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[IMPORTANT] CLONING - How NOT to do this

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mvp

Acronis True Image products allow Cloning to be started from within the Windows Acronis application but this can result in an unbootable system or worse, a total loss of all data including the Windows OS if certain rules are not followed when doing a Clone operation.

  • ALWAYS make a full disk & partitions backup of the source drive to be cloned BEFORE attempting to clone!
    If a Clone goes wrong then this is your safety net and the means of recovering your drive / system.
     
  • ALWAYS create and TEST the Acronis bootable Rescue Media to ensure that this will work on your system and will see all of your internal / external disk drives.
    NOTE: If the standard Rescue Media (which is based on a Linux Kernel OS) does not boot your computer into the Acronis Recovery environment, then starting a Clone or Recovery from Windows will also not work on your computer as this too uses the same Linux Kernel OS.  The Windows PE version of the Rescue Media will be required in this case.  
     
  • DO NOT attempt to clone to a drive which has existing data that you wish to keep.  ALL DATA on the target drive for a Clone will be wiped!
     
  • DO NOT attempt to boot into Windows with the cloned Source and Target drives both connected.  Cloning duplicates the drive signature which will confuse Windows at best and could potentially cause both drives to be corrupted.
     
  • It is Highly Recommended to check both the Source and Target drives for any errors before attempting to clone - any bad sectors can cause the clone to fail.  Use CHKDSK /F /R to check NTFS drives.  Use a utility program such as Hard Disk Sentinel, Crystal Disk Info or the tools provided by the disk manufacturer such as SeaTools from Seagate etc.  Also try to avoid using front USB ports when cloning where possible.
     
  • CHECK if you have any form of disk encryption active / enabled on your system such as BitLocker or any other available encryption product.
     
  • DO NOT attempt to start a clone from within Windows UNLESS ENCRYPTION HAS BEEN DISABLED!  You could lose your system if you do so!
    NOTE: Acronis True Image running within Windows sees your disk drives are being NOT ENCRYPTED and will back them up as such.  Acronis Rescue Media knows nothing of Encryption and cannot backup encrypted data nor restore a backup to an encrypted disk drive.  Any backup created in Windows will be restored as unencrypted and the user will need to reactivate / reenable encryption after the restore is complete.
     
  • It is Highly Recommended that any Clone operation should ONLY be attempted when using the Acronis bootable Rescue Media, and should not be started from within Windows.  
    This is a Safer approach as it does not require that any changes be made to the Windows Boot Loader configuration files, which starting a clone from within Windows makes in order to create the Linux Kernel recovery environment.
     
  • Acronis Backup and Restore is Highly Recommended as a complete alternative to using Cloning - this is safer for a number of reasons:
    A Backup can be used multiple times as needed - Cloning is a one-shot at success!
    The source drive can be removed and stored safely while a Restore is written to the target drive - Cloning has to involve both source and target drives to work, and can damage/corrupt both when it goes wrong!
    Backup and Restore is more flexible in what types of drives can be used, i.e. can backup and recover to Dynamic drives, RAID etc - Cloning can only operate with Basic drives.
     
  • KB documents: 56634: Acronis True Image: Cloning Disks and 1540: Difference between Backup and Disk Clone contain very important information on these subjects and should be read before embarking on these actions.  
     
  • KB document: 56619: Acronis True Image: Compatibility with BitLocker deals with the topic of encryption and is equally valid for any other encryption product besides BitLocker.
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Steve, that is an excellent post!

For benefit of users reading this, I'll add:

Do not clone! No one should clone, it's too risky. Do a full disk backup and restore to the new drive.

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I agree that it is an excellent post. 

Ian

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Nice work Steve!  I see a Sticky here, might wane to add it to the Google Drive as well!

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Yes sir - I agree.  

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This is the kind of stuff new users need. Fortunately, I read enough in the forums before I made a backup, to allow me to make my first one fairly easy. And successful! Excellent post!!!

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I concur with making this a sticky.

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Thanks for the support for this to be a sticky, I did PM Ekaterina but not had any reply.

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FWIW, I sent her a PM about the other sticky. I did not receive a reply, but she did make it a sticky. :)

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Thanks Ed, suspect the Acronis folks have been occupied with announcing the new ATIH 2017 New Generation announcement at present.

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This has made me nervous. I am having some components replaced in my computer in a few days and I wanted to replace the hard drive that is a clone of the one I have. I think I am okay but I do not understand how to make a clone using the rescue disc - which I made. I made a clone of the drive a few months ago plus I do full backups with incremental back ups. I thought I was fine with the clone but now I do not know. I planned to make a new fresh clone before shutting down and having the components replaced. Can someone point me to instructions for replacing my harddrive with a clone?

