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Windows 7: Dual boot of 7 and 7 clone questions

07 Oct 2010   #1
GeneO

Windows 10 Pro. EFI boot partition, full EFI boot
 
 
Dual boot of 7 and 7 clone questions

Hi,

I have two WD Black 1TB drives I just moved off of Windows XP onto Windows 7 (which I am pretty impressed with so far). The way I backup my system internally is to make a sector by sector clone of boot system drive into the other with the True Image clone tool. Then I use MS Synctoy to sync data up to the clone backup drive and every so often I boot to the clone and update the OS, etc. I don't want any advice on this please - this has some obvious advantages over mirroring and backups that I prefer.

So, I have been doing this for some time with XP. I installed 7, built the system up with my applications etc, then when I was happy and it was stable, I cloned it, and edited the BCD to make it a second boot option. I could boot up fine and both boots appeared independent (except for what I am going to get to). I keep both volumes visible to each other and they have the right drive letters when booted . I also edited the BCD on the clone so I could boot up from it if the main drive completely failed.

Both have the same volume ID - great for licensing. Now, if this were a sector by sector clone, wouldn't the disk signatures be the same? They aren't (obviously since I can access them both from either boot). My first question is how did that happen? Did Acronis muck with the clone's drive signature or did it actually create a new partition, give it a disk signature, and copy sectors to it?

So, as I said, the clone's boot disk does not seem to be entangled with the system boot disk. Then I started noticing my restore points disappearing on the main boot. I traced this to times I booted to the clone system. Then I discovered that if I created a restore point on the main boot, it appeared in the clone when I booted to it! Both were setup to only monitor themselves (C for system restore. I have resolved this conflict by disabling system restore monitoring on all drives in the clone system, and I no longer have conflicts.

So my second question is Why? I could do this on XP fine. Is system restore in Windows 7 somehow storing the drive signature from the registry when it is first enabled and somehow that gets copied over in the clone or???? Any help would be appreciated. I don't mind running with restore off on my clone backup, but would like to understansd what happened and work around it if possible.

TIA
- Gene


My System SpecsSystem Spec
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07 Oct 2010   #2
gregrocker

 

Hi Gene and Welcome -

At System Protection>Configure, trying turning on protection for the drive you are in while turning it off for the other drive. Do this in both the source and the clone.

What letter does the other drive show when not booted into it as C?

I know you told us not to give you advice on this, but Win7 has built-in drive imaging that can be scheduled along with file backup to a storage HD. The modern Win7 way is to place your files on a separate data partition or HD linked to User folders/libraries, then make regular backups of the compact OS/Programs C drive. If Win7 becomes irreparable you only need to reimage the OS/Programs partition in 15 minutes, while your data is all current and waiting in its own partition.
User Folders - Change Default Location
Backup Complete Computer - Create an Image Backup


Greg
My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 Oct 2010   #3
GeneO

Windows 10 Pro. EFI boot partition, full EFI boot
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by gregrocker View Post
Hi Gene and Welcome -

At System Protection>Configure, trying turning on protection for the drive you are in while turning it off for the other drive. Do this in both the source and the clone.
Thanks,
That is the way I had it set up initially (or it was set up that way automatically). Maybe I didn't explain that to well. Both boots were always in the mode of protecting themselves only.

Quote:
What letter does the other drive show when not booted into it as C?
On both boots the correct boot drive shows up as C, and the other drive as E (they way I set it up).

Quote:

I know you told us not to give you advice on this, but Win7 has built-in drive imaging that can be scheduled along with file backup to a storage HD. The modern Win7 way is to place your files on a separate data partition or HD linked to User folders/libraries, then make regular backups of the compact OS/Programs C drive. If Win7 becomes irreparable you only need to reimage the OS/Programs partition in 15 minutes, while your data is all current and waiting in its own partition.
User Folders - Change Default Location
Backup Complete Computer - Create an Image Backup


Greg
I know, but I like having another nearly identical (too my choosing) system that I *positively know* I can boot up immediately. Maybe in the future when I play around some more
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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08 Oct 2010   #4
WindowsStar

Windows 7 Enterprise (x64); Windows Server 2008 R2 (x64)
 
 

@GeneO, I am sorry, I know you don't want advice. But what you are talking about is Mirrored Drives. Why not just use Mirrored Drives. This way they (the drives) will be completely identical and if you have a drive fail your machine is running without it (no down time). You just buy a replacement and add it to the system and the system will rebuild the mirror. The only DOWN TIME is the time you replace the drive and you pick when you want to do that. Again sorry for my 2 cents. But this would be much better, faster, and safer plus you are not tinkering with the way Windows 7 is built.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
08 Oct 2010   #5
GeneO

Windows 10 Pro. EFI boot partition, full EFI boot
 
 

Because if the install on the mirrored drive gets corrupted or trashed so does the mirror for one thing. Any changes applied are immediately mirrored. I only make changes on my cloned backup system when I am sure they worked well on my main system. Mirrored drives aren't safer for this reason. Also, it wouldn't be wise to pick and choose when you replace a mirrored drive after the failure of one - one should replace the failed drive immediately. I don't want completely identical drives.

Can someone help with my initial questions?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
08 Oct 2010   #6
WindowsStar

Windows 7 Enterprise (x64); Windows Server 2008 R2 (x64)
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by GeneO View Post
Because if the install on the mirrored drive gets corrupted or trashed so does the mirror for one thing. Any changes applied are immediately mirrored. I only make changes on my cloned backup system when I am sure they worked well on my main system. Mirrored drives aren't safer for this reason. Also, it wouldn't be wise to pick and choose when you replace a mirrored drive after the failure of one - one should replace the failed drive immediately. I don't want completely identical drives.

