ShadowProtect 3.3 Recovery CD Switches Drive Letters

Discussion in 'backup, imaging & disk mgmt' started by RobertB, Dec 1, 2008.

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  1. RobertB

    RobertB Registered Member

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    The first time I booted my brand new computer, which came with two hard disks, I used the SP3.3 Recovery CD, intending to back up the operating system on the primary drive to an image onto the secondary drive.

    I was surprised to see that with both of the Recovery Environment modes (WinPE and the other), both the Disk Map and the File Browser showed that the operating system had been installed on drive D, rather than drive C.

    I made a backup anyway, backing up the 4.5GB from the D drive to an image on the C drive (which until then just had a small number of MB).

    Then I booted into Windows to see whether Windows had actually been installed onto drive D. Windows Explorer showed that it had been installed onto drive C, where it normally is.

    What could account for SP switching the drive letters, and is there some way I can prevent this from happening? (I don't want to install SP onto my disk if it's so buggy it can't even properly recognize which drive has my operating system.)

    Thanks!
     
  2. Jo Ann

    Jo Ann Registered Member

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    Actually, the switching of drive-letters isn't all that uncommon when booting into a 'live' Windows or Linux environment.

    Imho, the best policy is to assign significant names to your drives. Then even if the drive-letters are switched the names (you assigned to them) will not and you can therefore simply rely on your drive-names. ;)
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2008
  3. RobertB

    RobertB Registered Member

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    What if I swapped the cables from the two drives to the connectors on the SATA controller (that's on the motherboard) -- i.e., plugging each drive into the connector that had the other drive.

    Is there some reason that wouldn't result in the drive letters swapping when the Recovery CD ""looks"" at them, so that the Recovery CD would show Windows as being on the C drive?

    Also, another question:

    I've already done a backup using the Recovery CD of the operating system etc. from drive D (as reported by the Recovery CD) to an image on drive C. If I were subsequently to install the SP software, using Windows, onto my primary hard drive (which Windows shows as C) and then run a differential backup for possible later use with my full backup, wouldn't there be a problem because the full backup image would show all the files as being on the D drive and the differential image would show the files as being on the C drive?
     
  4. Jo Ann

    Jo Ann Registered Member

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    Possibly, but I wouldn't count on it. The Recovery CD's OS assigns drive letters by its own (WinPE) rules rather than reading your Windows registry (where assigned drive letters are stored), so as I suggested above, don't depend on drive letters. Assign names to your drives that are meaningful to you and be done with it. Unlike drive letters, your names will always stay with the drive!


    I'm not an SP expert (I mostly use DS), but that shouldn't be a problem. However, I suggest using the recovery CD (booting into one of its WinPE environments) to create all images of your system drive/partition - imho, that's a more reliable method than running Windows XP/Vista to backup itself!
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2008
  5. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

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    Hi Robert

    Messing with the cables is a bad idea. Name your drives something like C: Primary and D: Secondary, and then make all your choices based on the name not the letter. On one of my desktops it is all normal in the recovery environment, on the other I see what you are seeing. It's a hardware thing, and it's no big deal

    When I recover the reversed machine, I select the Image from drive c:, which is Secondary, and I restore to drive d: which is primary. Once I restore and reboot everything is normal with the OS being where it belongs on c:

    The key thing is to uniquely name the drives and then be real careful when you do restores, and you will be fine.

    Pete

    PS. I also see the same thing if I boot with Bartepe and use other imaging programs.
     
  6. RobertB

    RobertB Registered Member

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    OK, I've accepted the consensus here, though I don't understand it. :)

    So I booted the SP CD intending to assign names to the drives as everyone recommended, only to find that the computer doesn't boot.

    After I had initially done my SP backup of "D" to "C", I rebooted directly into Windows, and found that Windows was indeed on C (and worked).

    Now, for some reason -- which I think must not be related to the use of SP, but just a coincidence -- I can't boot into Windows, either with or without the SP CD.

    If I attempt to boot using the WinPE environment, I get a BSOD saying PFN_LIST_CORRUPT; if I attempt to boot using the other (2003) environment, I get a BSOD saying BUGCODE_USB_DRIVER.

    If I remove the CD and attempt to boot directly into Windows, it just auto reboots. It does this even if I boot into several varieties of Safe mode. If I disable the auto reboot in Safe mode, I then get a BSOD saying PAGE_FAULT_IN_NONPAGED_AREA.

