Vista: Are there issues with the disk ID?

Discussion in 'Acronis True Image Product Line' started by Tabvla, Apr 30, 2007.

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  1. Tabvla

    Tabvla Registered Member

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    I am interested to receive any feedback from Forum members with respect to practical experience of imaging/cloning any of the Vista OS versions.

    Assume that a user is operating under Vista and has created an image of the system partition and MBR of the physical disk where Vista has been installed.
    1. The user experiences an OS failure. They boot from the Acronis boot CD and rebuild the OS partition on the SAME physical disk as where Vista was originally installed (same Disk Signature and NT Drive Serial Number). Vista should reboot without any problems. In practice is this always true? Have Forum members experienced any issues with this?
    2. The user experiences a DISK failure. They install a new disk and then boot from the Acronis boot CD and rebuild the OS partition on the NEW disk (different Disk Signature and Drive Serial Number). In this case Vista should refuse to boot and should return an error message “winload.exe is missing or corrupt”. Have Forum members found that this is true?
    I quote from a technical paper on the subject....
    If the above is accurate then it means that it is impossible to create a mirror system disk (or even a clone) and swap these out as needed. This means that in the event of disk failure Vista would have to be reinstalled on the new disk. In addition, users will not be able to create a mirror disk of the OS disk as an emergency boot disk in the event of system failure.

    This raises serious questions about the entire process of system imaging that we have all used for years with XP.

    All feedback and comments on this subject will be most appreciated.

    Thanks in advance.... :)

    T.
     
  2. SSK

    SSK Registered Member

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    My restores (2) of Vista x32 Buisiness did work somewhat; I had to boot from DVD and use repair to repair 'winload.exe' to get to Vista.
    Both restores were from a image on external USB disk, to the same disk / partition.
     
  3. MudCrab

    MudCrab Imaging Specialist

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    Tabvla,

    Take a look at this thread if you haven't already. John and I have experimented with restoring Vista partitions, when repairs are needed and when they're not. TI still needs work in this area as it's not nearly as "complete" when using with Vista as it is with XP.

    Restore on Vista requires Repair
     
  4. Tabvla

    Tabvla Registered Member

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    Thanks to SSK for the feedback and to MudCrab for the link. I had not seen that thread before, so the information was welcome.

    However, there is still a major issue that I don't think has been addressed. (If I missed it in the linked thread then apologies in advance). And I have some doubts as to whether this issue can be addressed by Acronis as it may be outside of what they can actually do.

    From what I could understand from the discussion between MudCrab and JMK the principle issue was around getting a bootable system when an image was restored to the disk from where it was originally taken, (which I assume is the disk where Vista was originally installed).

    All the NT-based OS's write the Disk Signature (NT Drive Serial Number) to the MBR, but unlike XP (which checked but didn't take any action), Vista checks that the Disk Signature in the MBR corresponds with the Boot Configuration File that it has about the disk on which it was installed. If the Disk Signature is different to the Disk Signature of the original installation disk then Vista returns the message “winload.exe is missing or corrupt”.

    My interpretation of this is that if the disk on which Vista was originally installed fails, the user will not be able to restore an image of that disk to a new disk.

    Does this imply that the user will then have to reinstall Vista on the new disk? If this is the case then it seems near to impossible for Acronis to "fix" this as it would be outside the scope of the software.

    o_O
     
  5. MudCrab

    MudCrab Imaging Specialist

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    Tabvla,

    In doing the tests and restores performed afterwards, I have had to completely wipe the hard drive. I wiped it using DD and also set the entire MBR to zeros. I assume this will wipe out the disk ID? If so, then I've had no problems restoring in this state. Vista worked fine (except for the problems in the thread I linked regarding repairs).

    To give you an example: After I installed BootIT NG (BING) and setup the system. I cleared the partitions and setup Acronis OSS to try it. I then did other restores and tests. What would happen is that for some reason the restores wouldn't work (whole disk restore of OSS setup wouldn't work being restored over a previous BING setup, for example). I assume that it was because something was left on the hard drive that was confusing either BING or OSS. In any case, a wipe of the drive would allow the restore to work perfectly.
     
