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Acronis 2013 won't allow selection of destination disk for cloning

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Yesterday I downloaded the Seagate limited version to clone my internal laptop Toshiba drive to a Seagate drive via USB. At the last minute I decided I'd rather clone to a larger Western Digital drive via USB.

The Acronis program told me in order to do that I had to go to the web and pay $29 for the full version as the limited version only would clone to a Seagate drive. So I paid my $29 and downloaded the full version. It took all night. At one point I had downloaded 98% of the 255 meg file and it hung with just a minute to go. I turned off my antivirus and after several more aborted attempts I finally got the full version downloaded.

The installation ran smoothly.

This time when I executed the program it did not send me the message that it was waiting for a Seagate destination drive. However the Western Digital destination drive is greyed out and cannot be selected. The Wester Digital drive is a WD Blue 500g drive. The source drive, which was accepted by the program is a Toshiba 320g drive.

How do I get the new WD 500g drive selected on the USB port? Is it possible something remained behind from the Seagate limited version that is preventing this? Apparently the new installation of the full Acronis version deleted the Seagate version as it no longer appears in my programs.

What should I do now?

Thanks

Smoky

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I you are planning on placing the WD drive in the laptop as a replacement for the Toshiba drive, you should create Acronis Rescue Media from the True Image 2013 programs (Create Bootable Media - from the Backup and Recovery Tab), and use the Rescue Media for all operations.

Please read this entire post. I would not "clone" if possible!

The following "cloning" procedure provides the best results in most cases:

Place the new/replacement drive (the WD drive) in the laptop (in place of the Toshiba) where it will be used as the destination for the "clone". Connect the original drive (Toshiba drive) via the USB connection.
Boot to your Rescue Media, and then use the Acronis tool "Add a new disk" and select the WD drive to "clean" the WD drive by creating a new "blank" MBR style disk. After that completes, then start the "clone" operation, being sure to select the correct drive as the source (the Toshiba) and the correct drive (the WD) as the destination, and proceed with the clone.
When the clone operation is finished, power off the system while still booted to the Rescue Disk, and disconnect the USB drive (the Toshiba), then power the system on and check your results.

Since you have two drives that can be connected via USB at this time (the Seagate and the WD), you could instead, create a full disk image (instead of a "clone") of the Toshiba drive while still in the laptop to the Seagate drive connected via USB.
Then, place the new/replacement drive (the WD) in the laptop to replace the Toshiba, boot to the Rescue Media, use the Acronis tool "Add a new disk" to "clean" the WD drive as above, then "restore" the backup image you created (located on the Seagate) drive to the WD drive located in your laptop. This is the best way, as it is the safest, but involves an additional backup step. (This would be a safety valve in the case of any problems, and provide a current full backup as well.)

I would NOT "clone" at all if possible. A full disk backup image and corresponding restore, provide the same result as a "clone", but provides additional benefits and safety.

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Do not clone. Clone is risky if you don't know what you're doing - and you don't.

Use True Image to create a full disk backup, selecting the entire disk (not just individual partitions. Then you can boot from the bootable True Image Recovery Media (either CD-R or USB flash drive) to restore that backup image to your target disk.

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I have been doing this with Acronis for years on my Wimdows XP laptop with perfect results.

I really do need the answer to my qestion, "Why is the WD drive greyed out as the destination USB drive and what can I do to activate it as the destination. I am not currently replacing my internal drive. I want a spare clone. Once I have that I will immediately test it by swapping drives. Then swap them back and move on. No risk involved.

I hope someone will not recommend their own proceedure like imaging rather than cloning, and help me solve this problem in getting cloning to work. Thanks all for your patience in helping me do it this way. There is no risk as I have plenty of backup media. I do live music rehearsal and performances and need to be able to swap in a clone if things go wrong. Don't want to spend a lot of time justifying why I do things a certain way. Acronis provides cloning and I guess I am one of the few people who have used it successfully for years on an XP CAVS system.

Anyone know why the WD usb drive is greyed out? And what can be done to resolve the problem.

Thanks

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Okay, lets start over.

Your problem with the destination disk is that Acronis is not recognizing it as a valid destination.

