NTFS versus FAT Format

Discussion in 'Acronis True Image Product Line' started by donwhit, Nov 22, 2006.

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  1. donwhit

    donwhit Registered Member

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    I just had my first hard disc crash in twenty years and it has been horrific to say the least. I have purchased an external WD 320 gig (USB) hard drive (FAT format) that comes with their software which is pretty basic. I am a web designer with roughly 60 gigs of programs/files/jpegs/movies, etc.

    I am looking to buy this program for a complete system back up that could be re-installed on a NTFS formated hard drive should I ever have another disaster like this.

    Question: Does my external hard drive which is FAT have to be re-formatted to NTFS or will it work just fine as is?

    Question: Not being familiar with any backup programs, if such a failure occurred, how do you access the external drive to restore to an internal C: drive.

    Thanks for any help you might give me.
     
  2. Tabvla

    Tabvla Registered Member

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    Hi Donwhit, welcome to the ATI Forum :D

    I am assuming that you run under Windows XP Home or Pro.

    1. NTFS / FAT

    As I am sure that you are aware the NTFS format is far superior in every respect to the FAT format. Therefore, seeing that you don't have anything on the new disk it would be advisable to reformat it as NTFS as there is no benefit to keeping it as a FAT drive.

    One reason why you would want to keep a FAT partition is if you had a Boot Manager on your system disk that used DOS as its operating system and therefore required a FAT partition. Or if you had some legacy applications running under DOS.

    2. Accessing the USB drive

    If your system disk/partition fails you then boot using the ATI bootable CD which runs a Linux kernel and which has a full version of ATI on the CD.

    Some things to consider......

    a) Make sure that the Linux shell can "see" your external USB drive. Linux drivers are sometimes slow to appear. If your external drive is a new product then it is quite possible that there is not a Linux driver as yet.

    b) When you create the image of your system partition, include the MBR because you may one day have a situation where the OS is OK but the MBR is corrupted, in that case all you would need do is restore the MBR, which takes seconds rather than hours.

    c) The ONLY way to really test that a system partiton will restore and that it is bootable is to restore the partition. Now, you don't want to restore the partition back to the system disk, because if the restore goes pear-shaped you will end up with an unbootable system. What you need to do is purchase a spare system disk and do your test-restores to that disk and then try booting with that disk to ensure that everything is OK.
     
  3. donwhit

    donwhit Registered Member

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    Hi Tabvla!

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and family in London, England!

    Thanks for your help!

    I do have Windows XP Professional installed on my C:/ drive which is formatted NTFS.

    I purchased the program yesterday and did a complete system backup which I assume included the MBR. Since this program is completely foreign to me as of today, I have downloaded the PDF manual and will gain some knowledge of how it works over the next few days. (Being a "newbie", I don't even know what MBR is at this point!)

    I backed the system up on the external FAT USB hard drive. I will follow your advice and move everything I have on the drive over to C:/ and re-format it per your suggestion. I have not created the boot CD as yet. I purchsed the software on line, so don't have this disc if it was included in the boxed version. I assume that you create and burn this disc with the utility that I see included in the software. I notice that there are two choices "safe" or "full" when creating the disc. I assume at this point that "full" is the choice to make in this regard.

    I know one thing for sure, after spending a minimum 100 hours or so over the last two weeks writing/calling software companies for re-downloads and registration keys for lost programs and having to download 53 client's web sites, I want to know for sure that I have protected myself from this ever happening again. I feel like a complete idiot for not doing this before now!

    Cheers,

    Don Whitfield
     
  4. Menorcaman

    Menorcaman Retired Moderator

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    Hello Don,

    As well as the True Image User's Guide, you might want to have a look at this <Fully Illustrated True Image 9.0 Tutorial>. Much of the info contained therein can be read across to True Image 10.

    Regards
     
  5. dbknox

    dbknox Registered Member

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    MBR= master boot record.
     
  6. dld

    dld Registered Member

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    Hi Tabvla.. I was under the impression that one had to specifically include the MBR when creating an image of a partition. I was corrected on this by bVolk. For builds/versions of ATI starting with 9.0.3567, when creating an image of a partition the MBR is automatically included.

    Donwhit.. Here is an excellent explanation of MBR by Tabvla.

    https://www.wilderssecurity.com/showpost.php?p=831436&postcount=7
     
  7. Tabvla

    Tabvla Registered Member

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    Originally posted by dld

    Correct. Apologies Donwhit I forgot that you will of course be using v10. (Seeing that there are many Forum members who use builds prior to 9.0.3567 I will make a note to that affect in future posts).

