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Partition recovery after recovering whole HDD

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Hi,

I have an important question: Can I recover a single partition AFTER recovering the HDD allowing access to all data without any restriction? Reason is the following: I have an Acer TravelMate and want to use an old backup to recover the HDD and its structure (similar to the D2D [Disk-toDisk] recovery function of Acer) because this D2D doesn't work anymore after I had a system crash during HDD access. But at the time I made the backup it worked because I resetted my notebook the day before using D2D. So I planned to use the HDD backup to recover the HDD structure. After that I wanted to use the today's partition backups to recover the current status. But I don't know if I also have to recover the MBR of the HDD in order to access all data. Or do I have to recover the MBRs of the partitions AND the MBR of the HDD?

Does anybody have an idea how to do that? AFA I know the partition table is associated with the MBR of the disk and the MFTs are associated with every partition.

Thanks

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#1

Jan:

Can you post a screenshot from Windows Disk Management showing the partitions on your Acer's disk? I'd like to see if the PQSERVICE partition is still present before recommending a course of action. Also, have you checked in the BIOS setup screens to see if D2D Recovery is enabled?

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#2

Here's the screenshot! The partition M [Movies] will be removed when using the backup; the drive E [Medion] is my external USB HDD used for saving the backup.
The PQSERVICE is the recovery partition created by Acer.

D2D recovery is enabled in BIOS and activated by + when the Acer screen appears while booting.

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#3

Jan:

Since the PQSERVICE partition is present, but D2D does not work, you may be able to fix D2D without going through the process described in your first post. I would try the following instead:

1. Using an image made when D2D was working, restore only the MBR from the image. This operation can be done while running the Windows version of TI. Which TI version are you using, by the way?

The MBR restore will replace the special ACER MBR and this may be enough to fix the problem. Reboot the PC to check. If D2D still doesn't work, go on to step 2.

2. Restore only the PQSERVICE partition from an image made when D2D was working. You should be able to do this while Windows is running. Reboot to test.

Both of the above approaches avoid making any changes to the Movies, Data, or Windows System partitions.

Judging from the screenshot, it looks like you're running Vista; is that correct? Hopefully your TI version is recent enough to be Vista-aware. To be safe, could you confirm which OS you're using and which version of TI you're using before proceeding? Also, I can't see the graphic layout of your partitions from the screenshot. It would be helpful to include another screenshot that shows the graphic at the bottom of the Disk Management window so that I can see the order and types of the partitions. It may matter, depending on the TI version that you are going to use.

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#4

Hi Mark,

thanks for your replies. Here's the screenshot!

I'm using TI Home 2011 on Win7 Pro 32-bit

By the way: I used TestDisk a few days ago to recover the Movies partition which was corrupt. I used EASEUS to move and resize the partition but during that process my PC went into the energy-saving mode. After restarting, that Movies partition was gone so I used Testdisk. Perhaps this could be an important fact for you?

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#5

Jan:

Good. TI 2011 is aware of the newer partitioning standards so you should be fine if you have to restore the PQSERVICE partition. As long as you are restoring to an existing partition, TI 2011 should restore the partition to its exact existing location and offset.

Go ahead and try the steps in my reply # 3, above. Hopefully this will work without you needing to restore the entire disk.

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#6

All right, I'll try!! It could be that I will answer tomorrow if it worked. I have to do other work now, sorry.

Thanks for your advise :-)

By the way: I don't have that much knowlegde about the exact structure of MBRs, MFTs etc. Is there only one MBR for the whole HDD or does every partition have an unique MBR? I know that a MBR is needed in order to boot the OS from the system partition, but is there also a MBR for data partitions, for example? And what would be the difference between a MBR for a bootable system partition and a MBR needed for data partitions?