The solution I proposed to "clean" the disk with Acronis's tool should work for you. Before starting the "clone" operation, use the tool to clean the target disk first.

I gave you two solutions that have worked for me in the past. The method you choose to use is up to you.

Your method of "cloning" a drive from your internal laptop to an externally connected USB drive that has worked for you in the past, is not working now, so I made my suggestions to try to help you accomplish this.

No one is requesting that you justify how (and why) you are doing this, but you didn't say what end result you wanted the "cloned" drive for, so assumptions had to be made. I see the importance of having a "standby" drive for your needs, and would do the same if I were in your situation.

As for cloning to the external drive, if you have never made a swap to be certain that the "cloned" drive works in the laptop, you don't know if your method of "cloning" is successful. You may have done this, but you have not stated that. One can only assume that you have, and it works for you.

Did you follow my advice to try and use the "add a new disk" tool? This can be done from within Acronis running under Windows or off of the bootable Rescue Media.

Once you have tried to "clean" the drive before "cloning", let us know of your results.

Using the Windows command line utility "diskpart", you can accomplish the same result as the Acronis "add a new disk" tool. If you are comfortable using "diskpart", use the "diskpart" command "clean" after selecting the correct disk (very important) to wipe the target drive of any file system and partition information. This will "initialize" the disk, and should help with Acronis recognizing the disk as a valid destination.

James

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James:

Thanks for your patience.

After some further research, I discovered that Acronis is reading a Seagate drive and accepting it as a destination via USB. But not the Western Digital drive. I am beginning to suspect the full Acronis 2013 may have not completely uninstalled the Seagate Disk Wizard (a stripped down version provided by Acronis that works only on Seagate drives ). In fact when I tried using Disk Wizard yesterday it posted a message saying to go to an Acronis link to get the full version if I wished to clone to a non Seagate drive. I did this and of course had to pay, which is fine. I need Acronis on my Windows 7 machine anyways.

But for some reason it is still refusing to allow a non Seagate drive to be a destination. I no longer get the message. It simply greys out the Western Digital drive. It does not gray out a Seagate drive. I have now tried 3 WD drives and 3 Seagate drives and the results remain consistent.

As for your recomendation, I will consider it if it truly renders me a true clone that would be swappable at a show.

Before I do that, I want to pursue discovering why the full version still only allows a Seagate drive to be the target. I am going to send an email to Acronis, but am disappointed in the delay after paying a second time for the full product for my new machine. I can still clone drives on the old XP machine but want to begin using the new machine as soon as possible.

And yes, I have many times swapped drives on the old XP machine and never had a failure. I actually have 4 drives that I regularly swap. One is a working drive for adding new music which I then migrate to the other 3 using simple file copies. The second is my show copy used at shows and rehearsals. The third is a backup for shows for fast switching in case of problems. And the 4th is an archive copy. I keep all of them up to date with music arrangements and clone all 4 periodically via usb. The target is always the usb machine.

The drive I am working on is a brand new western digital. I used the Administrative tools/Computer Managment/Disk Management to initialize a basic volume. While formating is supposed to be done with the Clone Acronis software, in frustration I did a Quick format in the NTFS format on the Western Digital. I reasoned that a quick format would be sufficient since the drive came out of the sealed package and never had prior data on it.

I will give this the weekend to see if anyone can figure out why it is only working with Seagate. As you can understand I do not like new learning curves, but if I cannot get answers by Tuesday, and if I am convinced your methods will give me backup cloned discs, I will try your approach. Again thanks for your understanding and patience.

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Well James, I re-read your suggestion and decided it was very straightforward. Big mistake though. I cleaned the drive using Acronis and then ran the "add new disc" command. Then executed the clone.

Wow! I believe I almost executed a disaster.

I noticed it no longer asked for a source and destinaton drive, which I have always been used to. But I figrure this was going to be part of the learning curve. Whoa. Fortunately I got a message that Acronis was warning me the destination drive was smaller than the source drive. This told me it was going to copy the larger USB drive to the Internal drive. Holey moley! That could have been a disaster.