    Thanks for the correction.

    :)
     
  8. bVolk

    bVolk Registered Member

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    An overview of the two variants of MBR inclusion in TI images may be appropriate at this point.

    Before TI9 build 3567 the MBR was automatically included in entire disk images but not at all in partition images. However, even when restoring an entire disk image, the MBR was not explicitly shown on the selection screen. The user had to know that to have the MBR included in the image, he had to create an entire disk image (Disk 1 checked) and to restore the MBR he had to use an entire disk image and also perform an entire disk restore from it (Disk 1 checked again). That's why the advice of that time was to create entire disk images if one wanted to successfully restore to a replacement drive and make it bootable.

    Starting with TI9 build 3567 the MBR is automatically included in entire disk images as well as in partition images. Upon restore of either type of image the MBR and Track 0 is shown on the selection screen for the user to include it or not. If Disk 1 is checked upon restore (this option is available only when an entire disk image is being used) all the partitions and the MBR and Track 0 beneath are automatically checked too, but this time the availability and the inclusion of the MBR is plainly visible.

    The benefit of the new functionality is that it's possible to set up a new drive with the image of the C: partition (plus the MBR) alone - but, as Acronis advise, only after the new disk had been partitioned to the same number of partitions as were present in the drive layout when the image of C: was created. This latter precaution is of course superfluous when restoring an entire disk image to a new drive. In such a case the new drive may be blank.

    A forum member reported of having been repeatedly successful in setting up a new drive by restoring partition C: + MBR alone (originating from a multi-partition layout) without properly partitioning the new drive first the way Acronis advise.
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2006
  9. donwhit

    donwhit Registered Member

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    Thanks a lot for all the replys ... I really appreciate it more than you know.

    I now know what happend when my hard drive failed. The "MBR" as I now know it (boot sector) , was corrupted. I looked up solutions in my Windows XP bible and went to the command module and selected FIXBOOT or BOOTFIX (can't remember) and clicked it on. According to the Windows XP tech that I worked with, it created a new boot sector on the drive which would not allow a repair of the original "MBR" or boot sector. The only solution to trying to recover files at this point according to the tech, was to re-install Windows XP in a seperate folder on the drive. Unfortunately, this over wrote many of the programs and files on the C:/ drive. I was able to recover some of the data files in different directory's that were not over written and those on a second partition, but the most important ones including Outlook 2003 were gone. This was where I had numerous e-mails and attachments in folders containing downloads for software and the keys neccesary to activate them.

    I will thoroughly read the manual and hopefully will understand what I can do with the program. As for Outlook, I have exported all the file information to a pst file and have burned a disc with that on it. As I understand this, this can be done with the program as well.

    I guess this is too much information for you folks, but again I appreciate your responses. I am a true "newbie" as I understand that I am called.

    Hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving holiday!

    Cheers,

    Don Whitfield

    All I want to do with this program is to backup my C:/ drive on a regular basis and be able to re-install everything including the "MBR" to a newly formatted drive if this is the only option. I have created a boot disc on a R/W CD and I assume without reading all the information on the PDF file that if I create a complete backup (which I have done) on my external USB drive and do incremental backups evey few days, if I have a complete system failure downstream, I can restore everthing as it was before using the boot CD to access the backups I have created on the external USB drive.

    I will re-format my external hard drive into as TABVLA has reccommended into a NTFS format, do a complete backup which according to what I am reading from you folks in this new version, contains the "MBR" and then do incremental backups each week. If I understand what you are saying, if I have a similiar problem ever again, all I have to do is boot the system with the boot cd and restore everything including the "MBR" on a newly re-formated NTFS drive.
     
  10. Xpilot

    Xpilot Registered Member

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    Hello Don,

    You seem to be on the right track now with making your backup images. It is however important to manage your backup location so it does not get completely filled with a base image followed by a long string of incrementals. This could leave you with nowhere to store your latest images without deleting all your archives.

    It is best from time to time to create a new base image followed by it's own increments and then delete the oldest base image. The orphaned increments can then be overwritten. All this can be done automatically by setting up schedules but the same results can be obtained manually.

    To keep things simple I just schedule full backups.My archive drive can contain 10 images at the moment which exceeds my requirements by a fair margin.

    Once you get into the ways that TI can create and manage your images automatically at a time of your choosing you will realise what a great tool it is.

    The last step is to test your whole backup system by making an actual bootable restore . The 100% safe way is to restore to a spare or new hard drive.

