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


15 Oct 2010   #1

 
 
Safest Way to Clone Windows 7 Volume for Dual Booting

Hi

Can anyone advise on the absolute safest, most foolproof way of cloning/copying an existing Windows 7 volume onto either the same drive, or a separate drive, with a view to creating a robust dual boot envorinment?

I've tried this before and had boot issues afterwards, so I'd be grateful for any advice on:

1. Is it better to clone onto a seperate drive, or a new partition on the same drive or does it not matter?

2. What is the best software to do this with - Paragon, Ghost, Acronis are the ones I'm aware of, which clone volumes and in some cases offer boot manager functionality?

3. Can anyone tell me step by step how they would do this, what advanced settings are important, and critically, how I can avoid creating an environment where I have too identical volumes and MBR's which causes all manner of boot problems?

4. Do the experts consider it safer to use Windows 7's own multi-boot abilities to manage booting, or is a 3rd partry boot manager preferred?

Many many thanks in advance. I've no doubt this information would be helpful for others also, as it's hard to find a definitive guide on this, at least from what I can make out.

Jules

My System SpecsSystem Spec
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15 Oct 2010   #2
Microsoft MVP

W 7 64-bit Ultimate
 
 

Hello again.



To start, it is always preferable whenever possible to use the BIOS to "manage" a dual boot, have a look at the info below for some ideas how to go about that.

The way I would suggest is to purchase a good program like Paragon 11 Home and just start learning how to use it, that's how I started with it.

Partition Manager 11 Personal
information   Information

The easiest way to do away with boot issues between separate Operating Systems (OS) is to use the BIOS one time boot menu to select which OS to boot at system startup, each motherboard has an individual hot-key to tap during system start-up to access this menu.

If you have 2 separate Hard Disk Drives (HDD) and have one OS installed to one HDD and you want to install another OS to the second HDD, disconnect the HDD with the first OS installed on it and leave only the HDD you want to install the second OS to connected.

Just be sure not to change where the original HDD SATA cable was connected, it has to be re-connected to the exact same port to avoid boot issues.

Install the second OS to the connected HDD and when complete and the system is booting good, power down and reconnect the first HDD with the first OS on it.

This way the OSs will boot independently of each other and there will be no boot conflicts between the 2 separate OSs to have to sort later.

Then set the BIOS to boot the HDD / OS you want as default and if you want to start the other (new) OS you use the BIOS one-time boot menu to select that HDD / OS to start when the PC is started.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
15 Oct 2010   #3

Windows 7 Ultimate x64, XP Mode, W8.1 Preview VM - 7 Pro x64 second remote tower
 
 

What was found here for setting up a working dual boot with an image of the host/boot drive restored to the second was problematic when using the built in option for creating full images. The solution was to create an image with the help of Acronis and restoring that to the second identical drive.

Both WD and Seagate provide their own free version of the Acronis Disk Director suite where you have the option for direct cloning or restoring an image onto a second drive. The cloning takes twice as long and will see problems if you add a new entry into the host drive's BCD store for a boot option.

The direct restoration however allows the use of the EacyBCD program for adding the entry in for the second drive. This eliminates the need to press the assigned F key used for bringing up the boot device menu and setting the default OS as well.


Attached Thumbnails
Safest Way to Clone Windows 7 Volume for Dual Booting-dual-boot-restored-drive-image.jpg  
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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15 Oct 2010   #4

 
 

Many thanks for your help Bare Foot and Nighthawk.

I'll look into both those suggestions. I realize that the safest approach is to install Windows again from scratch, but if there was a safe way to use a clone of my existing OS, it would save me a good 4 days of additional installation work.

I'm getting the impression that alot of people on this forum are using Paragon, so I guess that's my best option for this kind of thing.

Thanks again for the help.

Jules
My System SpecsSystem Spec
15 Oct 2010   #5
Microsoft MVP

W 7 64-bit Ultimate
 
 

You're welcome, glad we could help.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
16 Oct 2010   #6

Windows 7 Ultimate x64, XP Mode, W8.1 Preview VM - 7 Pro x64 second remote tower
 
 

If you have a to be 3rd drive present you could create an image while booted in a working copy of 7 and see that stored on the to be 3rd drive. From that point with the original source drive unplugged you would simply boot live from the 7 dvd to see the "latest image recommended" option that would take you right to the same image just made and watch that restored to the second to new host/boot drive.

The full system option without need for any 3rd party software has been proven to be reliable after numerous images have been restored since the beginning of the year in fact on the old case before that went and sees monthly images on the replacement updated build.

The 100mb boot partition and everything you select to be included will be present once the image is restored the way it was when first made. Note that restoring an image first sees that the destination is wiped completely to prep the drive for the image to be unpacked on it. Backup any new files added between image creation and restoration. Backup Complete Computer - Create an Image Backup
My System SpecsSystem Spec
18 Oct 2010   #7

 
 

Hi Night Hawk

Many thanks for your response.

Just so I'm sure I've understood the methodology correctly:

1. Step 1, create backup image of OS volume (Drive 1) onto Drive 2.
2. Step 2, unplug Drive 1.
3. Step 3, boot using Windows 7 DVD and select to restore an image file.
4. Step 4, restore image from Drive 2 to Drive 3.

Do I then need to change the boot order in my Bios when I reconnect Drive 1? How will the system know which Windows 7 volume to boot from, and how do I then go about setting up a multi-boot environment so I can boot into Drive 3 for testing and Drive 1 for working?

Thanks again for your help, and sorry if I'm being a little dumb here.

