Why is my OS after recovering from Acronis-image different from the OS before recovering (when it was the same)?

Posted on 2012-09-15
Last Modified: 2012-09-29
Why is my OS after recovering from Acronis-image different from the OS before recovering (when it was the same)?

To clarify: I had a certain configuration with installed software and settings yesterday on 14th September that worked very fine. The laptop was quick, internet quick, startup decent. I immediately made an Acronis-image of this.

During a few hours after that configuration, I installed too much software and begun to get trouble with too slow startup and slow OS. So I decided to recover to this perfect Acronis-image to get back this perfect OS I had a few hours ago.

Took a while, but then I was greatly disappointed: I thought the OS would be exactly the same. Immediately upon bootup, I got a black screen for a long long time, and finally had to press the power-button to restart it. Even then extremely long bootup (without any external devices/hard drives attached), longest ever, until I finally got the Desktop displayed. Particularly the second part of bootup (after entering login credentials) took very long time.

I begun to get problems also here, after the whole system had started, with quite (not much) slow machine. After a while (maybe 10-15 minutes) however, the only difference to the perfect OS I had earlier was that the bootup is very slow (without any attached hard drives during bootup).

I wonder what the reason can be? Shouldn't the imaged OS be, and "behave", exactly the same as the perfect OS I had just before creating the image?

When I recovered, I remember I was given the option of selecting the partition with this perfect OS on (C:) PLUS another drive that was presented as something "subordinated" to C:

I'm not sure what this subordinated was, but didn't select it (only selected C:). Can this be the reason? Should I have selected this subordinated drive?

My OS is a Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit. The imaging software I use is Acronis True Image Home 2012.
Question by:hermesalpha
    LVL 31

    Assisted Solution

    The short story is Acronis did NOT make a byte-for-byte perfect copy of the hard drive like you think it did.

    A feature of the software is that it can create images which can be "restored to dissimilar hardware". This is normally not possible with an image-based backup. Attempting to restore to dissimilar hardware usually results in a bluescreen. Effectively, Windows "wakes up with it's head sewn to a new body", and "freaks out". ;)

    So to make this type of restoration possible, Acronis manipulates the Windows installation either before the backup, or after the, so that Windows is told to rediscovers all the hardware on the first boot from the restored image.

    This helps make the backup image more portable, and gives it a better chance of working when you restore to dissimilar hardware (for example, restoring an image of your old broken laptop to a brand new laptop).

    HOWEVER - the downside is the first time Windows boots it needs to rediscover all of the hardware again, redo all of it's caching and prefetching etc... it's almost like it does a small in-place re-installation of the low level system files.

    So the first couple of boots will be VERY slow and sluggish and you'll see a black screen while Windows does all this extra processing, but after a little while it should speed back up and be okay again.
    LVL 31

    Accepted Solution

    A corollary to this is that if you had used a more raw low level backup tool, like the "DD" utility in Linux, which doesn't do any kind of manipulations before or after the backup but instead makes a perfect byte-for-byte replica of the hard drive, then you would most likely have NOT experienced the slowdown that you described in your question. I've done this lots of times without and problem.

    .... but of course the image can only be restored to the exact same system it was taken from.

    Also, if Windows detects major changes in system configuration on bootup (e.g. a different or missing partition, or new hardware), then it will also take longer to boot up as it scrutinizes the hardware on the system, loads drivers etc.

    Windows actually does a LOT of prefetching, caching, and general optimization to make boot-up faster that we usually take for granted until some circumstances arise that requires Windows to regenerate or otherwise discard those optimizations. Then bootup takes 10 minutes and we all get upset.

    Author Comment

    Thanks Frosty555, I feel calmer now, thought I had to recover everything and start from the beginning again. It's as you said, now the last boot was really OK, even when I've forgot to unplug the two attached external hard drives. So no, after several bootups, actually the OS is just as perfect as it was just before Acronis created the image.

    Author Closing Comment

    Thanks, a very useful suggestion to use Linux also for creating the backup image. Then I could create two backup images: one in Acronis (if I ever would need to use the backup image on another laptop), and one in Linux (to use on the same laptop and avoid the initial slowdown).

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