Press Centre

August 28, 2006

by Miles Cheatham

Original article at web site

Acronis True Image Workstation Version 9.1

Universal Restore

A system disk image can be deployed easily on the hardware where it was created. However, if you change, for example, a motherboard or use another processor version, which is likely in case of hardware failure, the restored system could be unbootable. An attempt to transfer the system to a new, much more powerful computer will usually produce the same unbootable result because the new hardware is incompatible with the most critical drivers included in the image.

Using Microsoft System Preparation Tool (Sysprep) does not solve this problem, because Sysprep permits replacing drivers only for Plug-and-Play devices (sound cards, network adapters, video cards etc.). As for system Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL) and mass storage device drivers, they must be identical on the source and the target computers.

Acronis Universal Restore technology provides an efficient solution for hardware-independent system restoration by replacing the crucial Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL) and mass storage devices drivers. Acronis Universal Restore allows automatic or manual selection of the HAL and mass storage device drivers to fit the target hardware. It is important to note, that the primary goal of Acronis Universal Restore is to boot the restored system. The current version of this product handles only HAL and mass storage device drivers and does not install drivers for other devices (sound cards, network adapters, video cards etc.).

Once the restored system starts, Windows takes control and initiates the usual first-start process. At this point, you will be able to specify drivers for other devices if Windows cannot find them automatically. Acronis Universal Restore does not conflict with Microsoft System Preparation Tool (Sysprep). If you got accustomed to using Sysprep, you can use both tools on the same system. Acronis Universal Restore is an add-on to Acronis True Image Workstation. It is purchased separately and installed from a separate setup file.

How To Use Universal Restore:

  1. You can perform the following procedure either locally or remotely, using Acronis True Image Management Console.
  2. Boot the target computer into Acronis recovery environment from the bootable media, or RIS server, or using F11.
  3. Start the recovery procedure (see 7.3 Restoring disks/partitions or files from images) and select the image of the source computer for restoration.
  4. You can specify Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL) and mass storage devices drivers to be used by the restored system and/or provide a path to a driver repository on the network. Hence, Acronis Universal Restore uses three sources for drivers search: the list of user-specified (enforced) drivers, driver repository, and the Windows default driver storage folders (in the image being restored). The program will find the most suitable drivers of all available and install them into the restored system. However, the user-defined drivers will have the priority. They will be installed, with appropriate warning, even if the program finds the better driver. The Windows default driver storage folders are determined in the registry key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\Current version\DevicePath. Generally, it is WINDOWS/inf folder.
  5. When the restore process runs, Acronis True Image Workstation will:
    • detect the machine type and install appropriate drivers for HAL
    • detect IDE and SCSI controllers and install appropriate drivers.
  6. If no appropriate drivers are found in all three above sources, the user will be prompted to browse the following locations for the drivers:
    • Network share drive
    • Floppy disk
    • CD drive
  7. The machine reboots.
  8. Windows takes control and initiates the usual first-start process. The recovery procedure can proceed under Windows as well (for example, if the operating system is loaded from the C: drive, the system partition of the other computer can be restored from an image to the D: drive). In this case, the user prompt for driver search on Network-Floppy-CD will not be issued. If a compatible driver cannot be found, Windows will suggest to ignore it or cancel restoration.

I tested both of these functions and found each of them to work as stipulated. Universal Restore can get a bit complicated when moving from say an Intel based computer to an NVIDIA based computer. When I say complicated, I mean this from the standpoint having to mentally be aware of the necessary drivers to remove and install. Other than this little caveat, I was highly impressed to say the least.