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Windows 7: Windows 7 MBR Recovery and Re-deployment


02 Jun 2012   #1

Windows 7 Ultimate x86
 
 
Windows 7 MBR Recovery and Re-deployment

tl;dr:
"I would like to know if there is a way to back up the Windows 7 bootmgr in it's entirety (both what resides on the MBR and the needed files within my Windows 7 partition) and re-deploy them."

I would like to multi-boot Windows 7, Slackware (a Linux distro), a WIM installer for Windows (accessible via EasyBCD), and a floppy image installer for Slackware (also accessible via EasyBCD.)

I currently have this working, and a basic outline of my partition layout follows:
Disk 1
-MBR: Windows 7 bootmgr
-Partition 1: Windows 7
-Partition 2: Windows Installer WIM and Sources

Disk 2
-Partition 1: LILO and Slackware
-Partition 2: Swap Partition
-Partition 3: Personal Data Files
-Partition 4: Slackware Installer

Windows does some things while partitioning that I don't like (including seeing 500 MB less on my disc than is there, leaving unused space in the table which was odd to see.) I plan to use a utility on my Slackware installation to rectify that, but once I delete my Windows 7 partition I will have no way to reinstall Windows (as I will lose the MBR data pointing to the WIM installer.) I've been using Windows for about six months, but haven't used Slackware in almost a year and am not ready to dive back into it without a backup OS.

Suffice it to say I don't have media to make installation discs or usb sticks. (Since I know it seems like I'm trying to crack a wallnut with a sledgehammer. Or rather, use a sledgehammer to crack a walnut as use a sledgehammer to knock down a tree to fall on a house to collapse and cause a minor earth tremor to cause a rock balanced on a candle to fall off and land on a walnut...cracking it.)


My System SpecsSystem Spec
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02 Jun 2012   #2
Microsoft MVP

 

The simplest way to handle multi-booting with separate HD's is to install/repair with the other HD unplugged, then boot only via the BIOS boot order or one-time BIOS Boot Menu key.

If you do this then you don't need to worry about reimaging Windows 7 HD as it will contain its own boot files and not be interlocked or reliant upon the other HD, or vice versa. Just be sure to unplug the other HD during reinstall, repair or reimaging.

As to how to boot the other HD's multi-boots you can use GRUB for Linux which works better when it is restricted to Linux distros and not imposed on Windows 7.

Does this sound like a way to simplify what you want to do?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Jun 2012   #3

Windows 7 Ultimate x86
 
 

Unfortunately, it's not that simple. Until an open source bootloader is made that can boot to a WIM, I'm forced to use the Windows 7 Bootloader.

My concern isn't installing or booting other OSs; I can do that without removing the Windows bootloader (I chainload LILO from bootmgr to boot to Slackware now) without bothering to unplug my primary HDD.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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03 Jun 2012   #5

Windows 7 Ultimate x86
 
 

A simple MBR backup will not be sufficient as the configuration data is not stored in the MBR, but on the Windows partition that wrote the MBR in the \Boot directory.

The simplest approach in theory to a backup would be backing up the \Boot directory and writing it to a new NTFS partition, but I don't know if it works that way.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Jun 2012   #6
mjf

Windows 7x64 Home Premium SP1
 
 

At the risk of you saying you know all this, have a look at
reflect updates
Imaging system reserved will backup up bootsector, bootmgr and BCD.
To backup and restore the MBR I use this
MBR Backup - Back up your Master Boot Record (Freeware)
My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Jun 2012   #7
Microsoft MVP

 

Wouldn't a Windows 7 backup image be sufficient to back everything up?

Backup Complete Computer - Create an Image Backup

You could use another app like free Macrium, Paragon or premium Acronis which comes free with any WD or Seagate in the mix - so you'd have a backup backup.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Jun 2012   #8
mjf

Windows 7x64 Home Premium SP1
 
 

Generally.
I find the most useful part of having a specific MBR backup is the partition table.
Lets say you have a
System Reserved; C: (Boot,..); D: (data partition)
then you make some changes to the partition structure but leaving at least the start of D: untouched. Then decide you want to reimage back to the way it was Windows imaging will want to format the whole drive and wipe D:. Replacing the MBR replaces the old Partition table corresponding to the Image and Windows imaging will leave D: alone.
Admittedly, I've only had need to to this a couple of times.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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 Windows 7 MBR Recovery and Re-deployment




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