  6. Tabvla

    Tabvla Registered Member

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    Thanks MudCrab.....

    Based on this discussion and the linked discussion it seems that the non-technical user that has access to only an OEM CD with a subset of Vista will have a problem.

    My recommendation is that Acronis should draft a White Paper on the subject which clearly defines:
    • what the issues are
    • which issues can be resolved using ATI alone
    • what other tools may be required to resolve the issues
    • whether or not these issues will (or even can) be resolved in a future release of ATI
    The following needs to be taken into account:
    • a large percentage (70%+) of users are not technical
    • most users (95%+) will have an OEM Vista license with an OEM CD which will contain a subset of Vista
    • an OEM CD may not contain the "Vista Repair Utility"
    • most users will not have access to low-level formatting tools nor will they have the technical confidence to use such tools
    The entire scenario around creating and restoring Vista images needs to be addressed. In my view only Acronis really know what the software can/cannot do and what the best procedures are to ensure that users (particularly non-technical users) have total confidence in their ability to recover a failed Vista system.

    Reliable estimates put Vista sales as approaching 50 million, so the user-base is already significant.

    It would be nice to hear from Acronis on this issue.... :doubt:

    T.
     
  7. OngL

    OngL Registered Member

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    ATI being "Vista Compatible" should have included the needed fix to avoid 'repair' every restore....

    Many are getting frustated.
     
  8. RAD

    RAD Registered Member

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    I bought TI Home 10 specifically to run under Vista; but after reading some of he posts on this forum, have been afraid to install and use it. Tabvla's observation that most users are nontechnical is very accurate. I actually am fairly experienced with numerous types of computers and programming languages, and I can't really be sure what TI does and is supposed to do !

    The facility that overwrites the MBR really scared me, so I immediately uninstalled TI and just keep watching this forum to see if it is actually working for anyone. Who wants to experiment with their Op Sys to "test" TI when it may result in an unrecoverable disaster ? :)
    It seems like that is what the techs at Acronis should be doing...running through every conceivable scenario that a user might really want to do. Is it REALLY "Vista compatable" ?....or is it " Vista incompatabilities as yet undiscovered" ...and you are the guinea pig?


    ...and what about the OEM Vista installatons that didn't come with a disk at all ? Vista was on a small compessed partition of the hard drive. I have made "recovery disks" under Vista that would return me to the initial state; but the whole purpose of TI would be to create Disk Images for some later point in time.
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2007
  9. MudCrab

    MudCrab Imaging Specialist

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    According to my tests there are two scenarios that don't require a Vista repair.

    #1 - Restore the entire disk (check the "disk #" check box)

    #2 - Restore an image of a previously repaired Vista partition back into its original place.

    If you are constantly having to repair, then try #2. After repairing Vista so it boots, make a backup image of just the Vista partition. Now when you restore that image you shouldn't have to run repair again.
     
  10. foghorne

    foghorne Registered Member

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    Thank you all for your comments and your time. An interesting and worrying topic. Lets hope Acronis get on board soon.

    F.
     
  11. Tabvla

    Tabvla Registered Member

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    Thanks to all for the feedback and comments :thumb:

    There is some interesting (although incomplete) information at the link below. It is rather long and if your time is limited you may want to skip the first part and go down the page to "Update - ..."

    http://www.multibooters.co.uk/mbr.html

    I assume that Acronis engineers are fully aware of the implications.... yes? :doubt:

    T.
     
  12. Merlynn

    Merlynn Registered Member

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    I too keep watching this forum for some signs that Acronis are getting to grips with the multiple problems encountered when trying to use TI 10 in a Vista installation, at present my Vista operating system is running smoothly, I am reluctant to install TI 10 for fear of destabilising it after seeing the constant stream of TI 10/Vista conflicts on the forum,

    How can Acronis claim Vista compatability when its plain to see from the number of conflicts reported on this forum that it is not, I am not all that technically minded which is why I purchased the easy to use TI 10, the only advice I see are a series of workarounds kindly offered by loyal regulars of this forum, nothing officially from Acronis, I wonder how many others like myself are still awaiting the genuine Vista compatable copy of True Image 10 that they paid for,

    M.
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2007
  13. Tabvla

    Tabvla Registered Member

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    The principal reason for the continued necessity of using software such as ATI and Ghost is the ability to recover a system disk/partition.

