In the first article, I talked generally about image backups and a little about the specific situation of upgrading a notebook drive.
Before settling on Acronis True Image, I looked at doing the migration with my old Drive Image version. I also thought about using the free tools available under Linux, especially with the Recovery Is Possible Linux (RIP Linux) cdrom. While I could have done the job with RIP Linux, there would be a learning curve process with this and also. I also read in some of the information about the PARTIMG program that images the partitions, I would not be able to use an external hard drive in that process.
So, I decided to do it the easy way, with Acronis True Image. The download was an easy process, although a little over 70 MB. Installation was clean.
My number one dream, though, failed. I planned to put my new notebook hard drive into the special “Media Bay” holder for my Dell Inspiron 8600. That went smoothly. While Windows waa running, Windows was able to find the new drive.
Unfortunately, the “Clone” process required rebooting windows to a “pre-Windows-boot” condition. Also, unfortunately, in this mode, the program could not recognize the drive in the Media Bay. Dell actually operates the Media Bay via an internal USB connection, so any DOS-level boot in Windows does not have the USB drivers available. I had run into this problem before with the pre-DriveImage version of Norton Ghost, when I tried it.
So, that left me with the double shuffle. First, I would do an image backup of C: onto my external hard drive. Then, I would replace the notebook’s hard drive with the new hard drive. The final step was to "restore" the image onto the new drive.
All this was easy and straight forward. Although Acronis provided a .pdf manual, which you can download and read ahead of time from their web site), it wasn’t really necessary. The screens were self-explanatory and the process was split into easily-understood steps.
As I wrote before, this whole process took maybe a couple hours. Then, I was fully operational on the new hard drive.
One of the big advantages of Acronis True Image 11
is that the steps can be scheduled for unattended operation. Of course, I wouldn’t want to do a restore if I wasn’t there, but backups are another thing entirely.
Acronis True Image, when running under Windows, allows you to back up your Windows partition while it’s actually running. Although you can not use Windows Explorer to copy a lot of files while they are in use, Acronis True Image is able to use a Windows “shadow copy” function to successfully copy the data.
Apparently you can actually do the backup while you’re using the drive, but I recommend against that. Just schedule True Image to do the backup during the night…