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Karin,

The MVP's are not recommending you clone (starting from Windows) because there are additional risks that may leave your system in an unbootable state - depending on things like availability of hardware drivers in the Acronis recovery environment, how the bios is configured (if secureboot is enabled chances are it will fail to load Acronis, but if Acronis was allowed to modify the disk before restarting, and can't set it back because it failed to load - that can be a problem).

The process is exactly the same, but you start with your recovery media to be on the safe side.  

I think most of us will also recommend that you have a good  backup (as a precaution) prior to any clone - just in case.  Even Acronis recommends this in the documentation.  It's not a requirement, but it is your safety net, should something go wrong, for whatever reason.

For more information about the process, pelase read this forum:  https://forum.acronis.com/forum/125166#comment-387534

Here is an Acronis tutorial on cloning with rescue media (from 2016, but it's the same process):  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KlXkYKzY6vs  It's 3 minutes and the first 1 1/2 minutes explains the process a little bit and the rest goes through the process. 

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Karin, the point of this point was to try to persuade users to be extra careful when looking at cloning their disk drives - this because of the number of forum topics that we see where users have blindly gone ahead and ended up with a broken system for various of the reasons this topic mentions.

As you have your full backups (plus incrementals) you have a means of recovery which is very important.

Next, as you have previously successfully made a clone on this same computer, then making a new clone using the same procedure that you used on that previous occasion should continue to work for you.

The important point about creating the Acronis bootable Rescue Media, is that this will always be needed should you suffer a total disk failure and have to start again with a new / replacement blank disk drive unless you are going to do a clean install of Windows then reinstall ATIH in order to restore your backup from within Windows.

Staying on the subject of the Acronis bootable Rescue Media, this is of no actual value unless you test that your computer can boot from it - until you try to do this you will not know if it will work for you or not, and if it does not work, then you would need to create the alternative WindowsPE version of the Rescue Media instead (and test this will work).

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Thanks. I wish I knew that it could have caused problems. If I remember I did get an error somewhere along the line so maybe I do not have a cloned disc afterall.

 If I boot with the rescue media that means I go into the BIOS and change it to boot to the CD drive? 

Then, if the rescue media boots okay, on the day of operating on the computer I make a full back-up to my external drive like I have been doing.

Reboot the computer with the rescue media and then make a clone of the drive to the drive I want to use.

Shut down unless the computer shuts down automatically, replace the old drive with the cloned drive.

Or, can I just make a full backup to the new drive and replace the old drive with it. Is one way better than the other?

 

 

 

 

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[quote=Karin Christensen]

Thanks. I wish I knew that it could have caused problems. If I remember I did get an error somewhere along the line so maybe I do not have a cloned disc afterall.

If I boot with the rescue media that means I go into the BIOS and change it to boot to the CD drive? 

That's one way to do it.  If you change the boot order in the bios to the CD first - it should typcially try to boot that before the hard drive.  You may also have a one time boot menu on your computer (F12, Del, Esc or F1 are common keys that can bring up a one time boot menu so you can manually pick the boot device.  It really varies from system to system though). 

Then, if the rescue media boots okay, on the day of operating on the computer I make a full back-up to my external drive like I have been doing.

A full, offline backup is a great option - this is a backup in proprietary Acronis True Image Backup (TIB) format.  Backups can be used at any point in time if you need to roll back to the backup or grab files/folders from it down the road.  

Reboot the computer with the rescue media and then make a clone of the drive to the drive I want to use.

Once booted into the rescue media, and hopefully after you've created a backup for posterity, yes, you can then clone the original disk to another disk using this method.

Shut down unless the computer shuts down automatically, replace the old drive with the cloned drive.

Yes, you want to shutdown the Acronis rescue media before your boot.  You typically don't want the original and a clone to be attached at the same time, espeically if they're both internal disks.  Shuttding down, then removing the clone or removing the original and replacing it with the clone and then booting is a good idea.  

Or, can I just make a full backup to the new drive and replace the old drive with it. Is one way better than the other?

No, the backup is a proprietary backup format that should be saved somewhere else (a third drive, a network share, something like that).  This can be used at any time to be restored with your recovery media.  Backup and restore is ultimately the same results as a clone, but offers the advantage of being able to use that backp anytime you want.  A clone is "on the fly" and offers no safety net on it's own.  

