Noob prob - can't boot from usb disk

Discussion in 'Acronis True Image Product Line' started by I Mustard Mitt, Dec 20, 2005.

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  1. I Mustard Mitt

    I Mustard Mitt Registered Member

    Jul 25, 2005
    I've started cloning my c drive to a USB HDD of the same size.
    The idea being that if my C drive system files bite the dust, then I could boot to the USB drive and transfer the small amount of data present on the C (since the last back up) to the USB then clone it back again. It also means that if I'm not around to do it, then the PC would at least be usable for my wife until I can fix it. The problem is that after cloning, I can't boot to the USB disk. The bios is enabled and it tries to boot but fails and hangs. Any idea why this should be?


    I, MM
  2. ejkkj

    ejkkj Registered Member

    Dec 21, 2005
    If you are using XP? XP can not boot from a USB drive. I do not know of any work around for this.
  3. plover

    plover Guest

    I also tried booting XP from a USB hard drive and based on my findings and those of others it is not possible.

    The main stumbling point is that during the XP Kernel load, when transfer is given to XP, the USB drivers are not loaded. Therefore XP will generate a BSOD when it can't load it's 'stuff' from the USB hard drive.

    Hopefully Vista will remove this restriction.
  4. Chutsman

    Chutsman Registered Member

    Jun 17, 2005
    Brandon, Florida, USA
    The ability to boot from a USB device is not a function of the operating system but of the BIOS - check whether your Bios allows booting from the USB port.
  5. plover

    plover Guest

    There are two issues here. Yes.. whether a device can boot from USB is dependent on the BIOS it is also dependent on the OS whether it has the smarts to initialize itself on a USB device.

    XP does not have the smarts to do this. When I boot from a USB hard drive in Safe Mode I get as far as the list of drivers and then I BSOD. So XP did technically boot from a USB device but is totally useless.

    The BIOS bootability for a device is just it's ability to read the first sector of the device (MBR) and pass processing on to the OS. That's it. Nothing more. It's up to the OS to know what to do with devices. The BIOS does not have full USB read/write capabilities like an OS does.

    Another approach to booting XP from a USB device is by way of the XP/PE. Like what BartPE does but on a USB device instead of a CD/DVD. PE loads it's USB drivers early enough to make XP initialize.

    I never tried doing this but I imagine it isn't a 1-2-3 sort of thing. I really wish XP could boot from a USB hard drive. Think of the possibilities.
  6. Acronis Support

    Acronis Support Acronis Support Staff

    Apr 28, 2004
    Hello I, Mustard Mitt,

    Thank you for choosing Acronis Disk Backup Software.

    First of all, I would not recommend you to boot any version of Windows from the external USB hard drive, since it is actually possible, but rather complicated procedure.

    You can find more information on how to boot Windows from USB storage devices in this Microsoft Knowledge Base article.

    Please also note that there are two approaches available:

    Clone Disk - moves the entire contents of one disk drive to another;

    Backup - creates a special archive file for backup and disaster recovery purposes;

    Please take a look at this FAQ article explaining the difference between Clone Disk and Backup approaches in more detail.

    Actually, Clone Disk approach is usually used to upgrade the hard drive (e.g. install a larger disk), while Backup approach is basically dedicated for the complete data backup and disaster recovery purposes. Since you are interested in backing up your hard drive for the disaster recovery purposes, I would recommend you to follow Backup approach and create an image saving to your external USB hard drive. In case of the system crash you will just need to boot from Acronis True Image 9.0 Bootable Rescue CD and restore the image.

    Moreover, there are several advantages of creating an image over the disk cloning procedure such as: you can create an image without rebooting your PC, image creation can be scheduled for the particular point in time, Acronis True Image allows you to create incremental and differential images, image archive contains only the actual data and so it has a smaller size, images are ordinary files and so they can be stored on any type of the supported media, etc. However, the final choice is always up to your needs.

    You can find more information on how to use Acronis True Image 9.0 in the respective User's Guide.

    If you have any further questions please feel free to ask.

    Thank you.
    Alexey Popov
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