    If the users only concern was the safety of their data then there would be little reason to use specialist backup software. The Backup/Restore utility that comes standard with Windows is quite adequate for most situations. I realise that some Forum members will immediately disagree with that statement, but the reality is that if all a user wants to do is backup the My Documents folder then Windows Backup/Restore will do the job.

    The reason why specialist backup software continues to exist is to fulfill the need to "Image" or "Clone" a disk/partition that contains the operating system and the programs.

    Reinstalling an operating system; applying all the service packs; downloading and installing all the updates; reinstalling all the programs and installing all their service packs and updates is possibly one of the most labour-intensive; frustrating and annoying tasks in the computer world.

    Operating system file corruption; hard disk failure and Internet malware attacks are the reality of every-day computing life that will inevitably affect everyone at some time.

    If Acronis cannot resolve the issues around imaging, cloning and restoring a Vista system then the entire reason for the existance of the software comes into question. It is time for Acronis to step up to the plate and take ownership of this issue.

    T.
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2007
  14. RAD

    RAD Registered Member

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    I am watching this thread and the whole forum.
    I think a can get a no-questions-asked refund for my TI from the vendor (Newegg) if I don't start developing some more confidence.o_O
     
  15. mustang

    mustang Developer

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    Okay, you asked for some experiences with imaging/cloning of Vista with TI 10. I've run some tests using build 4942. Let me start by saying things are not as bad as you thought. In fact, it looks pretty good.

    I kept the tests very simple. I used a Vista system that only has one partition using an entire 250 GB drive. I realize that dual boot systems are more of a challenge to restore with Vista involved, so I stayed away from that for now. If I have more time later, I will also test imaging and cloning a Vista system with three partitions (a small hidden partition at the beginning of the drive, a primary active system partition and a logical data partition).

    The starting point was to try cloning the system to another disk. I used a 120 GB for the clone. I cloned with two scenarios. Here are the results:

    1. I did a quick low level format on the 120 GB drive to simulate a new drive out of the box. I cloned the 250 GB drive to it using the Linux based Acronis Recovery CD. The results were perfect. Vista booted on the first try without a hitch.

    2. Next, I restored an existing image of an XP system to the 120 GB drive. I did the clone using the Recovery CD directly to the drive with XP in place. Vista gave me the winload.exe missing error. A Startup Repair using the Vista install disk fixed the problem.

    Cloning conclusions:

    Cloning to a new drive presents no problem. If you clone to a used drive with existing partitions, you should do a quick low level format before you start. Some drive manufactures call this writing all zeros to the drive. All you need is the free disk diagnostic software from your hard dive manufacturer.

    Acronis could solve this problem very simply. They could add a quick low level format to the beginning of the cloning process. On my Maxtor 120 GB drive, this took less than a minute. All Maxtor does is write zeros to the first 300 MB and last 100 MB of the drive.

    Next I tested image restores of the Vista system to the 120 GB drive. I started with a full disk image of the original 250 GB Vista drive. The restores went extremely well. Here are the results:

    1. I low level formatted the 120 GB drive to simulate a new drive. I restored the entire Vista image, including the MBR and Track 0, to the 120 GB drive using the Recovery CD. This worked well. On first boot I got the expected did not shut down properly screen. I just selected Start Windows Normally and all was well.

    2. I low level formatted the 120 GB drive. This time I only restored the system partition without the MBR. As you would expect, I got the missing winload.exe error. It was easily fixed with a Startup Repair using the Vista disk. This doesn't seem bad to me. Restoring XP without the MBR can also result in a non bootable system if the disk has previously been used in the XP system that is being restored. The easiest fix is to repair the MBR.

    3. Next, I restored an existing XP image to the 120 GB drive. I then restored the full disk image of the Vista system to the 120 GB drive. This also worked perfectly.

