Problems with 'Signature' (ADD Drive Properties)

Discussion in 'Acronis Disk Director Suite' started by Nedwob, Jul 1, 2007.

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  1. Nedwob

    Nedwob Registered Member

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    For many years I have been in the habit of restoring IMAGES (originally using Drive Image, more recently using True Image) to a DIFFERENT BOOT PARTITION to the one the image was made from. (In the case of Xp, this requires me to edit BOOT.INI to point to the correct partition).

    I do this as I use several OS's for a number of reasons, and it isn't always convenient to restore to the original partition. I was using BootMagic to select the O.S., but I am now using OSL2000.

    Recently I have noticed a peculiar problem.

    I have 3 boot primaries, P1 (31Gb), P2(30Gb) and P3(29Gb). Say I have Vista in P1, Win98 in P2 and Win2k in P3.

    I run Acronis Disk Director (ADD), and look at the Properties, Signature of P1, P2 and P3. These are reported correctly -

    Partition 31Gb 30Gb 29Gb
    Win95OSR2/98/Me letter d(0)p(1) d(0)p(2) d(0)p(3)
    WinNT4/2000/Xp letter hdc1 hdc2 hdc3

    I want Xp in P2, so I restore an image of Xp (made from an installation of Xp in P3), into P2, make sure P1 and P3 are hidden, and P2 is Active, Unhidden.

    I boot an Xp Boot CD, and edit BOOT.INI in P2 to point to P2. P2 boots OK.

    However I find that OSL2000 shows the BOOT drives with incorrect parameters.

    I open ADD and reexamine the Signatures. They are now reported as -

    Partition 31Gb 30Gb 29Gb
    Win95OSR2/98/Me letter d(0)p(1) d(0)p(3) d(0)p(2)
    WinNT4/2000/Xp letter hdc1 hdc3 hdc2

    so the 'Signature' values have somehow been 'twisted'. This confuses OSL2000, and even Bootmagic shows the order incorrectly, although this can be edited to 'hide' the problem.

    Can anyone please explain if, and where I can EDIT these 'signature' values to be correct, or some other way to solve the problem.

    (I can work around this by INSTALLING each O.S. into a partition, and making an Image, and then only restoring to the original aperition - but this is messy, time consuming, and may require me to reActivate.)

    Nedwob
     
  2. MudCrab

    MudCrab Imaging Specialist

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    Have you checked if the partition order is actually being changed by the TI restore?

    Take a look at this post to get an idea of what I'm talking about.
    Perhaps when restoring the 3rd partition into the 2nd partition's space, TI is reordering the partitions in the partition list so that partition 3 is now 2nd in the list and partition 2 is now 3rd in the list. If you take a before and after look at the partition table you should be able to tell if this is happening.

    I haven't actually tested this, but I have had it happen so I do know what you're talking about. In the post I referenced above, the XP WORK partition was a TI image of XP installed in the 1st partition. After I restored it, it was still the 1st partition, even though it was restored to the 3rd physical partition. As you can see in the picture, it's listed 1st in the partition list.

    Also, you can edit the boot.ini file using DD if you want instead of booting from the XP cd.
     
  3. MudCrab

    MudCrab Imaging Specialist

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    I have tested this and TI DOES change the order of the partitions in the partition table.

    I created three partitions.
    [#1 - 40 GB][#2 - 20 GB][#3 - 172GB]

    The partitions are listed in that order when I look at the partition table in DD.

    I then restored an XP partition (originally installed in a single partition [#1]) into partition #2. Upon completion of the restore, I used DD to look at the partition table and TI had swapped partitions #1 and #2. Partition #2 (the one I restored XP to) is now listed FIRST in the partition table and partition #1 is listed 2nd.

    I suppose TI does this because it knows the original partition was in the #1 position and so it restores it there so it will boot. (This means it's not necessary to edit the boot.ini file to point to partition(2).) I'm just guessing, but it does make it a little more complicated to sort out what the correct boot.ini file settings are for each copy restored into a different partition.
     
  4. Nedwob

    Nedwob Registered Member

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    Thank you MudCrab for your interesting and detailed replies. You obviously put in a lot of time and effort helping on this forum.

    I originally posted in the ADD forum because ADD exposed the problem and I thought that ADD would allow me to solve it (via Advanced, Edit). I now think that ATI is responsible for the problem, as described below, so I should probably have started in that forum - sorry!

    Based on your replies, I have made a number of tests, with interesting results, and I have FOUND A way of preventing the partition table from being modified - Acronis won't like it!!!

    Below, ADD=Acronis Disk Director, ATI = Acronis True Image, P2 = ACTUAL partition 2, P3 = ACTUAL partition 3.

    I wondered if the partition number in BOOT.INI was the problem - possibly True Image was reading this and then altering the partition table. I edited an image so that BOOT.INI points to P2. After restoring this modified image to partition 2, the signatures of P2 and P3 were again 'twisted', and BootMagic menu entries for P2 and P3 were 'crossed', so restoring the image with a corrected boot.ini didn't help.

    I ran ADD and (via Advanced, Edit) edited the partition table - I swapped the values for the second and third boot partitions. After this, the menu in BootMagic was correct. Partition 2 booted OK, and the BOOT.INI file in this partition was correct. Partition 3 booted, but there were several problems - BOOT.INI somehow now pointed to partition 2, and a number of programmes installed into partition 3 wouldn't run.

