Acronis 11 (Now Acronis 2009) Provides a Quick Way to Recover From a Master-Drive Failure
Or Retrieve files from any Backup Date, while Running Win-XP or Vista
7 Aug. 2008 text by jack yeazel

Consider that you have installed two drives in your computer (Master C: and Slave D:) or an external drive and wish to be able to recover from an HD failure "instantly".  For several years I searched the Internet for a solution, but there wasn't any -that could be afforded or understood!  Then Kim Komando suggested Acronis and Ghost.  I tried cloning with Ghost 9, but couldn't get XP Pro SP-2 to bootup.  (Some people claim success.)  However, there were many favorable comments on the Internet about Acronis True Image 8.

In order to back up your computer in case of a Master drive failure with Windows 98, one could simply copy the C: drive to the D: drive, and the D: drive could  bootup the computer in case of a C: drive failure.  But not so with Windows XP, XP Pro, and Vista.  These operating systems seem to record WHICH drive they are installed on, and refuse to bootup when copied to a different drive.

Acronis overcame this problem with v. 8 in that any drive we cloned with Acronis could replace the normal (failed) boot drive C: and always bootup the computer.  However, v.8 required the cloned drive size to be the same or larger than the source drive, and the Incremental Image feature didn't work.

We have been using Acronis 8 for several years to recover from catastrophic HD failures as reported (HERE).  As a practical matter with v. 8, we cloned our laptop's 20GB drive to a 40GB and then later to an 80GB, never having any problem with the installed Windows XP Pro.

Acronis 11 overcomes several limitations of 8, in that the newer version does Incremental Image backups correctly, and can clone a larger drive to a smaller drive (provided there is enough room for the larger drive's files.)  Download Acronis 11 (HERE) for $50.

One of the first things you will want to do is create a bootable CD that can launch Acronis, if your computer won't boot from the HD.  This will allow you to access Image files to restore your computer.  If your HD is completely shot, just install a new one and then restore.


Cloning is different from copying, because it is a sector copier and has no knowledge of files or operating systems. (But generally speaking, cloned drives can't be transferred from one computer to another, because each computer has a unique set of drivers.)  The time it takes to clone a drive is directly related to the total size of the drive and the speed of the computer -so it can take several hours in some cases.  But this is the "ultimate" backup.  One only has to swap out the failed drive with the backup (provided they fit), and you are back in business.  Below are the steps for cloning.

This program is simple beyond belief (considering the complexity of 'normal' programs).  There is no floppy required, like with Ghost.  Just run the program, select the source and target drives, and the program takes over -including rebooting into DOS for the action to take place, and then it reboots your computer back into XP or Vista.

If necessary, the program will change the target's NTFS to  FAT-32 -or vice versa.  I suspect that cloning on a desktop with two drives, you could have a complete master drive failure and not even know it, unless you looked at the name of the booted drive.

In some computers, the BIOS can be set to boot off the slave drive (drive boot sequence 1,0,2,3 instead of 0,1,2,3).  This is a very handy feature of ONE of my computers, and it allows me to test the cloning without having to change any cables inside the computer.  (Always ask for this feature in the BIOS when purchasing a new computer).

First pages of Acronis 11

The colored bars represent the type of partitions on the drives, their size, and use (gray)

After finishing, the program will require a key press to reboot, -and may want to do a drive check.

There is one peculiarity.  When booting off the slave (cloned) drive, the computer doesn't recognize the master (source) drive.  However, if TWO cloned drives are put in the computer, either drive will boot up as the System drive (C:), and the other is visible as the Active drive (D:).  However there isn't anything wrong with the source drive, and the target (backup) slave drive can be cloned as may times as you like to keep it up to date.

There is a 'cryptic' instruction from the program that the source drive should be removed.  This may in some way be related to why the source drive isn't visible when booting off the cloned slave.

NOTE: If you use the Cable Select jumper setting on your drives (with the proper drive cable), you never have to change any jumpers no matter where you put the drives.


Using Images is the most practical backup procedure for the newer 'mega' GB drives in that subsequent (incremental) backups only take a few minutes.  The initial Image will take some time (but less than a clone), because only the EXISTING files on the drive are imaged.  Each time an Incremental Backup is performed, a different file is created on the backup drive that can access ALL the files on the computer as of the backup date.  Thus if one has 'lost' some file that existed at any of the backup dates, that file can easily be retrieved.  Image files can be created whil Windows is running.

Some people create Image files on DVDs, but I use an external HD that can hold eight clones -or an original Image and any number of Image increments.  This saves 'DVD clutter'.  Acronis can be setup to do incremental images automatically on a periodic basis.



This screen will show all the image (.tib) files on the target drive.  In this case, the initial image file was "T-4600-" and the first incremental "T-4600-2".
The next image created will increment to a "-3" file, etc.  Other image files are also shown (from a different computer.)


This final screen shows the operations which will take place with Proceed.  The Image will be appended to the previous Image "T-4600-2" on drive E:\


Here one can click on ANY of the .tib image files and produce "computer folders" that contain the file structure in the imaged computer
as of the date of imaging (by expanding C:).

Boot off the Recovery CD.  The Acronis program gives you the option of turning off the computer, booting into Windows, or booting into Acronis.  An  'Explorer' tree (like the above) will appear showing all drives on the computer.  Select the backup date you desire, and Acronis restores the source HD.  In some cases a new HD may have to be formatted.

After the process is done, shut the computer down.  When you reboot, you’ll see Windows as it existed when Acronis created the image files.

Now with that kind of backup, you'll have no excuse for loosing a file, folder, -or the whole computer!  Happy (and SAFE) computing,

jack yeazel