    Xpilot
     
  11. Tabvla

    Tabvla Registered Member

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    Hi Don

    Please be aware of posts by Xpilot and myself. When D-Day (as in Disaster Day) strikes you don't need the added stress of sitting around for a few hours chewing the rim of your coffee cup while nervously watching for that dreaded pop-up message telling you that the backup archive is corrupt and that the restore has failed.

    Therefore ......

    Originally posted by Xpilot...

    Originally posted by Tabvla...
     
  12. Menorcaman

    Menorcaman Retired Moderator

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    Whilst not as foolproof as actually restoring an image to a spare drive, Don should at least boot from the (Linux based) Acronis rescue CD, check that TI detects his external USB HD and then use the Backup Archive Validation Wizard to check the integrity of the image.

    We should also point out that the external HD needs to be connected and switched on prior to booting into TI from the rescue CD otherwise it will not be detected. For this to happen, the CD/DVD device needs to come before the USB HD in the BIOS boot order. If this isn't possible then the USB HD can be left switched off until just after TI begins to boot from the CD.

    Regards
     
  13. donwhit

    donwhit Registered Member

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    After making my first back up to the F:/ drive which was FAT formatted, I re-formatted the drive as recommended to NTFS. I noticed that the first back-up was made in seperate approximate 4 gig files. When I did the second backup on the NTFS, it appeared in one image file and is 49,882,885 KBS compared to 62,627,295,232 kbs which properties shows is the size of the c:/ drive that I wanted to back up completely. (I assume that the reason for this is that the backup file is comparessed?) (I attached snap shot, but don't see it on the preview of this post)

    After reading through the manual, it appears that I should have set up a re-stricted zone on the F: drive into which the back-ups go. I began to do this, but stopped when I noticed that the zone was to be set up as a FAT section which I don't understand. (see attached snap shot) The F:/ drive is definitely re-formatted as NTFS and shows this in the properties screen.

    My intention is to remove all files from the F:/ drive, create the back up zone (Half of the F: drive or about 160 gigs) and then do a complete system back up again. Then set up a schedule for incremental back ups every few days and then a complete system back up once a week. I understand when the protected zone gets to be close to full, I can delete old backs ups to make room for newer ones.

    I will purchase another drive, as you have suggested, and try making a complete restore on that drive to make sure that I am doing this correctly. After what I have been through, the cost is nothing by comparison and I definitely don't want as Tabvla says to be "chewing the rim off my coffee cup waiting to see if it works.

    Last question and this may be a dumb one! How do you go in and look at what files are in a particular back up, ie the MBR record, if in fact that would be the first one to choose if I ever had a corrupted boot record as I did when the system crashed. I understand that the MBR is backed-up when making the first complete system back-up. Am digging through the manual today and have not found how to do this yet!

    Thanks again for your help, but don't want to be a nusiance in the process.

    Don:doubt:
     

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  14. Tabvla

    Tabvla Registered Member

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    That was on of the limitations of the FAT file system. NTFS also has file size limitations but these are far beyond anything that you would encounter on a home or Small Business computer.
    -----------------

    Not necessarily. The Secure Zone and Startup Recovery Manager are best used when you have only 1 disk, for example a Laptop. Think of it this way, if you have only 1 disk where are you going to safely store your backups? The Secure Zone provides you with a safe storage area for a computer that has only 1 disk, and the SRM provides an integrated method of recovering a failed system from the Secure Zone.

    The SZ and SRM are a very clever solution for the one-disk problem.

    If you have 2 or more disks then my recommendation is that you do NOT use the Secure Zone and Startup Recovery Manager, as there are much better ways to create a safe bootable system.
    -------------

    It depends on how you created the backup.

    1. Data files. If you backed up your Data Files using the Files and Folders backup method then the only way to "see" these files is to restore the archive to a spare partition and browse through them. If you backed up your Data Files using the partition method then see below.

    2. System partition. You would backup a system partition (or any full partition backup) using the Partition Image backup method. You can "see" the contents of the image by using the Mount Image option. This creates a virtual restore of the partition. You can then browse this virtual restore using Windows explorer. See the Section 12 in the ATI v10 manual on the Mount Image method.
    --------------

    Hope that helps. And no problem with asking questions - there was a time when eveyone on this Forum knew absolutely nothing. :)
     
  15. donwhit

    donwhit Registered Member

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    I may have screwed up royally. I created what I thought was a secure zone on my external F:/ drive. The computer went through a two boot process analyzing drives, etc. When it finished, I could not tell that there was a protected sector of F: drive which I had set at 160 gigs. I went in and again set up the protected 160 gig sector of F: drive and it left the following image or file on F: drive. (attached snapshot of log which shows errors)

    When I started the procedure of doing a complete backup, I see an icon or folder on my desktop (Acronis Secure Zone). See snapshot. Was this put there during installation of the program or did I do it when I did the above?

