How I restored the Surface Disk Drive using Acronis Backup and Recovery

Discussion in 'Microsoft Surface Pro' started by Cowboy, Mar 2, 2013.

  1. Cowboy

    Cowboy New Member

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    It appears to me that the best backup and recovery solution is Macrium Reflect Version 5.1. It is inexpensive and supports the creation of a USB image that will boot the system in UEFI x64 mode. However, I have Acronis running on my other computers, and I am very familiar with how it works, so I was determined to get it working on the Surface Pro. It is easy to install Acronis on the Surface Pro and make regularly scheduled backups. The difficulty arises when you have a hard disk failure and you need to restore the backed up image.

    A few facts. Acronis does not support the creation of a UEFI capable recovery CD or USB using the Windows Preinstallation Environment (WinPE). The only UEFI capable recovery medium they provide is a Linux based recovery CD (no USB stick). In order to boot in UEFI mode the recovery media has to be 64 bit. You cannot boot in UEFI mode with a 32 bit CD or USB drive. Finally, the Surface Pro does not allow you to change the boot parameters to legacy mode. You can disable secure boot, but that will only allow you to boot from an image that is not signed by Microsoft. You cannot boot in non-UEFI mode which would normally allow you to do a restore, switch from legacy back to UEFI mode, and start your system.

    Because of all the above I decided that the only way I could restore my Surface Pro was to boot from the Acronis Linux based recovery CD. So I purchased a Sabrent USB-STP3 USB to SATA adapter ($20 at NewEgg) that allows me to connect a regular CD/DVD drive to the Surface Pro via the USB port. I created the Linux recovery CD using Acronis specifying x64 UEFI boot capability. I disabled secure boot, plugged the adapter into the USB port, connected a SATA CD/DVD drive to the adapter, loaded the Acronis recovery CD into the drive, and rebooted the Surface while depressing the volume down switch. The Surface slowly booted from the CD. Remember my SATA adapter is only 2.0.

    The Acronis recovery CD loads a virtual disk into memory and boots from it, so once the boot process was complete I could unplug the USB cable connected to the SATA adapter. That is when I discovered that the touchpad was dead. The most frequent problem with the Acronis Linux based recovery CD is that it does not contain drivers for recently manufactured hardware, and you are not going to get much newer hardware than the Surface keyboard. So I plugged a Microsoft Mouse into my one and only USB port, the drivers were loaded for it, and the mouse worked. Fortunately for me, loading those drivers also revived the touchpad, so I was able to unplug the mouse and plug in the external USB disk drive that contained my backup images.

    Acronis recognized the Intel Intel Core i5 processor HD4000 Graphics hardware and was also able to read the Surface Pro disk drive. Acronis then found the external USB drive, was able to access my backup images, and did a full disk recovery including all partitions. If and when Acronis gets it in gear and produces a UEFI compliant WinPE recovery image, it will contain all the normal Windows 8 drivers so any hardware compatibility issues will vanish. In addition, we will be able to boot the system from a WinPE USB drive, which also loads a virtual disk into memory and boots from it, so we will be able to unplug that drive and plug the drive containing our backup images into the single USB port. In my case I plan to have an external 1 Terabyte USB drive with 2 partitions. I will be able to boot from the first partition, and the other will contain my backup images.

    In summary, it's ugly but it works.
     
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  2. J515OP

    J515OP Super Moderator

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    With all that effort is it not worth switching to Macrium for some reason?
     
  3. Cowboy

    Cowboy New Member

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    As I mentioned, I have many computers that all use Acronis. I have developed scripts that run backups using task scheduler, and recovery procedures that are likewise scripted. Acronis is working on it and will eventually get the job done. I really don't expect the surface disk to fail, but if it does at least I know I can recover. It's not like I will have to do this frequently. Besides it's a learning experience.
     

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