Cloning: Reimage Fails To Load

clonezilla

I have not been keeping myself abreast on the development of the low-level side of the PC, namely the firmware and hard disk partitioning until I find myself facing a wall.  Why?  Because not many sites cover this topic.  If they ever did, then I probably would have missed it or I could have brushed it aside because it is of little concern.  The PC has reached its peak growth so there is not much to write about.  Naturally and gradually articles on smart phones and others appear to fill in the void.  As for my complacency, it is intentional.  I have learnt not to know fully well details of something which will become obsolete in a few years, just enough on the superficial level.

Enough said, now back to the topic.  My recently assembled PC fails to load Ubuntu Studio after reimage.  The program that I used for both processes, cloning and reimaging, is non other than Clonezilla.  Upon rebooting, Grub just could not proceed to load the OS and it duly ends to a prompt.  If I remember it well, I think it says something about missing config file.  I reinstall Ubuntu Studio and repeat the whole process again and the result is still the same.

UEFI bios interface and surprisingly now in GUI

UEFI bios interface and surprisingly now in GUI

My first stop in troubleshooting journey is clonezilla.org.  Here I come to know about EFI which later become UEFI, which gives birth to GPT or GUID Partition Table.  The purpose of their creation is to cater for the needs of future architecture, namely the 64-bit processor architecture.  That is to expand the limitations posed by prior solution (seems that is also contained safeguard for proprietary materials).  After some quick readings, I come to the conclusion that the probability lies in the MBR size in the GPT partitioned hard disk that causes the problem and I am using an old version of Clonezilla.  I then proceed to download the latest stable version of Clonezilla, the Ubuntu-based 64-bit version and problem solved.

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Migrating Windows 7 OS From Hard Disk To Raid 0 SSDs

Raid 0 SSDs for System, Hard disk for data

I had recently assembled my work PC based on the new AMD processor, the FX 8120 and also managed to solve the problem of Task Manager showing only four cores instead of eight cores. My intention to have the OS installed on an SSD was dashed when the 64GB Plextor SSD failed to work. Not wanting to be discouraged by the setback, I carried-on assembling the PC, install Windows 7 Home Premium, activate and update it. I was never worried if there would be problems in migrating the OS later on when I got the SSD back after RMA. This was because I thought I could just easily clone the new SSD with the saved clone image. I was wrong because I had a change of plan.

I was getting more ambitious. Instead of waiting for the 64GB Plextor SSD repaired or replaced, I had gotten myself two 60GB ADATA SSDs and another 8GB of ram (16GB total, Pagefile set to None). I had opted for a Raid 0 configured SSDs but unfortunately or fortunately (at least I learnt something) I came to realise one unforseen problem. Clonezilla could not recognised Raid configuration. Thus I began searching for a freeware progam that would do the job and after some searching and reading, I settled for EaseUS® Todo Backup Free. It was a Windows application program that needed to be installed and not a standalone program that booted from a CD or USB flash drive, nevertheless it did the job well. I reimaged the hard disk partition with the first clone image that I had saved (usually I clone twice, one after activation and update and another after fully installed with the required apps). Next, EaseUS Todo Backup Free was installed and with it I did a partition to partition cloning from the harddisk to the striped SSDs. I was able to boot Windows 7 on the striped SSDs straightaway after completion. No problem encountered.

Since the partition size on the hard disk was 100GB and the size of the striped SSD was 120GB, some space on the striped SSDs became unallocated. GParted was used to do the resizing of the partition and to claim back the unused space (Note: In general, cloning is only possible if the target partition is bigger than the source partition). After recovering the space I was still able to boot Windows 7 flawlessly. There was also a small unused space of a few megabytes at the beginning of the partition, I recovered this space too but then Windows 7 could not boot. My first attempt at repairing the boot problem with Windows 7 installation disc (selecting Startup Repair) was unsuccessful. On my second attempt I loaded the AHCI driver and it worked even though I got a message saying that the loading of the driver had failed. Ever since that second attempt the PC was running fine.

The striped SSDs was then immediately cloned using Windows 7 very own Backup and Restore and I had created a System Repair Disc as a companion just in case Windows could not boot. Eventually, as been my habit, after a full install of all the programs that I needed, a second clone image was made. Now I wonder if Windows Backup and Restore could be used for migrating the OS in the first place. Never did I try it before but it seems to look possible.

Windows 7 running off hard disk

Windows 7 runnig off Raid 0 SSDs

Here’s a peek at the desktop. All shortcuts of alike programs were placed in a single folder and represented by a single RocketDock icon as can be seen here, one for CAD programs and another for image processing programs.

The desktop showing the main programs

Note: I am just making an assumption here. I have a feeling that the 6 SATA 3.0 ports on the Gigabyte motherboard with AMD 970 chipset being multiplied from a single channel. The speed of the striped SSDs is about the same speed as the speed of a single SSD if not slightly lower (comparing Passmark results). It seems that I need a true 2 channels Raid 0 controller card on at least two lanes PCIe (x2) card to get higher throughput. The HighPoint RocketRAID 640 PCIe x4 looks like a likely candidate.

Update 27 Dec 2011

System now running at 3.5GHz and after installing the AMD AHCI compatible SATA Raid Driver found in RAIDXpert 11-12 (did not install RAIDXpert), disk performance improved further.

Better disk performance after installating AHCI compatible SATA RAID Driver