 

 

 

 

[/quote]

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So, Steve,

Here I am at 4am. It's been a long night and I am part way through a disk clone using TI 2015.

This is my first time here and so I have not read this post before now!

On my Windows PC, my internal Toshiba 1TB HDD 7200rpm (only about 40% full) reported imminent failure, so I purchased a WD 1TB equivalent. In the week that it took to get it, the computer has got slower and slower and occasionally freezes. It still boots but everything takes longer. It is Sooooo Slowwww.

There is no second slot in the computer so I installed the new WD HDD in a USB Speed Master carrier and started a Disk Clone from within Windows 10 creator. No probs, it prepared and asked the right questions and it is now cloning.

I am at 6 of 9 cloning partition. My green progress bar is at about 75% of the way across and hasn't moved forward for a while now.and the HDD light on the computer seems to be permanently on and the blue light on the Speed Master is rarely flickering.

During the night the 'time left' has varied from 2 days to 2 hours. It would seem that the failing drive is getting worse and may just stop. TI 2015 seems to be carrying on regardless.

My questions are.

1. If I leave it long enough and assuming the HDD doesn't actually fail, will it eventually finish?

2. If I select cancel, in what state will it leave my new drive? Will it ask a few questions and tidy things up and allow it to boot with what it has?

I did run a 'copy' to an old 500gb WD drive in the USB Speed Master before ordering the new HDD.

I don't really want to install the OS and all the programs and start all over - THAT'S WHY I PURCHASED ACRONIS TI !

This is the first time I have needed its abilities.

Hope you can help with some advice.

Cheers

Michael

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Michael, welcome to these user forums.

If your source Toshiba 1TB HDD is already failing / at risk of imminent failure, then it is very difficult to answer your questions without having to say 'it depends...'

In an ideal world, I would have recommended that you had used your ATIH 2015 to make full disk & partitions backup images to an external backup drive long before you got to the status you see today.  Do you have any such backups available to use to recover your computer to the new WD 1TB HDD if the current clone operation fails?

As per the subject of this topic, cloning is a one time chance of saving your data, whereas backup offers more options for doing the same.

If you leave the clone operation running then there are several possible outcomes:  it could complete and all could be OK; or it could fail and leave both drives unbootable (i.e. the source drive failed completely but before the clone was able to make the target drive bootable / viable to load Windows); or it could complete with errors and result in the target drive also reflecting errors which have been cloned / copied across to it from the source drive.

If you cancel the clone operation, then you risk that both drives will be potentially unusable.  The clone to the target will be incomplete and it is impossible to advise what vital data may be missing from it.

Any other advice at this point would probably come across as being 'hindsight' and may not be helpful to you.

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Given the reported problems with the old HDD Acronis is probably doing a sector-by-sector clone. This can take a long time when the source disk has problems. 

With a fialing disk drive it is difficult to know how best to solve the problem. I would be inclinded to run the drive manufacturer's disk utility to see if it can (temporarily) fix the problem; once I have done that I would create a backup (rather than a clone) so that I have something to fall back on if the clone goes badly wrong.

Given where you are at, Steve is correct, leave the process to run. It could take many hours before the task completes. 

Ian

In reply to by Steve Smith

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Well, I ended up having to cancel the Acronis cloning.  A bad sector read error came up. The drive would not boot at all after that.

I have now installed the new empty 1TB hard drive, attached the USB Speed Master with the 500GB hard drive which has 3 complete Acronis backups on it and booted from the USB Acronis recovery stick I created earlier.

It opened the USB HDD as C: drive. I have found and tried opening all three of the backups. The first two were reported as corrupt and the third tells me that "It is not the last volume of the backup archive.

I am in despair and it looks as though I will have to start from scratch. With all the hassle and time and effort that requires it was probably faster and cheaper to buy another economy desktop.

At least I have a backup of all the folders and files from the 'user' downwards from a week ago.

I hate technology. The more you rely on it, the more unreliable it becomes.

Thanks for all your helpful comments

Michaelfromoz

 

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Michael, sorry to hear that the original drive failed completely.

It is normal that you would see the USB drive as C: when your new 1TB drive is 'empty', the correct drive letter would be shown / allocated when the OS is present and booted.

For the 3 backups on the 500GB drive - were these created on that drive or were they copied from the failing drive to it?  If the latter then it is possible that they were taken from an area of the failed drive with bad sectors?

You could try doing a validation of the backup files being reported as corrupt and see if that also says the same?

