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Ghost 2003 Destination Drive Size Limits? (Read 12492 times)
HateTheSnow
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Ghost 2003 Destination Drive Size Limits?
Sep 30th, 2009 at 3:42pm
 
I wanted to throw the question out here to see if anyone is aware of a size limitation on destination drives for storing Ghost images.

The reason I'm asking is that I have run into two situations recently where the "desired" destination drive was an internal 1.5TB SATA drive, but it didn't show up in the list of available drives when running Ghost interactively or from a boot disk. Attempting to run Ghost in basic mode resulted in an "Invalid Partition Offset" error. The first time I thought it may have something to do with the system hardware, but I ran into again today on a completely different platform. What strikes me as strange is that the same 1.5 TB drive can be selected as a "source" drive.

I can also confirm that substituting the drive for a 1 TB model worked fine for storing the images. In both cases, I was using Ghost 2003 (build 793) with the FNI switch enabled.

I know the DOS platform is quite ancient and this may be a limitation of the program, but I wanted to ask in case I missed a command line switch that needs to be enabled.

Thanks in advance for the help, and in any event, I'm glad I found this site. It's a wonderful resource for Ghost users.
 
 
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Re: Ghost 2003 Destination Drive Size Limits?
Reply #1 - Oct 1st, 2009 at 10:04am
 
@
HateTheSnow

Welcome to Radified forums--I can understand you're being in the Tampa Bay area without asking!

Haven't heard of any size barriers as long as the system hardware (BIOS) is able to work properly with the size HDDs you have installed.

Quote:
I have run into two situations recently where the "desired" destination drive was an internal 1.5TB SATA drive, but it didn't show up in the list of available drives when running Ghost

So, it's the same HDD transferred to another system--and the behavior by Ghost is the same regarding that HDD--correct?

Can you quit Ghost, and at the DOS prompt change to the DOS assigned drive letter for that HDD--and can you use DOS commands to change to different sub-directories and do the directory command to view the files in various sub-directories?  (Of course, if your HDD has only NTFS formatting, then DOS will be unable to *see* any of the NTFS partitions unless you load a DOS NTFS viewing DOS driver!)

Quote:
Attempting to run Ghost in basic mode resulted in an "Invalid Partition Offset" error.

Does that error occur on both platforms?  If there is in fact a problem with how the 1.5 GB HDD is partitioned, the problem will follow the drive regardless of the platform.  But, it could be an *inappropriate* error response where Ghost is detecting a problem--but it doesn't really *understand* what the problem is and reports the *closest* match it is capable of determining--Ghost does that fairly often!

Quote:
What strikes me as strange is that the same 1.5 TB drive can be selected as a "source" drive.

That is interesting--that sure suggests that accessing the HDD is not the problem! 

What procedure are you attempting--are you attempting to create an image file, or are you attempting do a direct clone from one HDD to another?

Did you do the initial partitioning and formatting?  If so, what tool did you use?

Whenever there is a partitioning error reported, I usually recommend using a disk editing tool that can zero out the absolute sector 0 which is were the Master Boot Record (MBR) is located--this essentially takes the HDD back to a state that it would have had fresh from the factory--and then re-partition and re-format to see if the problem is solved.  This, of course, deletes all data on the HDD--so you have to clear any important data to other media.

Simply deleting any existing partitions and then re-creating the partitions and re-formatting may also solve a partitioning error--but then you can not be quit sure if it's something else in the MBR--because re-partitioning and re-formatting only changes the Master Partition Table within the MBR--the original basic MBR that was created by the initial partitioning tool remains unchanged.  But, that could be tried as a first attempt--and then go to the zeroing of absolute sector zero if the first try doesn't resolve the problem.

Windows seems to live with "Invalid Partition Offset* situations without reporting any problems--but cloning programs seem to develop *heart burn* over such errors!
 

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HateTheSnow
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Re: Ghost 2003 Destination Drive Size Limits?
Reply #2 - Oct 1st, 2009 at 3:55pm
 
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Hello NightOwl and thanks for the reply. And yeah, I love sunny Florida. Not that I don't enjoy visiting locales further north, but I take a great deal of comfort in that the only white stuff we have here is beach sand Wink

Quote:
Haven't heard of any size barriers as long as the system hardware (BIOS) is able to work properly with the size HDDs you have installed.

There shouldn't be any BIOS issues with either system. The first system I encountered the issue on was my wife's video editing platform, which has all of the drives attached to a 3Ware 9650SE RAID card. The card uses 64-bit LBA addressing and the data array for her projects is 4 TB in size. The second system I ran into this on, my personal workstation, utilizes software RAID via a nForce Pro 2200/2050 chipset, which uses 48-bit LBA addressing. Beyond that, the 1.5 TB drives work fine otherwise under XP and are configured in each system as a single disk in a JBOD array.

