Using a USB drive as the image storage point?

Discussion in 'Acronis True Image Product Line' started by dearwinifred, Apr 22, 2005.

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  1. dearwinifred

    dearwinifred Registered Member

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    Hiya,
    I did a search and didn't find anything, so excuse me if I'm missing something obvious.

    My hard drive is showing signs of trying to die. I would like to purchase True Image to attempt to save the data off onto a usb drive before I crack the case of my alienware to replace the dying drive.

    Is USB a supported format for the mirroring software, or does it have to be on CDs?

    Secondly, are there any tips that anyone would like to share about saving a dying drive (or at least the data on it)?

    Thanks!

    Wini
     
  2. MiniMax

    MiniMax Registered Member

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    USB, FireWire, Ethernet, ... True Image is normally able to handle all of them. Easiest way to be sure if it works with your hardware, is to download the trial version, build a Rescue CD, and try it out.

    Tips? How about this little personal tale?

    A couple of months ago, my semi-new company laptop crashed with a Blue Screen of Death. When I tried to reboot Win2K, I would get lots of errors about missing files, including the important ones like NTLDR and NTOSKRNL.EXE.

    And - I had no backup of the system :(

    It wasn't a big deal, since I was still using the old one (a lovely little 300 MHz Dell with a whooping 6 GB drive) because of all the extra work I would have with transplanting all my applications and settings to the new laptop. Normally, I would just have returned it to our internal support group, but since I am working at a client site I rarely go to our main office, so I decided to try to see if I could get it back up and running.

    I heard about this program called SpinRite which claimed to be able to salvage and restore bad disk sectors. It reminded me of one of the diagnostics tools that the techinal support guy used on a mini-computer we had at the university. Every month he would come by, clean the air-filters, calibrate the tape drive, and run diagnostics on the disk drive. The drives (big, big drives - physically at least - the size of a washing sink, but only with like 400 MB) had an intelligent controller that logged read errors for each sector, and the number of re-reads required to get data from sector, or complete read failures. The disk diagnostic tool would read the logs, and could then force multiple re-reads of failed sectors until it got a read where the checksum matched. Then it would write the sector to a spare area, and insert a relocation entry in an internal disk allocation map making the data movement transperant to the OS and the applications. Nifty.

    SpinRite can do similar stuff, and they offered a refund if I was not satisfied with it, so I thought it was worth a try.

    The first run reported (not surprisingly) that the laptop drive was about to die! I guess it got the hint from the S.M.A.R.T. info which included a +2000 count of re-allocated sectors (which means, I need to find a program that will monitor the S.M.A.R.T. logs on my other drives and notice me of any problems. Suggestions anyone? - Windows only, please). I pressed ahead, and SpinRite found 10 bad sectors, but only managed to salvage 2 of them. And the laptop would still not boot.

    I wrote back to SpinRite's helpdesk and asked what to do next. They said that running it a second was not likely to help and would only increase the risk of a totally dead dirve. They recommended that I unplugged the drive and contacted a professional data recovery service.

    Oh well - that was way too much hassle, since I had nothing of real value on the drive - I was just interested in seeing if I could get it up and running again, so I was planning to just apply for a SpinRite refund.

    I had almost written of the drive when I decided to "Spin" it a couple of times more. I am not sure what happended, because SpinRite was still not able to recover any more sectors, but after 2-3 runs, I accidentially allowed the laptop to boot from the hard disk - and it allowed me to log in!!! :)

    I quickly launched NTBackup, and made a full backup (include the all-mighty System State) to my desktop over the LAN. I also used a little program called Keyfinder 1.41 to retrieve the MS Windows and MS Office installation keys.

    Then I went out and bought a new 60 GB Hitachi Travelstar, replaced the failed drive, and started to figure out how to restore the system from by backup - something I had never tried before.

