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[CUSTOMER ADVICE] Using USB sticks with more than 32GB will not be bootable

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Dear Acronis customers,

while availability of cheap, voluminous and fast USB 2.0 or 3.0 sticks is really a good thing, there are caveats you need to consider.

I am personally very satisfied with the speed and usability design of the Sandisk Extreme series, that really deliver USB 3.0 Speed adantages in read and write actions at a good price.

Problem:
Be cautious to use any sticks larger than 32 GB capacity when you want to make sure that you can use them as a boot device, or to be recognized in your BIOS / UEFI firmware.

Regularly I am unable to boot from a 64GB sized stick or being able to use it to flash a BIOS / UEFI Firmware on the mainboard because they cannot handle it correctly.

This is especially the case when you are using such a large stick in UEFI mode, which needs to be formatted with FAT32.

I have tried this on several computers of several age and all of them were not able to boot from this stick, nor being recognized correctly for flashing with BIOS /  UEFI internal tools like Asus EZ Flash etc.

I have contacted Asus and they confirmed that even the lastest UEFI firmware they have, do not support 64GB or larger sticks yet.

So just in case you like to buy an USB stick, make sure that you consider the limitations.
This is also and especially valid for using an USB stick as Acronis bootable device. When trying to create a bootable media with a 64GB stick the wizard will quit with an error message "Media cannot be formatted". The Acronis KB link does lead to no explaination.
https://kb.acronis.com/errorcode/bookmark/0x001803E8_0x001803EE_0x0000FFF0_0x8007000D%22/7131/1462093247/AC7933C2-AB02-400A-A92E-1E493B40BF98

Cause:
The major issue is apparently the limitation of the filesystem FAT32, which is quite old but still commonly used for USB sticks.

Conclusion:
If you need an USB stick to make it bootable or to flash your mainboard firmware, make sure to avoid an USB stick larger than 32GB size. Pretty usual 8 GB or 16 GB are enough to serve these tasks.
 

More official information about FAT32 limitations is available here:
https://support.microsoft.com/EN-US/kb/314463
(in contrary to the articles header it is not limited to Windows XP)
 

Sidenote: Tools like Rufus does ease the creation of Bootable sticks of any Windows or Linux ISO file you have. Especially uncommon things like creating an bootable Windows 7 UEFI compatible USB stick.

When using a 64GB USB stick under Windows 10, Rufus will still format it, as Large FAT32 or exFAT, which is not compatible to FAT32.

 

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#1

Thanks for putting this advice together Karl, I have bookmarked it for future reference.

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#2

Yep!  The cheap 8 or 16GB thumb drives are the way to go.  Decent enough speed for the task and avoids the 32GB limitation of FAT32.

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#3

Double thanks!  FYI, for those still using legacy/bios/csm, you can get around this by using Easy2Boot or Yumi or something similar and booting directly to an .iso or .img file on these larger thumb drives. Those of us that have UEFI/GPT installs are out of luck though.  Easy2Boot can actually boot UEFI by converting .imgptn and making it the temporary bootloader but haven't tried it in quite some time since moving over to UEFI.  If you have legacy Windows installed though, I highly recommend Easy2Boot for a multiboot Windows, Acronis, you name it installer tool.  If it weren't for the restore limitation of needing to boot to Acronis in UEFI mode on UEFI system, I'd still be using Easy2Boot for all of my multiboot .iso tools. 

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#4

Thankfully Ekaterina agreed to sticky this one, so bookmarking gets more optional.
Anyway it is great to see all your feedback on this. Let's see what future brings here. Certainly I catched this one more accidently as I migrated another Windows 10 computer and advised the user to buy stick for that case, well then it was too big so we had to buy another one.

 

 

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#5

Hello all,

Now this content is available as a KB article :) Thanks to Karl!

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#6

Hi

I note the comments that USB devices should currently be 32Gb or less. Are you saying that Rescue USB media should be formatted as FAT32. I have created a number of USB's (Installers, Rescuers etc;) mainly using Rufus, but have usually chosen NTFS format - they all seem to work OK

Thanks

Nedwob

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#7

C Bowden,

Yes the above is saying that format should be FAT32 and 32GB or less.  Are you saying you have created True Image Recovery Media on an NTFS formated USB thumb drive of any capacity?  Or are you saying you have created other installers for other products that way?

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#8

Hi Enchantech

I had never seen mentioned anywhere before to use FAT32 and Rufus did not object.