    4. Now for the shocker. I restored the existing XP image to the 120 GB drive again. Then I restored only the Vista system partition without the MBR to the 120 GB drive. I expected Vista to need a Startup Repair to boot. Instead, it boot up on the first try. I'm still a little skeptical about this result. When I get a chance, I'll do this test again to make sure it was done properly.

    All in all, I think Acronis has done a very good job of making TI10 Vista compatible.
     
  16. foghorne

    foghorne Registered Member

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    Hi mustang I appreciate your efforts. I must say though our expectations differ somewhat. Assuming it is technically possible to do so, I would have said that Acronis have done a good job of making TI10 Vista compatible when I don't need to run any repairs after a restoration.

    F.
     
  17. como

    como Registered Member

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    For those who don’t get a full Vista DVD with their new system (which I suspect will be the majority) how do they carry out a repair?
     
  18. foghorne

    foghorne Registered Member

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    I expect the tool is freely downloadable, but that is not really the issue here IMHO.

    F.
     
  19. Tabvla

    Tabvla Registered Member

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    Firstly, thanks again for the continued feedback and in particular a big word of thanks to Mustang for running the tests and reporting the results.

    The contribution that Mustang has made to this Forum is legendary and I am sure that I speak for all when I say that we have the greatest respect for the knowledge and experience that Mustang brings.

    People like Mustang who are technically competent (and I include myself in that group) have confidence to try things because we know that we have the technical ability to fix a problem if everything goes wrong. The vast majority of users do not have the competence, the confidence, the experience or the tools to get out of trouble.

    CLONING : The test results returned by Mustang on Cloning are interesting and give some confidence that this process may work as expected. However, Cloning is not really an everyday task. The underlying purpose of Cloning is to transfer the entire contents of a small disk to a bigger disk, maintaining the overall structure of the disk. In the lifetime of a computer an upgrade to a bigger disk may occur at most 2 or 3 times. The single most important requirement for a successful Clone is that the source disk MUST be in perfect working order. Cloning therefore is not a suitable tool for rescuing a failed system.

    IMAGING : This is the process that should be used for insuring that the user can quickly rescue a system which has failed due to system corruption, physical disk failure or compromised integrity due to some malware infection. It is specifically in this area that I have concerns that ATI 10 does not provide a complete solution that can be executed by users who are not technically competent.

    USER LIMITATIONS : It may come as a surprise to those of us who are computer gurus that tasks such as "low-level format" or running a "Repair Utility" strike gut-wrenching fear in the hearts of our non-technical colleagues. The problem is that computers are not forgiving of errors. Click the mouse at the wrong time; put a tick in tick-box when you shouldn't have; leave the defaults as they are because you don't know what they mean anyway..... any of these can have irreversible consequences which can often be catastrophic.

    BOTTOM LINE : I believe that there is a realistic and fully warranted expectation among users that ATI 10 will work with Vista as smoothly, competently and reliably as ATI 9 worked with XP. At the current version of ATI 10, I for one, do not believe that the product has all code that is required to make it work seamlessly with Vista.

    It would be nice if someone at Acronis could find the time to contribute to this discussion.

    T.
     
  20. mustang

    mustang Developer

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    Hi Tabvla,

    Thanks for your comments concerning my contribution to the forum. I appreciate them very much.

    I'm not sure I see why you're concerned about the imaging issue. Only one of my four imaging tests resulted in the need for a Startup Repair. That was test number 2 where I intentionally screwed up just to see what would happen. Not restoring the MBR has long been a source of problems. That's why Acronis includes the MBR with partition only backups starting with TI9. Admittedly, multi-partition and dual boot systems could have more complicated issues. Hopefully, I'll get a chance to test these types of systems later.

    I think the bigger issue here is in the way imaging software has been marketed. Acronis and other software vendors have sold their products as being suitable for non-technical users to do system recoveries with ease. In my opinion, this is simply not the case. Imaging software is a very dangerous tool for non-technical users. I agree that everyone should have a backup solution and use it regularly to perform images. However, when the system crashes and needs to be restored, non-technical users should seek the help of a professional. I know this will upset some people, but that's the way it is. Don't get me wrong. I'm not criticizing non-technical users. They have every right to expect the restore process to be easy, given the way the products have been sold. I'm criticizing the software companies for their marketing tactics.

