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Windows 7: Laptop backup: clone to external bootable HDD? (with extra partition?)

12 Sep 2013   #1
stevenp61

Win 7 Pro 64
 
 
Laptop backup: clone to external bootable HDD? (with extra partition?)

[EDIT: I just came across info that Win7 can't boot from a USB external drive, so my query has been edited to request an alternate solution!]

I am running Win7 64 pro on a Thinkpad x120E. I sometimes travel, and would like to create a duplicate of my entire internal HDD on a larger external (USB) HDD. I have no problems cloning the HDD right before travel to get a fresh copy, and can save new documents during travel on a flash drive as 'updates.' I have 3 main questions, based on the following:

I have tried MiniTool Partition Wizard to clone my HD (without resizing partitions). It reports that the c: (system) partition can't be copied because it's active, but will copy it on reboot. It doesn't--comes up with a brief message that something changed, then goes to regular WIn7 bootup. I did clone all 3 partitions (C:system, SYSTEM_DRV, and Q:Lenovo Recovery partitions) using EaseUS ToDo backup (workstation), which I also use for incremental backups on a local (non-traveling) external HDD.

So, my 3 questions:

1 (non-critical): Am I doing something wrong with Partition Wizard, or is there a way to set it up to clone all 3 partitions of my internal HDD? PW seems faster than EaseUS Todo.

2: Can I make the external HDD bootable, rather than having to restore it to my internal HDD in case of a crash? I'd rather not have to make a recovery CD, carry around an external optical drive, go thru restoration (if internal HDD is still working), etc. I'd rather plug in the external cloned HDD and set the BIOS on startup to boot from it so I can access files and get back to work immediately. In Disk Management, my cloned system partition (assigned x: ) shows as active and primary partition. but not as a system or boot partition. I read something about running a WIn7 install 3 times to install boot files on the cloned partition, etc., but would rather not go thru this hassle. Is there a DIRECT cloning/copying technique to actually copy my internal HDD (all partitions) to an external HDD that can simply be attached and booted from?

[If there's no way to make the external HDD bootable, what would be the *simplest* flash-drive-based method to start up a crashed laptop and access or restore from the external HDD? I prefer to avid optical disks, which require carrying an external drive! Also, if a restore would be necessary, would it be better to merely image my internal HDD, or would also cloning it make sense for easier/faster access to specific files? There's plenty of room to do both on the external USB HDD.]

3: My external HDD is larger than my internal one. I'd like to create another partition in the unassigned leftover space on this drive (about 1 TB) and use it for other storage/backup of files. Is there a way to do this where this "storage" partition won't be erased when I re-clone updated versions of my internal HDD to this same physical drive? (This may require a particular backup/cloning utility, I realize.) The size of the cloned partitions won't change, of course, so it shouldn't have to affect the extra partition.

This backup strategy makes a lot of sense to me, as it would allow me to get up and running immediately on the road with my external drive that has a recent clone on it. But I haven't found a way to do this after much reading/searching on various sites--perhaps because it appears Win7 won't boot from a USB HDD?

If a restore process is necessary, what type of cloning/imaging would make most sense for fastest/easiest recovery? Preferably one that uses any combo of WIn7's backup, the Lenovo restore partition/recovery utility,and/or EaseUS ToDo backup?

Any suggestions on how to do this would be most welcome!!!


My System SpecsSystem Spec
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12 Sep 2013   #2
SIW2

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Vista x64 / 7 X64
 
 

Quote:
Am I doing something wrong with Partition Wizard, or is there a way to set it up to clone all 3 partitions of my internal HDD? PW seems faster than EaseUS Todo.
Use PW from outside windows e.g. bootable cd.

Quote:
Can I make the external HDD bootable, rather than having to restore it to my internal HDD in case of a crash?
Yes, but it is geeky, not supported by MS, and I can't be bothered to explain all that.

An alternative is to take the drive out of the external enclosure and plug it into the pc directly.

You are probably better making an image. It is a lot easier, and you can just make an up to date one every so often.

Quote:
what would be the *simplest* flash-drive-based method to start up a crashed laptop and access or restore from the external HDD?
The same way most people do it. Create flash based bootable media containing your imaging program. Boot it up, and point at wherever your image is stored, then point it at the place you want to restore the image to.

Most imaging programs come with some kind of Linux based iso you can put on flash drive, and /or they will create winpe based bootable media for you.

If you want an advanced program, Paragon is excellent.

If you are looking at free versions, macrium is popular, relative newcomer Aomei is shockingly good for a freebie.

Best Free Backup Software for Windows 8, 7, Vista, XP and Server 2003, 2008, 2012
My System SpecsSystem Spec
13 Sep 2013   #3
stevenp61

Win 7 Pro 64
 
 

Thx for the info. Just to follow up on my solution (stopped looking for how to make the external usb hard drive bootable!). EaseUS Todo Backup (which I am already using) has a utility to create a bootable flash drive. (Only available in paid versions, not the free one.) So, just doing this and creating an image of my laptop hard drive makes a pretty simple emergency restore solution when I'm on the road. And the rest of the external hdd is available for backing up other files.

As a reference point, creating a full encrypted image of my internal drive with about 160GB of data took about 1.5 hrs via usb 2.0.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
.


13 Sep 2013   #4
SIW2

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Vista x64 / 7 X64
 
 

That should work fine. Glad you got it sorted.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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 Laptop backup: clone to external bootable HDD? (with extra partition?)




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