Specific recovery sequence from bare metal to functional system?

Discussion in 'Acronis True Image Product Line' started by Marc_G, Mar 29, 2005.

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  1. Marc_G

    Marc_G Registered Member

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    Hi folks-

    Is there a FAQ that describes step by step what is required to take TI-8 image of the active system partition - let's assume it's C: - from XP and restore it to bootability on a bare-metal new-from-manufacturer drive?

    I've read SO MANY threads here... and I'm knowledgeable in general on the subject, but I want to make sure I get it right so that my disaster recovery plans are OK.

    Let's assume I've got two partitions on the original system, C:\ (system) and D:\ Data. Say they were on a 60 GB drive. I've got images of these partitions but not of the whole drive including MBR.

    Drive craps out. I get a new drive, this time an 80 GB drive. It's fresh from factory, no MBR or anything. I'm presuming I need to:

    1. Create an MBR with either FDISK/MBR from my Win98 DOS-bootable utility disk or boot the XP CD and use FIXMBR. Or does Acronis have a utility for this?
    2. Restore the C: then D: images to appropriate partitions on the new drive using the TI-8 rescue/recovery environment (I've got it bootable on DVD with the C: partition, thanks to those who posted instructions).
    3. Reboot. New drive detected by XP, probably forces another reboot.
    4. Done.

    Is there anything else needed, or are there things I need to do to:
    -Ensure the new drive is bootable
    -Avoid "disk geometry errors" like I used to get with Ghost sometimes, making Partition Magic consider the drive bad.

    Pointers to FAQs appreciated. Just backfilling my knowledge here.

    Marc
     
  2. iflyprivate

    iflyprivate Registered Member

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    Here's what works for me with TI8 build 800 on a Dell 5160, XP Pro, external USB 2 drive:

    A) When I have both drives available before a disaster, I clone the internal to the brand new external and put the external away. If a disaster strikes I can physically swap out the mechanisms. No problems as long as the new drive goes into the same machine it was cloned from.

    B) When I do not yet have the new drive available, I create an image of the internal drive and store it on CD's (could also use an external USB or DVD's, etc.). When disaster strikes install the new, bare mechanism as the internal drive, boot from the TrueImage Recovery CD and restore the image from the CD's, DVD's or external USB drive. No problems as long as the image gets restored back to the MACHINE it was created from.

    C) When I stop worrying so much about an actual internal mechanism failure, I create an image of it, store it on my external USB drive and disconnect the external drive. When I totally screw up my internal drive software to the point of unbootability, I boot from the TI8 Recovery CD and restore the image to my internal drive again and I'm good to go in about 15 minutes (40GB HD).

    I'm not guessing here. I actually DO it. Over and over. Each process. I know it works for me on my equipment.

    My suggestion to you so you can build your own confidence level is to actually DO what you want to do and then test it for yourself. I think you'll be satisfied that it really works. Good luck.
     
  3. Marc_G

    Marc_G Registered Member

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    Thanks for the good advice. I agree with all that you said and have done this in the past with Drive Image (worked fine, but the version I've used is long in the tooth), and Ghost 9 (it worked, but drive geometry issues came up when restoring partitions to different-sized HD hardware and Partition Magic would no longer touch the drive).

    One difference between what you mentioned and my strategy is that I will rarely if ever make an image of, or clone, the ENTIRE drive. It's partition by partition for me, for various reasons not worth getting into here.

    Also, if I clone/image the entire drive onto a new drive that is different in terms of size (60 to 80 GB for example), won't the MBR that gets restored onto the new drive be incorrect? That's a major source of concern for me, as I spent hours fixing drive geometry errors afte working with Ghost.

    Thanks

    Marc
     
  4. MiniMax

    MiniMax Registered Member

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    I have no actual experience with procedures like this, but the size of the drive should not matter for the placement of the MBR. The MBR always go into sector 0 of the drive. Inside the MBR is the code to locate the Active Primary partition, and (in the case of an WinNT/XP created MBR) to locate a file named NTLDR in the root-folder of that partition.

