Monday, 11 July 2011

Booting Acronis True Image from a USB stick

Today I needed to restore a netbook PC from a backup image taken with Acronis True Image Home 9.0 (which is excellent). The backup image was stored on an external USB hard drive. The problem was how to boot the Acronis recovery image, as the netbook has no CD drive.
UPDATE: If you're using Acronis True Image Home 2011 or later, then it's really easy.  You just install Acronis True Image Home on a Windows machine, then use the "rescue media builder" application to write a bootable image directly to the USB stick.

When I wrote this article, I only had the older product, True Image Home 9.0.   For this older version, you can make a bootable USB stick via the following procedure..

1. Take a USB stick (a.k.a. memory key or flashdrive). Delete everything on it. Format as FAT32 in Windows XP.

2. Download the HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool. Run it on Windows XP to reformat the USB stick in the correct way. Otherwise, step 3 will fail with the error "grubinst: Should be a disk image" (at least under VMWare).

3. Download Grub4DOS from the links given on Using Grub4DOS to Create a Bootable Drive. Follow steps 1 and 2, not forgetting to copy the grldr file to the USB stick's root folder.

4. Do a full installation of Acronis True Image Home 9.0 (full version not trial version) into the Windows XP VM. Run their Media Builder program and have it write direct to the USB stick. (Don't make an ISO as it won't work.)

5. Cut and paste the menu.lst file from here, creating menu.lst (LST not 1st) on the USB stick so that Grub will boot properly.

6. You're done! Boot the netbook from the USB stick and the Acronis recovery menu should appear.


  1. Martin, as a tech geek/programmer I just wanted to let you know I appreciated this blog. To be clear, it was more than just the procedure that I found valuable. To wit, I was able to trust your advice easier than most, because of your conversational tone and the backstory on what the issue was you were trying to resolve. Thanks for this short, but very useful post!


  2. Beware with Acronis True Image Home 2011 - the application claims to have created a boot able USB flash drive, but sometimes fails. I have tried two USBflash drives on two W7 laptops, and none works. Others on the web report the same problem.

    Is not "really easy" as you claim!

  3. Well it just worked for me, so I'm guessing it depends on how your USB Stick was partitioned & formatted to begin with.

    I would try following steps (1.) and (2.) in my post if you're having trouble.

    This is just speculation on my part, but my guess is that the bootstrap won't install properly unless the USB stick is partitioned with a partition table containing one entry: a FAT32 filesystem. If, instead, you just bang a FAT32 filesystem onto the raw device (no partition table), then I believe the USB Stick won't be bootable. Acronis ought to do that for you, but I bet it doesn't.

    More annoyingly, True Image Home 2011 doesn't successfully clone Linux disks on my two most recent Dell precision laptops (well, it clones them, but the clones are unusable). I've now switched to Clonezilla, which is pretty damn cool, and free to use.

  4. Wanted say thanks, this post really helped me out on an imaging project.


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