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Very strange HDD behaviour when trying to restore a HDD image made by Acronis True Image

In order to help me with this problem you are going to need to be very familiar with Jumpers, Multi-Booting several versions of XP Pro, and preferably have good knowledge of Acronis True Image and the OS Selector contained in Disk Director.  This is a difficult problem, that has taken many many hours of my time so far.

I am having a big problem with my machine atm.  It used to be very stable and ran 24/7.  Then it started to lockup, the machine would totally freeze in Win XP Pro SP2.  No keyboard or mouse input would be accepted.  The machine would also freeze if booted from a CDROM into something like Acronis True Image.

I know that the HDDs are OK as they work perfectly well in another machine.
I know that the cables to the HDDs are OK, as I have used 2 other cables with the same results.
I also know that the power being supplied to the HDDs is not interupted for long as the drives are always spinning.
All forms of power management have been disabled during this testing phase.

The reasons for the lockups, I think, may be down to the following possible problems.
1)  My KVM sending daft keyboard and mouse signals to the computer causing it to lockup regardless of what software the computer is running
2)  My mobo is dying a slow and horrible death
3)  My PSU is dying a slow death
4)  May be a corrupt bias
5)  Clutching at straws now.....

The PSU is over 400W Chieftec.  The system is an Athlon XP 2500+, total component max draw of 200W

To help to try and diagnose what was going wrong with the machine I decided to try and restore a saved image of my machine.  This was necessary as the machine happened to lockup while I was resizing a partition.  The original machine setup is now toast.

The image that I am trying to restore used to be the 2nd partition of my primary drive.  The first partition was also an install of XP Pro.  The first OS partition was for gaming, the 2nd for serious stuff.  Acronis Disk Director 9 was used to setup the OS Boot manager.  Both partitions were visible to each other when the machine was running.

In order to restore the second partition's OS to the first partition of the HDD, the boot.ini had to be manually edited so that it pointed to partition 1 instead of partition 2.  This image was then deployed to both a 120Gb and a 40Gb Seagate HDD.  I then tried to get the damn thing to work with the following strange results.  It is very important to note that these results are repeatable.  I have used different PATA cables, 1 round 80 wire cable supporting cable select.  1 PATA 80 wire cable supporting cable select, and in desperation an old 40 wire cable.

After viewing the following results what suggestions do you have to help me fault diagnose my machine.  As you will see from the results below I have spent some considerable amount of time trying to work out what is wrong with the damn thing.

During the testing only one HDD was present inside the machine at all times.  In all cases the BIOS correctly detcted the HDD and proceeded to attempt to boot the machine, with differing resutls.

40Gb Seagate drive:
Jumper set to cable select – connected to end of cable (master) - error type 1
Jumper set to cable select – connected to middle of cable (slave) – works, boots OS menu, then the OS

No jumper connected to drive – connected to end of cable (master) – works, as above
No jumper connected to drive – connected to middle of cable (slave) – works, as above

Jumper to master position – connected to end of cable (master) – error type 1
Jumper to master position – connected to middle of cable (slave) – error type 1

120Gb Seagate drive:
Jumper set to cable select – connected to end of cable (master) – error type 1
Jumper set to cable select – connected to middle of cable (slave) – error type 2

No jumper connected to drive – connected to end of cable (master) – error type 2
No jumper connected to drive – connected to middle of cable (slave) – error type 2

Jumper to master position – connected to end of cable (master) – error type 1
Jumper to master position – connected to middle of cable (slave) – error type 1

Error type 1:
Boots to show OS selection menu, then produces a blank screen without error message

Error type 2:
Boots to show OS selection menu, then boots to just before where the Windows logon screen should appear.

I just cannot understand the above results at all.  As far as I knew, the jumper settings determine how the mobo recognizes the HDDs.  If they are properly recognized in the BIOS, then as far as I knew, that should be it.  In all the above cases the drives are detected by the BIOS.

The OS will only boot if it is on the 40Gb drive, and under certain conditions.  I cannot get the damn thing to work with the 120Gb HDD at all.

What do people think that I should do now????
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1 Solution
I think you need to check if the IDE controller is working properly, which means try it in another machine, or an add-on IDE controller.  You should also reset the BIOS, in case your BIOS has strange values in it.
MirthleAuthor Commented:
Right, will do that tomorrow and post back my findings.  Thanks
MirthleAuthor Commented:
I think I may be fighting 2 issues at once here.  The restored Acronis image will not boot in my other machine.  The other machine shows the similar strange behavious as above.  This must be due to how the image is restored, and / or the jumper settings.  Hopefully someone can shed some light on that at some point.

On the other hand, I think its time for a clean install of XP on my other machine and see what happens then.  I expect the freezing issue will return, so that the BIOS reset that you suggest.
Be careful about using an image for one machine in another machine - this usually will not work, because the IDE controller and video card is different.  This is equivalent to trying to take an XP hard drive in one machine and move it to another - it will likely crash or not boot up.

If you can do a clean install, that would reveal useful information.
If it's freezing before the OS I would think you definatly have a hardware issue.
MirthleAuthor Commented:
The image that is being used is a backup image of the original machine.  I am not trying to use an install that was originally intended for another machine, as yes that rarely works.  

On a side note, Win Xp is the most tolerant OS that I have come across with regards to taking a HDD out of one machine and then putting it into another.  I have seen this done 3 times, with amazingly stable results.  Although I have done a clean install for these people after telling why their idea was not such a good one after all!!

MirthleAuthor Commented:
I tried to do a clean install of Win XP onto my problem machine.  I booted up with the CD and when it came to selecting a partition to install to I showed it to the first partition and told it to format said that it could not!!

Then I used Partition Magic to look at the disc.  It told me that the partition was bad, the MBR was bad.  Further analysis revealed even more issues.  In fact when writing info to one partition is was actually being saved to another.....this is one really screwed up HDD!!

I have since completely wiped the disk and got Partition Magic to format the partitons (took ages, but it was a good test of the machine).  It is starting to look like all this hassle may be down to 2 software bugs.

The first bug was causing the machine to lock up in the first place.  The 2nd bug was using Acronis to partition it and restore images.  I tried Acronis on another machine and it screwed up the HDD as well.  Looks like I have been heavily relying on a very flaky piece of software....oops.

I'll let PM8 finish its magic on the disk, and then do (another) fresh install of XP and report back.

Thanks again for the feedback people
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