Newbie needs help with ATI 9 usage

Discussion in 'Acronis True Image Product Line' started by msmisfit, Sep 30, 2006.

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  1. msmisfit

    msmisfit Registered Member

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    I am trying to backup my *entire* hard drive with ATI 9.0 Home, to a Maxtor backup external drive [whose software would not backup the O/S files, etc.].

    I was told in a newsgroup to use the cloning task, and I would not have to format the Maxtor. However, when I use that option, ATI changes my "J" external *destination* drive to "C", in the step where you verify your source and destination drives. Also I read later that "You have to remove the old hard drive after data moving is completed"... which makes me think this is not what I want to do. I don't want to transfer data to a new machine.

    I want a complete system [full?] backup... stored on the Maxtor drive, which works with my existing hard drive. When I read the backup instructions, it asks to select a *file*, or create a new one for full backup; seeing the Acronis Secure Zone at that point, I quit... realizing I didn't know enough to continue. What am I missing?

    Thanks for any advice that will clear up my confusion. [My Adobe Reader isn't working for half of the pages in the Users Guide.]

    mm
     
  2. bVolk

    bVolk Registered Member

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    Hello msmisfit,

    Cloning is not what you need now, you want to create a full image of your system drive. You do not need the Secure Zone.

    First, create a Rescue CD with the TI Create Bootable Rescue Media tool, if you didn't already.

    Then, to create the image, invoke Backup then Next.
    Select The entire disk..., Next.
    Select Disk 1, Next.
    OK the Information popup.
    Input a file name for the image file like D:\Image_C (if your external is D: ). Next.
    Select Create new full backup archive, Next.
    Select Use default options, Next.
    Write some comments about the present state of your system if you like, Next.
    Review the tasks info and if everything seems right, click Proceed.

    When the image file is created, invoke Validate Backup Archive and select the just created image file (Image_C.tib). At the end Proceed again.

    Then exit TI, insert the Rescue CD and reboot. Select Full. When in TI (running in Linux this time), invoke Validate Backup archive, find the Maxtor (it may have a different letter than in Windows), select the image file and Proceed to validate it again. Retrieve the CD and exit TI. The computer will reboot into Windows. (This step is required only to verify that the external drive is seen after booting from the Rescue CD.)
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2006
  3. bVolk

    bVolk Registered Member

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    A small additional clarification.

    A full image of the entire disk means that the image is full (self-standing) as opposed to incremental/differential, which are appended to the full and depend on it for restore. The entire disk (the Disk 1 selection) means that all the partitions on the disk (as well as the Master Boot Record) are included in the image, as opposed to a partition image, when only one selected partition is imaged (ore more, but usually not all of them).
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2006
  4. Menorcaman

    Menorcaman Retired Moderator

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  5. msmisfit

    msmisfit Registered Member

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    Thanks for being so explicit, that's exactly what I needed. :) So, am I right to assume that I do NOT have to worry about what is ON the Maxtor drive NOW... the backup process will also overwrite what is there cleanly? Or should I format it?

    And about the "running in Linux this time" comment, I'm not sure what that means, since I'm using WinXP. If I follow your instructions... is it something I need not worry about, though I do like to understand how ATI works?

    Thanks again for being so helpful!

    mm
     
  6. msmisfit

    msmisfit Registered Member

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    Thanks! I've bookmarked it; I am sure that will be helpful as I start using ATI. Right now it's kind of overwhelming, because it raises endless other questions. Obviously I'm one of those people who learns by *doing* [and learning the hard way some times]. ;) Appreciate the info, and will save the other questions until later.

    mm
     
  7. Christopher_NC

    Christopher_NC Registered Member

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    Greetings msmisfit,

    TI uses its Linux mode to complete various operations, such as while restoring the Drive or Partition that your OS (Windows) resides on. Even though you may use TI running in Windows to set up and begin that operation, TI will reboot into its native mode to complete the operation. TI uses a small version of the Linux OS.

    You can also access the Linux mode of TI directly, by loading your TI Boot Disc, and selecting Full Mode. This way, you can confirm, as bvolk suggests, that you can see and access all your hard drives, and optical drives, while running in the TI Linux mode. After reading your Boot CD, TI runs in what's known as memory-resident form -- using only your system RAM; nothing is written to your HDs to run TI Linux Boot Mode. Which makes it an ideal way to recover from a hard drive failure.

