Large Rescue Media


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jamooney
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Just joined the forum -- I worked for years on another backup product, but Reflect is what I use at home.

Here's the setup:

    Laptop, UEFI/GPT enabled
    External 4TB USB drive, blank and formattable

My goal: create a bootable rescue media partition on the external drive, and still have the all remaining disk space available.

I've tried everything I can think of and everything I could find already in the forum.  Please help.


dbminter
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I don't know if it's possible to create WinPE/RE bootable media on an external HDD.  I didn't think it was possible, but if someone else knows it can be done, they'll tell you how.

jphughan
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If the external drive is initialized as GPT, you’ll need to do this manually. Create a small FAT32 partition on your drive, then copy the Rescue Media files onto it. Rescue Media Builder doesn’t support building directly to GPT-initialized targets because it currently doesn’t support building UEFI-only Rescue Media, but it does work if you do it yourself.

However, I’d still strongly recommend having separate Rescue Media somewhere offline so that you’d still have Rescue Media if something happened to that external drive. Also note that some systems don’t support booting from USB “fixed disk class” devices like hard drives and SSDs, and instead only boot from USB “removable storage class” devices like flash drives.
jamooney
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jphughan - 5 September 2020 2:30 PM
If the external drive is initialized as GPT, you’ll need to do this manually. Create a small FAT32 partition on your drive, then copy the Rescue Media files onto it. Rescue Media Builder doesn’t support building directly to GPT-initialized targets because it currently doesn’t support building UEFI-only Rescue Media, but it does work if you do it yourself.However, I’d still strongly recommend having separate Rescue Media somewhere offline so that you’d still have Rescue Media if something happened to that external drive. Also note that some systems don’t support booting from USB “fixed disk class” devices like hard drives and SSDs, and instead only boot from USB “removable storage class” devices like flash drives.

Thanks, jp -- I'll try that tomorrow and post results.



jamooney
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jamooney - 6 September 2020 7:04 AM
jphughan - 5 September 2020 2:30 PM
If the external drive is initialized as GPT, you’ll need to do this manually. Create a small FAT32 partition on your drive, then copy the Rescue Media files onto it. Rescue Media Builder doesn’t support building directly to GPT-initialized targets because it currently doesn’t support building UEFI-only Rescue Media, but it does work if you do it yourself.However, I’d still strongly recommend having separate Rescue Media somewhere offline so that you’d still have Rescue Media if something happened to that external drive. Also note that some systems don’t support booting from USB “fixed disk class” devices like hard drives and SSDs, and instead only boot from USB “removable storage class” devices like flash drives.

Thanks, jp -- I'll try that tomorrow and post results.



Looks like that worked -- thanks muchly.  Perhaps automate this for a future version?

As for offline media, your point is of course well-taken.

Thanks again,
James

jphughan
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Glad it worked, and happy to help!  In terms of automating it, normally it would be automated.  Reflect currently not supporting GPT seems to be a deliberate design choice, and I can think of two reasons for that, one of which might actually argue AGAINST automating this particular setup:
  • GPT disks can only be booted in UEFI mode.  Reflect currently allows you to create BIOS-only or BIOS+UEFI Rescue Media, but not UEFI-only Rescue Media.  Of course BIOS is on the decline, but right now Macrium might be optimizing for broader compatibility rather than maximum flexibility.
  • Even if Macrium started allowing UEFI-only builds, GPT tends to be used on external hard drives rather than flash drives.  Currently, if Reflect can't find a suitable partition on which to build Rescue Media -- which for a UEFI build would require a FAT32 partition -- it will wipe the entire target device and create a suitable partition.  Most people with external hard drives will not have a FAT32 partition already available, and odds are they would NOT be ok with having their entire external hard drive wiped just to create Rescue Media.  So having Reflect offer this option could become a hazard for users who weren't careful about what they clicked and/or didn't understand the ramifications of what they were telling Reflect to do in that situation.  And actually, prior to Reflect 7.2, the Rescue Media wizard didn't support destructive operations such as formatting a device at all.  If your target device wasn't suitable then you had to prep it yourself, because Macrium was being cautious I guess.  In theory, Rescue Media Builder could be updated to support shrinking an existing partition to create a suitable FAT32 at the end of the disk, without destroying everything on the device.  But having participated in a beta test for what became the current Rescue Media Builder interface (where destructive formatting support was added), I suggested adding support for a few more advanced use cases, and Macrium's response was essentially, "Our priority with this wizard is to allow people to create Rescue Media that will boot as reliably as possible, while requiring the minimum amount of effort and technical knowledge from the end user."  I think that's a fair point.  The core purpose of Rescue Media is to be there to rescue you from dire straits, and if adding support for additional "edge cases" would make that capability less reliable, then I would argue that isn't better overall.  People who want to implement support for edge cases can still do so.  (I have an unusual Rescue Media build myself that allows UEFI booting into an NTFS partition.)  In this specific case, like I said, I've found that some PCs won't boot from USB hard drives.  I've also found that some Dell systems when booting from GPT-initialized devices will only boot from Partition 1, even though they'll happily boot from Partition 2 of that exact same device if it's re-initialized as MBR.  Those types of things could become stumbling blocks if Rescue Media Builder officially supported GPT targets and creating Rescue Media at the end of a device by shrinking an existing partition, in which case it would not be Partition #1.  And unfortunately, a surprising number of people don't bother testing their Rescue Media after they create it, so they might not even realize they have a problem.  (Actually, a surprising number of people don't bother creating Rescue Media at all, which ends up becoming quite a headache when their system becomes unbootable and they want to restore a backup, but that's a separate issue.)

Edited 7 September 2020 5:12 AM by jphughan
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