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Windows 7: how to save windows 8.1 hard drive image before installing windows 7

15 Mar 2015   #1
ron7000

Windows 7 x64, ultimate/pro/home, SLES x86 & ia64
 
 
how to save windows 8.1 hard drive image

working on a dell laptop that came with windows 8. we did windows update and got it to 8.1 and it's been ok for past year. now it's very slow unresponsive. I don't have a spare hard drive to use so for the moment i'm stuck with using the oem 500gb drive that came with the laptop.
I would like to install windows 7 onto it, but i want to keep the recovery partitions and everything so that i have the option of going back to it.
i have the 500gb oem drive mounted on my other computer and see the following:
- 500mb efi system partition
- 40mb oem partition
- 490mb recovery partition
- OS 452GB primary partition
- 350mb recovery partition
- 11.6GB recovery partition


what's the best way, free way if possible, to save the entire contents of this 500gb oem drive?
thanks.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
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15 Mar 2015   #2
ignatzatsonic

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1, 64-bit
 
 

Most would tell you to try Macrium Reflect Free Edition. Or maybe Aomei Backupper.

You'd make an image file of those partitions. Either one image file for all of them or separate image files for each.

You'd save these image files on some other completely different hard drive and then later "restore" them if needed.

You'd need to make a "recovery disk" (aka "rescue disk") to boot from to do the restoration. Be sure to confirm it will in fact boot the PC.

Each image file will be a 100% representation of the entire contents of the partition(s) that were selected to be part of the image file---whether that be Windows files, configuration settings, licensing info, spaghetti sauce recipes, or pictures of your cat.

The image files are largely useless UNTIL they are restored.

It's "reliable", but not quite 100% reliable, so live with the possibility of failure.

There's a good Macrium tutorial on this site.

You could also use Macrium to make a "clone" of the drive, but that would tie up the cloned drive---you'd just put it in the closet in case. If you go the imaging route, you could continue to use the drive on which you stored the image files for any other purpose. And, anecdotally, imaging may be a bit less problematic.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
15 Mar 2015   #3
whs
Microsoft MVP

Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8
 
 

You can make a partition on the 500GB drive and place a Macrium image of all partitions there. An external disk would be preferable, but if you have none then this solution will have to do. If you tell me how much data you have on your C partition, then I can give you an estimate of how much space you will need for that partition.

Here is my Macrium tutorial that Ignatz referred to. But you have to make a new WinPE CD - the one I have uploaded does not support UEFI. When you download free Macrium, it will be accompanied by a partial WAIK file which you need for the creation for the WinPE CD.

Imaging with free Macrium
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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15 Mar 2015   #4
whs
Microsoft MVP

Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8
 
 

Btw - I assume that you know that installing a Windows 7 on a UEFI/GPT system is not as straight forward as on a BIOS/MBR system. You may want to consult this tutorial first.

Downgrade Windows 8 to Windows 7
My System SpecsSystem Spec
15 Mar 2015   #5
ron7000

Windows 7 x64, ultimate/pro/home, SLES x86 & ia64
 
 

using my pc, a home built win7-64bit with 10 sata ports I plug-n-play hard drives to move data around.
instead of creating a restore disk my hope is to slave the laptop hard drive off my pc,
save contents of laptop drive to image file and save on my pc,
reformat laptop drive & install win7,
in future if i choose i'd like to slave laptop (or other) drive to my pc and manually recreate partitions,
then copy the saved win8 image files back to each partition on the drive.
is this doable or is there a catch i don't know about?
I realize with BIOS that the bootloader needs to be fixed when closing, but with EFI/UEFI is it as simple as copying the data back to the EFI FAT partition?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
15 Mar 2015   #6
whs
Microsoft MVP

Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8
 
 

An image you can only restore with a restore disc. Your scheme is Mickey Mouse.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
15 Mar 2015   #7
ron7000

Windows 7 x64, ultimate/pro/home, SLES x86 & ia64
 
 

i've used Apricorn ez-gig in the past to do windows xp and 7 images many many times that way with 100% success, and that was under BIOS having a MBR, not EFI & GPT.
I use the same general procedure in linux where EFI is used, the boot partition is formatted as FAT32 having the linux kernel file. The second partition is the rest of the drive formatted as EXT3, EXT4, or XFS. For those 2 partitions it's a simple matter of slaving the drive on another system, doing a tar of the contents of each partition to a file called boot.tar (around 12mb it's just the kernel file) and root.tar (runs around 5GB in size). For any new drive i create the partitions however i with with the requirement that first partition is FAT32, and 2nd partition is same file system type (EXT# or XFS) as my saved root.tar file. Then just untar boot.tar and root.tar to the corresponding partition.

I'm hoping windows works the same way these days, on my pc i have an Asrock mobo set to UEFI however my hard drive is a dos partition table using MBR not GPT, but the first partition is 100MB NTFS (the boot partition ? ) followed by C: partition the remainder of the disk.
I will mickey mouse on a spare hard drive before i nuke that oem win8 laptop drive
My System SpecsSystem Spec
15 Mar 2015   #8
ignatzatsonic

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1, 64-bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by ron7000 View Post
then copy the saved win8 image files back to each partition on the drive.
Image files aren't copied back. They are formally restored after booting from the recovery disk.

You can drill into an image file in an Explorer interface and copy individual files to some other location, but you need to formally restore the partition if you want to return a drive to its former state.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
15 Mar 2015   #9
whs
Microsoft MVP

Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8
 
 

So you have another hard drive. That makes thing a lot simpler.

The 100MB partition of Windows 7 is called system partition and contains the bootmgr. In EFI/GPT that is the EFI partition and it is in Fat32.

Go ahead and try your Mickey Mouse. What can you lose. Just make sure the recovery works.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
15 Mar 2015   #10
ignatzatsonic

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1, 64-bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by whs View Post
the one I have uploaded does not support UEFI.
Wolfgang: do you have intentions of updating your download to a UEFI-supported version?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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 how to save windows 8.1 hard drive image before installing windows 7




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