    There is also a 3rd mode of TI, called Safe Mode, also accessed with the Boot Disc, which uses DOS, and your system's BIOS & drivers to access your hardware. Safe mode is much slower than Full Mode, and has limited support for devices such as USB hard drives.

    Saving an Image to your external USB HD does not overwrite existing files on that drive, unlike cloning, so the backup software that came with your HD will still be there. If you want to erase all the data on the drive, you can format it. Most external HDs use FAT32, which is visible to most Operating Systems, and is the same File System TI uses in its Secure Zone. Some prefer NTFS - I use both.

    A few cautions: Images stored on USB HDs are susceptible to errors from overheating, chipset errors, etc. I use an external USB HD, but only run it while I am creating or accessing data on it. So, just because an Image is there, and validates today, doesn't mean it will always be useable. Store your original files and non-replaceable data in their original formats -- by simply copying them to your other drives, or to optical media, etc. Images are great when they work...but are not fail-safe. If an Image becomes corrupt, you may not have access to its contents.

    Your method of learning by trial & error is a good one, and there is much here to learn. You'll know the strengths and limitations of TI on your system, and be familiar with its functions should you ever need to restore from a crash. So, hang in there, this does get easier. If you aren't sure of something, check these forums, as most likely others have encountered similar challenges. And may point you in directions that are more rooted in the real world than in promising descriptions of features that may not work for you.

    Regards
     
  8. bVolk

    bVolk Registered Member

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    I would agree on that view in connection with many programs, but I'm afraid True Image is not one of them. Penalties may come very high if one commits an error.

    My advice would be to learn before trying.
     
  9. msmisfit

    msmisfit Registered Member

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    Thanks, this makes perfect sense to me. I've created the boot disk. Wish I was smart enough to use Linux for my O/S. :)

    This is why I had not already formatted the drive, because I figured it would ask me what file system, or other questions I couldn't answer. Would it be OK to leave it "unallocated"? And what would that mean to the ATI software? I haven't formatted anything since floppies, and I'm sure it shows.

    Understood... I was upset to find out my external HD did not have an on/off switch as advertised.

    I can only hope! :) I really appreciate your excellent, detailed response. You should be a teacher, if you're not.

    mm
     
  10. msmisfit

    msmisfit Registered Member

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    Not to worry... I am super cautious, because I have no one around to clear up my messes... but me. Therefore, I will be doing LOTS of reading here for some time to come. Thanks again, for your helpful reply, which I have printed out and will follow... when I get my questions about how to format the Maxtor drive for ATI usage answered. Sorry, I know most people would know how to do that. :doubt:

    mm
     
  11. Christopher_NC

    Christopher_NC Registered Member

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    I agree with you. The stakes are high. But, then, I learn best by a combination of research and application. So, I also purchased Disk Director with True Image, so that I could create test partitions, mess them up, and restore them. I thought that using OS Selector (a feature that comes with Disk Director) would also help, by enabling me to easily create dual boot environments. And was I surprised! Disappearing partitions, non-bootable system drive...the works. And I learned to protect my data, whether or not this program - or this user - does what they should.

    So, yes, this is a tiger one gets by the tail, and, in spite of all the learning I've done, I can't say that I have it fully under control. More, that I've learned enough to not use OS Selector, or the Secure Zone, or Files & Folders restores to a new location from Boot Mode, or to expect USB drives to run on an otherwise functional mainstream motherboard, or, to rely on DVDs as archival options, or trust any program or hardware to save my bacon.

    So, all in all, it's been a good learning process. Just don't read the manual and browse the tutorial and think, hey, this stuff all sound like just the ticket. It may or may not be a valid ticket when you get to the gate.
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2006
  12. bVolk

    bVolk Registered Member

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    Yes Christopher NC,

    If you have the necessary experience to rely upon you can be bolder without being foolish.
     
  13. bVolk

    bVolk Registered Member

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    msmisfit,

    If you received the Maxtor already assembled in the enclosure, it has been probably formatted already.

    Could you try to copy a file from, say, My Documents onto the external HD using Windows Explorer? If the copied file shows up on the Maxtor, then it has been formatted and it's now in working order for storing the image files created with TI as well. They are just files that you can copy, move or delete with Explorer, although they carry all data recorded on the HD they represent the image of and tend to be therefore quite large.