    Aside from not understanding what's causing the problem, I'm perplexed that SP couldn't successfully boot into either of its own environments -- I presumed that its booting did not rely on needing files on the hard disk; otherwise, how can it serve as a recovery?

    BTW, I tried booting using <shudder> an Acronis Recovery CD, and to my surprise its recovery environment booted up completely (which never happened with either SP recovery environment). I assigned names to the two drives, but when I attempted to "commit," Acronis did not respond.

    I know this problem may seem inscrutable, as well as being off-topic, but if anyone has any suggestions as to what may be the problem or how to proceed I'd be grateful for them.

    Aside from the evident problem with my hard disk, perhaps someone could help me with the following SP-related solution:

    Fortunately I did make an SP full backup of one of the hard drives and stored it on the other. I'm expecting that any solution proposed to my basic boot problem will involve my using the Windows install disk to re-install or repair my installation. My concern about doing this is that -- presuming that the install or re-install procedure will see both disks -- I won't have any way of knowing which one has the backup on it, which of course I don't want to lose.

    This uncertainty is compounded by the fact that I bought this computer with two identical drives (same mfr, size, and model number), and so they show up identically in the BIOS, and therefore I have no way of knowing which one is which if I were to disable one in the BIOS (say, in order to install Windows on the other drive and then re-enable the first and then do an SP restore).

    Another possibility that occurs to me for preserving the SP backup is to disable the system disk (which presumably is the one that is causing the problem), which I presume would then allow me to successfully boot using the SP Recovery environment (yes/no?), and then I could copy the image to an external USB drive, and then I could re-enable both drives and install or re-install Windows, and finally then restore from the SP image on the external USB drive.

    Thanks for any suggestions!
     
  7. grnxnm

    grnxnm Registered Member

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    If the ShadowProtect Recovery Environment CD booted for you previously (as you indicated) but no longer boots, then either your computer's hardware (CD drive?) is malfunctioning or the CD itself has gone bad or been damaged. Contact StorageCraft support to obtain a link to download the .ISO file for the Recovery Environment which you can use to burn a new CD (assuming you have another, functional, computer).

    Regarding your inability to boot your new computer, it seems, as you say, to be unrelated to ShadowProtect, and so I don't know what your problem is there. If you can boot the recovery environment (with the new CD you make) then you can restore your backup.

    Note that drive letters you see within the booted CD environment are only temporary. The CD doesn't know anything about the drive letters which have been assigned by an operating system on your hard disk. As Pete said, use volume labels as your clue to which disk is which. Also the partition layout itself (seen in the Disk Map tab) can help you to distinguish your disks. You mentioned somewhere that you were unable to reboot after booting the ShadowProtect recovery environment. To do this, simply close the ShadowProtect recovery environment (click on the 'X' button on the top right of the recovery environment's window, or select Exit from the File menu). This will close the ShadowProtect recovery enviornment interface, and will cause the machine to shutdown and reboot.
     
  8. RobertB

    RobertB Registered Member

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    The inablity to boot turned out to be caused by a bad memory module! (The message "PAGE_FAULT_IN_NONPAGED_AREA" was a clue.)

    Now that my system and the SP Recovery CD are working properly, I'm back to my original plan of testing SP to see if I can trust it (unlike Acronis TI) to do restores reliably.

    I did a full backup of my Primary drive and stored the image file on my Backup drive. My plan is to:

    1. Copy the image file to my Primary drive.

    2. Restore from that file onto my Backup drive.

    3. See if I can boot from the new Windows installation on the Backup drive.

    What I'd like to know now is: I've read and been told several times that having two bootable Windows installations in a computer can cause problems.

    - Is that correct?

    - If so, could the problem manifest when the restore is complete, or only when/if I tried to reboot afterwards?

    - If the latter, would I be able to avoid the problem by booting into the SP CD and marking the the Primary drive as not Active and the Backup drive as Active, and then rebooting?

    Hmm ... it just occurred to me: since I will now have Windows installations on both the Primary and the Backup drive, how can I verify that the one that I booted into/with is the one that's on the Backup drive (which is what would confirm the success of the SP restore, which is my ultimate objective)?

    When I first planned this plan (before I got the computer), I intended to disable the Primary drive in the BIOS before I rebooted after the restore. But after I got the computer, I discovered that because I had configured it with two identical drives (same mfr, size, and model number), they show up identically in the BIOS, and therefore I have no way of knowing which one is which if I were to disable one in the BIOS.