I have created installers/rescue sticks for Windows 7, 8, 10, Acronis TI several versions), Windows 7 PeSe, Windows 8 PeSe, Aomei Backupper, and probably others.

My current PC's use UEFI BIOS's with SM951 nvme SSD's in a 7/10 dual boot scenario.

In general the USB sticks seem to boot and work OK.

Can you please advise me where I can get some info on this please?

Thanks.

Nedwob

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#9

Hello Nedwob,

the problem will occour if you make an bootable USB stick that is larger than 32GB AND use FAT32. As me and Acronis stated: if you create an UEFI compatible stick it needs to be FAT32 and cannot be formatted with NTFS. This is a limitation of UEFI. I am not sure if you have enabled UEFI only support on your machine if you are running Windows 7, more likely you will have enabled CSM which is a mix of classic and UEFI mode.

It is possible to install Windows 7 in UEFI only mode, so disabling CSM but in this case you need to create an installation USB stick with RUFUS, with CSM disabled in your BIOS and create the stick as UEFI aswell.

The best way to check whether your OS'es are installed in UEFI mode or not is to check in the Disk Management (or easier with diskpart > list disk) if the Disk is initialized in GPT or MBR. If it is NOT GPT it is not installed in UEFI mode but classic mode because you did not install in the appropriate mode (most likely happens if CSM is enabled or you do not use UEFI boot when starting the setup).

Hope this is of help for you.

 

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#10

Please visit the link below for information on creating boot media to non optical devices.

http://www.acronis.com/en-us/support/documentation/ATI2016/index.html#14041.html

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#11

Thanks to Karl Heinz and Echantech for the comments.

My original question was about Acronis True Image sticking during a Restore. It now seems to have moved on to the format to use for USB devices. I don't think my ATI 'sticking' problem is related to the USB format because an earlier ATI Rescue stick works OK as do other USB rescue or install devices. I think I will wait for a further update to ATI 2016 and try that.

I only need to resolve the FAT32/NTFS situation

My USB Rescue and Install sticks are all 32Gb or smaller. Most are Sandisk Ultra USB3.

The SM951 SSD is formatted as GPT (as are the 2 - WD Black 2Tb hard disks in the machine).

The only point I am unsure about is the UEFI BIOS Boot Mode - it is set to UEFI and Legacy.

When I plug in a USB device and press F12 during boot up, the device is usually shown as two options eg;-

Sandisk

UEFI Sandisk

I have to choose the UEFI option. The sticks then all boot OK even though they are formatted as NTFS!!

Nedwob

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#12

Are you certain your USB sticks are formated NTFS?  With the USB stick attached to your machine while you are booted into Windows have you opened Disk Management and viewed what it says about the USB stick?  Can you do so, take a screenshot of that, and post it here?

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#13

If Acronis is creating the bootable media directly, it would not format them NTFS.  If I remember correctly, it won't even detect them as options for creating media when formatted as anything other than Fat32.   It is possilbe to have an NTFS formatted Acronis boot media though, but you'd have to use something like RUFUS which would be done by first creating the .iso and then letting Rufus format the drive, extract the iso contents and set it's own bootloader. In most cases this works.  However, we've had quite a few forum topics similar to this where other media works in this manner, but because they are also Linux distros or make additional bootloader changes, the USB drive ends up with hidden paritions that Windows can't see and the media actually won't boot correctly.  

I would recommend running "diskpart /clean" on the USB drive.  Then use  Windows computer managment to initialize the disk and assign a letter.  After that, run fat32format.exe on it (run it in an elevated command prompt as "fat32format.exe H:"  Make sure to change H: with whatever letter you've assigned the flash drive though!

That will ensure the usb flash drive is fat32 and only has one partition.  Then go directly into the main Acronis application.  Click on Tools >>> Rescue Media Builder >>> click the top option "Acronis Bootable Rescue Media" >>> select your flash drive >>>> let it build the flash drive for you directly.  

If using fast boot (which if you're on Windows 10 it's enabled by default), shutting down isn't actually shutting down so may be another issue.  "Restart" the machine instead of shuttind down.  At the bios screen, start pressing your one time boot key or get to the boot override menu in the bios and select the UEFI version of the flash drive.  

