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Windows XP=no boot after Ghost 2003 imaging

Created: 10 Aug 2006 • Updated: 21 May 2010 | 7 comments

This is a very unusual and specific problem. I've been using Ghost 2003 to image various new and old computers with Win98se, XP sp1 and sp2 with great success for the past three years. But a new laptop will not take an image properly.

Here's the details:
HP Compaq nx6125 laptop
Installed WinXP sp2 and other software used by our Agency
Removed the laptop hard drive and placed it into a desktop
Made a Ghost image onto an IDE hard drive (which has other images)
Reassembled the original laptop and set it aside
Unpacked a fresh laptop
Remove its hard drive and installed it into the desktop
Imaged the laptop hard drive from the newly made image
Re-installed the laptop hard drive
Attempted to boot

The laptop gets past the BIOS but then stops. I even heard the HD spin down. The screen is black with a blinking cursor in the upper left corner.

To remedy this problem here's what I've tried:

1) Using Windows XP repair console to replace the MBR = no change in booting
2) Using Windows XP CD to repair the installed OS = no change in booting

The only way to fix the imaged drive is to perform a complete re-installation of Windows XP and all the software. This takes a full day of my time per laptop. I'd really like to just crank out the imaged drives.

So, has anyone encountered this very unusual situation before?

Like I said, it's only on this make and model laptop that I'm having trouble. All other systems, desktop and laptop, work great with Ghost imaging. I contacted HP about the problem and they said to contact Symantec. :(

Thanks in advance,
Jason Morrill
IT Manager
Child & Family Agency

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Nigel Bree's picture

This sounds to me very similar to the problem discussed in this thread:

That machine was an HP/Compaq as well, so it may be that the unusual defaults they have chosen for that BIOS are going to be turning up in more models. I don't have access to any HP notebooks to check the specific way they organize the BIOS menus, but checking if they have make something other than LBA translation the default seems like the first thing to try.

Jason Morrill's picture

This is definitely a Windows XP problem.

Just for testing purposes I tried imaging the same drive with a Windows 98se ghost image I have. After imaging I put the drive into the same computer and it booted just fine!

So what sort of magic could I work with Windows XP to get it to properly recognize the MBR and start the drive? I've tried the Recovery console and fixboot and MBR stuff. The recovery console even sees the installation of Windows. I've also attempted a Repair of the installed windows. Still it won't boot.

I'm convinced there is something in the boot sequence of Windows XP that checks something on the drive.



Nigel Bree's picture

To work out the root cause of XP not booting the diagnostic process we have go through is pretty much exactly the same as in that thread I linked. First we need to look at the output of gdisk /raw when run on one of the non-booting systems, and we need to compare it against gdisk /raw when the disk is located in the system you use for imaging to it. Use gdisk32 instead of gdisk as suits your situation.

It would be a good idea to use gdisk /view:0 to dump the MBR sector for posterity, and gdisk /mbr can write some replacement boot code into the MBR.

Brian Milnes's picture
Sorry to re-activate an old thread, but I'm having the same (or very similar) problem.
I'm trying to use a Ghost 9.0 image onto another machine. I use the Boot O/S option, but do not use the write MBR option as I've already installed XP on the machine (& partition) that I'm going to use.
The System Restore operates, but fails to boot, it doesn't even recognize the boot partition.
Running XP setup in restore mode recognizes the "install" but doesn't repair.
I cannot access the thread referred to as it's out of date, now.
Any other pointers would be greatly appreciated - I sacrificed my workstation to a client's emergency - and need this image restored PDQ...
Many thanks

Nigel Bree's picture

It's no problem bumping an old thread, but I wouldn't know where to start with Ghost 9.0 since it's a completely unrelated product to classic Ghost, made by a different team and I've never used it myself (so I don't know what the "Boot O/S Option" is, for example).

The symptoms described by the thread starter are a result of restoring the image to a disk in an environment different from the one where it's actually going to be booting (for instance, restoring the disk in a USB enclosure, then taking it out and plugging it in as an IDE drive).

If that's what you are doing, the simplest solution is to follow a different restore process so that the drive you're restoring is installed in the system that's going to boot it and restore it there, so that the imaging software knows how the system BIOS in the final machine will treat the drive.

If that's not what you are doing, then the cause of the problem will be something else. The Backup Exec System Recovery product is actually from the same codebase as Ghost 9.0, so you might try asking in that forum for suggestions.

Brian Milnes's picture
Thanks for the reply, Nigel.
I emminently preferred the old version of Ghost - at one time we used it all the time for cloning and so on.
The PQ stuff by comparison was slow and bulky. And as witnessed by my latest attempts - very fickle.
I succeeded late last night using the BE System Recovery software which is its latest incarnation. What a massive waste of time - Symantec products NOT doing what they say on the tin...
"Backed up Brian"
Jason Morrill's picture

This is a final update to my original trouble.

By creating a specialized master image I can now ghost across different hardware platforms. The solution I found was to follow the steps at this web site to make a master. Then I image that master to fresh hard drives and have met with great success.