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Windows 7: Safest Way to Clone Windows 7 Volume for Dual Booting

19 Oct 2010   #11
Night Hawk

W7 Ultimate x64/W10 Pro x64 dual boot main build-remote pc W10 Pro x64 Insider Preview/W7 Pro x64

The method I used here to get a dual boot working was a trip to start with! This is why you would need to see a lengthy description.

If you go end going with the full version it will be universal for all makes. That's one advantage besides being the full featured version. One thing else Acronis can do is mount the image of C for example where you will see a second C drive in an explorer window. The icon will be different.

What that does is allow you to add or even remove files from an existing image in an incremental fashion. In other words you don't have to spend the time replacing an image just made due to new files being added which saves time.

Once you have cloned or imaged the new host you will have fun trying this out no matter how you do it for seeing the next drive imaged and added in as a dual boot. There's no doubt on that one!

My System SpecsSystem Spec
19 Oct 2010   #12


There is no reason to buy Acronis since both Seagate and WD offer excellent free versions which willl allow you to either clone directly or transfer via image from one HD to the other.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
19 Oct 2010   #13
Night Hawk

W7 Ultimate x64/W10 Pro x64 dual boot main build-remote pc W10 Pro x64 Insider Preview/W7 Pro x64

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by gregrocker View Post
There is no reason to buy Acronis since both Seagate and WD offer excellent free versions which willl allow you to either clone directly or transfer via image from one HD to the other.
It all depends on whether or not you are even running WD or Seagate drives or some other make like Hitachi. The free versions are intended for one brand or the other.

As for what was actually found to work the best overall the system image option already included in 7 and that's free! The use of Acronis to start with is for restoring an image made of the first and being to add that into the host install's BCD store without trashing the host.

In other words once the new host drive OSed by a direct clone or restored image made by the system image in 7 the drive is maintained with the built-in feature. A second image is made by Acronis to be restored to the to be second test drive.

The full version of Acronis was also found more reliable over the free version for this type of project. But whether or not someone buys the full version of any software that's still personal preference there.

The real task is making sure you make a new image of the host drive in the event the addition of the imaged test drive into the host boot loader ends up see the need to restore the host drive when that becomes unbootable. This is why two different methods have to be used.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

19 Oct 2010   #14

Windows 7x64 Home Premium SP1

If you want to copy your windows 7 OS & application environment to a new drive (for use on the same computer).
(1) MS image all desired partitions (if you have a system reserved it's automatically included) to an external HDD
(2) Put in the new drive (at least as big as the sum of the size of all partitions imaged) ALONE. Straight out of the bag if a new drive.
(3) Reimage - should boot straight away.
It's worked for me and others and couldn't be any simpler and quick.

I had the free (WD &) Seagate versions of Acronis to clone if needed. I didn't need it but cannot guarantee others the same success.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
19 Oct 2010   #15
Night Hawk

W7 Ultimate x64/W10 Pro x64 dual boot main build-remote pc W10 Pro x64 Insider Preview/W7 Pro x64

The problem being mentioned isn't simply restoring any image to one drive by itself but when trying to set up a dual boot with two separate drives where the second is seeing an image of the first restored there and then added in as a boot option to the first.

It was Trailerman who was interested in trying this type of project out on his own system there. Since that is involved however and goes into lengthy detail it would need a separate guide in order to cover the drawbacks from not following precise details as you go along in order to see working results.

As far as cloning the 7 installation over to a new drive or restoring an image created from it that's the basics regardless of method used. The direct clone option will work as well as restoring an image made with the system image option found in 7's "Control Panel>Backup & Restore". The host drive here was cloned to the second initially with the free WD version.

For adding the clone into the host boot loader afterwards? Disaster forcing the host drive to be restored when that was made unbootable with the second drive made the only OS. The same was seen when restoring an image made with the option in 7 to a second drive and then added in. Despite the host install being set as default the second drive became the default as well neutralizing the first drive's 7 there forcing another restoration.

Solution as previously mentioned: First the free WD version but by that time the full version was already installed and simply found more reliable from being the full version saw a new image of the host created and restored to the second drive. When the new entry was added in for that "Success Story"! Both drives were independently bootable while configured in a dual boot at the same time.