I guess this is why I have been pretty insistent that I find someone who can help me with my own method. I have always been able to clone a drive from the internal to an internal drive that is connected externally via usb. I use usb docking equipment to accomodate the "external" internal drive.

Did I do something wrong? Was I supposed to switch the drives first? I am really uncomfortable going from external to internal.

Smoky

Smoky

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You do not have to switch the drives to do the clone if that has been a tried and true method for you to do them.

My suggestion to "clean" the drive in both posts was the method I wanted you to attempt. If you used the Windows Disk Management tools to "initialize" the drive, you have done "clean" already.

I agree that you are right, the Seagate software to 2013 upgrade seems to be the issue here.

As a simple test, you could create or download from your Acronis account (you must register the 2013 serial number to be able to do download an ISO of the Rescue Media) 2013 Rescue Media (CD/DVD/USB flash drive) and with the Toshiba drive still in your system, and the WD drive connected by USB, try the clone operation from the booted Recue Media. If this works, then the problem surely is the Seagate version to 2013 upgrade issue. Performing the "clone" operation while booted to the 2013 Rescue Media would eliminate any issues in the Windows installed version.

Normally, I would suggest that you uninstall the 2013 version, run the 2013 Cleanup Utility, and then re-install 2013, but in order to do this with a previous OEM version installed, you would still need to install the OEM version before the 2013 upgrade. When you purchase an "upgrade" 2013 serial number, during install the program will ask for the 2013 serial number and your older version serial number, which you will not have do to the OEM versions not having one.

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I suggest buying another Seagate drive to replace the WD drive for a quick workaround fix, as it seems you're tied to the Seagate install.

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Smoky,

If you have some spare time for reading, click on my signature link #3 below and review the listing numbered 11. 12 and 13. What I am suggesting is that you just review the steps shown so you feel more comfortable with the procedures you need to use.

The key to avoiding the wrong choosing of a disk is to know the disk characteristics, sizes, etc of both the source disk and the destination disks. This highly possibility of a user wrong selection is very much a danger and it is this danger which is why many of the MVP's suggest the backup and recovery method (rather than cloning) for a replacement disk creation. Whether the disks are internal or external, you must know how to identify them by their size or number or name, etc.

If cloning, it is always a good safety precaution to have a complete disk image backup as a recovery option should there be a data mishap.

If interested in the backup and restore method, my signature link #3 offers illustrations via items #2 and #1. These guides list one method and the guides are not meant to imply they are the only method.

Creation of backup from within Windows
http://forum.acronis.com/forum/38691

Creation of backup when using the Recovery CD
http://forum.acronis.com/sites/default/files/mvp/user285/guides/2010-tih-howtobackup1.pdf

Smoky,
My comments are made to help you feel comfortable with what you want or need to do and remember that when using the Recovery CD,
it is practice until you press the PROCEED option. Once you press the PROCEED option on any Acronis function, you are committed and too late to cancel.

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I'm having the same problem with Western Digital drives . Why couldn't Acronis make a statement that there software doesn't work on Western Digital ? If I would of know this prior ? I wouldn't of bought the WD ... Does Seagate own Acronis ?

Legend
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Terry,
Boot from the user created TrueImage Recovery CD and use the Add disk option for WD.
It should see the WD as TI does see the WD disks. Is this one of the new AF (Advanced Format) drives. It will be labelled on the disk (AF) and in its advertisements.

What the Add disk will do is to initialize the disk.
You can also open Windows Disk management and initialize the disk there.
Normally this is not needed bu the AF seems to need special treatment.

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Yes it is a AF disk . What do you mean by initialize the disk ? Under disk management I select to format and create , Is there something else I need to do ? So initialize can only be done the rescue disk ? Thanks

Okay, I done what you asked by using the Rescue disk and add the drive but I still can't select it as the destination , its greyed out

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How is the new disk connected, inside the machine or via a USB connection? If via USB what USB version 2.0 or 3.0?

So from within Windows and from the Recovery CD the WD drive shows as not selectable?

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Colin B wrote:

How is the new disk connected, inside the machine or via a USB connection? If via USB what USB version 2.0 or 3.0?

USB 2.0

Colin B wrote:

So from within Windows and from the Recovery CD the WD drive shows as not selectable?