    If the copy test worked, right-click the Maxtor in My Computer and click Properties. Look at File system. If it is FAT32 and you don't plan to ever connect the external to a computer running an older version of Windows, you may want to reformat the drive into NTFS which is considered to be more advanced. In FAT32 the image files would be also automatically split into 4 GB chunks (the file size limit for FAT32).

    So, if you decide to reformat (or the drive came non formatted at all) you do that by going Start, Programs, Administrative tools, Computer Management, Disk Management. Rigt-click on the Maxtor then click Format. Select NTFS and Default unit size. Do NOT check Quick format or Compression. OK and wait for the formatting to finish.
     
  14. Christopher_NC

    Christopher_NC Registered Member

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    As do I.

    Well, formatting the drive is relatively easy. But first, let me explain that unallocated space refers to un-partitioned space on the hard drive. Since you already have at least some files on the ext USB HD (the included backup program, which may not be worth saving) there must be at least some portion of that drive which is formatted, and partitioned. Partitions can be visible or hidden, so, as with Dell computers, there can be a hidden partition with restore information that won't appear in Windows Disk Management, or be assigned a drive letter.

    You can format your ext HD, or create partitions, using this same Windows Disk Management. Start/My Computer/ Right Click/ Manage/ Disk Management. Once you see your ext. HD, you should be able to view what it has now...eg: some or no partitions. You can Right click and Explore. Or view Properties. Then, if you select an unallocated space on that HD, you can Right Click again, and create a "New Partition". There is a lot to partitioning, so you may want to read up on it first, if you have never done this before. But, since this is also an open, new, ext HD that has no valuable data on it, you could just experiment, until you get what you want.

    You'll need to create a logical partition, to hold data. You might first have to create a Primary Partition, if none exists, in which to place that logical partition. All rather easy to do. And, as bVolk points out, not something to experiment with on your system drive. If you don't know where the red artery goes, best back out, and hand the scalpel to someone else. If, when you view your HD in Disk Management, it reports free space, rather than unallocated space, that will be within an existing Primary partition, from which you can directly create a Logical Partition.

    Really, it isn't so bad, unless this is the nerve center of your computer, and then, really, go slowly, or not at all, if you are unsure. Someone posted here recently with a cry for help after they overwrote their data partition when restoring an Image of their system partition. A definate no no. Like pulling across the yellow line while driving. Easy to do. Yet with very serious consequences. But, most of us still drive, so, let's continue.

    FAT32 is the most commonly used File System. Most external HDs come formatted FAT32. TI uses FAT32 in its own Secure Zone. High end digital SLRs use FAT32. But, there are some who prefer using NTFS. I would suggest, in your case, to stick with FAT32. You aren't planning to do a lot with that external HD...but use it to make backups, right? Or store some data? Since I've run into trouble using TI to restore files to NTFS partitions, I'd say, that is not a proven answer, here. Either file system will work, for storing images and rarely accessed backup files. Windows XP can read and write to either. Windows98 and DOS need FAT32. Splitting TI Image files already happens in the Secure Zone, so, I wouldn't worry about that. TI can easily reassemble its own files from 4 GB pieces, as can every other program you'll use.

    So, you'll simply have to decide how large a partition to create, which file system you want, and, in a few minutes, you can create a new logical partition. Windows, or TI, or Disk Director, may need to reboot, often several times, to complete some of these operations. This has to do with sychronizing with the operating system. I would suggest next checking the partition for errors, using Checkdisk, another Windows utility, available in Disk Management. A thorough scan locates and marks any bad sectors, so that they won't be used for files.

    Hopefully, none of your archives will ever become corrupt. Here in the emergency room, we get a fairly warped view of the world of TI users. Those who are out there merrily using TI without incident rarely post to tell us how great things are on their system. But, Checkdsk can not repair any corrupt TI archives...in fact, it may only make them more unreadable. The first step, if you encounter a corrupt TI Image, is to Mount the Image. If you can mount it, you can recover your data by copying and pasting it, as you would normally, in Windows. You can only mount full Disk/Partition Images; Files & Folders archives cannot be accessed other than thru restoring, which I have encountered some problems using. Some reportedly corrupt Images are not corrupt. That's a flaw in the reporting, or reading process. Or, moving an Image from DVD to a hard drive may make it useable again. As I said, here in the emergency room...

