Vista Defrags Secure Zone! What Happens Now?

Discussion in 'Acronis True Image Product Line' started by wildkat, May 14, 2008.

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  1. wildkat

    wildkat Registered Member

    May 14, 2008
    I have done much research, both here and on Google, and everything I read about the Acronis Secure Zone insists that it is a hidden partition; that Windows or any other operating system cannot see it, read it, or write to it; that it can only be accessed by Acronis True Image; that it is safe from defraggers because defraggers won't touch it.

    Well, I am here to challenge all of the above assertions. :isay:

    I have Windows Vista and have installed ATI 11 Home on my system. As a former spoiled fan of GoBack on my previous Windows 98 system, I do wish to applaud and credit ATI for saving my hide on more than one occasion with my new custom-built system. I am most definitely an ATI convert! :thumb:

    I have run Windows Vista Defragger on several occasions to defrag my primary C:\ drive and my logical E:\ drive; but only when WVD tells me, upon a manual scan, that peformance can be improved with defragmentation. Upon completion, WVD assures me that performance is good.

    Recently, however, after running WVD on the above-mentioned drives as usual, I received the warning message that performance can be improved. I only have two other logical drives: one has not been accessed since I formatted it; the other had image files that have since been deleted and, hence, no longer contains a single file. Still, I ran WVD once again, including these drives in the defrag process.

    [NOTE: I do have two additional logical drives for Ubuntu and its separate \home partition; but, since these contain ext2 file systems, WVD does not offer them as drives for defragging. - As you will learn, this is a moot point, but I thought I should offer full disclosure, anyway.]

    So, after running WVD again, I received the same warning message that performance can be improved. I decided to run WVD a third time; this time, throwing caution to the wind, I would include the Acronis Secure Zone partition, which IS offered by WVD in the drive selection dialog box. [What happened to "Windows cannot see or access ASZ" and "Defraggers won't touch ASZ"?] o_O

    Anyway, after running WVD on all drives, including ASZ, I received the comforting message that performance is good.

    So, it appears that Windows can access the ASZ and defraggers can touch ASZ.

    My only questions now are:
    (1) Do I need to worry that my images in ASZ are now corrupt?
    (2) Can I safely create new backups in ASZ? (Differentials/Incrementals, assuming that the current full images are valid; or full images)?
    (3) What does all this mean for ASZ?

    I suppose I will create a full backup image and burn it to DVDs so as not to rely on the current images in ASZ. But, I hope that ASZ is not damaged in a way that will cause problems for future backup images saved there. The DVD backups are certainly an alternative; but a time-consuming alternative.

    Any ideas or feedback from the experts here would be greatly appreciated.
  2. Xpilot

    Xpilot Registered Member

    May 14, 2005
    I am a long time user and fan of the ASZ. I use XP and not Vista so I have never seen a defragger either Windows own, Disk Keeper or Perfect Disk accesss and defrag a secure zone.

    Would you please look at your drives in Disk Management and see how the ASZ is shown. If all is normal it should be shown as FAT 32 with a volume name Acronis secure zone there should be no drive letter and the drive map should have diagonal hatching.
    If somehow the ASZ has aquired a drive letter it will no longer be a "hidden" secure zone.
    Another place to look is the Manage Secure Wizard. If you are offered the choice between deleting or resizing the zone it still exists. If the option is to create a SZ the existing zone is no longer a secure zone.

    Now this abberrent behaviour may be due to some bug that I have not seen reported before or some mismatch on your computer. So please let us know how the ASZ is currently shown and I may be able to help further.

    A screen shot of your drives' layout from disk manageent would help greatly in getting o the bottom of this.

  3. BobD

    BobD Registered Member

    Nov 12, 2007
    Get Acronis to run a Verify on these files and the answer to that should sort out your other questions.
  4. Acronis Support

    Acronis Support Acronis Support Staff

    Apr 28, 2004
    Hello wildkat,

    Thank you for choosing Acronis Backup software.

    Please note that Acronis Secure Zone is hidden from the applications, not from the Operating System itself. In spite of Windows Vista can defrag partition Secure Zone resides on, this does not mean it can write information there. So you can be sure that the backup archives you saved in Secure Zone are healthy. But you should be aware also that Acronis startup Recovery Manager will most probably fail to boot after Secure Zone defragmentation. This can happen as Acronis Loader (which is loaded into MBR when you activate Startup Recovery Manager) refers to the exact sector where the files needed for loading Linux environment are to be located. As these files are in the Secure Zone and the sectors layout has changed after Acronis Secure Zone defragmentation this can prevent Acronis Startup Recovery Manager from booting correctly. So you need to reactivate it after Secure Zone defragmentation.

    Thank you
    Nikita Sakharov
  5. wildkat

    wildkat Registered Member

    May 14, 2008
    Thank you all for your responses.

    Although I was certain I had subscribed to this thread, I never received email notification, so I only just read your replies when I decided to check the forums today - such explains my delay in responding.

    Xpilot - In Disk Management, my ASZ appears without an assigned letter but also without a volume name. It's "Status" is healthy. There is nothing listed under the "File System" column. I'm not certain what the diagonal hatching has to do with anything, as selecting any partition places diagonal hatching in its highlighted box.

    Also, I did start the Manage Secure Zone Wizard and, there, my ASZ appears in the dialog box with correct size information. The options available are for deleting or resizing the ASZ; creating ASZ is not an offered option.

    BobD et al. - I did, actually, restore two of my partitions today from separate images on the defragmented ASZ (images that were created prior to defragmentation), validating each before recovery and, lo and behold, image recovery seems to have been successful - so far. :D

    Nikita - Thank you for the clarification. Fortunately, I opted to NOT activate Startup Recovery Manager and, instead, use the Live CD whenever I choose to recover a backup image.

    Again - thanks to all! I'm grateful that ATI has provided me with a, thus far, reliable and effective alternative to GoBack.

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