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How to clone / image a drive with only one partition, would like to use USB external drive to send image to

fusion3194 asked
I am currently trying to design a disaster recovery plan setup. I have a scenario i need to be able to be confidently complete. It is as follows.

A pc that I have not seen before as an Issue (We will presume it is booting up.) I would like to clone the hard drive first before trying to resolve a snap shot of current state. I would like to use acronis to clone the drive. In this situation this machine has only one partition. I  could use partition magic to create a new partition and clone the system drive to that partition but that is too risky as if new partition creation fails we have nothing to recover. I would like to have an external drive connected via usb and clone the drive to that external drive that try and resolve the issue with the pc.

Can I reliably do this or will the external USB drive be visible to acronis when it boots it its own routine. Thanks for taking the time to review this question
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Hello fusion3194,

I have never used Acronis...I use Ghost for this purpose.  As for booting...I usually boot from a bootable CD at this point.  Ghost has a boot disk creator for floppy disks but it is painful to find drivers and if you hvae multiple different NICS you need multipl disks.  BartPE is an option to boot from.  It is a CD that boots up to a mini version of Windows and you can copy ghost.exe or acronis executable to the CD and run it from the CD.  It will recognize the USB drive as well as the internal drive and you can image away.

With that being said BartPE seems like an abandoned project...It was based from Microsoft's Windows PE version 1...meant for OEM installations.  However, Microsoft has released Windows PE version 2 that is freely available to everyone and no license restrictive.  I believe PE comes as part of WAIK http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=c7d4bc6d-15f3-4284-9123-679830d629f2&DisplayLang=en 

The documentation also helps you make a usb drive bootable.  So you could boot from a usb thumb drive or even from the external drive that you will image to.  So you don't need a CD.  However, some of this USB booting depends on the age of your equipment as it isn't supported on older hardware.


I use Acronis all the time. It does see the USB drive which I have . It is a Lacie drive  Wether you boot from PC or boot from CD it does see the the USB drive. There is a recenet newer version that has the support for SATA HDD although the one I used before that worked fine.  I Just recently ran into a problem with some new Dell laptops and SATA but the Acronis upgrade worked fine.
>> I would like to clone the hard drive first before trying to resolve a snap shot of current state.

Booting from the Acronis TI 11 recovery boot cd should work as you plan.  The Acronis boot cd is linux based.  The only thing I would add to what has been stated before, is to recommend that you NOT "clone" the hard drive.  Instead create a backup-image-file of the hard drive with Acronis and store it in a folder of the usb drive.  It's just as good as an exact image clone, and in fact better because it is a compressed NTFS file (be sure the usb is formatted ntfs).  You can put lots of images on the usb2 hard drive for other situations or customers.


Hi dis1931:, and sliiconman:

Thanks for comments I found both of you suggestions helpful.  Can you bear with me while I test the soltuions. I reply to every post just need a bit of time to test the solutions

Re dis1931. Thanks for that I am farimilar with bart PE but was unaware of the window PE. I use ghost a lot so would be a great fit. I too found the ghost boot disk a nightmare to source NIC drivers. Thanks for you commnet

Re. sliiconman: I have always used ghost but boot options are rubbish also ghost 12 is a bloated product will test you soltuion Thanks for comment


Hi Expert4XP:
Thanks for suggestion will test this solution. Please bear with me as have a few solutions to test.
No problem. Let us know if you need more help!  I use to setup ghost for the admins as well for deployment but like you said its just tyoo big. Business Desktop Deployment seems to be the ultimate way to go.

You will like Acronis!

Keep us posted.

I am still using Ghost 8.0 I believe....works like a charm...Ghost seemed to start making foolish decisions regarding Ghost after that...



Please find some feedback to my post. Quite long thought but when It comes to backup you cannot spend enough time on it. I like to give proper feedback to the users that are good enough to lend me their commnets

Norton Ghost. Revelant for dis1931: and dis1931: (Have a look at the Acronis comment might be a benefit
I agree after ghost 8 I feel the developers lost the key feature of ghost i.e. the disk / partition cloning. There are a million file backup programs out there but there is no subisute of a clone when things go south. I have used it a lot and it has got me out of a lot of bad situations. My issue with ghost now pertains to a particular situation I am trying to get an SOP (standard operating procedure for) That is when you are on site with a new system / pc you have now worked on before. The first step with dealing with that situation is to clone the system  partition before any work is carried out. If the *** hits the fan restore the partition or at worst land in a new box and work from there.
Now in this situation, the new machine we have now met before has only one partition we cannot complete a clone as you need another disk or at least another partition. We could do the following
1.      Use partition magic and create a second partition on the disk: This is too risky as partition magic can be dangerous and would need a clone of the disk before we do this Catch 22.
2.      We could take out the disk pop it into another machine and complete the task. Answer too messy just met the PC and would take too long not to mention having to lug around a spare pc to perform the cloning
3.      Use nortons boot media options. Unfortunately ghost 8 only uses floppy disk but lot of pcs now do not ship them as standard.
4.      Plug in a USB hard disk and use as the second hard drive to perform the clone. Answer Ghost can crash doing this it does not handle usb devices well at all. Crashes and I  have had a lot of situations where it crashes on reboot and hangs leaving the machine constantly booting into the virtual partition. The only way around this is to take the hard drive out the re mark the system partition as active.
In summary love ghost but is cannot make any good of it  in this situation

Acronis Feedback

I have been looking at this product as an disaster recovery solution and have been testing it with the above situation. Yes, Yes, Yes. Does what it says on the tin. However only have trial version have not been able to run test recovery but I am sure it will work. The following are some points that I found great from the above situation.

