New Acronis User needs some help please

Discussion in 'Acronis True Image Product Line' started by peterm1, Aug 3, 2009.

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  1. peterm1

    peterm1 Registered Member

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    Hi I recently bought Acronis True Image for use on my PC - a HP box running Windows XP Media Centre Edition. I am a reasonably savvy PC user but am generally more comfortable with software than with hardware - an Admin role is a "dark art" as far as I am concerned.

    Yesterday I pushed ahead and made up back up to an external USB HDD, the final tally being 110gig in tib files. The external drive is a 200 gig drive that until recently was my main drive before I upgraded and allocated this one as my backup box.

    But on completing the process I realised that in order to be able to boot and restore using Acronis True Image it now requires me to create a secure zone partition. I had not realised this before and now have some questions. I should add that for me the ability to restore using Acronis is the main reason why I bought the software - I do not have an XP system restore disk - it having been lost in a move of house - and Windows prevents me from making another. (Why goddam Winddows does this is another issue altogehter.) So I am sick and tired of losing everything when the system crashes and cannot be fixed by any of the usual processes, forcing me to do a destructive restore from the Windows installation files on my hard drive - something that on average seems to happen at least annually.

    So these are my questions:

    Do I need both my back up directory AND a secure zone partition?

    Do they do essentially the same thing or does the secure zone just have the Windows installation files needed for system restoration (and no applications or data) ?

    If so does Acronis back up automatically to both or do I need to point it at one or the other?

    Does the secure zone partiton have to be comparable in size to the other backup directory? (say 150 gigs) if so I need an even bigger backup drive.

    Is there an FAQ or more explanatory user manual available? - the manual that came with the softeare I find to be sketchy and makes assumptions about a level of user knowledge that I do not have.


    Thanks in anticipation.

    Peter
     
  2. DwnNdrty

    DwnNdrty Registered Member

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    The SZ is a feature that, IMHO, has outlived its usefulness now that external hard drives are so inexpensive. Just use your external drive to hold the backup Images and you'll be fine without the SZ. Be sure to validate the backup with the bootable True Image Rescue Media CD if you cannot actually do a Recovery to a spare hard drive to test that it works.

    The bootable CD has all the basic features of the installed software so in case of a hard drive failure, you would boot with it and use the Recovery feature to restore the Image you have on your external drive. This brings me to my next point ... you should test that the bootable CD is able to "see" your external drive and the backup on it. So, boot with the CD and do a "dry run" using the Recovery feature. Go right up to the point where you can see and select the backup Image then cancel out of the process.

    For more details on using True Image look for any message by GroverH and in his signature are links to some easy to understand instructions for using True Image.
     
  3. peterm1

    peterm1 Registered Member

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    Sorry I am still lost. The manual says categorically that if you wish to be able to boot and restore from Acronis - you have no choice. You must create a secure zone.

    And I still do not really understand how SZ works vis a vis normal weekly backups . Is it an image file or is it a set of compressed archives of the files and directories on the PC?

    Also my preference is not to rely on external bootable media. The bloody things too easily get lost. If I can boot into Acronis by hitting f11 before Windows start-up this seems to me to be a "smoother' way to go.
     
  4. DwnNdrty

    DwnNdrty Registered Member

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    Well, if you insist ;) . The SZ is a hidden partition that only True Image can access which makes it secure from other outside interference. So it is where you would store your Images. And in order to access the Image in the SZ on boot up by pressing F11, you have to activate the Startup Recovery Manager which changes your normal MBR. But you know what will happen if for whatever reason your hard drive crashes .... seems to me it will be far easier to guard against losing the bootable CD (make more than one).
     
  5. bodgy

    bodgy Registered Member

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    Can you point to where you are reading that in the manual/help file?

    We can categorically state that you don't need either the SZ or to have activated the recovery Manager to make or restore an image.

    With TI you will need to make a Rescue CD. I suggest logging into your Acronis account and also downloading the Safe Media option and install it.

    Burn the CD and then, make sure that your computer can boot to and see all your drives and network if necessary.

    There are two standard ways to make an image via Windows as you have already done and via the Rescue CD - the Rescue CD will be much slower.

    There are two standard ways to restore.

    1. Boot via the Rescue CD and use the Linux version of TI to restore the image.

    2a. If Linux has a problem with your hardware then you cna use the BartPE program that is downloaded with the Safe Media option or burn a VistaPE Rescue disk - as both of these uses Windows drivers they will be much quicker at restoring than the Linux version and of course will have little problem with your hardware.

    2b. Re-install your version of Windows, then install TI and use the Windows based version of Windows to restore the drive.

    The Recovery Manager facility and the SZ are of use mainly if you only have 1 drive and no where else to image to. This if you will is an Acronis version of the recovery partition that many brand name computers come with these days.

    It is advisable to give all your drives meaningful labels/names as when booting into the Linux environment partitions/drives are not reported in the same way, and it can occasionaly become confusing which partition is being restored to where, if you are not a Linux user.

    You can with a bit of jiggery pokery, make a USB drive bootable with the Acronis rescue media, which is what I do with my laptop external drive, I have a 100MB partition that has the Acronis boot files on it and a second partition that has all the images.
     
  6. GroverH

    GroverH Registered Member

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    If you want to know more about the Secure zone, click on the line 1 of my signature below and look for Secure Zone & Startup REcovery Manager inside the link. The secure zone and Startup Recovery Manager are optional--not a requirement.

    My guides listed on line 2 of my signature below can be helpful. They relate to prior versions but the overall procedures are the same.