    Using FIXMBR from the WinXP Recovery Console you can put a fresh copy of that Lookup-the-Active-Partition-and-Launch-NTLDR code in the MBR, but FIXMBR will not install a new NTLDR and NTDETECT.COM file. For that you need FIXBOOT. And to fix a damaged (or missing) BOOT.INI use BOOTCFG /REBUILD.

    So - as long as you have the necessary partitions, with Windows installed into partitions with the correct drive letters, and Active/Primary flags, you can recreate the whole boot-chain from the MBR -> NTLDR -> NTDETECT.COM -> BOOT.INI -> Windows XP with a little help from the Recovery Console :)

    Or something like that.....
     
  5. Marc_G

    Marc_G Registered Member

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    Thanks for the additional detail MiniMax.

    A further question:

    Presuming I restore a C: partition-only image (not the whole disk, just the one partition imaged separately) that had NTLDR, NTDETECT.COM, and BOOT.INI, and restore it as the first partition on the bare-metal fresh drive, and make sure the drive has been FIXMBR'ed, would it be necessary to FIXBOOT it?

    Marc

    PS: I'm preparing to run tests, as per excellent advice previously posted. The test will put the C: partition (15 GB size, 3 GB used) previously from an 80 GB drive onto a 40 GB drive I have hanging around. The drive will be low level formatted first, to reproduce factory-fresh condition. But I hate swapping drives in my laptop (wear concerns) so I'm making sure I've got it right first.

    I would like to avoid having to have the Windows CD. Anybody got FixMBR and FIXBOOT or equivalents on a USB key?
     
  6. MiniMax

    MiniMax Registered Member

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    As I see it, you are correct. With NTLDR and friends on the (restored) partition, all you need is a good, Windows XP MBR.

    A FIXMBR substitute should be easy to find. In essence, all you need to do is capture the first 512 bytes from the beginning of the hard disk. In Unix/Linux it is as simple as 'dd if=/dev/hda of=valid.mbr bs=512 count=1'.

    Or maybe not :( As I researched whether the blocksize (bs) for the dd command should be 256 or 512, I noticed that the MBR-code is mainly concerned with finding the active, boot partition. The process of locating the NTLDR is handled by yet another 512 bytes of (partition) boot code - this time located at the beginning of the partition found by the MBR code.

    I wonder if the FIXMBR program also re-writes this piece of code, or if the image produced by True Image includes it as part of the partition information?

    Looking forward to the result of your experiments.
     
  7. iflyprivate

    iflyprivate Registered Member

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    I have cloned a 40GB Fujitsu hard drive to a 60GB Hitachi hard drive many, many times with perfect results. I have never had to fix an mbr or run any fixit utilities. I only run chk dsk under XP and have yet to find a problem, although my drives are all new.

    When you clone to a larger drive, TI8 lets you choose to automatically and proportionally stretch the partitions to fit the larger drive or, as I do, manually set the partition size for the clone drive. No mbr or drive letter problems in any case.
     
  8. Marc_G

    Marc_G Registered Member

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    Hi all-

    Since I started this thread, I wanted to report back on my findings after some experimentation.

    In summary, it True Image 8.800 worked great! :D

    I created an image of my system partition (not the whole drive, just the C:\ partition which is one of several partitions on the physical drive). It was written to a HD but I burned it onto a DVD, making the DVD bootable with the recovery environment (thanks wdormann and Menorcaman). The drive is an 80 GB drive; the partition I imaged was 15 GB. Mostly unused, so the actual compressed image fit onto a single DVD.

    I then took an existing 40 GB drive and used the Hitachi utility to clear the boot sector and low-level-format it. This returned the drive to a state equivalent to bare-metal factory fresh, for our purposes, as far as I can tell. NO MBR present, no nothing.

    With this drive in the computer, I booted from my DVD and restored the C: partition onto the totally blank drive. I did have to check the "Active" radio button in the options, as it was set to "primary" by default. I think this is an error; the text says that the default choice should be the same as the status when the drive was imaged. The drive was active at the time, so I'm not sure why the partition to be restored wasn't listed as to be set to active. But, one click was all it took to set this correctly.