    Anyone have any suggestions?

    Thanks,

    Robert
     
  9. grnxnm

    grnxnm Registered Member

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    You can do that, yes. The issues you'll have with such a multi-OS configuration, if any, will revolve around the contents of the boot.ini or BCD (for Vista+). A disk drive is not marked as "active" but rather a partition. Only one primary partition on each physical disk can be marked as the active partition. I would leave your primary drive, and its partitions, as they are (not change the active partition setting). When you restore the image to the secondary drive, it doesn't hurt to mark that restore partition as the active partition. If you leave your primary drive plugged in, then its boot.ini or BCD will direct which partition is actually used for the OS boot. If you physically disconnect your primary drive, then your secondary will become your primary and at that time it will be important that the OS volume's partition is the primary partition otherwise it won't boot.

    As far as telling your drives apart, you can do this with the disk signature. Each disk drive will have a unique signature. You run the PartEdit tool in the recovery environment and use the drop down combo box to switch disks and it will display the disk signature for each disk. Be careful not to make any chagnes in that tool - if you do make sure you cancel when you close.
     
  10. RobertB

    RobertB Registered Member

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    Pete,

    I named my drives as you (and others) suggested, and got used to working with them in the SP Recovery Environment.

    But I was suprised to find that after I had installed SP onto the hard disk, then when I ran it and went to set up a backup job, the first drive in the list of drives was the Backup drive -- since it was drive 0 -- and the second in the list was the Primary drive (which contains the OS) -- since it was drive 1. (I had by this time previously identified -- using the SP CD tools; and by booting after disconnecting one drive, and then the other -- that the OS was on drive 1 rather than drive 0.)

    While I've gotten used to the switching of the drive letters when using the SP CD, for using SP from disk I'd prefer to have them appear in the normal order -- i.e., with the list beginning with the Primary drive with the OS, rather than beginning with the Backup drive. Yes, it's not a big deal, but it would help to preclude the possibility of my making a mistake some time later when I might overlook it.

    Now I'm thinking that since it appears that Velocity Micro installed the OS onto drive 1 instead of drive 0 -- and those designators are determined (I presume) by the SATA controller -- why not try swapping the SATA cable connectors (either at the controller end or the drive end)?

    So could you please elaborate on why you advised me that "Messing with the cables is a bad idea"?

    For example, what kind of problems could this cause, and would they not be fixable simply by re-swapping the cables back to where they were originally (and then doing a restore, if necessary)?

    (I've not yet activated any programs that might use the disk number -- 0 or 1 -- in their copy-protection scheme, so I don't think this would be a problem.)

    (BTW, in the Boot Loader section of Boot.ini it shows "default = multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS. Also, since both of my hard disks are the same manufacturer, model number, and size, they appear identically in the BIOS, and so I can't use the BIOS to disable a drive or change the boot order.)

    Thanks,

    Robert
     
  11. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

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    Been down that road, with Velocity Micro. We swapped cables for another reason, and it didn't effect what you are seeing. It's a windows/mobo thing, has nothing to do with the SP CD.

    Messing with the cables to me is a bad idea because of the possiblity of breaking/bumping/dislodging something and creating more problems then you need.

    To compound it I have to Velocity Micro desktops. One of them the drives retain the same order on the SP CD, and the other reverses.

    What I do when I restore, and I don't exaggerate is once I select the drive I put my hands in my lap, away from the keyboard and I look twice at the drive label. Then I go on.

    Question. If you are doing this on a new machine from velocity micro then you have the recovery cd, and not much to lose. Just restore it and see how it goes.

    I used to be terrified of restoring, so when I bought one of the new machines, before I did another thing, I imaged and held my breath, and crossed my fingers and restored. It worked. I now give restoring about as much thought as opening a browser. I just do it and it works.

    Pete
     
  12. RobertB

    RobertB Registered Member

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    That was great advice -- I swapped the cables, did what you said :) , and now it works! -- not only does my Primary disk now appear at the top of the list when starting a backup with the SP on disk; also, when looking at the Disk Map with the SP Recovery CD, the OS now appears on drive C instead of D.

    Robert
     
  13. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

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    I'll bet you don't have any raid array. Mine is a bit more complicated, as there are really 3 drives involved, and switching cables around didn't seem to make much difference, but I have a raid controller in there to muck things up.
     
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