Can someone help with my initial questions?
First of I have been working with mirrored drives for 15 years and I have NEVER and I mean NEVER had this happen (corrupt data that is). If you are truly concerned about that you can buy a delay write controller card that will delay the mirroring by 1 hour so you know you are ok. But again in 15 years and thousands and thousands of servers as well as many hundreds of workstations using mirrored drives I have never had any issues with corrupt data. (Controllers are super smart now-a-days)

To go back to your original question I think you are setting yourself up for failure later down the road. Since Windows 7 is not designed to do this I really believe this is not a good approach. Windows XP uses simple partitions with simple NTFS. Windows 7 uses multi-partitions updated NTFS, more permission, and more windows protection schemes to make it stable and to protect users from mistakes.

A better solution is to use software to make an image of the drive or clone the drive to the spare drive. You boot up off a bootable CD and use the software to clone the drive. This way you completely control the backups and since the OS is not running you will capture everything.

Better than the above solution to this is to use good backup software, that can backup your entire drive to another drive. You can schedule it; it understands Windows 7, Windows Permissions etc. You can set it up to backup every night at 11pm if you wish. - WS
My System SpecsSystem Spec
08 Oct 2010   #7
GeneO

Windows 10 Pro. EFI boot partition, full EFI boot
 
 

You misunderstood me. If an install, or whatever, hoses my system, it is hosed in a mirrored environment and I have to reinstall or do some kind of recovery if possible. If it hoses up my system with the clone, the clone is still good and I can immediately boot to it, and if needed, clone it to the hosed system disk. In addition, the mirroring would waste 1TB of space. With the clone I can use space on it to store things that aren't critical like copies of backups that I have on external drives. As I said, I don't want to debate this. This is the last I am going to exchange anything about this.

My windows 7 system disk and the clone are each on single partition, or, in other words the boot and system are the same for the main disk (and the cloned disk if I arrange to boot from its partition).

I don't think that is a better solution, but maybe a workable solution if I have any more issues. Everything seems very stable except when both are set up to monitor themselves with system restore.

Even if I do end up doing image backups instead, I would still like to understand what happens with these restores to broaden my knowledge. Doesn't anybody have any in-depth knowledge of Windows 7 that can shed some light on this?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
08 Oct 2010   #8
GeneO

Windows 10 Pro. EFI boot partition, full EFI boot
 
 

Sorry, didn;t mean to grump, appreciate you are trying to help

- Gene
My System SpecsSystem Spec
10 Oct 2010   #9
WindowsStar

Windows 7 Enterprise (x64); Windows Server 2008 R2 (x64)
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by GeneO View Post
Sorry, didn;t mean to grump, appreciate you are trying to help

- Gene
No worries, but respectfully I don't think you read what I wrote correctly. If you are concerned with corruption get a delay write controller. Delay it 30 minutes, an hour, a day whatever you think is required. If you are really worried about this you can have the system on a 30 minute delay and then if something goes wrong you can turn off duplication and go swap drives, but all that is really unneeded because Windows 7 has restore points. RAID 1 without delayed write and Windows 7 Restore points will give you the very good protection.

Again if you are super worried then do what many of us do and just make images of your drive, daily if you are doing things so dangerous that you may wipe or corrupt the system. Images are extremely fast and easy to work with. Sorry if that is not what you want to do, but we all have to grow with a new OS. There are procedures I have had to change after moving from XP to Windows 7. Procedures that I have done for 10 years and I know to use them very well but now that I am doing them in new ways I have discovered they are just as good. Again just my 2 cents

Back to your OP, I believe that Microsoft changed the way restore points work, volume serializing, etc. because when Vista came out many people were dual booting their machines and when Vista booted it would wipe Windows XP restore points (Or maybe that is vice versa, it was so long ago). Many users were really upset by this and they voiced their opinion. Microsoft then patched Vista/XP to fix that, but the fix was unusual and caused other issues. I think that you are experiencing some of these issues with Windows 7 as well as the changes in licensing, volume serializing, restore points, file protection, etc.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Oct 2010   #10
Mitaek

Win 7 Home (twice, dual boot) 64 bit
 
 

Geno,

I've found this thread very interesting. I too have been cloning two drives exactly as you have (True Image, data/email pointed to a separate partition & SyncToy & Easy BCD to keep everything current and available) for a number of years now. I much prefer it over RAID or backups/incremental backups for the very reasons you cite.

I see where others don't think this approach to backup is a wise choice, but I don't understand why and I disagree. I'm always tinkering with my system and do so until I eventually tinker myself into a corner (can't stop myself). It's nice to know I can simply boot to my clone - as opposed to a tinkered mirror or dated backup - and still have my unscathed up-to-date OS, email and data files immediately available. Then I simply clone again and get back on good terms with my PC.

I haven’t noticed my system restore points disappearing when I boot to the clone or vice versa. I use to lose Restore Points with Vista – could never figure out why, but I’ve not noticed it with Win 7.

As for the restore point being created on one drive and appearing on the other, I don’t see that as a problem. Although the restore point appears on the alternate drive, it’s only usable on the drive that it was created on. If I try to use a restore point created from the other drive, System Restore shows a dialog box explaining that the disk I’m trying to restore is not in that selected restore point. It will not execute the restore. Nice fail safe.

I do the normal backup routine as well, but I’ve never used one. For me cloning works quite well and gives me many advantages over mirroring or imaging.

As for your questions, sorry, I’ve no clue, much too academic for me. I just know what we do works and works well.


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