    Restoration from DVD took about 30 minutes for the 3.5 GB data; limiting factor was likely DVD read speed. Interestingly, the time remaining display was always off by a factor of 3 through the whole process. :rolleyes:

    Process completed; removed DVD disk, rebooted system. Normal boot, no problems, got into windows just fine. Ran Partition Magic 8 to check for drive geometry errors; no problem.

    This answers the questions I originally posted. There seems to be no need to do any FDISK/MBR or FixMBR when restoring an active-partition-only to a fresh HD.

    And, no drive geometry errors like I used to get with Ghost.

    OK, I'm now a True (Image) Believer.

    Marc
     
  9. eeh42

    eeh42 Registered Member

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    I've read through this thread and have a couple questions. If someone could help I'd really appriciate it.

    I have a notebook and want to install a new bare metal harddrive, 60GB 7200rpm to replace the 100GB 4200rpm that came with it.

    As I understand the TI8 process:
    1. I would install TI8,
    2. Create a TI8 boot CD
    3. Create an image of C: and store on my external USB harddrive
    4. Remove old notebook drive and install NEW bare drive.
    5. Boot from TI8 boot CD
    6. Restore image from external USB drive to new drive now in notebook.

    What I'm not sure I understood:
    1. Will the computer boot from the TI8 CD with a bare metal hard drive?
    2. Once booted from TI8 boot CD will TI8 recognize external USB drive to restore from?
    3. After installing the bare metal HD do I need to format from Win CD or will format come from the TI8 image I made from the old C:?
    4. Will there be an issue restoring image from 100GB drive (only 15GB used) to 60GB drive?

    Thanks,
    eeh
     
  10. MiniMax

    MiniMax Registered Member

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    If you add a step 2½, you will know about the USB thing for sure:

    2. Create a TI8 boot CD
    2½ Boot from TI8 boot CD
    3. Create an image of C: and store on my external USB harddrive

    Answer to Q3: No.
    Answer to Q4: No.
     
  11. Marc_G

    Marc_G Registered Member

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    Hi Minimax-

    If his original 100GB drive is all one big partition, will TI actually down-size it to fit the 60 GB drive? I thought I had read a thread where TI can up-size but not down-size the partition upon recovery.

    Also, for eeh, I would add step 3 1/2:
    Verify image after creation.

    When making the image, it's probably best to have TI chop it into small chunks, say CD-sized files. Apparently in some cases there are problems with very large file sizes (~>1GB) particularly with USB enclosures. I'm not sure these problems are completely understood, but apparently using smaller file sizes is a practical workaround. Better safe then sorry.

    Marc
     
  12. MiniMax

    MiniMax Registered Member

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    I am not sure about the down-sizing stuff. I assume it will work, but I do not know.
     
  13. storage_man

    storage_man Registered Member

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    Minimax

    TI will downsize. I did a test where the original disk was a 30gb with two partitions (C:= 12gb, D:=18gb). Note Neither partition was full (C: had 6gb and D: had 9gb). I cloned it to a 20gb disk using the automatic feature and it created a C: = 10gb and D:=10gb) It looked like it would split everything 50-50 if it fits.

    Storage_man
     
  14. Marc_G

    Marc_G Registered Member

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    Thanks for the clarification Storage_Man.
     
  15. schabelf

    schabelf Registered Member

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    I have followed the same sequence of steps as Marc G and didn't work for me. I have an image of my c drive active primary partition on my external usb2 hard drive. I installed a new hard drive in my Dell laptop, 40 gig same as the original, booted from the acronis cd and restored the image to the new hard drive. Acronis said the restore was successful but windows would not boot. After repeating the process with the same results, I used the windows cd to try to fix the mbr in recovery console. Recovery console said I had a non standard mbr and that repairing it would mess up partition tables. I tried it anyway and windows still does't boot but get error message saying windows can't find partition. Any suggestions?
     
  16. Acronis Support

    Acronis Support Acronis Support Staff

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    Hello schabelf,

    Thank you for choosing Acronis Disk Backup Software.

    Did you create and restore the image of a single partition or the whole disk? What is the exact error you get when trying to boot the computer after restore?

    Thank you.
    --
    Ilya Toytman
     
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