Newbie with simple question about disk imaging

Discussion in 'Acronis True Image Product Line' started by dwalby, Nov 20, 2007.

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  1. dwalby

    dwalby Registered Member

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    Excuse my ignorance, but I'm a first-timer when it comes to disk imaging and upon reading the user manual for TI 11.0 I wasn't able to understand exactly what rules apply when imaging a disk/partition to another drive.

    In one place it said something about as long as the destination disk/partition is larger than the source disk/partition its OK, but in another place it said if it finds any partitions or data at all on the destination disk it can't continue without re-partitioning the destination disk, causing all data to be lost on the destination disk.

    I have two drives currently installed, a small C: drive and a much larger G: drive, where the G: drive contains non-system data that I don't want to lose, and the C: drive is my OS/system drive.

    As long as there is enough free space on the G: drive to fit the entire contents of the C: drive, is there any way I could restore the C: image to the G: drive, and begin using the G: drive as my OS/system drive without losing any of the current data on the G: drive??

    Or, would I have to re-partition the G: drive to create a new empty (H:) partition at least as large as the C: drive, and then restore the C: image to the H: drive??

    Or, would I have to re-partition the whole G: drive and lose all the data (which of course I would back up to an external drive, so it wouldn't really be lost) before I can do any C: image restore to the G: drive at all??

    I'm just trying to figure out in advance what options I might have in the case that my system drive crashes, or becomes too full with applications so I have to move my system to the bigger drive.
     
  2. jonyjoe81

    jonyjoe81 Registered Member

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    If you want to restore your small hard drive system into your larger hard drive and keep all the data currently in your large drive. You will have to partition your larger hard drive. Just remember to make the partition that will hold your system partition at least 1gb larger than what it currently is. Example if your c: partition is currently 20gb, make sure that the destination partition on your large hard drive is at least 21gb. The reason for this is to prevent the drive letters from changing if your using windows xp.

    But to partition the destination hard drive, you will need partition software, that can do the job. Whatever you do make sure you don't lose power or stop the process, once it starts. Otherwise you will loose data on the hard drive. I've partition hard drives with data on them before and have had success but I would back up valuable data to dvd's, just in case you lose power.

    Thats how I would do it. All my hard drives have 2 partitions. I always partition one as 20gb and the remainder of the hard drive use as a data partition. The reason is that a 20gb partition will backup/restore quickly.
     
  3. dwalby

    dwalby Registered Member

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    I've got a copy of Norton Partition Magic that I haven't installed yet because I haven't really had a need for it. I got it for free after rebate on a promotion Fry's was doing. Is there something better available, or should I just go with it since I already have it?
     
  4. MudCrab

    MudCrab Imaging Specialist

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    jonyjoe81,

    You have recommended many times that the destination partition be at least 1GB larger than the source. In all the tests I've run, I've never had any problems with drive letter changes when restoring to either larger, smaller or the same sized partitions. However, I was not trying to duplicate the partition into a booting situation. I was doing backup and restore tests (backup the drive/partition and restore it back to the same drive with a different sized or same sized partition, for example).

    It's my understanding that the drive letter problems to which you refer happen because Windows sees both partitions and makes changes so they are not identical. This causes the restored partition to be unable to boot properly. This can happen with cloning too. It can happen regardless of the partition size.

    I was wondering if you would care to elaborate on the procedure(s) used to test this.

    What version(s) and build(s) of TI did you use?

    Did you restore to another hard drive with a smaller or same sized partition and have the problem?

    Were both drives internal and visible to Windows at all times?

    Does it make a difference if the destination is on a different drive or another partition on the source drive?

    Did you do this in Windows or with the CD?

    Does restoring to a larger partition avoid the drive letter change problem and Windows can "see" both the source and the destination and the restored "duplicate" will still boot properly?

    If restoring to a larger partition works, then why doesn't restoring to a smaller partition work?

    Is the 1GB size important or does it work just as well if the partition were 2GB or 5GB larger? You say "at least 1GB larger," so are you saying that in your tests, if the difference was less than 1GB, that the drive letter was changed and the partition wasn't bootable?

    Any other relevant information regarding the procedure?

    If you don't have detailed answers for these questions, that's okay. I'm just curious. If restoring to a larger sized partition eliminates the drive letter change problem in all situations where it would occur, why?

    What a lot of people seem to want to do is to backup their current Windows partition and restore it to another drive (or clone) and have it sitting there ready to boot when the other drive fails. The new drive/partition is usually left connected and usually visible to Windows. This is a situation that makes it difficult to get around various problems (including the drive letter change problem) because even when Windows sets itself up in this type of multi-boot scenario, it boots from only ONE drive, not both. In this setup, the second drive (the copy) is not bootable. This leads to frustration and problems when the user tries to boot from the "copy" to test it or in an emergency after their souce drive/partition becomes unusable.

    Excellent advice and something everyone should remember. Partitioning software is designed to do partition operations like resizing in such a way that data loss does not occur. However, sometimes things go wrong and data gets lost or partition corruption occurs (even without power loss). If you have an external USB hard drive, you can copy files to that too. For very important files, make a least two copies. If you live in an area with frequent power outages (like I do), then it's well worth it to invest in a good UPS. My computers have been saved by these sometimes 5 or more times in a day.
     