Previously this idea had been tested out with the RCs a year ago but not to the extent for seeing the second solely used as a test drive for other then 7 at the time. Note a few of those early beta and RC setups in the few images still found.

Attached Thumbnails
Safest Way to Clone Windows 7 Volume for Dual Booting-former-w7-beta-multiboot-xp_vista.jpg   Safest Way to Clone Windows 7 Volume for Dual Booting-former-retail-7-multiboot-rc.jpg  
Attached Images
Safest Way to Clone Windows 7 Volume for Dual Booting-former-w7-rc-multiboot-vista.jpg 
My System SpecsSystem Spec
19 Oct 2010   #16


Be sure to set the cloning or imaging app to copy over the MBR with the image.

Once you clone or image any HD over to another if it doesn't start up when booted as first HD to boot in BIOS, or using one-time BIOS BOot Menu key, then unplug all other HD's, boot the Win7 DVD Repair console, click through to Recovery Tools list to run Startup Repair up to 3 separate times with reboots until Win7 starts up.
Startup Repair - Run 3 Separate Times

It may be necessary to mark Win7 active if it has somehow not been marked as such during cloning. Partition - Mark as Active
My System SpecsSystem Spec
19 Oct 2010   #17
Night Hawk

W7 Ultimate x64/W10 Pro x64 dual boot main build-remote pc W10 Pro x64 Insider Preview/W7 Pro x64

Generally you will see check boxes for the mbr, 100mb system reserved, and main partition(s) on the drive you plan to clone or make an image of. If all goes well from the start you should set to go! But there's also the likelihood of a mishap you have to consider since are never any 100% guarantees.

One example of a mishap was just seen when going to restore an image of the Vista install for a dual boot back in June. The first attempt saw the second drive simply turned into unallocated drive space. The second effort saw Vista once again running but the IE 9 Beta install for the 32bit version failed repeatedly indicating a problem despite the 35+updates since June being downloaded and installed.

A 3rd effort was just seen to see if it will go on this time around before a fast quick install of the 32bit 7 in order to run the 32bit since the 64bit went on and ran without issues of any type on the restored image of the host just seen there.

Too often the best results are seen with a clean install and restoration of a backup with the Windows Easy Transfer tool once you have all your programs back on but installed fresh when going to add a new drive in to server as the host/boot/main OS drive. And it's not always the fault of the program used but knowing that you have to be prepared just in case.

Attached Thumbnails
Safest Way to Clone Windows 7 Volume for Dual Booting-backup-restoration-simulataneous.jpg  
My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Oct 2010   #18


Again - thanks for all the feedback and help.

Just one thing I'm not fully clear on which is mentioned a couple of times in the posts above - copying the MBR when creating an image and then restoring to the new drive. I was under the impression that copying the MBR from one drive to another drive is likely to cause problems, because you then have two different drives with identical MBR's and the system doesn't know which to boot into.

In fact this was the very issue that I think I had when I first posted to this forum, after my initial attempt to clone my Windows 7 volume:

This is basically the issue I am trying to avoid. Creating and restoring the image itself is very straight forward, it's doing it in such a way that I have a properly thought out and stable boot environment which enables safe multi-booting that I am still a little concerned about.

Again, thank you so much for all your help.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Oct 2010   #19


If you're cloning onto separate HD's to (wisely) Dual Boot via the BIOS, then you want MBR cloned intact to each HD.

If you're cloning onto separate partitions on the same HD, only clone the MBR to first partition. Then when it starts up, Add the second partition OS using EasyBCD 2.0.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Oct 2010   #20


Thanks Greg - all clear.

I guess that means you're advising against using Win7's multi-boot capabilities in that case. If I understand, you would launch Boot Setup (bios) on startup, and enable only the drive you want to use as a bootable device.

If that's the case then presumably all I need to do is create backup image of Drive 1 OS volume (with MBR) on Drive 2, restore to Drive 3 OS partition, reboot and change boot options in bios.

Doesn't seem like there's any need to unplug/replug drives in this scenario or am I missing something?

Many thanks

My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Safest Way to Clone Windows 7 Volume for Dual Booting

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