Jules
My System SpecsSystem Spec
18 Oct 2010   #8
Microsoft MVP

 

If you're using WD or Seagate on either of the drives involved, they have excellent free Acronis cloning apps you can download from their Support web page for your model. Then you can just clone one HD over to the other.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
18 Oct 2010   #9

Windows 7 Ultimate x64, XP Mode, W8.1 Preview VM - 7 Pro x64 second remote tower
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Trailerman View Post
Hi Night Hawk

Many thanks for your response.

Just so I'm sure I've understood the methodology correctly:

1. Step 1, create backup image of OS volume (Drive 1) onto Drive 2.
2. Step 2, unplug Drive 1.
3. Step 3, boot using Windows 7 DVD and select to restore an image file.
4. Step 4, restore image from Drive 2 to Drive 3.

Do I then need to change the boot order in my Bios when I reconnect Drive 1? How will the system know which Windows 7 volume to boot from, and how do I then go about setting up a multi-boot environment so I can boot into Drive 3 for testing and Drive 1 for working?

Thanks again for your help, and sorry if I'm being a little dumb here.

Jules
Greg is quite correct about both WD and Seagate having their own free versions of the Acronis Disk Director suite. I used the WD version on the WD drives here at times but went for the full version I grabbed up at a local office supply store.

1) The first step is deciding which method you will use. 1) direct clone or 2) restore image made from original source drive(Drive #1)

2) The setup for seeing a dual boot of two drives gets involved to see the best actual working results. The host/boot was first backed up with the image option found in the CP>Backup & Restore for that drive. The second drive saw an image of the first drive made with Acronis.

Note the 3rd drive is the last since that will first need to hold the image to be restored on the new host/boot drive. Once the image is created you will need to shuffle drives around then seeing the source drive become the new storage drive for the Acronis image actually best made from the new host once the first image restored is found to be good and in working order.

3) Restore 7 made image to new host now plugged into sata port #1 and made default. Run everything from this drive to insure all is well. Download and install the EasyBCD 2.0.2 release and install but wait for adding new entry in for the to be test drive.

3) Once the new host drive is found good and old drive plugged in as 3rd drive Secondary sata master(note all three have to be same type for this to work) the next step is creating the second image with the Acronis suite(free or retail) and store image on old host drive.

(note restoring an image to a drive will mean anything present on the drive will be wiped completely. Be sure to back things up from the new host drive and later to be second drive before proceeding.)

4) The second drive to be the test drive cannot see the 7 made image restored there and added into the new host drive's boot loader since a new boot entry will result in trashing the host! The drive number and id the 7 backup tool uses creates a unigue id for that drive alone unlike Acronis which works independently.

The image made with Acronis will be suitable for the second drive when imaging the new host drive and seeing that image restored on the new Drive #2. If you decide to restore a 7 made image to the second drive you would also need to unplug the new host or first drive while doing so since that will effectively clone the first as if you saw a direct clone and made into a stand alone drive.

5) With the acronis image restored to the planned second test drive you can then create a new boot entry once the drive letter is assigned for it on the host drive's Disk Management tool there.

You have to that taken care and entry that drive letter to associate the new entry to that. If F in the DM you would choose F in the add new entry option from the dropdown list of available drive letters.

Once you have both drives running your regular image backup of the new host should be performed with the built-in system image option and stored on a separate drive. The test drive backup would be a second Acronis image of the host requiring the old drive or other 3rd drive designated to store two images.

That's a bit to take in at first since I'm working with 4 internal and one external drive here. When going to create any new image of the host drive later you will first need to remove the entry for the second test drive when planning to restore that to the second drive to avoid seeing the useless entry when going to load the test drive.

You will still want to keep the host drive as the default OS or without any entry for the second test opt for the boot device menu each time you plan to boot into the test drive without any option for that when starting the system. The idea of using the 7 option for creating images of the host and restoring them is the option to start the restoration while booted in Windows and watch as it restarts and runs the restoration tool loaded into memory without any need to boot from the 7 dvd or repair cd.

3rd party programs like Acronis will require the use of a live recovery cd for restoring an image to the host drive while secondary drives can be restored while still booted in the host drive''s own copy of 7 there. You can be doing other things while Acronis restores the latest image to the second drive without any system restart making that the ideal option.

Later when having the entry for the test drive added in the host BCD you simply select that from the boot options or pressing the designated F key for the boot device options menu you boot into the test drive then seeing an updated image restored.

In fact while posting this reply the image just made of the host with Acronis here is being restored to the second. The captures attached here will show how that looks.


Attached Thumbnails
Safest Way to Clone Windows 7 Volume for Dual Booting-host-image-restore-test-drive-1.jpg   Safest Way to Clone Windows 7 Volume for Dual Booting-host-image-restore-test-drive-2-locking-destination-drive.jpg   Safest Way to Clone Windows 7 Volume for Dual Booting-host-image-restore-test-drive-3-warning.jpg   Safest Way to Clone Windows 7 Volume for Dual Booting-host-image-restore-test-drive-4-confirm-drive-info.jpg   Safest Way to Clone Windows 7 Volume for Dual Booting-host-image-restore-test-drive-5-restoration-progress.jpg  

Safest Way to Clone Windows 7 Volume for Dual Booting-host-image-restore-test-drive-6-restoration-complete-.jpg  
My System SpecsSystem Spec
19 Oct 2010   #10

 
 

Night Hawk - thanks so much for taking the time to go into so much detail.

Let me digest everything you've written and then figure out the best way of doing this at my end. I'm happy to buy Acronis and use that, and would prefer to work on a partition level, rather than a drive level where possible, as I don't have multiple identical drives in the system. I just need to try and figure out how that would work.

Greg - I'm sure you're right that Acronis is probably the way to go. I have Seagaate and WD drives, but I'm also happy to buy the full version if it simplifies processes like this.

Many thanks again.

Jules
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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 Safest Way to Clone Windows 7 Volume for Dual Booting




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