  5. Xpilot

    Xpilot Registered Member

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    OK dwalby,
    This is the procedure I would follow to move your OS to the larger drive if I have understood your requirements correctly.
    1. Install Partition Magic.
    2. Make images of both your hard drives to an external drive.
    3. Use PM to create a partition at the front of the larger drive. This may be given the letter H or something else it is not important at this stage.
    4. Physically remove the smaller drive and replace it with the H/G drive.
    5. Boot from the recovery CD and restore the contents of C to the new partition (H?). Also restore the MBR.

    On re-booting into Windows the new partition will now be tranformed into C. You will now have the OS and your data in two seperate partitions on the one hard drive.
    Windows may say that new hardware has been installed and that you need to re-boot. You will probably find that this is not necessary. Your existing G partition will probably keep the same drive letter but it is no big deal if it has changed it will still work or you could change it back in Windows disk management or even PM.

    Now the old C drive could be put back as a secondary drive and be formatted for other uses.
    My own choice would be to move the Windows page file to it from the OS drive. It really can make things run better and lessens the need for defragging the OS drive.

    Xpilot
     
  6. dwalby

    dwalby Registered Member

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    thanks, just a few more questions

    Can I create the new partition in front of the existing data on the G: drive without corrupting the existing data, assuming nothing unusual happens?

    Or, do I have to image the existing G: data and replace both it and the C: image on the two new partitions after re-partitioning? In other words, is re-partitioning always destructive to the existing data, or not necessarily so?

    You mention imaging G: in step 2, but never mention restoring it to the disk, so I'm not sure if that's because I don't have to, or if you just assumed I knew it needed to be done. I'm hoping its just a backup precaution in case the entire disk gets corrupted in the process, and I don't have to restore both G: and C:, just C:.

    I think I have to create the new partition in front of the old one because the boot partition has to be the first partition on the disk, or is that not true? So in this case I don't think adding the new partition after the existing one is an option, am I right?

    Is there any difference in the way the existing data is affected depending on whether I add the partition before or after the existing one?

    thanks.
     
  7. dwalby

    dwalby Registered Member

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    sorry, one more procedure question

    So I was wondering, since I would still have my OS loaded on a working C: drive, and both drives connected, couldn't I just restore the C: image onto the new partition (H?) with both drives still installed? Then I could swap out the drives as you describe in step 4 and just reboot with only the single large (H/G) drive connected where the C: drive used to reside. That would seem to me to be easier than using the recovery CD, so is that operation possible, or is there something I don't understand? If the MBR was part of the C: image, would it just get restored with everything else, or do I have to do something specific to restore the MBR?
     
  8. Xpilot

    Xpilot Registered Member

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    The steps I suggested were set out with security of your OS and data very much in mind.
    I use Partition Magic 8 which is fairly old but capable of doing what I have set out without affecting the data on the drive. I presume that your Norton version is capable of doing the same.

    The reason for imaging both the drives is to always have one foot on the ground so if anything went wrong, such a a power glitch or finger trouble, you could still step back to the beginning.

    The PM install is listed first so you will have it included in the safety backup image and you will be able to familiarise yourself before pressing the commit button.
    When you open PM make a note of the partition types of both your drives. This is because the same relationship should be kept on the single drive.
    I missed out step 1a. That is to make a PM rescue disk. If through some misfortune you were unable to boot correctly or the existing G was not accessible you could boot from it and make the corrections.

    It may be possible to have the C partition after the G partition on the disk as only the MBR has to be up front. However you would have to edit the Windows boot INI.
    It would be a good idea to have a look at the boot INI in any event and keep a " just in case " copy.
    The Windows loader looks for Windows by disk nunber and partition number. At the moment your system and boot records are on disk 0 partition 1. Now this can be preserved using the method I have suggested.
    At the moment your small disk is seen as disk 0 and your second disk is disk 1. That is why it should be replaced by your new system/boot disk otherwise it will not be recognised as the new disk 0 it will still be seen as disk 1 which is not included in the present boot INI.

    I always use the TI rescue disk for restores because from Windows the computer would have to be rebooted into the recovery environemt when the proceed buttton is pressed. So I go straight there from the CD.
    In this case as the small drive has been replaced by the new bigger drive 0 the restore of C to its new position can only be done from the TI CD.

    One of the main considerations is not to have two identical Windows OS on the computer at the same time. What I have suggested meets this requirement.

    Xpilot
     
  9. dwalby

    dwalby Registered Member

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    thanks Xpilot, you've been a big help!

    Given my lack of experience with this I'm going to try it out in the next few days to make sure everything goes as planned. Then I'll have the single drive ready for when I upgrade my mobo in the next month or so, and will have had time to verify it seems to be working OK. That way when the new mobo goes in I'll only have one new variable to consider if things go wrong, rather than two.
     
  10. Xpilot

    Xpilot Registered Member

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  11. dwalby

    dwalby Registered Member

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    wow, that's even a bigger help!!

    Since I have an OEM computer and no XP disks it would appear I have no chance of following through on my plan. Wasn't aware I couldn't re-use the OEM version of XP at all with a new mobo, figured I'd just have to deactivate the previous version and re-activate it on the new mobo. Also thought the board swap/OS restore process was simpler than it is based on the links you provided.

    And actually, after thinking about it a bit more since my last post I had already realized I would just be asking for trouble by taking down my only working machine while trying to do an upgrade procedure I'd never done before. So I gave up on the mobo upgrade on the current chassis idea, now I'm looking into building up a second machine (or probably just buying one) and moving just the data disk over to that machine. I'd like to learn how to build up a bare bones machine just to understand the process better, but when you add up the cost of the components in a new computer, there just isn't much cost advantage to building your own, and there's a lot of things that can go wrong in the process if you've never done it before.
     
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