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[Boot from ISO CD Image Files in a HDD Partition]

Discussion in 'DOS/Other' started by Praetorian01, Jan 6, 2007.

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  1. Praetorian01

    Praetorian01 Thread Starter

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    :) Happy New Year to everyone! :)

    Just would like to ask if anyone here know of a Software or a Technique that will enable us to Boot from an ISO Image File (.iso) in a HDD Partition - either emulates the ISO Image File as a CD/DVD Drive or as a HDD.

    I just got tired of keeping 5-7 Bootable CD's with my Laptop just to feel assured that I can recover & fix the machine when ever I bring it. (WinXP SP2, Ultimate Boot CD, Bart's PE, Norton Ghost & Partition Magic, Puppy Linux, Winternals ERD Commander 2005 (Emergency Rescue Disc) Bootable Ghost Back Up DVDs, etc. - you get the point! :D )

    I got this idea because I just recently made my USB Flash Drive (UFD) Bootable using Bart's PE (Preinstalled Environment), a Bootable Live Windows Version in a CD, and found out that it made an ISO Image File in the UFD instead of just copying the files there and writing the Boot Sector. (Download Page of Bart's PE)

    When I boot up the UFD, the entire ISO Image File is loaded to RAM and the OS/Environment can be used with ease. I also found out that the same ISO Image File is Bootable and can be Burned into CD :) . I tried using the first Primary DOS Partition of my HDD instead of the UFD and it seems to work (y) (using the pe2usb.cmd tool in PEBuilder to write into a HDD Partition instead of a UFD!:rolleyes: )

    I copied a working ISO Image File of Winternals ERD Commander into the Primary DOS Partition and hoped that renaming it to bartpe.iso will make it Boot from the HDD - of course it didn't! :D

    I also copied the contents of the Winternals ERD Commander into the Primary DOS Partition using various File Systems and different Boot Sectors using MakeBoot but that didn't work. :(

    Now if any of you guys out there know how to Pull this Off, I would very much appreciate any effort or wisdom you can impart to me.

    Thanks in advance and more power! ;)

    P.S.:
    I've tried to Google Search on Topics like: Boot from ISO CD Image Files in a HDD, etc. but the results fall short of my needs.

    But I came across with interesting stuff like MemDisk, which makes a Bootable ISO CD Image File containing many Floppy Disk Image Files that can be selected from at boot time :cool: . Bart has instructions and files here ;) . Sadly, the program cannot boot from ISO Image Files and the developers have no plan of doing so because of the complexity involved. :(
     
  2. JohnWill

    JohnWill Retired Moderator

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    Why not just create an image with something like Acronis True Image? You pop in the recovery CD, and read the image from either CD/DVD's or even a large USB FLASH drive and restore a bootable system.

    I think you're making this problem much more difficult than it really is.
     
  3. Praetorian01

    Praetorian01 Thread Starter

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    :eek:

    First of all, I would like to thank you Sir for your immediate attention to this post/thread! :D

    Secondly, I woul like to apologize if I confuse you with too much words/details. :eek:

    The very idea of HDD Partition imaging using a Software in a Bootable CD plus the ability to burn their HDD Partition images into a CD/DVD that's also bootable are a great addition to a demanding user's arsenal of solutions in times of need.

    But as I have experienced, booting into a Recovery CD and/or restoring from a HDD Image in a CD/DVD are not only tiresome and time-consuming but also impractical specially if you only need to fix a couple files in the malfunctioning partition/installation. :eek:

    As we all know, restoring 10GiB of HDD data Alone (not Partition Size - Data Only, Using Fast Compression!) from an Image in a CD/DVD in a regular Laptop (like mine) at 3X-DVD read or 24X-CD read (~4.2MiB/s) and a 5,400rpm Mobile ATA100 HDD (average transfer rate of 20-25 MiB/s) takes at least half an hour! And that's just for a 10GiB partition compressed in one DVD-R pending Data Verification! :rolleyes:

    I think that's too much time and effort for recovering from an unknown registry or file system error that made your beloved WinXP partition unbootable and accessible! :eek:

    So, I would like to know of a way to Boot from any of the ISO CD Image Files of my Recovery CDs stored in my HDD. ;)

    In that way, I can diagnose an unbootable OS/System partition, transfer files into an external storage & media (USB Flash Drive, USB HDD, USB FDD-Floppy, USB ZIP Drive-Zip Disk, IDE CD/DVD Recorder-Discs) if I don't have the time to Recover/Repair at the moment (10 minutes to a big Business Presentation or a Company Meeting), troubleshoot fautly hardware, reconfigure the system, clean boot to detect & clean viruses, worms, trojans, adware, spyware, rootkits, etc., and Recover immediately after other bad 'things' happen to your computer. :D

    So you see, a troublesome life in the Information Age can be simplified by the Solution that I'm looking for! :p

    I hope you get to see from where I stand. :)

    Thank you again and more power!