Yes, that is correct , Well it shows but in Red and then I get the error not enough space but that is not true either

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When you installed the drive, did you set it up as a Windows Dynamic disk by any chance?

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James F wrote:

When you installed the drive, did you set it up as a Windows Dynamic disk by any chance?

basic but I also try that as well . I pretty much try everything I can

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Terry,

Are you using the full version of 2013 (not the OEM version from Seagate)?

Can you post the "about" information from the program you are running.

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Yes full version and the latest version. I even have 2 of them for 2 laptops

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I am getting similar results.

Also, when I added the WD drive from within windows 7 using Acronis, I lost any drive letter designation. This worried me so I went back to the Windows 7 control panel to use the admin tools. I STILL cannot get a drive letter assigned. I am going to keep working at this tonight. My new goal is to get Windows seeing the drive with an assigned letter. Once I get to that point I believe I will wait for a response from Acronis support .

I doubt if Fry's Electronics will let me exchange the drive for a Seagate since I have already createde a basic volume and formatted it in NTSF. I may end up buying a Seagate drive until I get this solved. But the reason i upgraded to the full version was so I could use whatever current brand of disc was available at a good price.

Thanks for the help here. I am sure I will eventually get to where I need to go. Just have to keep plugging away and also be sure not to do anything stupid LOL.

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Smoky is your drive being recognized in the bios ?

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Acronis is hiding all my posts . I'm only able to view them if I am log in but once I log out I am not able to see them , Is it because of my posts count ?

And the Bios thing didn't seem to matter , it still doesn't work

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Terry,

Please see my comments in the other Forum topic posts. http://forum.acronis.com/forum/39261

This seems to be normal behavior of the Forum software (delaying public viewing of new posts), not intentional hiding of your personal posts.

James

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Smoky dude I feel your pain and Acronis will only provide Pay Per Incident support . So I hope you figure it out without the pay support , Good Luck !

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Terry,

Acronis provides "no charge" (free) support for restore/recovery issues.

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James F wrote:

Terry,

Acronis provides "no charge" (free) support for restore/recovery issues.

I just saw my post and I will give it a try , though this is very upsetting I thought this forum site was Acronis providing support . Even if this forum is mainly for the general users they still can have support here as well .

Thanks James

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Many issues get resolved here by the users who post their solutions online and by the MVP volunteers that provide their time and expertise based on the personal use of the products, and by them doing additional research on behalf of the Forum posters. Many forums are user-to-user based such as this one. Acronis personnel do visit the Forums from time to time, but official Acronis support is not provided here.

I'm sorry if there was any confusion about the use of this Forum vs. official Acronis support.

Under the Useful Links on the left hand side at the top of the forum pages, are two links http://forum.acronis.com/forum/3068 and http://forum.acronis.com/forum/18623 that explain the forum use and the official support policies for Acronis products.

If Acronis support can pin point your problem and offer a fix, I would be glad if you posted your solution here for others to see.

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Yeah I will once Acronis can figure it out , they need a few days to check things out . All I know I'm having problems with Western Digital Black edition drives , all other drives work fine

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Success at last !!!

Not sure where this is headed yet, as I have not yet done the clone, but at last I can see the WD drive. I discovered this by accident. Here is what I did:

In frustration I switched my docking station from the Inland USB Hardware Cord Adapter specifically designed for laptop hard drives to my Thermaltake BlacX docking station designed for desktop pcs. I did this because I discovered t5hat the sata connections for laptop drives are exactly the same as the sata connections for desktop pc drives. I never thought of this before because the slots in the BlackX docking station are designed for accepting 3.5 hard drives. But indeed the 2.5 laptop drives easily fit.

As soon as I did this, my laptop showed, using the admin tools, that only 50 gigs had been formatted and the rest was still unallocated.

So I extended the volume and reformatted. Now I have the full 500 g available and formatted.

My suspicion now is that the new drive was grayed out because the Acronis program thought the drive was too small. It would be nice if Acronis had offered an error message.

At any rate the drive now shows up and ready to go as a destination drive.

Before doing this I am going to plug it back into the Inland USB Hardware Cord Adapter and see if it is now shown as destination ready.