    Rescue CD plays an important role
    https://www.wilderssecurity.com/showpost.php?p=1424595&postcount=3
     
  7. peterm1

    peterm1 Registered Member

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    "But you know what will happen if for whatever reason your hard drive crashes .... seems to me it will be far easier to guard against losing the bootable CD (make more than one)."

    Good point.

    "Can you point to where you are reading that in the manual/help file?.....

    We can categorically state that you don't need either the SZ or to have activated the recovery Manager to make or restore an image."

    I am at work right now and do not have the manual and other documentation before me, but I had a very specific understanding that I had read something to this effect. I will check it when I get home and let you know. Maybe I mis interpreted but I can only say I had a very strong impression that this is what the documentation said.

    But on a little more reflection, if what you say is true, then why is it that when I fired up the Start-up Recovery Manager (SRM) for the first time it forced me to commence the creation of a Secure Zone - there was no way to initialise the recovery manager without creating a secure zone as I understood it - or am I totally misunderstanding something?

    Honestly right now I am much more interested in understanding answers to the questions I posted in my first post, above.

    To understnad me more clearly, my questions come down to this...... having backed up my system to a USB linked HDD on my machine, What do I now have to do to be in a position to be able to recover my system and all my installed programs should I be totally unable to start Windows by any other means.
    I had initially understood that this was the purpose of the backup and that this would hold all my system files and installed programs.

    But when found that I also needed SRM, when I tried to active SRM it said I now had to create a Secure Zone. If so - what does this secure zone hold? Is it the same files as in the backup or something different? And if so, how big must the secure zone be? (the backup is 110gig)

    You can see from my questions that I do not have a basic concept of the architecture of Acronis or at least these features of Acronis. And without this understanding I cannot understand what I have to do - the Acronis manual is not much help as it describes the concepts but does not provide an "idiot's guide" which says first do this, then do that, then do something else. At least if it did this I would know what steps to apply even if I did not understand them.

    So could someone please specifically answer my specific questions.

    "The secure zone and Startup Recovery Manager are optional--not a requirement."

    I understand that SRM is an option but if it means I can fire up my machine and restore it after a serious Windows crash then its an option I want to exercise. My question is "is the Secure Zone a substitute for the backup files I have already created OR is it needed in addition to them. If the latter then what is stored in SRM and how big must the associated Secure Zone be?

    i am sorry I do not see how to make my questions any more clear,.
     
  8. TitusAduxas

    TitusAduxas Registered Member

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    Hi

    I can confirm Bodgy's comments re the secure zone. I have restored without the SZ with both Home 11 and 2009.

    TA
     
  9. bodgy

    bodgy Registered Member

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    Well the answers to your questions are all there.

    I am assuming you have made a complete disk image which is now stored on your external drive.


    To restore an image you will need to:

    1. Make a restore CD

    2. Attach external drive to PC and switch both on

    3. Insert rescue CD (this step may require a reboot if you haven't been quick enough to insert the CD)

    4. Select Restore from the TI screen that appears.

    5. Navigate to your image file and select.

    6. Confirm if you wish to use all disk space (this option varies depending on if you are restoring a partition or a whole disk)

    7. Click OK.

    8. Go down the pub have a drink, play tiddlywinks.

    9.Two hours later return home.

    10. Remove CD from PC.

    12. Reboot and pray that everything went according to plan!

    Prior to that, you will need to ensure that the Rescue CD does actually work on your system. In your current setup the same goes, as the RM version uses the Linux version of drivers as well.

    The reason the Recovery Manager has demanded you make a Secure Zone is because you have activated the Recovery Manager, it can't operate without one.

    The SZ needs to be as large as the largest image file or set of image files you wish to produce.

    If there is not enough room TI will delete the oldest image/set to make room, it will not however enlarge the space.

    To be honest as you have an external drive, that is where you want to archive to, as if the images are archived to the SZ which is on your internal hard drive, when that goes bung so have your images to restore.

    If you have put your SZ on the external drive, then there is no guarantee this will work properly as the SZ is supposed to be on your internal drive.

    As you are currently set up, you only need to 'hit' the F11 button on boot up, click restore, select the image you want to restore and the image that is in the SZ will restore.

    The only reasons I can see for using the SZ these days is;
    a) you only have one drive and no access to an external one.

    b) you wish to use the Try and Decide feature.

    c) you have a 'work' system which is rarely updated with software and you wish to enable other users to be able to restore the OS and default software back to original configuration if the OS has crashed.

    I would urge you to remove the SZ - you don't need it and just use the external drive as the image location. Make sure the external drive is formatted as NTFS otherwise you'll end up with split files if using FAT32.

    To remove the SZ make sure you use the Recovery Manager options, otherwise you wll have problems reallocating the space and getting your machine to boot properly.
     
  10. bodgy

    bodgy Registered Member

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    Ok, let see if I can be more helpful. I'll get off trying to point out the Secure Zone and Recovery Manager are not required for imaging at all :) .

    With the Home version of TI you can image to the secure zone or to an external drive of some kind.

    The Secure Zone is just a part of your hard drive set aside to store images. These images will be exactly the same as the images you can store on an external drive.

    The size of the SZ (in your case) needs to be at least 200GB - how large a drive are you imaging? A 110GB image sounds extremely large.

    The differences between imaging to the SZ rather than an external drive are:

    Images are autonamed in the SZ
    Auto consolidation or deletion will take place if there is not enough space.

    Imaging to an external drive you have to set the consolidation configuration yourself.

    If you want to image to the SZ and to an external drive (for redundancy) then you have to make two tasks and schedule them, one to the SZ one to the external drive.

    As I said in the previous post, the F11 option is tempting if you just want to restore a default configuration quickly - BUT if the hard drive has died you're up the spout with no kilt on - it becomes useless, as your images would have gone west when the drive did.
     
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