    Mark ;)
     
  4. JohnWill

    JohnWill Retired Moderator

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    You can mount an Acronis True Image backup like a disk drive and access any files/folders you like.

    I've never had the need or the desire to do this the hard way. :D
     
  5. Praetorian01

    Praetorian01 Thread Starter

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    :)

    Now that's what I'm talking about! (y)

    Please elaborate further on this Acronis True Image thing...

    • What Specific App?
    • What Specific App Version?
    • What's the "Big Picture"/ General Idea?
    • How do you do it (Details)?
    • Issues & Problems that may/will arise?
    • Dealing with those Issues & Problems.
    • *** Best Practices / Recommendations ***


    :)

    Believe me Sir, Booting from ISO CD Image Files in a HDD, should someone find a Techique OR make an App will make System Recovery & Management easier! ;)

    Get to think about it, the time before HDD Imaging and Partitioning became a routine operation, Backing Up your Data and Partitioning your HDD were both HERCULIAN tasks! :D

    Partitioning, back then, meant getting you freakin' data off the hard drive, boot to DOS, run Fdisk, Set Primary/Extended/Logical Partitions, Hide/Unhide & Activate Boot Partitions, Format them 1 by 1, RE-INSTALL you OSes, and restore back your data hoping that you did not miss anything! (or you'll end up doing most AGAIN)

    Imaging, back then, meant getting another larger HDD to dump the freakin' image file, booting and running the imaging app, imaging for at least an hour, verifying the image, and keeping a "spare" hard drive that had nothing but an image file in it. :eek:

    You see, the "easy way" that you've been referring to WAS a difficult task before and is now made easier because of the Clamor for such and the effort of brilliant software engineers. :)

    So please, do not dismiss the process as "the hard way" because its really a development should someome figure it out.

    But of course, if you have all that time in the world to
    then go ahead, do it the typical/taditional way until you realize that you're spending too much time in restoring Partition Images that a simple Recovery CD Image in a hard drive can diagnose & fix in a few minutes... ;)

    Anyway, we don't have your ideas so its best that you just tell us what you know! :)

    Thank you again and please elaborate more on the Acronis thing. I'll also look it up.

    Mark
    :cool:
     
  6. Praetorian01

    Praetorian01 Thread Starter

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    Just to give everyone the Big Picture, what I'm trying to do here is to have set of Recovery Applications/Utilities immediately available in the HDD of a Mobile Laptop system ALL the time especially when you're in a business trip, 20 minutes to a major presentation and suddenly the system won't boot.

    Why not just bring the CD/DVD Utilities?
    Your Laptop and you are in a business trip, your plane will land in an hour. You just forgot to bring your recovery discs or they were lost or stolen or airport security held them in 'custody' or your dog ate them (you get the point?)
    Therefore: Why not have the utilities in your HDD instead of carrying 5-7 discs around?

    Why not install the CD/DVD Utilities in the system?
    Some recovery apps cannot be installed or won't work in a live system. Some problems cannot be resolved when the OS in running (adjusting/adding/removing partitions, detecting & cleaning viruses, worms, spywares, adwares & rootkits). Some apps that do install require a reboot because they cannot work on a running OS (HDD imaging apps).
    Therefore: You'll just have to bear with the fact that Recovery Utilities work best if they are booted from their discs.

    Why not just restore from a previous image back up?
    You don't have an image back up or your image back up was made a week ago and a lot happend since or your image back up was made 3 hours ago but the system was already unstable since yesterday or you just found a new strain or virus/worm (so the image is useless).
    Therfore: HDD Partition images are only as good as: the state of the partition when they were created, the reliability of the media, the compatibility of the recovery software and the drive (i.e. what good is your back up in a DVD-R, USB HDD if the app that booted cannot load the drivers or cannot recognize the CD/DVD & USB hardware). Restoring from an image is ONLY the Last Resort and NOT the First Alternative!

