Wow, have I ever had computer frustrations of late. I have a Windows XP Professional machine with Acronis True Image 9.0 (and the latest update for Acronis 9). In fact, I'm here on my Linux computer since that XP machine is still having its troubles. For years I've been able to create an Acronis image of my OS and apps and easily revert to it if Win XP gets buggy. This is the first time I've ever had any trouble with those images. I've decided to phase out the Acronis Secure Zone. I quit writing images to it for one reason: my older images end up getting automatically deleted to make room for new ones. That doesn't work for me because I need to keep the oldest images. I have no way to restore my operating system other than such images (either Acronis ones or Norton Ghost ones) because HP, in their infinite wisdom, uses a copy protection scheme that has bitten me in the butt. When I first got this HP PC, I created the system restore DVDs via HP's bundled program. I was careful with those disks – and even made backup copies of them – because they were my lifeline to reinstalling my operating system since the PC came with no Windows XP install disk. However, ever since I had to replace a fried motherboard, I can no longer use these disks to reinstall the operating system that I paid to use. (Thanks a lot, HP; I think I'll build my own PCs from now on.) Recently, I bought a legit copy of Photoshop CS 2, which is one version back, but still does what I want it to do. The only problem was, it always crashed when I tried to run it. The only way I could get it to run was to open a file in Image Ready and then from IR, open it in Photoshop. Not good. I reverted to my oldest Acronis image of my OS, from October of '06, but Photoshop still crashed when I installed it. Fortunately, I still had an older image of my OS, a Norton Ghost one from 2005, on DVDs. It's from almost the initial install from the recovery disks, with only the junk bundled software removed. Cool. It worked and Microsoft let me activate. I installed Photoshop, and it ran without crashing. Very cool – I'm getting where I want to go. So that plan was to start with this oldest OS image and then to install and customize all my applications one by one, while creating periodic Acronis images to an external drive (not to the secure zone) as I freshly installed everything. That way I could always revert to whatever old image I want if I ever had any bugginess problem like the Photoshop one. Then I would also copy the Acronis images to DVDs in case my external drive ever crashed. Great plan, right? Unfortunately, I've hit a snag. I realized I forgot a couple drivers that I needed. I figured no big deal. I would revert to one of the '06 or '07 Acronis images and grab those drivers and then revert back to one of my Acronis images I had just made after the fresh install. I have a cool little utility that grabs and stores drivers (DriveMax). And it's always been very easy to restore any Acronis image I've ever made. Not this time! I restored one of the '06 images and restarted the PC. The PC complained that I was missing the “hal.dll” file in the Windows system. I booted to a Partition Magic emergency boot floppy and tried to install and register hal.dll, but couldn't do it (probably because the partition magic boot floppy was DR DOS maybe?) I tried several of the '06 and '07 Acronis images, but always had the hal.dll problem. Finally, I changed tactics. I did an Acronis re-imaging using the “snap to” feature. Bingo, that '06 XP image ran. I went in and got the drivers I needed. However, this was one of the images under which Photoshop always crashed. I figured it would be no big deal to revert to my most recent Acronis image after the fresh OS install that I saved on my external hard drive. Wrong. The image restored, but when I booted up I got a non system disk error. I tried over and over, but always got that error. I decided to try the ”snap to” feature, but it was unavailable with the images I had saved to my external drive. I used snap to with one of my Acronis Secure Zone images and -- voila -- I was able to boot up Windows again, but now I was back in one of those '06 images under which Photoshop crashes. Frustrating. I again restored one of my most recent '08 Acronis images, but I got the non system disk error. So now I'm restoring that old Norton Ghost images from 2005 again, the same one that worked before (and I have all my Microsoft activation info written down). I'm going to try installing Acronis and see if I can then restore to the fresh Acronis images that were running so well before I reverted to that '06 one. So what is going on here? Why am I suddenly having problems with Acronis restores when they've worked so well for years? Is it possible that a resilient rootkit is to blame? Soon as Norton Ghost finishes restoring this old image, I'm installing Panda anti-rootkit and am doing a low-level (via reboot) scan. Then I'm installing my Kapersky Internet Security and doing a complete scan. The old '06 image that I restored did have some malware in it. I discovered it via a Kapersky scan. However, the probs were Trojans that I did not run. They were deleted immediately when Kapersky detected them. Of course this brings up another question. Since I'm no longer going to use the Secure Zone, is there a way I can protect my new Acronis Images? (Besides using anti-virus, which I'm already doing.) I am putting all new Acronis images on DVDs as well as on my external hard drive. The Acronis Secure Zone is on an extra physical hard drive that I installed only for the Secure Zone. I'm going to delete all images from the Secure Zone since some of them might have malware. That will make that drive available. I'm thinking of recreating the Secure Zone and then only storing one image in it that I know is good – that way I won't have the problem of images that I wanted to keep getting automatically deleted. Sorry so long-winded, but I wanted to be thorough with all the details. Or maybe I should just quit using Windows and only use Linux.