Windows 7 Forums
Welcome to Windows 7 Forums. Our forum is dedicated to helping you find support and solutions for any problems regarding your Windows 7 PC be it Dell, HP, Acer, Asus or a custom build. We also provide an extensive Windows 7 tutorial section that covers a wide range of tips and tricks.


Windows 7: When your clone won't boot...and all else fails

06 Jun 2017   #1
MRCS

Windows 7 Home Premium 32bit
 
 
When your clone won't boot...and all else fails

First off let me say that, while simple, this is very dangerous even for those at the expert level. I used XXClone for years but a functioning version is no longer available. I tried EaseUS that I've also used for years for other partition tasks, and tried AOMEI for the first time. I presumed I would have the same problem with the other cloning software such as Paragon, Acronis, Macrium, and Clonezilla.

The symptom was that Windows would get past the splash screen then get stuck on the welcome screen. I tried working with the BCD file and the disk signatures, but to no avail. After many hours (too many) of troubleshooting, I figured out that why XXClone works so well is that it rewrites the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\MountedDevices key. I believe this is what it is busy doing during the WinPE phase on the first boot to the clone.

I have no idea what other range of problems with booting this may help or what other software may have this as the main problem. There are many reasons for boot failure so, like I said, try this after all else fails. However, come to think of it, checking the above key could be good for troubleshooting. I am in the process of writing a batch file to automate this, like XXClone does, but I will not post it. If this is not your problem it probably would royally screw things up.

*** DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS, if you are not already very familiar with registry manipulation. You will be working with the cloned registry through the registry of the Windows installation you were cloning. You can find more detailed information elsewhere for that procedure; I am only providing a general outline.

1. Open regedit,
2. Go to the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE key,
3. From the File menu choose Load Hive,
4. Navigate to the SYSTEM hive on your cloned drive,
5. For Key Name, enter MountedDevices,
This is where it gets confusing, and particularly dangerous. You will end up having 3 instances of MountedDevices.
6. Inspect the values for your main drive and the clone. If they are ARE reversed from the values in the registry on your main drive, this is NOT your problem, so back out of all you've done (Unload Hive, etc.),
7. Reverse the value names for your main drive and cloned drive,
8. Update your BCD file.

This works whether you boot from the Reserved Partition on your main drive or you've cloned your Reserved Partition and boot from your internal backup drive.

If anybody tries this on GPT/UEFI, I would like to know how it works out, or if it's even a problem on that configuration.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
.
06 Jun 2017   #2
mitchell65

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit 7601 Multiprocessor Free Service Pack 1
 
 

Perhaps it would help if you said what it was that you are trying to achieve. If it is simply to make a backup of your system then the most recommended way, by members of this Forum, is to use Macrium Reflect to create a system image not a clone!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Jun 2017   #3
MRCS

Windows 7 Home Premium 32bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by mitchell65 View Post
Perhaps it would help if you said what it was that you are trying to achieve. If it is simply to make a backup of your system then the most recommended way, by members of this Forum, is to use Macrium Reflect to create a system image not a clone!
I agree, but I didn't want to make the post too long.

From the questioning I've seen of people wanting to have a bootable copy of their main Windows installation, as you have rightfully questioned me, not many of us use an exact, current copy for testing software and other types of experimentation anymore, besides having a very quick way to get back up & running were a disaster to occur. I can try risky procedures and make a general mess of things that I wouldn't do on my main installation, knowing that when I'm done I can immediately copy over a fresh one. And, yes, I do know that there are other ways to go about this. Moreover, it's not that I don't have backup images and off-premises backups, it's just that I find this to be the simplest, easiest, and fastest way. At least that's when XXClone was still available. Most of the other people who were asking for this online were also questioned as to why they would even want to and, after some convincing, were given some much more complicated procedure which, btw, didn't work for me. I felt I had to leave something off my post so I chose that part because I believed that the people who needed it would recognize it themselves. Regardless, I'm glad you asked.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
.

06 Jun 2017   #4
mitchell65

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit 7601 Multiprocessor Free Service Pack 1
 
 

Is XXClone not available from here:http://www.xxclone.com/idwnload.htm
My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Jun 2017   #5
MRCS

Windows 7 Home Premium 32bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by mitchell65 View Post
Is XXClone not available from here:http://www.xxclone.com/idwnload.htm
The owner died and the family has disabled them, including the paid ones. For how long, no one knows. And, somehow, existing copies no longer run either.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Jun 2017   #6
SIW2

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Vista x64 / 7 X64
 
 

It downloads fine for me, but it won't run.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Jun 2017   #7
dg1261

Windows 7/8.1/10/XP multiboot
 
 

"The symptom was that Windows would get past the splash screen then get stuck on the welcome screen."