In reply to by Steve Smith

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Steve,

The backups were created on that 500GB USB Speed Master drive when the C:drive was reporting an imminent failure. Acronis completed them without problems or reporting any issues. Like all backup systems, you never know if they have worked until you need to use them (and so should test them!)...

..... but all this action was compressed into such a small period of time (compared to the last 3 years of PC use without backing up - of course!) that there has been no time to check. I'm downloading original Dell image (with Windows 8.1 now to create USB recovery on to new 1TB HDD, then I have to see how I go about doing the upgrade to Windows 10, as that was initiated by Microsoft without original discs etc, then installing my 'User' backup folders and files and then installing the extra programs etc..... After all that, when I am back up and running to almost where I was before, I'll create some Acronis backups and test them..... All this closing the stable door once the horse has bolted of course. Oh well....onwards and upwards.

How do you validate backup files? Is that an Acronis thing? I didn't see it anywhere in the USB recovery menus.

Michael

 

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Michael, you shouldn't need to have to install Windows 8.1 in order to get back to Windows 10 - you can reinstall Windows 10 and this should activate fine given you have previously had it installed on this computer.

You can use the Microsoft Windows and Office ISO Download Tool to download the Windows 10 installation media as an .ISO file to burn to either DVD or a USB stick.  You can also download Windows 10 direct from the Microsoft website. and use the Media Creation Tool to create this on DVD or USB stick.

For Validation, you need to right-click on the Acronis backup .TIB file to see the option for this, see screenshots below:

Validate1.jpg

Validate2.jpg

Validate3.jpg

Validate4.jpg

Validate5.jpg

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Yes, you can definitely go directly to Win10 creator. There may be a Dell specific Win 10 recovery USB installation for your Dell PC on the Dell www site ... I have not checked. 

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Ian and Steve,

I have finished.

I didn't want the chance of hassle from MS admin stopping me installing a Windows 10 from scratch and so took the long way and installed the Dell Windows 8.1 image specifically licensed for this machine, downloaded Windows 10 directly without problems, copied across all my wife's user folders and files and installed the few programs that she uses. Started at 4am and finished at 1:30pm. Now find that I missed Skype and Lifecam but they won't take long.

At least she's running again now and much faster than before and she has a smile, which is the main thing.

I tried the old drive in my USB Speed Booster on my laptop and it hums to the point of vibration and doesn't do anything except for flashing the access light, so it will get the drill through it and on to the waste tip.

I see that it is a Toshiba and not built quite as robustly as the WD so the drill won't have a problem!

Now, on to a backup strategy using Acronis, seeing as I have paid for it........

Thanks both, once again for your input.

Michael

 

 

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Michael, glad to hear that all is up and working again for your wife (and you!).  Definitely a good idea to have regular backups of your Windows OS and data, plus to check that these are good by opening the backup files and copying a random selection of files / folders to any temporary location, plus also ensure that you have a good working Acronis Rescue Media available.

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Glad that things are now in working order. Looks like the old HDD was well and truely on its way out.

After several unexpected hard disk crashes I now use Hard Disk Sentinal to monitor them on my important systems.

Ian

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HI guys,

I wonder if you can assist with an associated issue.

When starting my PC now it comes up with blue screen that advises that the PC needs repair.

There are some Function key options which either don't do anything or take me to the boot setup , which is correctly set at Windows boot.

There is also an option F9 alternative operating system.

When selecting this I get another blue screen which allows me to chose between Windows 10 and Windows 10 (Volume 5). It is the second option that then gets me with the correct login.

What have I done wrong?

Any clues?

Cheers

Michael

 

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Michael, I would request that you raise this associated issue in a new forum Topic rather than adding it to this particular one which is warning users about the dangers of cloning.

Screen shots / digital camera shots would be helpful to know what you are seeing for this new issue.

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Reading thru all these problems, both actual, as well as potential, it is looking like a TV health supplement commercial - and those make the cure look worse than the disease. IF the Acronis cloning program has so many potential problems, WHY would I want to use it - and MORE to the point, why does Acronis even provide it? YES, I am seeing my own issues with the Acronis 2017 software and an apparent incompatibility with the most recent update of Windows 10. It has caused my ASUS laptop to fail on initial self-test, before BIOS has even completed, and thus, NO boot drives will function, and the laptop sits in permanent lock up. The fix for me, has been removing my 2 SSD's, then boot up, which takes me directly to the BIOS setup screens. THEN, switch the PC off, reinstall the drives - and the system then boots up normally - but will lock up again on next startup, UNLESS I delete Acronis 2017 from the PC. All this recently started when not running Acronis in any form, but apparently some of the Acronis "tracks" in the system are activated at each boot-up, and cause the PC to lock up early on during the self test. Totally removing the Acronis software has been the only "cure" - and makes me wonder why I bought the software to begin with - either Microsoft, or Acronis, have introduced a self destruct incompatibility issue, at least in my case. BUT returning to the Cloning feature, WHY use it, or even provide it, if it has so many potential risks?