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#7

Jan:

The MBR, or Master Boot Record, is contained in the first sector of a hard disk which consists of only 512 bytes. There is only one MBR per disk. The MBR contains three basic items:

  1. Master boot code - a short (354 bytes for Vista and Windows 7) assembly language code segment that is responsible for only one task; upon startup of the PC the code will run and search the partition table for the partition that has the Active flag set, and then it will transfer execution to the first sector of this active partition (or display an error message if there is more than one active partition or no active partition).
  2. The Disk Signature - four bytes that uniquely identify the disk to a Windows operating system. If there is more than one disk in the PC, each disk's signature is supposed to be different. If two are found to be the same, Windows will change one of them and that leads to drive letter reassignment on the changed disk.
  3. The Partition Table - 64 bytes that contain information on the location and size of the partitions on the disk.

I've always found the information on this site: http://thestarman.pcministry.com/asm/mbr/VistaMBR.htm to be helpful with it's nicely-done illustrations of the contents of these first 512 bytes on a disk.

Keep in mind that when you use the Restore MBR and Track 0 function in Acronis True Image,  everything in the first 63 sectors, referred to as "Track 0", is restored except for the partition table. This is an important distinction that needs to be kept in mind. You cannot re-create a partition layout by restoring MBR and Track 0 from an image, nor will you affect the size and location of any existing disk partitions when restoring the MBR.

Each partition's first sector is called a Volume Boot Record (VBR). This sector contains information about the file system, the disk geometry, and a short assembly language program that runs when the MBR code finishes and control is transferred to the VBR. In Windows 7, this short program searches for the file Bootmgr and begins execution of this file. Bootmgr is the program that displays a menu that allows you to choose from multiple operating systems but you will not see the menu if you have only one operating system installed.

After an OS choice is made from the Bootmgr menu, it starts the process of loading Windows by loading and executing the file Winload.exe, and off you go.

More information about the VBR may be found here: http://thestarman.pcministry.com/asm/mbr/VistaVBR.htm. Note that both article references are about the Vista MBR and VBR, but Windows 7 is virtually identical.

Hope this helps.

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#8

This helps very much, thanks! I'll try your solution as far as possible :-)

Just one more question, then I'll be quiet ;-) Is it possible, that restoring the MBR could lead to an unbootable OS? Or does that only happen when I'm using a corrupt backup of the MBR? I don't know exactly, but I think I had a similar problem and after restoring/rebuilding the MBR, Windows failed to boot...But that was a few years ago, I think.

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#9

Jan:

In a standard Windows PC the MBR has very little to do with booting an OS. Remember that its only job is to find the active partition and jump there. The usual symptom of a bad MBR is that when you boot the PC, all that you see is a blinking cursor in the upper-left corner of the screen.

In your case, and for some other brands of PCs, the manufacturers customize the MBR to allow booting into their built-in recovery solution, in your case D2D, when some key combination is pressed at startup. These custom MBRs often get inadvertently replaced by a standard MBR when users do an MBR repair with a Windows DVD or with some other program (did you do an MBR repair with TestDisk?), then the booting into the recovery environment stops working. I have a Lenovo laptop that was like that. Their custom MBR was 4 sectors long and allowed recovery of the factory state of the machine if you pressed F11 while booting the PC. I say "was" because I got rid of that feature. Having imaging software that allows you to restore a PC to the way you have it set up and personalized is MUCH more useful than restoring to factory state.

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#10

Ok, I think now I understand the function, thanks :-)
With Testdisk I only did a "Boot Sector" recovery using the backup Testdisk proposed. According to your information it must be the "Volume Boot Record" which was restored!?
Anyway, I didn't do a MBR restore with Testdisk, only that "Boot Sector" restore.

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#11

Restoring the partition didn't fix the problem. I'll try the MBR recovery tomorrow!

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#12

Jan:

Just be sure to restore the MBR from an image from a time when you know that D2D was working. Use one of your oldest images just to be certain.

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#13

Hi Mark,

IT WORKED!!! You're great, thank you :-)
Now I will try if this state exists when a partition is deleted and re-created. That was the second but more unimportant reason why I opened this thread. But according to your information it should not affect the MBR but only the partition table!

Last answer will come when the operation was successful ;-)

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#14

Everything's fine!! It works great and without any problems, even with that newly created partition!!

Thanks for that great support! :-)

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#15

Jan:

Congratulations! I'm glad everything worked out for you.