MBR - understanding it and when to restore

Discussion in 'Acronis True Image Product Line' started by alexmelo, Mar 12, 2008.

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  1. alexmelo

    alexmelo Registered Member

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    Hi,
    I've read practically everything in this forum concerning MBR and Acronis TI (I have version 10) and I'm completely confused. I found so many conflicting information on MBR! One person said that MBR is specific to a hard disk. TI 10 manual just says "restore MBR if you need..." . The point is, the average computer user doesn't know if he needs it... The MBR option is present, but the pertinent explanation is missing. Whether MBR is specific to a HD or not, I should like to pose objective questions regarding the following situations I normally encounter:
    1) Restore image of C: (Windows XP) to C: (as in the case of a program I installed caused problems, and I want to revert to a previous situation). Same disk, of course. Backup image of C: only (automatically, TI includes MBR, I understand). Should I restore MBR?
    2) Same thing as in 1), but with Vista (restoring image of C: to C:, its original place - in my new laptop). Should I restore MBR?
    3) Restore an image of a full disk with Windows XP (image of 4 partitions on the HD saved elsewhere) to a brand new, larger, HD, from a different manufacturer (upgrading the computer). Restoring one partition at a time, adjusting size. An option to cloning. Backup image of Disk 1 (with MBR checked). Do I need to restore the MBR of an old disk to the new disk as the final step?
    4) Same thing as in 3), but with Vista (I need to replace the original HD of my notebook, which is small).
    5) The cloning option - If cloning copies everything, then it also copies MBR. However, I'd cloning is done to a different HD, always. Then, my doubts arise again in relation to MBR. In the past, I did a cloning from a 40 GB HD to a 120 GB HD with an older notebook (Windows XP) and it worked- new HD on an USB case, using TI 8, which did not show this MBR option. What is the role of MBR when you clone? Thank you very much. Alexandre
     
  2. Xpilot

    Xpilot Registered Member

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    I like to keep things simple so I always restore the MBR when restoring my main hard drive which contains the operating system. I do this whether the restore is back to the original disk, to one which has been used previously or a brand new one straight out of the box.
    I know that there may be no need to restore the MBR in the first two instances and even in the third case it may not always be necessary. However the reason for running a restore may be a non booting computer so it costs nothing to restore the whole disk including the MBR. This would replace a faulty MBR as part of the restore.
    Put another way I have run many restores over a few years. I have never run in to any trouble by always restoring the MBR.

    Cloning drives particularly of OEM installations in laptops can be a minefield. There are steps that can be taken to make the process foolproof but they are sometimes machine specific so the particular hardware/software comination needs to be specified to get good advice.

    I have never used cloning, I much prefer restoring a full image ( inc. the MBR) to the replacement drive having booted from the recovery CD. This way removes all possibility of a first boot with two identical operating systems visible and the problems that can then follow.

    Xpilot
     
  3. Aussie42

    Aussie42 Registered Member

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    Alex,
    The MBR is not specific to a hard disk, but it is specific to your Operating System, such as Windows XP or Vista or Linux. If you have a multi-boot setup it is specific to your boot manager, which should have backed up the original MBR.
    You usually do not need to restore the MBR unless you suspect it has been written to by a third party program or malware.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Master_Boot_Record

    may have more info than you need to know!
     
  4. alexmelo

    alexmelo Registered Member

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    Xpilot, Aussie, thanks, things are clearer now. Regards,
    Alex
     
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