Universal Restore (Acronis Backup & Recovery 10 Universal Restore)

Acronis Backup & Recovery 10 Universal Restore is the Acronis proprietary technology that helps recover and boot up Windows on dissimilar hardware or a virtual machine. The Universal Restore handles differences in devices that are critical for the operating system start-up, such as storage controllers, motherboard or chipset.

  Acronis Backup & Recovery 10 Universal Restore purpose  

A system can be easily recovered from a disk backup (image) onto the same system or to identical hardware. However, if you change a motherboard or use another processor version—a likely possibility in case of hardware failure—the recovered system could be unbootable. An attempt to transfer the system to a new, much more powerful computer will usually produce the same unbootable result because the new hardware is incompatible with the most critical drivers included in the image.

Using Microsoft System Preparation Tool (Sysprep) does not solve this problem, because Sysprep permits installing drivers only for Plug and Play devices (sound cards, network adapters, video cards etc.). As for system Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL) and mass storage device drivers, they must be identical on the source and the target computers (see Microsoft Knowledge Base, articles 302577 and 216915).

The Universal Restore technology provides an efficient solution for hardware-independent system recovery by replacing the crucial Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL) and mass storage device drivers.

Universal Restore is applicable for:

  1. Instant recovery of a failed system on different hardware.
  2. Hardware-independent cloning and deployment of operating systems.
  3. Physical-to-physical, physical-to-virtual and virtual-to-physical machine migration.
  The Universal Restore principles  
  1. Automatic HAL and mass storage driver selection.

    Universal Restore searches for drivers in the network folders you specify, on removable media and in the default driver storage folders of the system being recovered. Universal Restore analyzes the compatibility level of all found drivers and installs HAL and mass storage drivers that better fit the target hardware. Drivers for network adapters are also searched and passed to the operating system which installs them automatically when first started.

    The Windows default driver storage folder is determined in the registry value DevicePath, which can be found in the registry key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion. This storage folder is usually WINDOWS/inf.

  2. Manual selection of the mass storage device driver.

    If the target hardware has a specific mass storage controller (such as a SCSI, RAID, or Fibre Channel adapter) for the hard disk, you can install the appropriate driver manually, bypassing the automatic driver search-and-install procedure.

  3. Installing drivers for Plug and Play devices.

    Universal Restore relies on the built-in Plug and Play discovery and configuration process to handle hardware differences in devices that are not critical for the system start, such as video, audio and USB. Windows takes control over this process during the logon phase, and if some of the new hardware is not detected, you will have a chance to install drivers for it later manually.

  Universal Restore and Microsoft Sysprep  

Universal Restore is not a system preparation tool. You can apply it to any Windows image created by Acronis products, including images of systems prepared with Microsoft System Preparation Tool (Sysprep). The following is an example of using both tools on the same system.

Universal Restore does not strip the security identifier (SID) and user profile settings in order to run the system immediately after recovery without re-joining the domain or re-mapping network user profiles. If you are going to change the above settings on a recovered system, you can prepare the system with Sysprep, image it and recover, if need be, using the Universal Restore.


Universal Restore is not available:

  • when a computer is booted with Acronis Startup Recovery Manager (using F11) or
  • the backup image is located in the Acronis Secure Zone or
  • when using Acronis Active Restore,

because these features are primarily meant for instant data recovery on the same machine.

Universal Restore is not available when recovering Linux.

  Getting Universal Restore   

Universal Restore comes free with Acronis Backup & Recovery 10 Advanced Server SBS Edition and Acronis Backup & Recovery 10 Advanced Server Virtual Edition.

Universal Restore for the other product editions is purchased separately, has its own license, and is installed as a separate feature from the setup file. You need to re-create bootable media to make the newly installed add-on operational in the bootable environment.

Universal Restore (Acronis Backup & Recovery 10 Universal Restore)