Barry's rigs 'n reviews
June 15, 2006
by Barry Little
Barry's rigs 'n reviews web site
Acronis True Image 9.0 Home
Restoring partitions and individual files
and folders is just as easy and straightforward with Acronis True Image. Many of the restore options mirror the
ones you use for backing up, except you'll be using them
to restore rather than to back up folders, files, or
partitions. You can re-direct files and folders to
another drive; choose how or if to overwrite existing
files, and so on. When restoring partitions, you can
change the partition size and location and even the
partition type and file system. Although these last two
options are seldom required or needed, it's good to know
they're available in case they are.
Another "we did it first" for Acronis is
the ability to restore Track 0 and the MBR (Master Boot
Record) separately from the partition in a disk image
file. This can save a lot of time if Track 0 and the MBR
on your drive become damaged from a virus or some other
result, this is what you'll see when you
click next. You'll be asked if you want to
restore the image to another drive if it's
available (in this case it isn't).
Restoring an image to a drive with data on
it overwrites it completely.
Whether you have a single hard drive or a
pair of fire-breathin' Raptors in a RAID array, the one
limitation you'll run into when using imaging software
is that you cannot create and store an image of a drive
in the same partition of that drive. As far as best
practices for backups go, you wouldn't want to do that
anyway even if you could. If the drive fails, your data
and the backup of that data are gone. Ideally, your
backups should be stored on removable media — like 8 GB
dual-layer DVDs; a large capacity external hard drive
(doesn't matter if it's USB or Firewire), or a NAS
(Network Attached Storage Device) designed for home and
small office use. After all, backups do you no good if
they're stored on the same drive containing all of your
data that is most likely to fail.
Of course it's all well and good to
recommend what should be done but maybe your
budget says otherwise. Even if you could remove the
possibility (or inevitability) of a hard drive
failure, you could still experience other problems
with your system that can seriously cripple it or
make it unbootable. And a backup under
less-that-ideal circumstances is still better than
absolutely none at all.
With that in mind, Acronis created
two complementary technologies, the Secure Zone
and the Startup Recovery Manager for Acronis True
Image. If Windows becomes unbootable and you
don't have an Acronis Rescue CD handy, the Startup
Recovery Manager allows you to load a pre-boot
version of Acronis True Image. The Secure Zone is a
special hidden partition where Acronis True Image
backups can be stored. For security purposes,
ordinary Windows applications can't access it
(although it can be seen under Disk Manager). You
can create a Secure Zone without the Startup
Recovery Manager; but the Startup Recovery
Manager cannot be created and activated without
creating a Secure Zone. When Secure Zone is
enabled, the limitation of creating an image of a
drive on the same drive, is eliminated.
Recovering individual folders and files is
just as quick and intuitive as restoring an
entire drive from an image with Acronis True
Image 9.0. I'm going to delete
these folders from the hard drive and
the Windows Recycle Bin.
Recovery in Acronis True Image.
Recovery Wizard launches.
the backup image with the folders and/or
files you want to recover.
Restore specified files or folders.
the folders or individual files that you
want to restore.
the default restore options or set them
adjust these options here as needed if you
wish. Otherwise leave the defaults and move
overwrite options here, and click Next.
ready to proceed.
folders restored. Mission accomplished!
Acronis True Image
provides an initial recommendation of the size of
the zone based on the total capacity of your hard
drive, and gives the minimum permissible size.
Naturally, you can adjust the size of the Secure
Zone partition as you see fit. Acronis True Image
then borrows the available space from your hard
drive or RAID volume to create the Secure Zone. If
you have multiple hard drives installed in your PC
that are not part of a RAID array, you can place the
Secure Zone on a second hard drive as opposed to
your primary boot drive. This does give you a bit
more protection if you lose your primary drive.
look at the Acronis Startup Recovery Manager
and Secure Zone.
Startup Recovery Manager allows you to boot
Acronis True Image directly from your hard
drive before Windows loads by
pressing the <F11> key during system
for the Startup Recovery Manager to be
active on your system, you must set aside
some available disk space to install
the Secure Zone — a special, protected
partition where you can store Acronis True Image
Image suggests the size of the Secure
Zone partition based on the size of your
hard drive. That's a bit too much to
suit me, so...
move the slider and make it something more
reasonable, like this.
the Startup Recovery Manager.
summary of the actions that will be
performed. If you click Cancel at this
point, no changes to your hard drive will be
made. Click Proceed to continue.
system must be rebooted for the Startup
Recovery Manger and Secure Zone to be
created on your hard drive.
Startup Recovery Manager is installed in the
MBR (Master Boot Record) and your partition
is resized for the Secure Zone on reboot.
Secure Zone shares one trait with
Windows XP System Restore and GoBack. As the number
of backups increases inside the Secure Zone and
space runs low, Secure Zone will begin deleting
them. Starting with the oldest full backup first,
followed by subsequent differential and/or
incremental backups. If the Secure Zone fills up,
you'll be prompted to delete some of the backups
stored there — or to resize the Secure Zone.
Windows restarts, open Disk Management.
Although you can see the Secure Zone here,
it is hidden from normal Windows
Secure Zone is available to Acronis True Image
under Windows, and Acronis True Image bootable
rescue media. Here it
is in Acronis True Image under Windows.
perform backups to the Secure Zone, you
don't need to assign a name to the archive files.
time you reboot your system, this is what
you'll see — the Acronis Startup Recovery
Manager. Press the <F11> key...
the Startup Recovery Manager will launch...
load Acronis True Image. This is very handy to
have on a laptop, by the way.