Don’t know why all this happened, but we shall see if we have a clone in a few hours.

I wasn’t to add this is a great forum. While it did not directly provide an answer, it has good people which stimulated my thought processes and I don’t believe I would have got over this hurdle without the active prompt responses in this forum. I am still waiting for Acronis staff response, though they did send a confirmation email over the weekend and I did not mark my request as a high priority.

I will post my results after the attempted clone.

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Well, I am not having success with the Inland cord adapter (see above message). As soon as I plug the drive in my pc says it needs to be formatted. So I formatted it again using the Inland adapter. Now I get the full basic volume of 500 g on the Inland adapter. But now the WD is grayed out as a destination drive.

So I am going to do this all over again using the BlacX desktop docking station. I have nothing to lose as the drive, if it does not work in the laptop after being cloned externally, can simply be reformatted and I can pursue this again with Acronis.

I am puzzled why one usb adapter (the Thermaltake BlacX) works and the Inland does not work.

To be safe I am going to do an external image of the active drive in my laptop

Will keep you posted

Legend
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Thanks much for reporting your corrective experiences. Glad you did not give up.

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Before going any further, I am going to take the suggestion from James and see if I can solve the problem temporarily by using the image process. But ultimately I would like to simply do what the software is designed to do and simply clone a drive via the usb connection to an external drive. It will be interesting to see what Acronis says about this when they contact me.

Legend
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Here is a KB article on the Acronis recommended method of cloning.

http://kb.acronis.com/content/2931

You may be interested in this link as well which illustrates how to make sure your backup includes all partitions.
http://forum.acronis.com/forum/38691

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Well Grover, that pretty well sums up the problem. And thanks!

Apparently I MUST put the new destination drive into the laptop. And the source must be removed from the laptop and placed in the external usb connector.

I am not happy with this. In the past, with desktops, I have always been successful cloning from the internal drive to an external docking station. Laptops must be unique in this respect. And my BlacX docking station must somehow tell Acronis it is a desktop drive. I am guessing that desktops also have some kind of difference in formatting versus laptops drives. I never knew this before.

I wonder if the other guy with a similar problem, Terry, is making the same mistake? If so he needs to swap the old drive out with the new drive.

I am going to make a full image backup of my laptop to an enclosed external drive for safety sake. Then reluctantly I will place the new drive into the laptop. Then see if the clone works as advertized. This may force me to continue to use my desktop for my shows and rehearsals, but at least I will have a new cloned drive for my laptop.

Am I safe in assuming that the old drive can still be swapped into the laptop should I need to use it in the future? Or does Acronis only allow the new drive to be bootable and used? In my desktop I can use any of my backup cloned drives.

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Smoky,
For owners of a Lenova/Thinkpad, placing the disk in inside the computer (or Lenova docking station) is important to due the hardware characteristics of the Thinkpad. For owners of other brands, this placement of the disk inside the computer is of lessor importance. Many users have success without moving the source before cloning or restoring. It's kinda a try and see what works situation. A recommended method is one that works most often for most people but should not be interpreted as the only way for all people.

Once you have a tested clone, your computer should boot either disk (old or new) providing the intended boot disk is placed inside the computer in its original position.

The most important rule is that you should not have two identical disks (original and clone) attached to the computer during the first boot following any cloning operation.

If I were in your shoes, my first try would be to place the target in the BlacX and then do the clone and check the results.

Some users (such as xPilot) use this method below
1. Make a full disk image of the installed disk.
2. Remove the installed disk and store it away.
3. Restore the same backup onto a new disk so the new installed disk is now identical to what is stored away.
4. After a period of time, repeat the procedure using either a new disk or a couple disksin rotation.
In other words, the user always has a
currently installed good disk
good disk stored away.
Good backup so a new additional disk can be created--should there be a failure of the installed disk.
.

On my desktop, I have the top two slots to be the quick removal sata so removal only takes seconds to remove and insert a new disk.
So disk rotation as described above is very easy. Some laptops have easy and quick access to the hard drive but some computer brands changing the disk can be take hours.

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Smoky,

Thanks for the updates.

