Restoring Windows partition and/or MBR only

Discussion in 'Acronis True Image Product Line' started by dclayw, Nov 13, 2006.

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  1. dclayw

    dclayw Registered Member

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    I am currently trialling Acronis True Image 10 build 4871. I have a Dell Dimension 5100 with 3 partitions, the Windows (C:) and Data (D:) are NTFS and the Dell Utility partition is Fat16. I know it is possible to recover from a disk failure if I take an image of the entire hard disk. But for practical reasons I want to image just C: drive (Windows partition) and then do selective backups of my data on drive D:.

    From other posts in this forum it's my understanding that if my hard drive fails and needs to be replaced then a restore of the C: partition alone will not work (machine may not boot afterwards) unless the new disk is first prepared so that it has the same partition information as the original disk. Is this 100% correct or is there some way to restore just the Windows partition. Is it possible with Acronis to save just the partition information (MBR). Is it possible to restore just the MBR and will this set up the original partition structure. So I'm thinking it may be possible to take an entire disk image and from that image retore the MBR to give the original partition strucure, then restore the Windows partition.

    If the new disk must first be (manually) prepared with the original partiton structure, do I have to create the partitions exactly as they were before. I
    know that at least I must have the same number of partitions, but do they have to be the same size and the same type, or are there any other requirements. I don't think it is a trivial task to recreate the Dell Utility partition as it is a non-standard type and has some other peculiarities. I probably don't really need this partition but then again I have heard mixed reports about deleting this partition and having problems afterwards. I cannot simply delete it and then find that my machine won't boot.

    I could find the answers through my own tests but I want to avoid that because my PC is mission critical (home business) with a lot of specialised
    applications and settings. There is a lot of work reinstalling windows and re-configuring these applications. Ofcourse it can be done but that is exactly what I am trying to avoid. I currently have a backup strategy in place but it does not include recovering the Windows partition, which is why I am looking at Acronis, to get me back online relatively quickly. I have had failures in the past and it takes me about a day and half to get back online. I have considered getting another PC configured exactly the same but there are practical and cost considerations there too.

    Thanks
    Dave
     
  2. seekforever

    seekforever Registered Member

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    The general rule is that the new disk must have the same number of partitions as the one the MBR was taken from. The sizes do not have to be the same. However, I can't say how much trouble the Dell partition will be if any.

    Xpilot has what I would consider a fairly secure method of backing up. He does a clone of the existing drive and then immediately puts the clone into service the next day. This way he can tell if it is OK, and if for any reason it isn't, he still has the original HD to sort things out with. The process is mechanically facilitated by the use of plug-in drive bays so inserting/removing the HDs is easy.

    If you don't want to do that, you can buy another drive and make a clone of your existing drive. Test it out and then put it aside. If your old drive fails, you have a new bootable drive to install that you know works. You can then just restore the C partition to update it. You will also have to update your data as well.

    If this is to save your business data you don't want to rely on any backup program/method without full testing. This means restoring your system just as if you had a complete disk meltdown. To do this properly requires the availability of a second drive. You should also thoroughly check out the TI recovery CD in case this is the only option to recover an image. (If you have the clone drive, it shouldn't be, but you never know what cruel tricks abound.)
     
  3. bVolk

    bVolk Registered Member

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    Dave,

    As Acronis Support once put it, the Windows installation is "aware" of the number of partitions present. Therefore, when you restore an image of C: it has to find (at the new location) the same number of partitions as when the image was created, their size being irrelevant.

    One option is to partition the new disk into as many partitions as there were present when the image of C: was taken and restore C:.

    The other approach is to have an entire disk image on storage and first restore that to the blank new drive, followed by a refresh restore of C:. I'm set up (but didn't have to do it yet) for this latter procedure. As I recently changed from 2 partitions to 3, I have entire disk images of both layouts so I could rebuild an older state of the system partition if needed.

    The third option is to edit boot.ini, but I'm not sure that would be enough.

    More about it here:

    https://www.wilderssecurity.com/showthread.php?t=130170&highlight=reflections
     
  4. Brian K

    Brian K Imaging Specialist

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    Dave,

    I have six Dell's and I've tried several imaging apps in various ways. I can confirm that you only need to image the C: drive. You can image and restore the Dell Utility FAT16 partition if you like or you can delete it and only restore the C: drive. I keep data backups of my D: drive on the second HD and never image a data partition. Others do it differently.

    Editing the boot.ini will be needed if you restore a partition 2 OS to partition 1 on a new HD. That only takes a minute. The original MBR doesn't need to be restored as the Utility partition doesn't require a special MBR. When you create partitions on the new HD a generic MBR is created.
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2006
  5. Xpilot

    Xpilot Registered Member

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    Hmm.. I do not actually use the clone process though I do end up with perfect duplicate copies of my master drive which hold all my systems, data etc.

    I use imaging followed by a restore to the swapped main drive.
    The advantages are that the main drives are never both in the computer at the same time ( I have seen the results of a lightning strike locally) . The images can be scheduled to run unattended. The restore process is the quickest part of the operation. In a real breakdown of a hard drive it would take me 3 mins max to be up and running again. The spare hard drives are in computer friendly form so can be read by any NTFS capable machine.

    Xpilot
     
  6. seekforever

    seekforever Registered Member

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    Ooops, sorry about that.
     
  7. Xpilot

    Xpilot Registered Member

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    Not to worry. Just remember that cloning is best left to biologists and Fruit-Flies. [​IMG]

    Xpilot
     
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