A heads-up if you're running multiple
operating systems and are using a third-party boot
manager to manage them. If you install Acronis
Startup Manager, there's a good chance you'll have
to reactivate your third-party boot manager
afterwards. Startup Manager overwrites the MBR with
its own bootstrap code. Acronis recommends moving
Linux boot managers to a Linux root partition before
activating Startup Manager.
One incredible restore option
exclusive to Acronis True Image is Active Restore.
Active Restore allows you to boot Windows on a crashed
system before the system has been completely
restored from an image. You can actually go back to
work on your PC shortly after the image restoration
begins. As you work, system restoration from the
image continues in the background. So how does it
work? According to Acronis, Active Restore:
1. Finds the sectors in the image,
containing system files, and restores these sectors
first. Thus, the OS is restored and can be started
in a very short time frame. Having started the OS,
the user sees the folder tree with files, though
file contents are not recovered yet. Nevertheless,
the user can start working.
2. Writes on the hard disk its own
drivers, capable to intercept the system queries to
the files. When the user opens files or launches
applications, the drivers receive the system queries
and restore the sectors that are necessary for the
3. At the same time, Acronis True
Image Home proceeds with the complete
sector-by-sector image restoration in the
background. However, the system requested sectors
have the highest priority.
Finally, the image will be fully
restored even if the user performs no actions at
all. But if you choose to start working as soon as
possible after the system failure, you will gain at
least several minutes, considering that restoration
of a 10-20 GB image (most common image size) takes
about 10 minutes. The larger the image size, the
more time you save.
The requirements for using Active Restore are:
You must have Acronis Startup Recovery Manager and
Secure Zone installed and active.
The image file used for recovery with Active Restore must
reside in the Secure Zone.
The system disk must be included in the image
There are of course, some caveats:
Active Restore won't work if the image used for recovery
doesn't contain the OS. Therefore, you can't use Active Restore with
file archive images containing individual files and folders — only
disk and partition images.
Active Restore always restores the entire system disk. If
you've formatted your drive into several partitions — one for Windows, the
other for programs, and the other for data, for example — all of those
partitions must be included in the image file you'll be using with Active Restore. If you've backed up the partition with Windows to one image
file, and the other partitions to another image file, and run Active Restore, your partitions containing your programs won't be restored.
Active Restore is not supported under Windows 98 and ME.
I ran Active Restore on an "old" 3.0
GHz Pentium 4 system (Hyper-Threading enabled) with
1 GB of DDR400 RAM, a pair of 7200 RPM Seagate 120MB
SATA hard drives, and a Radeon 9800XT AGP video
card. After running Active Restore, I dove right in,
launched Firefox and started surfing, edited a Word
document and some photos in Photoshop Elements, with
the Halo 3 trailer shown at E3 looping in Windows
Media Player. There were periods of slowdowns that
ranged from minor to moderate, but the system was
more responsive than I expected it to be as Active Restore chugged away in the background. As always,
your actual experience may vary based on many
variables, particularly the hardware and type of
programs that you use. Hyper-threading and dual-core
systems with plenty of RAM and fast hard drives are
less likely to display any performance-related
issues as Active Restore works in the background. The
more resource-intensive apps you try to use while
Active Restore is running, the more likely you are to
experience performance hits ranging from mild to
very noticeable. Also keep in mind that whatever the
operating system needs that hasn't been fully
recovered always gets first dibs during the restore,
While I wouldn't necessarily recommend that you try to launch and run dozens of programs at once in the background and then try to play The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, or F.E.A.R. at the same time — even if you do have a kick-ass dual-core system — I can't think of a more valuable tool to have at your disposal than Active Restore if you've just recovered from a system crash, need to get back to work yesterday, and have a do-or-die deadline to meet.
Mounting Images as Virtual Drives
One of Acronis True Image slickest features has been its ability to mount image files as temporary virtual drives with assigned drive letters. This gave the user a quick and easy way to copy and restore individual files and folders from the image file by accessing it the way they would any other drive through My&nobr;Computer and Windows&nobr;Explorer. Until now, the files and folders within the image file could not be deleted or changed in any way. Another new feature of Acronis True Image 9.0 is its ability to mount an image file in read-write mode. This allows you to move, rename, add or delete folders and files within the image file through My Computer and Windows Explorer as you would be able to on a real hard drive. Acronis True Image creates a new incremental backup file that will reflect any changes made in the mounted image file.
You can only mount disk/partition images. File-by-file backups made with Acronis True Image cannot be mounted.
You can mount multiple images. Just run the Mount Image
Wizard for each image you want to mount. The number is limited only by the amount of system memory installed in your PC.
If an image was password-protected, it will not mount unless the password is provided.
Images can be mounted from Acronis Secure Zone if you have it installed on your hard drive.
If you mount a differential image, initial full image must be available from the source media.
If you mount an incremental image, you must have all previous incremental images and the original full image available on the source media as well. Acronis True Image will recommend you to mount the incremental image based on the date and time of its creation.
Another way to access and recover individual folders and files, is by mounting Acronis True Image image file as if it were a drive. First, select Mount Image.
This launches the Mount Image Wizard.
Select the backup archive file. You should be a natural at this by now!
This is the partition in the archive file that Acronis True Image will assign a logical drive letter to. Click Next to continue.
You can mount the image as read-only or read/write, which allows you to make changes to folders and files within the image. Pretty cool stuff!
Click Next here.
Acronis True Image assigns the next available drive letter to the image file and mounts it.
Here it is under My Computer.
As you can see, everything is here...
...right down to each individual file.
When you're through with the mounted image, just select Unmount Image from Acronis True Image's main task window.
Select the image drive and click Next.
Click Proceed to complete the operation...
...and the drive has been unmounted.