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Gary, cloning can be done safely if certain precautions are taken, i.e. having a good backup and doing the cloning outside of Windows.

Cloning is also useful when wanting to replace a current drive with either a new/larger one or changing from a HDD to a SSD etc, but again, after taking precautions and understanding the rules involved.

I have used cloning myself, will do so again when appropriate, but will always try to have a good backup in place first.

For your ASUS issue with fail on start unless you remove ATIH 2017, then please open a new topic for this, plus I would strongly recommend opening a Support Case direct with Acronis to investigate why this is happening?

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Wow. So, here's a couple of thoughts

1. Cloning is not bad. In fact, it gives you an immediately bootable backup that you don't have to restore.  I routinely clone because when disaster strikes, you're not doing tech work of reinitiating a computer with a rescue disc and then having to restore.  Cloning must be checked: after you clone, immediately shut down the computer, disengage the source disc, leave in the cloned disc, and check that it boots.  This is most readily done in a machine with hot swap bays, of course.

2. I can see why Acronis forums would dis cloning...it's not something Acronis products do well.  Encrypted PGP and bitlocker discs are in fact clonable, as per Casper Secure Disc 4.2.  

Soooo, it seems that this forum should be read with a grain of salt.  Understand the source, after all.

In reply to by Steve Smith

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Oddly, have had no problem cloning in windows using either Casper 8 or Samsung Migration, at least for cloning my Samsung SSDs.  Also using AOEMI Backupper works well.

Where they fall short is in the inability to clone Bitlocker or PCP encrypted discs, since they only will create a bootable NONencrypted disc.  Enter Casper Secure Disc 4.2, which can do that.  Weird, but no one else seems to have software that claims to be able to do a clone of an encrypted disc except Casper's Secure Disc.

In reply to by Gary Davidson

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Have had problems with Acronis in the past.  Have you trialed Casper or AOEMI Backupper?  They've cloned for me well, just make sure you disable the "USB Bootable" option in them before cloning.

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Dear Steve,

As always you&other MVPs are THE source!  My question refers not only to CLONING but the alternate method of Backuo/Restore as a full disk image (in relation to installing a Bare Metal SSD in place of an existing HDD.  I refer also to the excellent work of Mustang&Bobbo (especially Mustangs Guide in the ATI2016 forum(Guide to restoring a UEFI/GPT Win System to a new disk with TI2016.

I actually always to my daily Complete Disk Backups using the WinPE Media (its most stable IMHO) & of course use the same for disk restores (all BUs are 'FULL' mode) and I usually either WIPE the destination HDD *or are using a fresh bare metal drive). Of course, I select the PE boot Rescue media to match the system (MBR (legacy) vs GPT-UEFI) accordingly.  Until this point, zero issues!

To my point in writing, I have a new DELL LAPTOP win10x64 uefi mode factory equipped w/ 1TB HDD. So, my goal is to transition the entire drive (os, sw etc) to a new Samsung SATA SSD of 500 GB...i;m only using 10 of the 1 TB HDD now!

Yes, the single C:] on the 1tb HDD will need to be shrunk, my biggest concern is that TI2017PE is able to:

1. Place ALL current Dell W10 partitions (hidden or otherwise), in the correct order on the bare metal 500GB SSD. My preference would be yje IMAGE BU/Restore vs. the CLONE function?  Comment please?

2. Can TI2017 resize my existing 800TB C:\ during this process...still keeping all other partitions?

3. Alternately, what about (before creating the WINPE Rescue Drive Image)... using a utility to first SHRINK the existing C:\ Primary partition...then reboot, then Image B/U then swap in the Bare SSD and use WinPE to RSTORE ALL.

Hope this makes sense

 

Thx

BOB

 

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Bob, thanks for your kind words but could I ask you to create a New Topic for your questions please rather than add this on to the end of this topic dealing mainly with trying to warn inexperienced users about the possible dangers of using cloning without adequate precautions.

I am happy to answer your questions as best as I can in that new topic.

In reply to by Steve Smith

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Thx Steve,

 

Posted to Newly Created Topic just now !