inquiry about partitioned recovery media


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AndrewTech
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Hello,

I have a question about creating more than one partition on a USB key. Details below.

I work at a company to whom I am in charge of laptops.  Macrium is my choice of cloning solution and as such I have really enjoyed its reliability in the past.  The question comes when people with these laptops need to go away on a business trip or work out of another location.  I would like to create recovery media on a USB with two partitions so that if/when a laptop completely fails and needs to be reimaged (and I am not there to do this) I can send a recovery media with that person along with the image of their computer on the same USB drive.

Problems with this:
- Windows does not like two partitions on USB keys, I can make the partition but then it is not seen by windows systems.  I have tried to reset the "removable bit" from the USB key to make it think it is a standard hard drive (AKA Windows partitionable) but so far have had little luck (BootIt.exe).  I have also tried to install new drivers on the USB key using a tool called alcorMP to reset USB and flip the bit... again have not had success.  I have tried using an cfadisk also to install drivers... not working.  I will freely admit that I may be doing something wrong in any one of these procedures that is causing me to not get the desired outcome.
- I have tried to make due with just one partition  but the problem here is that the recovery media complains if it is anything other than fat32 and therefore an image on the same partition is limited to 4GB ... which is not possible.
- I have tried creating a Macrium Recovery media with a Linux boot environment because Linux will see all partitions on a USB key.  Sadly there is no such boot option available.

Here are some Links to things I have tried so far:
http://www.etcwiki.org/wiki/Cfadisk_usb_driver
http://superuser.com/questions/391176/flipping-the-removable-media-bit-alternatives-to-bootit
http://www.tipsdotcom.com/lexar-usb-format.html



I think I am close but am running out of steam.  Some help with a solution would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks
Andrew



AndrewTech
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I should also add that I have considered an actual external drive to solve this however there are three problems with this:
- external drives are bigger, bulky, and the extra size may not be acceptable for people going away on site trips
- external drives cost alot more than a USB key that has the storage capable
- External drive would be a waste of space since the base images that I make are 15-30 GB's in size,(perfect for a 32 GB USB).  Most external drives now don't come in any less than 1TB


Edited 1 November 2016 5:20 PM by AndrewTech
Seekforever
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Some comments without ever having tried to do what you are doing:

Fat16 is limited to a 4GB partition size FAT 32 32G or more. The FAT32 maximum file size is indeed limited to 4GB but you can have Reflect split you image into 4 or less GB pieces. This isn't a big deal on restore since the program just sees it all as 1 archive.

Ext drives do have the expense drawback but a 1 TB isn't that expensive these days and who cares if it isn't all used - you could even have a backup image or a historical rollback image. Restoring from the external HD would be a lot faster probably. They really are only about the size of a slightly overweight pocket calculator and wouldn't take much room in a briefcase or purse.

Why not just give them a boot key and a data key (well labelled)?

If you have proprietary info on the key/drive I hope you consider the encryption option in case it is lost of stolen.

Edited 1 November 2016 8:17 PM by Seekforever
AndrewTech
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Thanks for the reply

I was aware that Macrium split up the image in fat32 but I was not sure on how to retrieve it in the Macrium boot as then you have multiple image files to choose from.  Does it show up as one image when choosing from the restore tab?  If it is not a problem to have a image sliced up and easily put back then I can probably just make a separate folder in the Macrium partition to house the image.  One possibility anyways.

I know the external hard drives are pretty small now but they do cost more and for people traveling a lot, the extra space they take up can apparently be an issue.  Just seems a waste when I can fit both the image and the Macrium recovery boot on one USB.

Thanks for the info, I will try and see how hard/easy it is to restore and image from a fat32 drive

Is there any chance of getting a Linux boot option (where you could see all USB partitions) in the future or does Macrium drink the Microsoft kool-aid pretty hard? (all I have seen are the windows PE 3.1, 4.0, 5.0, 10.0 options)

Anyways I will give it a try and get back to you
Thanks


BGregory
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AndrewTech, 
You didn't mention if your laptops are UEFI boot (if you did sorry I missed it) but if they are not, all you need is one partition on the flash drive.  Just format it as NTFS, Reflect won't complain, and it will go ahead and create the recovery drive.  Then create the backup to the same drive. Both will coexist nicely.  I use a 32gb flash drive and am doing just what you want to do without any issues.

Bob Gregory

AndrewTech
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Hmm....

When ever I try to create Recovery Media from a USB drive that is formatted to NTFS I get the following error, "The USB disk contains the maximum number of partitions allowed. Please try a different USB disk or remove the partitions."  If I remove the partition and have unallocated storage it will not see the USB drive.  If I format it as fat32 it works fine.  

Is there a setting somewhere that I am missing to allow the media to be written on NTFS as well?

If that is the case then yes I have no problem at all but up to this point Macrium seems to only install with a fat32 formatted USB.

What am I missing?
BGregory
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AndrewTech,
That is indeed strange.  I just tried a different 32gb Sandisk flash drive and formatted it with the normal Win 10 format and it worked just fine. I have heard of some flash drives that were not compatible but I believe this is rare.  Have you tried the following:

From the CMD line:
   Type: Diskpart
   Type: Select disk x     (x being your flash drive)
   Type: Clean
   Type: Create partition primary
   Type: Format fs=ntfs quick
   Type: Active
   Type: Assign
   Type: Exit
   Type: Exit

Wish I had other options for you.  Maybe Macrium can chime in here.  If I can think of anything else I will post back here.  Good luck





wags1
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Another option would be an external SSD drive. They look, to the system, like an external drive rather than a thumb drive/memory stick so you can have both a recovery boot partition and an image partition. Not too expensive. Not as small as a thumb drive but smaller than the smallest external hdd. You can pick up a 128 GB one on Amazon for $60.
coly
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BGregory - 1 November 2016 9:18 PM
AndrewTech, 
You didn't mention if your laptops are UEFI boot (if you did sorry I missed it) but if they are not, all you need is one partition on the flash drive.  Just format it as NTFS, Reflect won't complain, and it will go ahead and create the recovery drive.  Then create the backup to the same drive. Both will coexist nicely.  I use a 32gb flash drive and am doing just what you want to do without any issues.

Bob Gregory
I appreciate your post!  Can you help ignorant me here:  Speccy says Microsoft ACPI-Compliant System, and Microsoft UEFI-Compliant System.  Does that mean it will work to format my 32G thumb drive with NTFS?
http://forum.macrium.com/uploads/images/a66d168f-a532-4e37-b3ff-f0fc.png

coly
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Never mind, the FAT32 FORMAT LEAVES ROOM FOR OTHER STUFF.

GO

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