Hardware-related questions about Complete PC Restore

Hardware-related questions about Complete PC Restore

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We’ve seen a lot of questions about restoring Complete PC Restore images to different hardware. Here are some answers to the common questions.

Q. Can you restore a Complete PC Backup image to a smaller drive if the amount of space used in the initial backup is smaller than the smaller disk?

A. The backup can be restored only if: 

  • At least the same number of hard drives are present, and 
  • Each disk is at least as big as the disk it replaces.

Here are some examples to illustrate this:

Working examples

During backup                                 During restore
 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1x100GB drive                                 1x100GB drive
1x100GB drive                                 1x200GB drive
1x100GB drive                                 1x200GB drive, 1x80GB drive
1x100GB drive, 1x200GB drive         1x100GB drive, 1x200GB drive
1x100GB drive, 1x200GB drive         2x200GB drive

Non-working examples

During backup                                  During restore
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1x100GB drive                                  0 drives*
1x100GB drive                                  1x80GB drive
1x100GB drive                                  1x80GB drive, 1x40GB drive
1x100GB drive, 1x200GB drive          1x500GB drive
1x100GB drive, 1x200GB drive          1x100GB drive, 1x160GB drive
1x100GB drive, 1x200GB drive          1x500GB drive, 1x80GB drive

*possibly due to no drivers loaded in Windows Recovery Environment (RE)

Q. Are they any limitations on restoring from PATA to SATA drives, or other physical drive requirements?
A. No, there are no limitations with regard to the interface as long as the drivers are there.

Q. Why doesn’t Windows Recovery Environment (RE) recognize the external USB hard drives that were present during the backup?
A. If Windows RE does not have the driver for the hard drive, then the drive won’t be recognized. To load the driver, you can use Drvload.exe, located in X:\windows\system32 in Windows RE. Drvload.exe needs to be run on the .inf file of the driver. (You can find more information about Drvload.exe here.) In Windows Vista SP1, we are adding the option to load drivers from Complete PC Restore to simplify this procedure.

Q. Can you restore a 32-bit backup to a 64-bit system and vice versa?
A. Restoring a 32-bit backup to a 64-bit system would cause your computer run the OS as 32-bit, of course. An attempt to restore a 64-bit backup to a 32-bit machine will fail, as would be expected.

Q. How do I know that my Complete PC Backup image is burned correctly to CD or DVD?
A. To guarantee your backup media was burned properly, Complete PC Backup always verifies the data written to the media. If Complete PC Backup doesn't ask you to insert media with the same number, the disc is readable on that machine and that drive.

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  • You didn't answer this question in your defragmenter FAQ:

    the GUI doesn't let the user select which drive to defrag right? So, which drives DOES it defrag? How does it calculate which one to defrag? Or does it only defragment the system volume?

  • All drives are defragmented, not just the system volume. You can use the command-line tool defrag.exe if you want to manually defragment a specific drive.

  • The fact that you can't restore a Complete PC backup to a smaller drive (or smaller partition on the same, presumably) is disappointing.

    For example, my system drive is 250Gb (a single C:\ partition), with about 200Gb free.  I want to shrink the C:\ partition down to about 80Gb, and then allocate the remaining free space to a new partition  (it's a Media Center box, so the new partition will be for storing recorded TV).

    I've tried using the "Shrink Volume" feature in Disk Management, but unfortunately this only lets me shrink about 20Gb off the existing partition.   I understand that this limitation can be because of shadow copies, restore points, Complete PC backups, page files or hibernation files that could be residing on the disk near the end of the partition (these files are unmovable, so the system can't shrink past these).   However, after turning off System Protection & hibernation, setting my paging file to 0Mb, and running Disk Cleanup to remove any old hibernation files or shadow copies;  it makes no difference.....I can't get more that 20Gb back from the existing partition.

    vssadmin confirms that there are no shadow copies left on the volume, so I can only assume that it's the MFT sitting out there near the end of the disk, preventing a useful shrink from occuring.

    (To further complicate things, now that Vista's defrag no longer has a visual UI;  I can't easily check if there are any unmovable or system files sitting out there in "no-mans land"......something that would have been relatively easy to do in XP).

    So, if I can't use Vista's built in "Shrink Volume" feature, and 3rd party utilities like Partition Magic either don't yet support Vista or are too expensive to consider for a simple, one-time restructure;  my next choice was to use Complete PC to backup the drive.    The hope was that I could then format / repartition the drive as required,  and restore the image to the new (smaller) partition.   But it seems like this is not possible either.

    I can appreciate that the whole point of image based backups is to get a bit-for-bit, sector-for-sector clone of the original drive  (which then precludes restoring the image to a smaller drive);   but by the same token other imaging utilities such as Ghost do offer this.   OK, so this might mean that a Ghost image technically isn't an exact replica of the original volume  (since the sector that a piece of data is restored isn't necessarily the same sector that it was backed up from);  but in this situation, that's not necessarily a bad thing.

    Are there any plans to improve the Shrink Volume feature to make it more useful?   I read on another blog about someone that wanted to shrink the first partition on their drive, and then allocate the freed space to the second partition....but they couldn't because the Extend Volume feature will only allow you to add contiguous space that is at the end of the volume to be expanded,  not at the start  (and it can't 'move' a partition).    Without some of these features, the partition management tools in Vista are of limited use.

  • Regarding disk sizes and Complete PC restore, you must also remember that all disks are not alike. Two 80Gb drives from different manufacturers may format to different sizes. If the new one formats slightly smaller, you won't be able to restore from the old one.