Centro de Prensa de Acronis

Barry's rigs 'n reviews

June 15, 2006

by Barry Little

Barry's rigs 'n reviews web site

Acronis True Image 9.0 Home

  1. Acronis True Image 9.0 Home Part 1
  2. Acronis True Image 9.0 Home Part 2
  3. Acronis True Image 9.0 Home Part 3
  4. Acronis True Image 9.0 Home Part 4


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 non-mechanical problem.

As a 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.


Select Recovery in Acronis True Image.

The Recovery Wizard launches.

Select the backup image with the folders and/or files you want to recover.

Select Restore specified files or folders.

Select the folders or individual files that you want to restore.

Accept the default restore options or set them manually.

You can adjust these options here as needed if you wish. Otherwise leave the defaults and move on.

Set your overwrite options here, and click Next.

We're ready to proceed.

This'll be quick.

All done!

Files and 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.

Now let's look at the Acronis Startup Recovery Manager and Secure Zone.

The 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 boot-up.

In order 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 backup sets.

Acronis True 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...

...let's move the slider and make it something more reasonable, like this.

Activate the Startup Recovery Manager.


Here's a 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.

The system must be rebooted for the Startup Recovery Manger and Secure Zone to be created on your hard drive.

The 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.

When Windows restarts, open Disk Management. Although you can see the Secure Zone here, it is hidden from normal Windows applications.

The 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.

When you perform backups to the Secure Zone, you don't need to assign a name to the archive files.

The next time you reboot your system, this is what you'll see — the Acronis Startup Recovery Manager. Press the <F11> key...

...and the Startup Recovery Manager will launch...

...and 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 current operation.

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 file.

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, regardless.

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.

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