Quote:
So, it's the same HDD transferred to another system--and the behavior by Ghost is the same regarding that HDD--correct?

No, each system has its' own drives, but in both cases the 1.5 TB drives are Seagate drives...one is a retail Barracuda model and the other is an OEM Barracuda 7200.11 bare drive. It's possible there could be some issue with Seagate drives, but the 1 TB drives that work work fine with Ghost are also Seagate drives. The only difference being the 1 TB drives are Barracuda ES.2 models. All have the standard SATA interface and run natively on SATA II controllers. And yes, the behavior with Ghost appears to be identical on both systems.

Quote:
Can you quit Ghost, and at the DOS prompt change to the DOS assigned drive letter for that HDD--and can you use DOS commands to change to different sub-directories and do the directory command to view the files in various sub-directories?  (Of course, if your HDD has only NTFS formatting, then DOS will be unable to *see* any of the NTFS partitions unless you load a DOS NTFS viewing DOS driver!)

Yes, the 1.5 TB partitions are accessible using NFTSDOS Pro and there is no problem changing directories and running various DOS commands (DIR, LABEL, CD, etc).

Quote:
Does [the "Invalid Partition Offset"] error occur on both platforms?

That I don't know. My wife's system doesn't have Ghost installed and I was running Ghost from a boot disk. To get as much rendering power as possible out of the system, she likes to keep installed software and running services to the absolute minimum.

Quote:
But, it could be an *inappropriate* error response where Ghost is detecting a problem--but it doesn't really *understand* what the problem is and reports the *closest* match it is capable of determining--Ghost does that fairly often!

That's what I was thinking too. From what I've read on the "Invalid Partition Offset" error, it seems to be a "catchall" error code.

Quote:
What procedure are you attempting--are you attempting to create an image file, or are you attempting do a direct clone from one HDD to another?

In both instances, I was attempting to create an image of one of the other drives in the system, and save the images to the 1.5 TB drive. Everything looks normal, except the 1.5 TB drives do not show up in the list of available destinations.

Quote:
Did you do the initial partitioning and formatting?  If so, what tool did you use?

Whenever there is a partitioning error reported, I usually recommend using a disk editing tool that can zero out the absolute sector 0 which is were the Master Boot Record (MBR) is located--this essentially takes the HDD back to a state that it would have had fresh from the factory--and then re-partition and re-format to see if the problem is solved.  This, of course, deletes all data on the HDD--so you have to clear any important data to other media.

I understand where you are coming from here, but any issues with the MBR should have been resolved. As a matter of practice, I validate every drive before use by performing a low-level format and then running the manufacturer's full diagnostic test. Overkill for some, but I've learned over the years that drives can get bumped around during shipping, and this process maps out any bad sectors in the microcode and minimizes the chance of ending up with a bad drive a few months later. That process should have taken care of what you were suggesting with erasing absolute sector 0.

Once I know I have a good drive and it's recognized by Windows, I initialize them as Basic Disks and format them with NTFS using Disk Management under the Computer Management MMC. The only exception to this is the wife's 4 TB array, which is set up as a GPT partition...that one's not visible to Ghost anyway due to the size.

The last bit of info I have is that I started a job on my system to create an image of the 1.5 TB drive to one of the other drives. I let it run for about 15 minutes, but stopped it since I didn't want to wait 4-1/2 hours for it to finish. Everything appeared to be working properly, except the disk size for that drive was showing as -666352 MB...yes, that's a negative number. I'll do the same on the wife's system to see if I get similar results, and I'll also set the job up again on my system to run overnight and see if it finishes without any errors.

Again, thanks for the input, and if you have any other suggestions or ideas, I'm completely open. If I find anything else out on my end, I'll post back with the results.
 
 
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Dan Goodell
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Re: Ghost 2003 Destination Drive Size Limits?
Reply #3 - Oct 2nd, 2009 at 10:05am
 
HatetheSnow wrote:
    I have run into two situations recently where the "desired" destination drive was an internal 1.5TB SATA drive, but it didn't show up in the list of available drives when running Ghost [...]

    I can also confirm that substituting the drive for a 1 TB model worked fine [...]

    I started a job on my system to create an image of the 1.5 TB drive [...] Everything appeared to be working properly, except the disk size for that drive was showing as -666352 MB...yes, that's a negative number [...]

I'd say there is a limit, and you found it.

Naturally, Ghost is a program that internally has to work with numbers, and programatically there has to be some finite size to the numbers it can handle.  Digitally, numbers are represented by ones and zeroes, and in a program those numbers can be treated as signed or unsigned numbers.  An unsigned number uses all the bits as part of the number, while a signed number uses the leftmost (most significant) bit to indicate positive or negative, with the rest of the bits being the number.