    By the way, I retested image test number 4 from my previous post. To my surprise, it worked again. This is where I intentionally left out the MBR to see what would happen. I suspect this only worked because of something good that Acronis included in the program.
     
  21. como

    como Registered Member

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    I agree, however even if the tool is downloadable how many will or know to download it before disaster strikes
     
  22. MudCrab

    MudCrab Imaging Specialist

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    mustang,

    Thanks for the tests, but it seems that you didn't test one of the partitcular situations that would arise that (in my test, at least) need a Vista repair to boot. See my link in post #3 for details.

    Start with a fresh install if Vista on a new or wiped drive. Backup the entire drive ("disk 1" checked). Backup just the Vista partition.

    The above senario is a very normal setup. Just Vista is installed and backups are made.

    The results I got were that restoring just the Vista parititon (right over the top of the existing one, no wipe; either from the whole disk image or the single partition image) as one would do to roll-back, etc. requires a repair to boot. Restoring the entire drive does not require a repair. Further, if you then do an image backup of the repaired Vista partition and then restore that, it does not require a repair.

    In your lists of tests I didn't not see this one. You wiped the drive and restored just the Vista partition and it would require a repair because the MBR was erased. You also restored to Vista partition over XP and left the XP MBR and it worked (I never tried this).

    Can you check out this test? I'm interested (and I'm sure others are too) to what the results are as this is the most common senario for plain Vista systems.

    Also, I just wanted to be clear that the Vista partition you restored in your tests was an original and not a "repaired" version. In other words, it was a backup of a clean Vista install and no repair was made on it prior to the backup being made.
     
  23. foghorne

    foghorne Registered Member

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    I tend to configure systems with a OS partition and a data partition, which ironically makes backing up easy to manage. If I need to roll back the OS I normally don't want to touch any other partitions. So to restore the OS partition alone would something I would do most of the time. This is something I would hope to work on Vista without having to run repairs after.

    By the way in case I missed it, can you remind me what would happen if I restored just the Vista partition + the MBR - still broken ?

    F.
     
  24. MudCrab

    MudCrab Imaging Specialist

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    foghorne,

    That is exactly what I'm talking about. In my tests, you can't restore the MBR and the Vista partition without having to do a repair. If someone has a data partition setup then that is what they will do and hence the problem. I've tried restoring the MBR and the Vista partition both at the same time and in separate restores and neither worked without a repair. Only restoring the entire drive worked and if one has a huge data partition they probably won't go that route.

    However, as stated previously, if you do a repair, further backups and restores seem not to require it again. The repaired partition stays repaired, in other words.

    All my tests were done on a 80GB drive. As noted in post 17, TI actually moves the partition when it is restored. In my opinion that is what causes the problem. In mustang's tests he used a 250GB drive and I wonder he'll get different results because of that.
     
  25. Tabvla

    Tabvla Registered Member

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    The scenario described jointly by Foghorne and MudCrab is exactly my concern.

    The non-technical user, who purchased their PC with Vista preinstalled and who therefore only has an OEM Vista CD (which in reality could mean almost anything as each OEM seems to create their own flavour of the OS) will, in my view, with the current build of ATI 10, be in deep trouble if their system fails due to an OS corruption.

    When a system fails, returning the unit to the vendor is, in my opinion, one of the least desireable options and one that should be followed only when all else has failed. With due respect to vendors, they almost universally follow the path of least resistance which in practical terms means that they will simply wipe the disk; rebuild the OS and return it to the user as it was on the day of first delivery. The user's Programs and Data will have gone to cyber-heaven. Hardly a satisfactory outcome.

    If products like ATI are beyond the capabilities of the non-technical person, then who are they meant for? Techies will always find a way to fix almost anything. We have the experience, confidence and tools at our disposal to overcome almost any situation.

    But Jill and Joe from down the road..... what do they do?

    T.
     
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