    After all this, you can run TI, to make an Image. Or, simply copy the files you want directly to a folder on your external HD. I will say here that using an Imaging program, any Imaging program, as the sole means of protecting original, non-replaceable data, is not sound practice.

    If someone offered to make an exact digital copy of everything precious in your home or business, then shred it into millions of tiny pieces and place them all into a large steel shipping container in your basement, you may or may not think that was such a great idea. You might even ask, "How will you put everything back together again?" "No problem," says Containerizer, "I'll write the secret restoration code right here on the inside of the door, so, when I open your container, I'll know exactly where everything is, and the code will tell me how to reassemble every last bit. Don't you worry, I do this everyday."

    Of course, if that door ever gets jammed, or the secret restoration code fades & becomes illegible, or your basement ever floods...you're stuck. With what? A shipping container full of useless data. Unrecognizable, it turns out, even to the data recovery pros.

    Which is why I copy my digital photographs and other personal data, in their original file formats, to several internal and external hard drives, and make other copies to optical media. If my archives ever go bad, at least I'll still have whatever isn't faded, or missing, or corrupt. I'd rather risk losing a percentage of my data than the whole lot. Computers break. Images are sensitive and must be intact to restore, and almost intact even to mount. That said, Images and backup software are also a great convenience. Only you can decide how precious your data is, and how critical preserving your data is, to you. If anything is non-replaceable, even Acronis support suggests copying it directly, in non-proprietary file formats, to media that your OS and programs can read and access. If you doubt this, ask yourself what you would do if your critical data on your hard drive was lost, and the only backup you had was a .tib file that turned out couldn't be recovered?

    Well, once the USB HD has done it's job, you can use Windows "Safely Remove Hardware" - an icon with a green arrow atop in your "System Tray" (down there by the clock) - to shut down your USB device. If you can figure out how to use that. Most of the time, it works fine, but will generally tell you if a program is accessing the drive, like Disk Management, or TI. Then, you could connect your USB HD to a power strip with a switch, and power it off once Safely Remove says it's OK to do. (Of course, that power strip, like everything else, had better be plugged into a fine surge protector, as had better be all the cables that connect to your PC).

    Thanks for your kind words. I have been a teacher, love to write, and enjoy problem solving. And, now that all my photographs are digital, I've been trying to figure out just how this whole backup process works. We may as well discuss this as we learn together. In a few weeks, or months, you'll be able to jump in here and "pay it forward."
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2006
  15. msmisfit

    msmisfit Registered Member

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    I was using it 5 days/wk for backups of everything the Maxtor software called complete backups, and it is the NTFS file system. There is 5 GB used, of a 60 GB HD. [There is roughly 50 GB free, but I wanted to get rid of the data on there and start fresh.] Maxtor gave me errors about copying the Windows sytems files.

    I just think it should be clean, don't you? However, I wouldn't know what a "default unit size" should be. So, selecting "default", I don't have to worry about it? My regular pc is only 80 GB, and I am only using 20 GB of that presently. [No photos, biggest personal files are music files and e-mails; and Windoze.] I'm sure I'll get hung up trying to format it. ;)

    I think what I would like to do is, do a full backup monthly with weekly differentials between, and back up select folders on DVDs or CDs periodically. In case that helps determine how to advise me. :) Might do it more often, after I get the hang of it. I await your advice....

    mm
     
  16. bVolk

    bVolk Registered Member

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    msmisfit,

    "Default" (so stated!) is the first size offered as the Allocation unit size to select, but you could also select 4096 from the drop-down list or another size around mid-list. It's the size of the unit "parcels" the disk surface will be divided into. Nothing to do with the total size available to you on disk or partition, rather how effectively the space will be used by Windows. Give it a try to see how the dialog looks, you can still Cancel instead of OK-ing if you are unsure.

    The strategy you propose seems good. It depends on your use of the computer, of course. I do only full images (for simple file management) at irregular intervals (before I make some change), twice a week in the mean.
     
  17. msmisfit

    msmisfit Registered Member

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    Gotcha, thanks! I figured it was something I needed to know the basis of. :)

    Disk Management shows my external drive "J", as "Primary" partition, Type "Basic", with Allocation unit size as 4096 and Volume label is "blank". I can't find anything that shows any [divided] partitions on this drive... just "free space".