Different external enclosures use different hardware/firmware on board to present the drives to the OS. This is why it is usually recommended for a clone operation, or a full disk restore from backup disk images, that the target disk be in the location that it will be used in after the clone or restore is completed. This way the system is presented with the target drive as it will be seen when in use. Small differences in the way the drives are presented to the OS can cause quite a lot of headaches when cloning or restoring images. This is esp. true when the target drive is connected via USB and then moved to an internal system SATA controller.

It is possible that Acronis drivers that are loaded both in the Windows version and on the Rescue Media when booted, do not get along well with the controller in the dock that is not working for you.

I use a couple of Black X USB/eSATA docks connected via a pass through SATA slot bracket which connects directly to the same SATA controller as the internal primary drives on my system board. I have never had an issue with cloning or restoring drives using this setup, as the drives (source and target) are handled by the same controller, and, of course, are presented to the OS exactly the same.

Once you successfully make a "clone" of your laptop hard disk to a target disk in the laptop, you can remove the "cloned" drive and replace it with the "original" source drive for use. You will still have your spare newly "cloned" drive ready to go. The steps to do the clone are a little more time consuming when having to move the source from the laptop to the external dock, and swap back after the clone, but this is the most reliable way to be sure the clone will be ready when needed. In your case reliability of the "cloned" drive seems paramount.

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Jim:

Tell me more about this statement: "I use a couple of Black X USB/eSATA docks connected via a pass through SATA slot bracket which connects directly to the same SATA controller as the internal primary drives on my system board. I have never had an issue with cloning or restoring drives using this setup, as the drives (source and target) are handled by the same controller, and, of course, are presented to the OS exactly the same. "

Does this mean your BlacX is not connected via USB? Or does this mean you are cloning from one slot in the usb dock to the other slot? I am having trouble interpreting your words.

I am sure I am being dumb here and need a more clear explanation.

Another question is if I want to be safe and first make a full disk image before making a clone ... is it better to make the image via usb from within Windows 7, or is it better to use the Acronis boot disk and make the image that way?

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Smoky wrote:

Another question is if I want to be safe and first make a full disk image before making a clone ... is it better to make the image via usb from within Windows 7, or is it better to use the Acronis boot disk and make the image that way?

You can safely backup from within Windows. Switch to disk mode, and select the entire disk (to be certain that all partitions are included in the backup). On some systems, the active, system partition is not on the same disk as the OS. Make sure to include that partition. Some users loath that Acronis (or other imaging software) install low-level drivers and other services that (might) adversely impact overall system stability and performance. These users will simply backup from the recovery CD without installing ATI at all. Personally, I use the Windows-based version for backup for convenience. I always use the recovery CD for clones and recoveries.

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I only have one Black X dock connected at a time, and only have one hard disk in it at a time usually. (it is a dual drive USB/eSATA dock). http://www.amazon.com/Thermaltake-Drives-Docking-Station-ST0014U/dp/B002MUYOLW/ref=sr_1_5?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1359478749&sr=1-5&keywords=esata+docking+station

I am using it connected via eSATA on my desktop computer via a SATA to ESATA slot bracket (replaces a slot cover). The system has only internal SATA ports, hence the use of the bracket. It has two (but I only use one currently) internal SATA cables that connect between the motherboard SATA ports and the bracket internally, as well as a standard 4 pin power connector (for power pass through if needed, but also not connected since the dock has its own power supply). The outside of the bracket has two eSATA ports (connected to the internal SATA cables on the bracket that allow the internal SATA ports to be used to connect eSATA devices such as the Black X dock) as well as a power connector on the outside of the bracket, connected to the internal power connector on the inside of the bracket. This was a cheap and very good investment to allow eSATA connectivity on this system, with the added benefit of excellent system BIOS control of the eSATA connected Black X mounted drives. http://www.meritline.com/2-port-esata-bracket-with-4-pin-power---p-34792.aspx

I use my Black X docks connected to eSATA any time I can, because of the speed increase in transfer rates vs. USB, but do use USB on systems without access to SATA or eSATA ports (common on laptops). Although the Black X can support 2 drives simultaneously while connected via USB (and eSATA if your controller supports the "port multiplier" function).