Within less than a minute (usually), you should see a black screen with white letters (like old DOS) with your Acronis boot items.  Now select the one to boot into Acronis.  You should see an Acronis logo and some text.  Wait here - it may take a while depending on the speed of your flash drive, ports, how much memory, etc... it is loading the Acronis OS into memory as a "ram disk".  It can be as fast as 30 seconds or as long as 5 minutes dependinig on your setup.  Eventually, you should be in the Acronis 2016 backup and recovery menu.

Please take a look at this user tutorial on booting into a UEFI flash drive as well. Each bios is different so there will be variations, but it is a good starting point and explains some basic items to look for in the bios to help ensure UEFI flash booting is configured correctly.

How to Fix Issue Booting to DVD/CD with New UEFI BIOS Boot Order

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#14

Hi Bobbo and Echantek

Thanks for taking the time to reply.

I have attached a jpg showing Disk Management. I am certain the sticks are all NTFS format. There are DEFINITELY NO OTHER PARTITIONS (Hidden or otherwise) on any Rescue ir Installer sticks.

I have Windows 10 and Windows 7 installed in a Dual Boot setup. My primary operating system for creating Rescue and Install Media is Windows 7.

My Acronis Rescue Sticks were made by first creating an ISO. I then modiified the WIM file to include drivers for my NVME SSD's. I finally used Rufus to write the ISO to the USB sticks. I also modified a Windows 7 installer stick to include NVME drivers as Windows 7 doesn't have native support for NVME.

ALL Install and Rescue Sticks BOOT and WORK correctly (except for the lock-up with the most recent ATI2016).

My only concern now is whether I should recreate the sticks in FAT32 format, but as they are working OK formatted as NTFS there doesn't seem to be any point, unless you guys can tell me otherwise.

Nedwob

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#15

I suspected it was Rufus or something else as the default media builder in Acronis only allows Fat32 and will not even allow you to build the media on NTFS usb flash drive.  I use Rufus too for a lot of media building, but not Acronis since it can build its own usb bootable media.  Unfortnately, Rufus does change the way the USB drives boot and is not using the same bootload method as would be created in the Acronis media builder so this is a "custom" version if it and is likely the issue.

 If possible, perhaps backup your drive "as is" so you can revert back later if you want.  I would then format the drive with fat32format.exe which will 100% guaranteed a proper formatting of the drive.  Windows disk management is not a good test of the partions on a USB drive.  Windows will only report one partition on "removable" disk types and can not see other hidden partitions or additional partitions as can be seen with Linux/Unix.  

After formatting with fat32format.exe.  Then build your rescue media directly in Acronis and have it create directly to the USB drive.  Then test again and see if it fairs better.  I suspect it will.  

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#16

@CBowden,

please run CMD with Administrator rights and run diskpart > list disk

This will give you a far better overview about what you will need to see about GPT or MBR setup in use.

Thanks for reposting the pic with the same (usb) drives attached.

 

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#17

26th May

Thanks to everyone for the suggestions, which I will investigate. As I will be away for a while I will not be able to try the suggestions for some time.

Many Thanks

Nedwob

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#18

Any news Nedwob?

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#19

Hi Karl Heinz

Sorry, I have not had time to get beck to the USB teste, and it may be some weeks before I can get back to it.

Thanks for the interest

Nedwob

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#20

I purchased Acronis True Image 2016 - 1 Computer via the Internet and downloaded and installed this software.  I also purchased a PNY 128 GB USB flash drive (model P-FD128ATT4-GE.....there's nothing indicating the format of the flash drive) and completed a complete computer backup of 107 GB onto the flash drive.  I also completed a copy of the Bootable Acronis Rescue Media to a CD-RW if needed to boot the Acronis software to recover my backup on the flash drive.   I don't want to attempt to recover my backup unless needed in case of problems (i.e. I don't know if authorizations for each software will come with the backup).   Can someone with much more knowledge than I (I'm new to this forum) give me their opinion if I have a workable backup at this point?  It would be more than disappointing if after going to the expense and work of creating a computer image, I find out that I don't have something that will allow me to get back to where I was on my computer if the hard drive were to crash or a more likely possibility that some virus would not allow me to boot up my computer (i.e. CryptoLocker malware). 

Thanks for your comments.

Philip Noohr

Computer: HP500-C60 running Windows 10

 

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#21

Phillip,

Using Windows Explorer you can navigate to the backup you have created on your flash drive, double click on the file and it should open after a few moments showing a folder structure.  You can open these folders to view their contents.  You can also select a file, copy and paste that file to a location of your choice.  If it is possible to do all of these things then you have a working backup that can be restored if need be.