    Why not Prevent these 'Disasters' from happening in the First Place?
    Believe me people, no matter how well you configure the system, optimize it, maintain it, defend it, image it, mirror it, etc. Big Problems will occur because you've averted the small ones or you did not anticipate the Trivial/Unusual Problem or you've encountered New Problems that no one has exerienced before because they are still busy dealing with the small ones (Ex: RAID-O Array eliminates the bottleneck problem of a single HDD, but you can never experience an RAID-O Array failure if all you've got is a 60GB ATA100 HDD).
    Not to brag here but, ever since I've purchahed my present PC, I've not reinstalled my copy of Windows XP Pro SP2. Why? Because of deliberate application of best practices, regular image back ups, software & hardware maintenance & optimization, updated defenses, cautious software installation, isolated software testing (VirtualPC, Disposable OS Partition), etc.
    Therefore: New solutions must be sought of AND developed if we are to continue improving our lives in this Information Age. Why? Because Technologies ARE Human Solutions to Problems - Check this pattern:

    Problem: We need Permanent Storage!
    Solution: Floppy Disks invented.
    Problem: We need More Space!
    Solution: Double-Sided, High-Density Floppies made.
    Problem: We need MORE Space & Faster Data Throughput!
    Solution: ATA Hard Disk Drives invented.
    Problem: We need MORE Space & FASTER Data Throughput!
    Solution: ATA 100/133 introduced.
    Problem: We need Better Removable Storage!
    Solution: LS-120/240, ZIP Drive, CD-R/RW, DVD-/+R/RW.
    Problem: We need Hot Swappable Storage!
    Solution: USB Flash Drives, External USB/FireWire HDDs.
    Problem: We need High Performance Storage!
    Solution: SATA 150/300 HDD invented.
    Problem: We need to Back Up Data!
    Solution: File Copying, Synchronizing, Archiving.
    Problem: We need to Back Up OS Partitions.
    Solution: Sector-Based Drive Imaging Apps.
    Problem: We need to Back Up Partitions Efficiently!
    Solution: Files-Based Drive Imaging Apps w/ Compression.
    Problem: Tired of Restoring from Drive Images Everytime!
    Solution: Emergency Recovery Apps Bootable CDs.
    Problem: Tired of Bringing around 5-7 ER CDs!
    Solution: Boot from ISO CD Image Files in a HDD Partition.
    Problem: Tired of Booting from CD Images & Fixing Partition!
    Solution: Self-Maintaing & Pre-emptive Operating Systems?
    Problem: ...
    Solution: ...;)

    I hope everyone gets my point!

    So the question now to everyone is whether you'll be part of the solution to new problems or dwell on old solutions while the rest of the world leave you behind!:)

    Good luck! And please, let me know if you find anything!

    Mark
    :p
     
  7. JohnWill

    JohnWill Retired Moderator

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    OK, let's take your scenario.

    I have the Acronis True Image recovery boot CD and my image backup of the entire drive on a DVD or USB external hard disk.

    1. Boot TI Recovery CD.
    2. Insert image DVD or connect external USB hard disk.
    3. Restore bootable image.

    Total time? 10-20 minutes.
    Chance of success? Excellent.
    Complexity? Minimal.

    Problem solved. :)
     
  8. Praetorian01

    Praetorian01 Thread Starter

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    Even if you get to successfully restore from a DVD or an external USB HDD you miss out the following:

    1. The Drive Image may already have been compromised when it was Backed Up into an Image File. The System simply reached the tipping point when you recognized the symptoms now.:eek:
    2. Since you cannot entirely foresee EVERY possible problem than can arise, restoring from a back up will nullify other Good things you've made in the System since the last back up.:mad:
    3. Is restoring a Back Up Image file all you know and can do to solve a system problem?
    4. Backing Up & Resoring HDD from Images is not All we do in the business of computing.
    5. I'm asking for a scalpel and you're giving me a chainsaw.
    6. You are disregarding other tools that can precisely solve the problem.