    If I format this drive to clean out the Maxtor software/data, is the above what I should re-set this drive to, or would you recommend partitions within the primary, for other backups?

    BTW, I am still reading everywhere to get a grip on the semantics and basic stuff I need to know. TIA... to you and Christopher.

    mm
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2006
  18. Christopher_NC

    Christopher_NC Registered Member

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    Partitioning is really a personal choice. For my uses, I'd rather have several smaller partitions, than one large one.

    If you use TI to make full partition Images, then you will be able to save and restore Images to that drive.

    I also like having a partition for tests, so that, while I'm trying out any unfamiliar operation, I won't be doing that on a partition that contains important data.

    Regards
     
  19. bVolk

    bVolk Registered Member

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    I agree with Christopher as far as main drives are concerned.

    But if you will keep the Maxtor for (large) image files only, as I do, two partitions will only mean two places to manage for space instead of one, a less effective use of total disk space and more file fragmentation.
     
  20. msmisfit

    msmisfit Registered Member

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    Just noticed my ATI 9.0 is version 2,323, should I register and update to 3677 [or whatever is the latest], before attempting anything?

    I'm still looking for the definition of a "logical" partition, for my future reference. :) TIA...

    mm
     
  21. bVolk

    bVolk Registered Member

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    The current build is #3677, yes, and you certainly should update because important improvements have been introduced since build 2323. You should uninstall the latter before installing 3677 and then create a new Rescue CD from the new build.

    The Acronis Disk Director Suite User's Guide, that you can download, may make interesting reading.
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2006
  22. Christopher_NC

    Christopher_NC Registered Member

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    One Partition or multiple partitions

    Here's what Wikipedia has to say about disk partitioning:

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



    And, NTFS.org: http://www.ntfs.com/logdrives.htm

    And, The Elder Geek on Windows XP, here discussing One Partition or Multiple Partitions?

    The Elder Geek on Windows XP also has an excellent description of how to create partitions while installing XP.

    .
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2006
  23. msmisfit

    msmisfit Registered Member

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    Thanks gents for your responses, and hanging in with me. Apparently, this is another time my impatience and frustration [with myself], has made matters worse. :oops:

    I decided to register and update... before I got any responses today, and see that nothing changed... because I did not uninstall the older version. Now I cannot download the 3677 build again, because "My Account" does not show anything available to download any longer. [That I can find.]

    I'm beginning to think I should put the ATI software back on the shelf, and restore the Maxtor software to do what it will do [automatically], and forget about copying my *system* files. This may just be beyond my capacity to deal with. I'm having too many frustrations with Mozilla and certain web sites, I don't need to add another one to the list [in case that has something to do with why my registration wasn't remembered].

    Will it be the nightmare I expect now, just to get to a starting place with the latest software? Or am I too pessimistic? Once again... TIA.

    mm

    P.S. - I found an older thread that told me how to find the *sign in* block, and I tried that just now, and the 3677 build IS shown [accessing that way]. So, if I uninstall 2323 tomorrow and something goes wrong, am I going to be able to download 3677 as many times as I need to, get it working?
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2006
  24. Christopher_NC

    Christopher_NC Registered Member

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    I understand your frustration. Trouble is, this is just the sort of situation Imaging software, once wrestled into functionality on your own PC, is so useful to have. These sorts of software and hardware woes, unfortunately, are likely to continue, with or without Acronis True Image to help you get back up and running in minutes, rather than hours, or days.

    About the only "computer" I ever used that didn't have problems was about 25 years ago, when the "PC" I carried around as a residential energy conservation auditor was really not a PC at all, but simply a terminal with a modem and built-in thermal printer. We let the DEC mainframe do all the computing for us. Come to think of it, even in those "good old days" the mainframe went down from time to time. And for much longer than most of us put up with today, thanks to imaging software and backup strategies that work.

    So, if you are willing, hang in there. You can bet that many of us wouldn't be sticking around if this program wasn't worth the effort. ;)

    Next time you download a program, save it on your hard drive, and, even burn a CD, so you'll have it if you need to reinstall.
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2006
  25. Menorcaman

    Menorcaman Retired Moderator

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    Hi msmisfit,

    Yes you can but as Christopher said, why not save the download to your hard drive instead? It's much more convenient than having to download it each time.

    Regards
     
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