    Following your advice, should I delete the protected section of F: drive and just do a complete system back up with no limits as to size? Or just re-format it again as NTFS (the drive looks like it has some hidden files on it) I would like to use part of F:/ for other files and not just for backup. I thought that by doing a protected area that I would eliiminate any possibility of corrupting the back up files.

    I am getting nervous! I don't want to chance doing something stupid to corrupt the c:/ drive files again.

    Thanks,

    Don
     

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  16. donwhit

    donwhit Registered Member

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    I guess I need to back off this for awhile. I see that the Acronis Home Image that I asked you about is just a short cut on my desktop! Dumb question for you!

    I guess I am jumping at shadows!

    Sorry,

    Don
     
  17. como

    como Registered Member

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    It appears from your posts that you only have one hard disk in your computer and you are storing your work files in the same partition as the system files i.e. C:\

    A better solution would be to install another hard disk in your computer and save all your work to it. This would reduce the size of the image files of your system disk and would only need to be updated if and when you add or update your programs, you would then make regular separate backups of your work on the separate disk, if required you could partition the separate drive into separate partitions for different types of files.

    As to removing the secure zone that you have set up as I do not use one myself I will leave to the more knowledgeable forum members to give instructions.
     
  18. donwhit

    donwhit Registered Member

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    I have two discs, one internal c:/ drive and one external f:/ drive which is USB and 320 gigs. I want to use the external F:/ drive for all back-ups and other misc files.
     
  19. dbknox

    dbknox Registered Member

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    Maybe I am wrong here but looking at your pictures it seems that TI is making your external drive "G" and you have indeed made a secure zone "drive F" not sure because I don't use secure zone but this will bump your post to the top and somebody may read it and add to this.
     
  20. Tabvla

    Tabvla Registered Member

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    Hi Don

    This is what I suggest you do:

    • Disk_0 : Internal disk. NTFS. This is the disk with the system partition (C: drive) and perhaps other partitions.
    • Disk_1 : Internal disk. NTFS. Use as a data disk. (Good idea to move your My Documents folder to this disk. If you don't know how to do this send me a private message as it is not really an ATI problem, and I will talk you through the procedure).
    • Disk_2 : External USB disk. NTFS. Backups. Backup Data files using Files & Folders. Backup System using Partition Image method.
    • Buy another spare disk. When you want to test the System backup boot with an ATI bootable CD and restore the system partition to the new spare disk. Boot from that disk to test.

    CAUTION : You will need to remove the Secure Zone. Read the manual carefully and follow the instructions exactly. You cannot remove the Secure Zone using Windows (that is why it is called a Secure Zone), you must do this through ATI.
     
  21. dld

    dld Registered Member

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    You can delete the Secure Zone using the Windows Disk Management tool. But then you are left with an Unallocated Space. You can the create a partition in this Unallocated Space using again Windows Disk Management tool. This is the poor person's way of creating a partition using TI. ;)
     
  22. bVolk

    bVolk Registered Member

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    Yes, that's what I call it too. :D

    And it has served me so well that I just keep postponing the purchase of Disk Director. Although I prefer creating the unallocated space by restoring a partition and resizing it down. I simply do not like the blue screens of Secure Zone building and partition restore is a procedure I'm much more familiar with.
     
  23. como

    como Registered Member

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    But doesn’t this leave the F11 boot disk thingy whereas using TI removes it as well?
     
  24. dld

    dld Registered Member

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    You are referring to Acronis Startup Recovery Manager. I have never used this feature. I don't follow what you mean by TI removes it as well.
     
  25. bVolk

    bVolk Registered Member

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    I'm not certain, but I tend to believe you are right - the modified MBR (due to the activated Startup Recovery Manager) would remain.

    If that is so, the one who creates a Secure Zone with the intention to later delete it with Disk Management to convert it into unallocated space, should refrain to activate the Startup Recovery Manager. Of course, he would have no reason to activate it in the first place, but it is done by default and it could be overlooked easily.

    For the user who created the Secure Zone and activated SRM with the intention to use them both but later decided that he would rather have a normal partition in its place, there may still be a solution, though. When asked in the wizard, he shouldn't assign the freed up space to any existing partition. The deletion of SZ would then restore the MBR to normal and also convert the used up space to unallocated. I did that by mistake, a long time ago. It was with ver. 7 and I'm not sure if the current versions of TI still allow to skip the reassignment of the space previously taken by the SZ.
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2006
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