That's a phenomenon I documented on my webpage over a decade ago. That was for Win 2000 and XP, but Microsoft has used the same methodology for Vista/7/8 and even 10, at least on MBR systems. I have not explored UEFI/GPT systems.

The issue is the wrong partition signature gets embedded in the registry for the C: partition. When Windows boots it addresses itself various ways, sometimes by partition signature, GUID, or drive letter. Right about the time it gets to the Welcome screen, it's looking for "C:" and not finding it because the [MountedDevices] key has the wrong signature for the C: partition. The boot process stalls while Windows waits in vain for "C:" to appear.

This used to happen quite frequently with Windows-based cloning utilities because the clone would be embedded with keys telling it the *source* partition was C: and the clone itself was some other drive letter. Modern utilities are usually more alert to the problem and will manipulate the clone's [MountedDevices] keys as part of the cloning process.

MRCS's diagnosis and proposed solution is good, though I would change step 5 to use "ClonedDrive" or something else readily identifiable for the name of the remote hive's branch. That would leave only two things named [MountedDevices], and it should be easier to identify one from the other because one will be under the "ClonedDrive" branch.

I'll offer that perhaps a slightly easier technique might be, in place of steps 6-7, to simply delete the entries under the clone's [MountedDevices] key. That erases the clone's memory of drive letter assignments, so the next time the clone boots it will assign itself C: by default and rebuild new registry keys. Of course, this would only work if the cloned boot partition is supposed to be C:. If it's supposed to be some other drive letter (aside: an idiot move, IMHO), then you'll have to manually edit the key, as MRCS suggests.

Lastly, it's worth repeating MRCS's warning: DO NOT TINKER WITH THIS IF YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU'RE DOING. You could bork your host system as well as your clone.


Dan
My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Jun 2017   #8
MRCS

Windows 7 Home Premium 32bit
 
 

dg1261 -

Thank you for your informative and historical perspective. I've always used XXClone (circa 2000) so I wasn't aware this had been a long time issue.

"use "ClonedDrive" or something else"
Improvement welcomed and appreciated.

"Modern utilities are usually more alert to the problem..."
If there are, I would certainly like to know which ones. To EaseUS's credit, they do give you the option of maintaining the disk signature or leaving it as the default behavior. I'm still at a loss as to why this didn't work for me. Now that I think about it, having a backup copy of my Reserved Partition may have confused the daylights out of their software. Although, XXClone never seemed to have a problem with it.

"I'll offer that perhaps a slightly easier technique..."
I don't mean to get off on some discussion about general principles in engineering, but I have a different take on your definitely viable alternative technique. While I can't say we were exactly taught this back in the seventies, you certainly picked up on the notion that you should always choose the approach that will have the least possible impact - especially with all the interconnected devices these days and, possibly, software that may be dependent on the signatures. Personally, I wouldn't mess with the signatures themselves and just stick with switching the names of the values.

For my purposes, it's not just to have a bootable testbed, but to also have a quick & easy copy to restore. Having new signatures for the clone and then once more when restored adds complications. After all, things don't always go as planned.

You seem to have more familiarity with this than I do, but I wouldn't phrase it that the signature was wrong (or not reassigned as it should be). The cloning software did precisely what it was supposed to: first make an exact copy. Sometimes people do want no more than an exact copy. It's only afterward if you want a bootable copy the software would take additional steps. I don't know if other backup software has this option, but XXClone had a Make Bootable option. I never seemed to need this for some reason. Vaguely I do recall having instances when I would get a 'can't find HAL' error message and then I'd have to go in and make changes to the boot.ini
My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Jun 2017   #9
dg1261

Windows 7/8.1/10/XP multiboot
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by MRCS View Post
"I'll offer that perhaps a slightly easier technique..."
I don't mean to get off on some discussion about general principles in engineering, but I have a different take ...
I have no quarrel with that. 90% of coming up with a solution is understanding the problem. Since you do understand what's going on, nobody can argue with whatever remedy you choose to take. That's perfectly sensible.