    So editing the partition table didn't fully work, and isn't for the 'faint-hearted' anyway.

    So I decided to try a different approach. I don't remember getting a problem when using Drive Image or Ghost, a couple of years ago. I gave up on Ghost as I hate the interface - still do!!!

    I recreated empty P2 and P3 from scratch - the signatures were now OK. I then restored the ADD P3 image into P3. This booted OK, as expected, and signatures were correct. I then dug out a copy of Norton Ghost 9, installed it and used Ghost to make an image of P3.

    I then used Ghost to restore this image to P2, and it all worked OK (I had to edit boot.ini in P2 to point to P2). Disk Signatures were no longer 'twisted', the partition table was OK, and the boot menu in BootMagic was OK. My preferred boot manager is OSL2000, but this wasn't on the test machine. I had problems with Acronis OSS when I tried it some time ago - but maybe this was due to the partition table problems, which I wasn't aware of at the time I tried AOSS.

    So, it seems that True Image is responsible for altering the partition table and all that flows from that. It must store the original partition number in the image, and, if the image is restored to a non-native partition, ATI must modify the partition table.

    I don't understand why it is programmed to do this (or is it a BUG?). At the least, it should ask whether it should modify the partition table. I also don't understand the screen that opens during a Restore, that is entitled 'Partition or Disk to Restore' (the image has already been selected on the previous screen). This screen offers 'MBR and Track 0', plus ONE location to restore to (which is the original location). This is pointless as the next screen allows one to choose the 'Restored Partition Location'.

    I hope Acronis read this and can answer these questions.

    nedwob
     
  5. MudCrab

    MudCrab Imaging Specialist

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    I have done further testing, but haven't posted the results yet.

    As stated above (and as you found out), TI will update the partition table per the restored partition. If you restore an image that was originally in partition #1, then TI will change the partition table to place the restored partition in the #1 slot even though the physical partition may not be the first one.

    There is more going on in the background than it first appears. TI is actually doing this to make sure the restored partition boots. I think this is supposed to be a "feature" and not a bug.

    Taking the same image and restoring it to any different partition always changes the partition table. However, (with XP, anyway) TI always modifed the boot.ini files automatically in the other partitions so they were updated to point to the correct partition in the partition table.

    For example: restore image to partition 2. Boot.ini in partition 2 is now partition(1). Restore same image to partition 3. Partition table is changed so partition 3 is now first in the list. TI modifes the boot.ini file in physical partition 2 to point to the correct partition(#) since its position has been changed in the table.

    I haven't tested this with OSS to see if it updates OSS files too, but I suspect Acronis has tried to make it where things will continue to boot properly (at least with their products).

    Third-party boot loaders, though, won't see the changes and you'll have to change them manually.

    As you said, it isn't for the faint-hearted and can be quite confusing.
     
  6. Brian K

    Brian K Imaging Specialist

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  7. Nedwob

    Nedwob Registered Member

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    Thanks Mudcrab for all the comments - also to Brian K - Goodells is a very good source of info.

    MudCrab - you say that you think Acronis is trying to ensure that the partitions boot correctly - but by changing the partition table, they have certainly ensured that OTHER boot managers get confused (maybe OSS can cope!!??).

    In BootMagic, it is necessary to reconfigure the boot menu, or else the required partition may not be selected, depending on which partitions are involved.

    In OSL2000 the partition number is displayed together with the User's name for the partition, so the changed partition order is obvious. It is necessary to re-enter the user names.

    In any case, with Xp, all that is really needed after restoring to a non-native partition is to edit Boot.Ini.

    I think that most people that are 'computer literate' enough to create several boot partitions, would be able to edit boot.ini either thru' ADD or with a BOOT CD like Reatogo.

    In Vista, things are different, and it is necessary to 'Repair' after cloning. I have not done this recently so I can't remember whether the partition table gets altered when cloning Vista using ATI.

    Personally, I prefer Acronis products, but I will have to use 'Ghost' to do a INITIAL clone to a non-native partition. Once such a 'clone' is working, I will use ATI to create my images. I have now rebuilt my Reatogo CD to include Ghost 9.

    PLEASE ACRONIS, EITHER REMOVE THIS FEATURE (o_O?) OR ASK THE USER WHETHER THE PARTITION TABLE and BOOT.INI FILES SHOULD BE MODIFIED.
     
  8. MudCrab

    MudCrab Imaging Specialist

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    Acronis probably doesn't test with other boot managers (or possibly they don't care about them at all, since they don't support them).

    A better solution, in my opinion, would be to only alter the boot.ini file of the restored XP (or let the user manually edit it) and leave the partition table as it is. That way all other partitions are in the same order they were before and other boot managers shouldn't have any problems.
     
  9. Nedwob

    Nedwob Registered Member

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    I entirely agree - until/unless Acronis stop altering the table, or at least ASK whether to do so, I will make my first 'clone' with Ghost9, and just use Acronis TI for non-cloned images (or I might use Ghost9 all the time!)

    nedwob
     
  10. Brian K

    Brian K Imaging Specialist

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    I know a few ways to edit boot.ini but I'm not familiar with doing it via ADD. Any hints? I couldn't see it in the userguide.
     
  11. K0LO

    K0LO Registered Member

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  12. Brian K

    Brian K Imaging Specialist

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    Mark,

    Thank you. I didn't know DDS could do that. I still can't find it in the userguide. Very nice graphic in post #10.
     
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