    The first step was to format the new disk. The old one had 2 partitions, C for MS Win2K, MS Office, and other official, company-sanctioned stuff", and D for data and personal applications. For my restore attempts, I decided that I needed 3 partitions - 2 to match the original layout, and a 3rd to host a temporary Windows install from which I could launch NTBackup and complete the restore.

    Installing the temporary Win2K was easy enough, but the Win2K-SP4 CD (which I had to borrow from a co-worker) did not include an Etherdriver for the laptop - essential since the backup was on my desktop! And I did not have a diskette drive on the laptop either. Luckily the Win2K-SP4 recognised my USB memory stick, so I soon had an Ethernet driver installed and could transfer to backup file to the laptop.

    Restoring the C and D partition was a piece of cake, and editing C:\BOOT.INI to recognize both Win2K installs was no problem either. But when I tried to restore the so-called "System State" to its "Original Location", something went terribly wrong. I am not sure what, how, and why. I think NTBackup loaded some Registry-stuff from the backup into its "Original Location" - which it must have interpreted as the Registry of the currently running Win2k = my temporary Win2K install. Anyway, it left my temporary install unusable, so I had to do a re-install (repair did not work either).

    Back again with a fresh, temporary Win2K, I started down a process of booting the old Win2K, making a note of the missing file, booting the temporary Win2K, and putting the missing file in place. One of the missing files was C:\WINNT\SYSTEM32\CONFIG\SYSTEM - which is part of the registry! I found the original SYSTEM file inside that "System State" once I had restored it to an "Alternate Location" instead of the "Original Location" that destroyed my temporary system a few hours earlier. 8-9 reboots later, I was no nearer a bootable system, and decided to try something else ;)

    I noticed that the "System State" in its alternate location (which was just sub-directory on my 3rd partition) contained not only 5-6 of the Registry files, but also an "C_" and "D_" folder with major parts of an Win2K install, including many of the files that I previously been copying into the real C:\WINNT folder after a failed reboot. With nothing to loose, I simply dragged the contents of "C_" onto the real C:, "D_" onto D:, and also copied all the files in the Registry-folder into C:\WINNT\SYSTEM32\CONFIG\SYSTEM.

    A reboot and 30 seconds later, I was logged into my old Win2K install!! The only thing it complained about was a missing Logitech keyboard DLL, which I copied from desktop system.​
     
  3. dearwinifred

    dearwinifred Registered Member

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    Goodness, that's quite a tale! :) I've got my knoppix CD ready in case it's just a sector crash and I haven't gotten all the data off, and all my software is legal, so I can reinstall everything if I can't get a mirror to work...it would just be a total pain to have to reconfigure everything now that I actually have it all working. (Which of course, is why the hard drive is failing. ;)
     
  4. Primrose

    Primrose Registered Member

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    Did you ever look into those flash drives that plug into the USB ? they have them now up to two GIG.

    http://www.usbflashdrive.org/

    The Ultimate Plug and Play

    Think USB flash drive, think JumpDrive®. Lexar's portable storage products let you store, transfer and carry your data with ease. Pocket-sized and lightweight, JumpDrives make transferring your music, images or computer files a snap. Pockets full of change? Try attaching your JumpDrive USB flash drive to your key chain instead. A JumpDrive USB flash drive will work with any newer PC or Mac with an existing USB 1.1 or USB 2.0 port, no drivers required†. It's that simple.


    http://www.lexar.com/jumpdrive/
     
  5. dearwinifred

    dearwinifred Registered Member

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    Something like that is cool, but I need a more robust solution. :)
     
  6. jmk94903

    jmk94903 Registered Member

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    Create the TI recovery CD. Boot from it and make a TI image of the entire drive (all partitions) to an external USB 2 drive and verify it.

    If the drive fails, you can restore the image to a brand new drive without any other preparation by booting from the recovery CD. You can also "explore" the image in Windows to copy data from the backup image if for any reason the entire image cannot be restored (for example because key program files have already been corrupted by bad sectors).
     
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