on with the discussion; but let me insert a small reminder to keep it civil without any personal remarks.
     
  22. seekforever

    seekforever Registered Member

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2005
    Posts:
    4,751
    I wouldn't argue with 1, don't need 2, a reason why I would never buy a dell is 3, why I use TI is 4, you're doing it wrong is 5.

    When I see my friend's Dells, HPs or whatever with all that time-limited, hobbled and other garbage on them I feel sorry for them.
     
  23. bobdat

    bobdat Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2005
    Posts:
    316
    The REAL reason I preserve Dell PC Restore on my machine is because of what happened to me once on a trip. I kept getting the BSOD after I loaded an email client so I could do some remote work.

    Well, I gave up and hit CTL + F11 and had a working machine less than 15 minutes later. To me that was priceless. I don't travel with my reinstallation CD's.

    Granted, I lost all the updates, files and programs I added since the day I first booted up, but with most apps now web-based it didn't hurt that much.

    I have no argument with you guys who like to do it your way but I and others see an advantage to having the ability to return to that magic moment in time when we first booted up our new machines.

    As you point out, having TI allows one to rely on something other than a manufacturer's restore protocol to become functional in no time at all when the need arises. That's probably one of the reasons we're all exchanging ideas in here.

    My point is that there's no right or wrong way to run your computer and backup scheme. There are advantages and disadvantages to each. I guess that's why it's called a "personal" computer.

    Fortunately, with TI and various manufacturers' restore regimes we have choices.......
     
  24. seekforever

    seekforever Registered Member

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2005
    Posts:
    4,751
    I won't argue with that either and indeed different strokes for different folks! :)
     
  25. crofttk

    crofttk Registered Member

    Joined:
    May 15, 2004
    Posts:
    1,976
    Location:
    Eastern PA, USA
    Exactly. There's more than one way to skin a cat, and breed can make a difference.
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.