1.      Installed the product went straight to cloning section. Was not too impressed as seemed would only clone entire disk not just a partition. Maybe wrong did not spend too much time looking into it as I was too busy building a CD boot media.
2.      The power of this product in my scenario comes into its own (Thanks Expert4XP:, and sliiconman: wrote the CD and my question was answered. Nice and clean make clone chose the partition or entire disk you want to clone and off you go. It picked up my USB external drive so it ticks all the boxes. I am looking forward to getting the product as it should resolve some other disaster recovery issues I have. Has anyone used the server product. I will probable raise a question on this at a later date when I get some testing to ask relavent  question
With Regard to points sliiconman, Expert4XP made the key points Expert4XP Hit the nail on the head about the boot media. I not going to close question this minute as you may want to add more comment.

Again Thanks for comments wishing you a peacefull day

Best Regards
I have used the server product and it works very well. I use it for some of the servers that I may need to a bare metal restore from. Like Citrix servers etc.


"I have used the server product and it works very well. I use it for some of the servers that I may need to a bare metal restore from. Like Citrix servers etc"

Thats good to know sliiconman: I have just about made up my mind to go with acronis. I will set up a few labs to test the scenarios I want to deal with but looking at the boot media and tech sheets it ticks all the boxes
>> Nice and clean make clone chose the partition or entire disk you want to clone and off you go.

I'd like to emphasize again that you should make backup-image of your hard drive, not full clone (unless you are planning to replace your original drive).

I have an external usb2 hard drive with folders from different pc's.  Each folder has several backup image files in it.  Very convenient because I can go back several dates if I want to restore file/folder from 3 months or 6 months ago.
Top Expert 2007

I would just like to add that you can easily use the Ghost floppy to create a bootable CD, and event better, gain access to the rest of the CD for additional utilities.

I have a number of these in use on a regular basis, including the ones from Ghost Suite 2.01 licensed for all of our machines.

I hope this helps !
In response...

Ghost 8 boot options suck...agreed....that is where the Windows PE 2.0 disk comes in.  You will boot from a CD or USB device that has Windows PE 2.0 loaded.  You will copy the ghost32.exe not ghost.exe onto the disk when you create PE 2.0.  Once booted into PE 2.0 you will then run ghost32.exe.  At this point USB is handled by PE 2.0 as well as other disk functions.  There should be no issue with USB drives...I work in a manufacturing environment and have given similar direction to folks in different departments that have unsupported systems.  We have numerous ghosted systems and back ups on USB drives with no issues.  We have also had some instances where the restore was needed and worked just fine.

PE 2.0 can also be used to read windows drives that you may need to recover data from but that are blue screening or will not boot.  You can run chkdsk or any other 32 bit utility on it.  I have seen people install Internet Browsers such as firefox/mozilla/opera to search the internet for issues as they are working on the PC.  I install remote desktop PE 2.0 so that I can use remote desktop while I image a PC or take a ghost image of a system.  Sometimes there are no other convenient PCs to use.

It is only as limited as your imagination.  To some extent of course it is not a full blown Windows version and you may need to play some to get certain applications working.  I've setup antivirus scanning and at some point has spyware software setup as well to do system cleanup.  I do much less of this now as I don't support end user PCs anymore.

An important note to add is that Cloning/Ghosting is not a backup strategy in most cases.  It sounds like you are doing it just in case something gets screwed up when you work on something which is good.  However, if you are taking a ghost image for disaster recovery that might occur in months or a year...then make sure you know you are probably losing some information for the last year.  For some systems it doesn't matter as they really don't hold data but maybe are only difficult to configure and really you are saving the configuration and could care less about the little data that is lost.  I have seen some IT people think that ghosting a system that also has SQL Server installed is a backup strategy when in reality as soon as you are done with the image and turn the server/pc back on you already have an out of date copy of the system.  In some cases, maybe you are not caring about the database if it is static and maybe used as a reference for an application and maybe only receives updates on a very small basis occasionaly.  I say all that to say Ghost is not for every situation.  And it sounds like what you are using it for is ok.

It seems like Acronis is what you want and by all means if it works for you....then that is great.



Thanks for comment I will look at that solution will take a bit of time too test very interested in perusing all suggestions. Thanks for update will post results thanks again


Apologies all for the time to reslove this open question I would hate to be seen as a time waster. I did notify I was going to test but due to some personal cirsumtance was not on line for a while. Thanks for suggestions and consise feedback

Best Regards
Bryan (again apologies for time in closing question

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