Concerning your question about imaging and then restoring.

If you were to make a complete disk image backup (from the installed Windows version of True Image, or from the boot Rescue Media) of your laptops hard disk to an externally connected (USB or eSATA) spare storage drive, You could then put a disk in the laptop to replace the source used for the backup, and do a full disk restore to the new drive, and you would have effectively "cloned" the source drive to the newly installed target drive.

I have a laptop that I use for testing software, that I do this regularly with.

Here is my method.

I have a completely updated Windows installation with all necessary software installed and fully useable. I have Acronis True Image 2013 installed as well.

I connect an external drive (for backup image storage) either in my Dock X or a standard external USB drive (via USB in this case since no eSATA ports), and create a full disk based backup image of the drive using True Image and store the image file on the externally connected drive.

Any time I wish to install a new drive with the full Windows installation just mentioned, I remove the laptop drive and replace it with a second one, then boot the system to the Acronis Rescue Media, and perform a full disk restore to the new disk. When the restore is finished, reboot back into a fully working Windows installation.

In your case, once you have a working installation of your necessary software load (Windows and all needed applications), you could create a master backup image to an external storage drive, and use that image to create as many "clones" of the souce drive as you wish, simply by mounting the target drive in your laptop, and restoring the master backup image to the drive using the True Image bootable Rescue Media to start the laptop up. If you need additional hard disks ready to go, you would just repeat the restore to a newly mounted (in your laptop) disk. Any time you wish to update the master image, you would just create a new image from a currently working drive, and then do the restores to as many additional drives as you need.

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James, Pat, and Grover:

Thanks for taking the time to help me. I now have a big smile on my face.

I have successfully created an image of my entire disk via an external usb drive.

Also I successfully created a clone by removing my laptop Toshiba drive, placing it in the BlacX dock, placing a fresh Western Digital drive into the laptop, initializing the drive in the laptop, and then using Acronis (via the boot disk) to run an actual clone command. Took about 3 hours and I now have Windows running on the 500g drive after cloning from the original 320g drive. Woopee! For safety I also made an image on the 750g external drive.

Now I am going to put the original Toshiba back into the laptop. I want the smaller drive as the working drive because I don't want to get in a spot of cloning from a large drive. I have lower expense and flexibility if my smallest drive is the working drive. Later I will get another 500g or higher laptop drive so that I can get a clone rotation program going as suggested. I will do routine backups unto the external drive that has the original image, then make new clones periodically.

I feel real good about where I am now. One last test is to make sure my original Toshiba driver is still working. I have yet to hear from the Acronis staff. I am left now with only a curiosity question for them. Why does Acronis gray out the destination drive if it is an external drive, but allow both source and target to be selected if the target is internal? I know from my readings here it is considered safer, but Acronis ought to make that clearer in the manual and in the user interface.

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Smoky,

Glad you are on your way to having a working solution.

The destination being "grayed out" is particular to your system setup.

I have been doing some testing on my end with 2013 and the Dock X connected by USB and find that I "can" clone to it from my Windows 8 system with both True Image from within Windows, and from the bootable Rescue Media.

As an additional test, I performed a clone from one drive in the Dock X to the second while connected via USB and it worked fine, although a bit slower than from the system to the Dock X.

I can't test the ability to "clone" from the first drive to the second in the Dock X while connected via eSATA because the currently connected system does not support "port multiplier" on the SATA controller I (necessary for two drives to work simultaneously in the Dock X when connected via eSATA - 2 drives work in the Dock X when connected via USB). I will be moving it to another system that does, and I expect that I should be able to "clone" from one to the other while connected via eSATA as well.

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Great! Congratulations on your success. A few words of caution.
1. Do NOT do a clone unless or until you have completed a current full backup of your system. When cloning, user or hardware mistakes can make both source and target to be non-usable. You would need to recovery your backup in order to create a new disk.

2. A recent current posting reminded us of how savage some of the viruses are. Both source disk PLUS an internal disk housing backups was ruined by a virus so he lost use of his backups and his system disk because of the virus. It always helps to have alternate backups stored elsewhere in case of fire or theft or user carelessness,

Good luck!