    Again:
    Common guys! We need real solutions here! Not the old ways of doing things! :eek:

    Mark
    :rolleyes:
     
  9. Praetorian01

    Praetorian01 Thread Starter

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    Please share how you do this:

     
  10. JohnWill

    JohnWill Retired Moderator

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    1. If the drive image that you backed up and checked is compromised, and you actually end up needing it, you are truly living under a black cloud. Remember, in your scenario, this is just a backup in case you have a problem. If you have that many problems with your laptop and presentations, I suggest you address that problem, not carry around 200 CD's with every possible recovery application on the planet.
      Again, this is "backup". If you really need up to the minute backup, perform it more regularly.
      No, but I also don't need a briefcase full of software to recover from most common issues.
      I don't see your point.
    You're looking for a solution to a problem that has about a 0.00001% probability of happening. :rolleyes:

    No, apparently you need some solution to a mythical problem for reasons that I can't begin to comprehend. :confused:

    Good luck in your quest. :)
     
  11. Praetorian01

    Praetorian01 Thread Starter

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    Thank you very much for your insights John! ;)
    But please, don't feel too obligated to provide the type of Solution that I'm looking for! :p
    I think it would be rude to ask you for something that's a little distant from your expertise. :(
    It will be an exciting development should somebody devise an Application or a Technique for this 'scenario' of mine :)

    This fact (quote below) alone motivated me to finally look for a similar Technique or Software:
    Because of this, I am under the impression that the Solution is not only possible (the UFD boots the ISO Image File in it - thus its already been done!), but can also be adapted to accomodate a selection of ISO Image Files stored in you HDD.

    Imagine: Having a Boot Manager that not only include your favorite Operating Systems, but Bootable CD/DVD Image Files as well in the SAME Menu! (y)

    Imagine: Installing Windows XP/2000/2003/Server/Vista or Linux from an ISO Image File in a Special Partition you've set for them with 8 or more other bootable ISO Image Files - you don't have to reach for your precious Discs in your desk drawer! You just make an ISO Image File of your favorite CD/DVD once, which you verify. You can preserve their mint and pristine condition forever! No more disc scratches to fuss about! Your $200-500+ software investment in CD/DVDs can last a life time! You can even have a museum of your original installation discs plus packaging in their factory condition right in your own home! If that's not sweet, I don't know what is! :D

    Imagine: Installing Windows XP/2000/2003/Server/Vista or Linux from an ISO Image File in a Separate HDD and running them at the break-pace speeds of 25-60MiB/s! (Analogous to the difference between the restoration of a HDD Image Back Up from 5-14 CDs or 1-2 DVDs versus from a HDD in terms of performance and convenience). :D

    So for me, its just a matter of time before someone markets this idea, profit from it and for competitors to sprout like mushroom! :rolleyes:

    I'll keep this thread updated about anything I come across regarding the Topic. :)

    Happy Computing to everyone!

    Mark
    ;)
     
  12. dr_theopolis

    dr_theopolis

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    I've been trying to get this exact scenario to work with a Seagate pocket drive. The Idea, Mr. Will, is that you could keep the same boot loader on a pocket drive or flash drive and then just have to swap out the ISO image of the OS that you want to boot. Sorry Mr. Will but you are only trying to solve the problem without looking at the greater possibilities.
    I've been having problems getting the Seagate drive to boot with anything other than free DOS and then it will not recognize an iso. Mr. Praetorian01's suggestion is an obvious solution. (In fact the only reason I found this thread).
    Also, just because we COULD take off and nuke the site from orbit doesn't mean that we should or even need to.
     
  13. JohnWill

    JohnWill Retired Moderator

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    Actually, I solve most problems by the most direct method, since trying to get "cute" and making myself lots more work seems pointless. Far more machines will boot from a CD than from a USB drive, so I opt for the universal solution. You're free to explore the fringes of every "possibility", that doesn't mean it's a good idea. ;)

    BTW, you're proving my point, since you can't boot from the very USB drive you're trying to solve this problem with. :D
     
  14. dr_theopolis

    dr_theopolis

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    Sorry Mr. will but you are still missing the point. This is not about taking the most direct route. Rather, this is about having options. In my experience most systems in a business environment have either had their cd-rom drives removed or hardware disabled. As an administrator it is often very helpful to be able to log directly into a suite of tools that bypass the local hdd and be able to directly interface the network, if only to rule out local OS issues or make a quick change to something else on the network since the system that you happen to be sitting in front of might be down and your office system a good ten minute walk away or even across town. In any case it shouldn't be necessary to justify the reason behind researching a fix that some people might consider useful. If any one else has some actual experience with the theoretical position that Mr. Praetorian has described that would be a lot more helpful.
     
  15. JohnWill

    JohnWill Retired Moderator

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    Whatever floats your boat. :rolleyes:
     
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