To illustrate, imagine you have 8 bits to work with.  8 bits can represent 256 unique values.  An unsigned 8-bit integer would count up from 0 to 255, then would roll over to 0 and start counting up again.  As a signed number, the leftmost bit is 0 for positive values and 1 for negative values, and thus you only have 7 bits for the number.  A signed 8-bit integer would count up from 0 to 127, then jump to -128 and count back up to 0.

I have no inside knowledge regarding Ghost's program code, but the math looks pretty compelling:

((1.5*10^12 - 2^40) - (2^40))/(2^20) = -666640

Internally, the program must use a 41-bit signed integer.  40 bits can represent a number up to 1,099,511,627,775 which is 400,488,372,225 short of 1,500,000,000,000.  So the signed number rolls negative to -1,099,511,627,776 and counts back up to -699,023,255,552 bytes (or -666,640 MB).

Note that 40 bits goes up to about 1.099 TB before jumping negative, which probably explains why your 1.0 TB drive works.  1 TB would have seemed unimaginably huge back in the days when Ghost 2003 was developed.



 
 
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Re: Ghost 2003 Destination Drive Size Limits?
Reply #4 - Oct 2nd, 2009 at 2:42pm
 
Quote:
I have no inside knowledge regarding Ghost's program code, but the math looks pretty compelling:

((1.5*10^12 - 2^40) - (2^40))/(2^20) = -666640

That makes a lot of sense and I bet you're right on the mark. An interesting note on the negative drive size is that it only shows that value during the job. When you are presented with the dialog to select a source disk, it shows the correct size.

A positive note here is the backup image of the 1.5 TB drive ran flawlessly. The images were accessible with Ghost Explorer and I had no problems extracting files, however, I did not attempt to restore the image.

I think the restore will be the true test since Ghost appears to have issues with destination drives >1TB. I've read in the past the imaging and restoring processes are handled quite differently by Ghost, so hopefully it will work. If not, with storage needs and drive sizes continuing to grow as they do, that's going to be a pretty big Achilles heel for all of us who have relied on 2003 for so long.

The 1 TB drive I was using previously to store images should be back from Seagate in about 1-2 weeks, so I'll attempt a restore to the 1.5 TB drive when it arrives. Naturally, I'll post the results.

@
NightOwl

I was able to confirm that Ghost does behave identically on both systems...right down to the same negative drive size when backing up the 1.5 TB drive.

I also checked the Seagate site on the outside a firmware release would resolve the problem, but both 1.5 TB drives are up to date.

It'll be interesting to see if anyone else has run into this with drives from other manufacturers.
 
 
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Re: Ghost 2003 Destination Drive Size Limits?
Reply #5 - Oct 3rd, 2009 at 9:56am
 
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Always great to see your input on information such as this!
 

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Re: Ghost 2003 Destination Drive Size Limits?
Reply #6 - Oct 3rd, 2009 at 10:13am
 
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Quote:
Everything appeared to be working properly, except the disk size for that drive was showing as -666352 MB...yes, that's a negative number

As soon as I saw that negative number, I knew that represented a compatibility issue.  But, I saw that Dan was online on the forum--so I waited to see if he would have a comment--and he did!

I'm trying to remember, but I think the older MS formatting tool, fdisk, also reported negative numbers if you tried to use it on drive larger than it was compatible with--I may be mixin' that up with some other program though!

Quote:
A positive note here is the backup image of the 1.5 TB drive ran flawlessly. The images were accessible with Ghost Explorer and I had no problems extracting files

But, how much *data* was backed up?  As long as the data remains below the approx. 1 TB limit, there may be no problems, but if the backed up data goes beyond that limit--then there might be corruption of the stored data in an image file.  I think that test where the actual data in the image file is greater than the 1 TB needs to be seen!  (Always one more variable to keep track of  Wink !)

Quote:
I think the restore will be the true test since Ghost appears to have issues with destination drives >1TB. I've read in the past the imaging and restoring processes are handled quite differently by Ghost, so hopefully it will work.

Again, as noted above--the restore might work okay to a 1.5 TB drive if the actual restored data is less than 1 TB--need to see what happens if the data is greater than 1 TB.
 

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Re: Ghost 2003 Destination Drive Size Limits?
Reply #7 - Oct 5th, 2009 at 10:41am
 
If there's a compatibility issue with drives greater than 1TB, then one solution would be to partition the drive into a 1TB partition and a 500GB partition, 2 partitions of 750GB each or user's choice of partition sizes of 1TB or less.  It's not a great solution, but it should work.
 
 
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