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Old 11th August 2006   #1
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Possible to boot to external USB HDD with BIOS: USB (FDD) or USB (Zip)?


My current hardware info is in my sig below.

I am considering purchasing my first external USB HDD for backup. I also want to make the external USB HDD a bootable device with Acronis Startup Recovery Manager (ASRM) or similar feature with other backup software in case of complete OS failure (if that's possible/advisable).

According to my BIOS, USB boot device options are USB (FDD) and USB (Zip).

I have used the USB (FDD) option to boot from a 256 MB USB thumb drive into the ASRM on the thumb drive and confirmed I can boot to that anyway. (However, it took several minutes before the ASRM menu to display.)

Would I be able to boot to an external USB HDD with my BIOS set to either USB (FDD) or USB (Zip) or must I have a BIOS that specifically offers a choice like "USB (HDD)" as a boot device?


Last edited by mailman; 11th August 2006 at 07:02.
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Old 11th August 2006   #2
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You may find the following thread interesting.
Wilders Security Forums hosts the official Arcronis Support forums.
Corrupt Archive with external USB-Harddisk


Last edited by Dennis L; 11th August 2006 at 05:47.
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Old 11th August 2006   #3
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Thanks for the link, Dennis.

Indeed, that was interesting reading. Fortunately, I'd be using the Acronis True Image and USB HDD with my desktop machine so a lot of those issues might be avoided. I even used Acronis' "Snap Restore" feature to recover from some graphics card related issues recently (using Acronis' "Secure Zone" hidden partition). However, my mobo's USB 2.0 controllers are VIA-based (not NEC as some of those posters recommend). I'll read those forums some more about Acronis, especially because I'm in the trial period right now.

I'm hesitant about USB HDDs anyway because they typically have only a 1-year warranty (Why?) and some of the reviews I read at NewEgg report USB HDD failures soon after the warranty period ran out. With that in mind, I'm more likely to stick with a well-established brand (Seagate, Maxtor, or WD) if I go the USB HDD route.

I have other options in mind such as getting a new internal hard drive (perhaps two SATAs for RAID) and using my existing HDs for backup. That may be a simpler/safer/more reliable route except I'd have to see how Windows/Microsoft reacts to the upgrade. This brings to mind a couple questions that stray from the thread topic a bit...
  • Would I have hassles with Genuine Advantage?
  • Could I simply "clone" my current C:\ drive to a larger HD setup with ease, even if it's SATA RAID? (I'm basicly clueless about SATA but I'd like to try it out since my mobo supports SATA RAID.)

I still want to find out if I have to flash my BIOS with a newer revision or replace the mobo to get a "USB (HDD)" bootable device option (if it's even possible to use Acronis that way to restore to my HD in case of OS failure).

Hopefully, a hardware guru can provide some pointers.


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Old 11th August 2006   #4
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If I'm following the thread correctly, it requires USB compatibility with mobo, drivers, and selected external HDD.


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Old 11th August 2006   #5
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Originally Posted by mailman
I'm hesitant about USB HDDs anyway because they typically have only a 1-year warranty (Why?) and some of the reviews I read at NewEgg report USB HDD failures soon after the warranty period ran out. With that in mind, I'm more likely to stick with a well-established brand (Seagate, Maxtor, or WD) if I go the USB HDD route.
Hi mailman,

A less expensive alternative is to get an internal HD and a seperate external HD drive enclosue. The cost for an enclosure is anywhere from 20.00 to 30.00 US. These days a HD often costs less than a 1.00 a Gig. That would also take care of the warrenty issue, the warrenty now being for a standard internal drive.

I have two internal drives in enclosures connected to my system via USB 2.0

Regards - Charles

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Old 12th August 2006   #6
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Thanks, Charles. Now I have even more questions.

I was considering the enclosure option but I didn't know if that would affect the HDD's warranty. Thanks to your response, that doesn't seem to be an issue.

The internal HDD with a USB 2.0 enclosure might be the route I'll take, especially since it appears I can use my existing HDDs for backup for now.

I might go a different (more expensive?) route and get two identical SATA drives for the inside of my box though. I'm curious about how a RAID 1 (mirrored) setup will affect my system's performance. It seems a waste to have a SATA/RAID compatible motherboard and not use the SATA/RAID. I'd like to see if there is a dramatic boost in OS/program loading speed.

If I have a single SATA drive fail in a RAID 1 (mirrored) setup and replace the defective drive with another SATA, will rebuilding the RAID 1 array be fairly easy?

Would it be fairly easy to rebuild the RAID 1 array using only the data on the SATA drive that didn't fail? If that is the case, it seems another backup HDD wouldn't be necessary except, possibly, for a serious operating system failure.
  • If I use an external HDD (for restoring from in case of serious OS failure), is it a fairly simple process to backup/restore with a 2-disk RAID 1 (mirrored) setup and a single backup HDD (such as an external USB 2.0 HDD)?

Will I run into difficulties with Microsoft's authentication when I put my OS on the RAID? If so, what can I expect and what's the easiest way to resolve?

BTW, I'm still looking for a definitive answer to this question:

Would I be able to boot to an external USB 2.0 HDD with my BIOS set to either USB (FDD) or USB (Zip) or must I have a BIOS that specifically offers a choice like "USB (HDD)" as a boot device?

Originally Posted by Dennis L
If I'm following the thread correctly, it requires USB compatibility with mobo, drivers, and selected external HDD.
Dennis, please pardon me if I seem clueless. (I feel like I am. ) Are you stating I must have a BIOS that specifies "USB (HDD)" (or something similar) to use an external USB 2.0 HDD as a bootable device?

I used my ASUS Update (v7.07.01) utility today to look for an updated BIOS to download. I currently have Award BIOS revision 1008 (9/2/2004) and ASUS Update offered only the following options for download:
  • 1002 (7/7/2003)
  • 1003 (7/15/2003)
  • 1004 (7/28/2003)
  • 1006 (11/17/2003)

Therefore, it looks like I can't get a newer BIOS that specifies something like "USB (HDD)" as a boot device choice. I'm stuck with USB (FDD) and USB (Zip).


Last edited by mailman; 12th August 2006 at 02:42.
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