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#22

Hi Phillip, placing backups is not a problem, but booting the ATIH recovery from the stick is. As you said you have used a CD-RW for this. There is also the possibility to create a backup and include the recovery onto the stick (Advanced options) but then you won't be able to boot from the stick or even the creation of this will fail in the first line.

 

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#23

Philip,

Personally, I would test the CDR-W to make sure that 1) it boots  and 2) that after booting, when you click on restore, it finds the backup on the USB flash drive and 3) when you pick the final recovery location, it allows you to pick the main internal drive.

YOU DO NO NEED TO COMPLETE the restore at this point, but at least you'll know the bootable media is working as intended.  There are some newer systems that will not boot a CD or DVD disc in UEFI mode because of bios limitations. If you have UEFI installed OS, then you may want to grab another small USB 3.0 drive and create a USB recovery media instead of a CD or DVD.  Personally, I don't use CD's or DVD's for Acronis boot media because most new systems don't even have a disc drive anymore, external DVD roms are not always detected properly, and because newer motherboards my limit legacy booting of CD's or DVD's, and because a lot of people in these forums end up with "BAD" burns to discs that simply don't work correctly, but it's hard to diagnose since the burn is reported as successful.  

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#24

Some UEFI systems are able to boot from the \EFI\boot\bootx64.efi boot file on an NTFS USB stick. e.g. my Asus Z87 mainboard.

The UEFI specification says that it must support FAT, but that does not prevent some manufacturers from also supporting NTFS because the UEFI specification allows for additional functionality.

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#25

Thanks for your addition steve!

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#26

Thanks to all who have added their comments. I have found that Acronis Recovery Media on (smaller than 32 Gb) USB sticks formatted to NTFS workk OK on two machines here with ASUS MB's and UEFI BIOSes. The USBs were created using Rufus in UEFI mode.

nedwob

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#27

Rufus can create a FAT+NTFS dual partition USB drive. Is this what you used?

Create a bootable disk using: UEFI:NTFS

In this case the system is booting from the FAT partition, but then loading an NTFS EFI driver and then booting to the NTFS partition.

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#28

Hi Steve

I used Rufus 2.9.934 with these settings -

GPT partitioning Scheme for UEFI

NTFS

4096 cluster size

I am not sure how to create a FAT+NTFS dual partition USB drive

Nedwob

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#29

Hi Steve

I used Rufus 2.9.934 with these settings -

GPT partitioning Scheme for UEFI

NTFS

4096 cluster size

I am not sure how to create a FAT+NTFS dual partition USB drive

Nedwob

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#30

I told you how to create a dual partition, use

Create a bootable disk using: UEFI:NTFS

in Rufus. You must tick the Format Options arrow first.

Rufus 2.11.995 is what I use.

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#31

Please note that Windows will only ever see/report the first parition of a partitioned USB FLASH drive (these show up as the "removable" type in disk management).  Other tools like RUFUS, partitioning softare and/or Linux OS can see the multiple paritions of a USB FLASH drive, but not Windows. If the intent is to have a dual paritioned flash drive where you have bootable recovery on one partition and data on the other, it's not going to work in Windows (natively).

If you have a USB external hard drive (these show up in Windows as a "fixed" type in disk management), there should be no issue with Windows seeing the multiple paritions.

 

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#32

FYI

The scheme used by Rufus for UEFI:NTFS is:

  • partition 1 = NTFS (Windows Installer files)
  • partition 2 = FAT (EFI boot files + NTFS driver)

A UEFI system will (usually) boot from the 2nd FAT partition (or if it can boot from NTFS, it may boot from the 1st partition directly). The EFI boot file on the FAT partition loads an EFI NTFS driver and then loads the \EFI\boot\bootx64.efi file on the first NTFS partition. When the boot.wim loads (WinPE) it can see the first NTFS partition but not the 2nd FAT partition (if the USB drive was a removable drive) - but it does not matter because Setup does not need any files on the FAT partition.

 

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#33

Hi Bobbo

I was aware of the USB limitation re Windows and partitions.

Hi Steve

Thanks for that useful info.

Nedwob

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#34

If it's an empty USB, There should be no problem.32GB has enough memory to burn.and If you still fail, You can look at other issues, or following some effective tutorials on Google.

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#35

afaik ExFAT does not work with booting from UEFI, does it?