Quote:
For my purposes, it's not just to have a bootable testbed, but to also have a quick & easy copy to restore. Having new signatures for the clone and then once more when restored adds complications.
I make images with the [MountedDevices] entries removed first. That way, when I restore that image Windows (on first boot) will rebuild the registry entries appropriate to the disk and partition onto which the image has been restored. I also "generalize" the BCDs so the image is completely self-sufficient, requiring no reliance on a Recovery or Reserved partition.

I have two testbed (aka, "sandbox") partitions on my multi-boot system, and this technique let's me restore images of any of my Windows OSes to either of the sandboxes whenever I want, and they boot straight away without any tweaking or repairs.



Quote:
I wouldn't phrase it that the signature was wrong (or not reassigned as it should be). The cloning software did precisely what it was supposed to: first make an exact copy.
Well, it's "wrong" in the sense that it's not what it should be if you want the dang thing to boot. But I agree with your point that it's exactly what one should expect from a perfect clone.

I've always been uncomfortable with the lazy way people throw around the term "clone". A true clone is a byte-for-byte copy, with no bytes changed and every file even fragmented precisely as it was on the source. But few utilities today do that. In the early days that's what cloning utilities like PowerQuest's Drive Image (R.I.P.) did, but then the user had to understand what modifications to make manually to get it to boot.

Since true clones aren't always bootable, the more "intelligent" utilities take the liberty of making modifications so the ersatz clone will boot, figuring that's what the user ultimately wants anyway.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Jun 2017   #10
MRCS

Windows 7 Home Premium 32bit
 
 

dg1261 -

Thanks for all the additional ideas...always open to learning new stuff. The only problem is, there is so much new stuff always coming along that you have to pick & choose. Right now I'm working on getting some old software to run on a new machine I built not too long ago with Win7 x64, GPT and UEFI, so I'm learning something about using DOSBox for Windows programs. (Good article here: How to Play 16 Bit Windows Games/Applications on a 64 Bit Computer ). Fortunately I have an old drive with a working copy of Win3.1 and the old software already installed so it looks like it's going to be a snap [famous last words].

Many of your solutions are very clever and I'm particularly intrigued by the generalized BCD. I hadn't had much interest in sandboxing or virtual machines until, that is, I wanted to get my Win7 x86 to boot from one of my new PCIe SSDs. I did get it to work, but the screen looks like crap. Haven't even got back to that project, yet.

Again, thanks for all the great info.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
Reply

 When your clone won't boot...and all else fails




Thread Tools




Similar help and support threads
Thread Forum
How do I get my new clone drive to act as boot?
Hi, Stuck for hours and hoping somebody can help. I'll try and make this as short and succinct as possible. Ty in advance if anyone can help direct me. I have three drives: 0. New 1tb SSD to replace my smaller drive 2. 1. 1tb HDD for data. 2. 250gb SSD for windows and programs.
General Discussion
0x000000e during boot of clone
Hi forum, I imaged a computer with 7 Pro 64 bit and restored it to an old PC, but it does not boot. Short after beginning Windows boot process (when you see these flying coloured bullets and the Windows logo) the machine reboots. Again and again. I tried a lot of things: Repair-CD, bootrec /mbr...
Installation & Setup
Win 7 clone to new WD HD Fails
good afternoon all, First time poster so plz bear with me.... - as seen in my specs, I have a 640GB system drive that I wanted to upgrade to a WD10EZEX - my Dell Studio only has options for ATA and RAID in BIOS. Currently running in ATA mode - tried an Acronis clone onto the new drive....
Installation & Setup
Failing HDD, clone fails
Hello all! I need some help. My wife's laptop's HDD is failing. I have purchased a new one and tried to clone it and the clone fails to boot. HP dv6-2150us -Current HDD WD Scorpio Black 300gb(factory) -New SSHD, Seagate 1EJ162-500 -Windows 7 x64 factory installl -backup is corrupt So...
Hardware & Devices
Windows fails to boot, startup repair fails to fix
Hello more knowledgeable person than myself. I've been having trouble trying to get my computer to boot; I'd noticed a drop in performance (still unsure why) so decided to boot up in safe mode and poke around - it was not my original intention to install Advanced SystemCare 5.3.0 but somehow it...
General Discussion


Our Sites

Site Links

About Us

Find Us

Windows 7 Forums is an independent web site and has not been authorized, sponsored, or otherwise approved by Microsoft Corporation. "Windows 7" and related materials are trademarks of Microsoft Corp.

Designer Media Ltd

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 14:38.
Twitter Facebook Google+ Seven Forums iOS App Seven Forums Android App