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

20 Oct 2010   #21
Microsoft MVP


I always unplug all uninvolved drives to avoid unexpected problems.

You shouldn't have to change the BIOS boot order each time. Set the preferred HD to boot first, then if you want to boot another HD or device use the one-time BIOS Boot menu key given on first screen. Every computer has one:

Asus - F8
HP/Compaq - Esc
Sony - F2
Acer - F12
Gateway - F10 or F12
eMachnes - F10
Toshiba - F12
Dell - F12
IBM/Lenovo - the blue Thinkvantage button, or OneKey button next to Power button.

If you don't like this arrangement after trying it, then to create a Windows Dual Boot install EasyBCD 2.0 to Win7 to add the other OS to a Windows-managed Dual Boot menu.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Oct 2010   #22


Understood Greg. Will hopefully give this a shot tomorrow.

Thansk again.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Oct 2010   #23
Night Hawk

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

Assuming this is a custom build and not any premanufactured system you would need to look at the post screen with the logo screen option disabled in the advanced section in the bios setup or user manual for the board in order to see which F key is used.

On a custom case Asus boards would typically the F8 key used at post while it would be the F12 for a Gigabyte board. The bios used whether Award, Phoenix, AMI will determine that.

Here's the first few steps to follow in order to get things right.

1) Clone direct with Acronis to the new host drive or use the system image option in Windows for the original drive. Backup Complete Computer - Create an Image Backup

Note the intended second drive will need to be used to store a full image there for restoration afterwards since you can't restore an image to the drive you are storing it on.

2) Replace the original as first drive with new drive in first sata port and set as default boot device. Note you can often simply switch the drive end of each data cable to reassign ports without much fuss to simply things.

If you created a full image you then slap a quick install of 7 on the new host without worry of activation or going through the full install but long enough to restore the image made. System Image Recovery

You first want to see the new drive in working order before the next step. Whether a direct clone or restored image option was used the new drive should see 7 running strong without problems. The second drive will be the temp storage drive until the new main is up and running well.

3)Once the full image is made or first drive is cloned and the new host is the present host drive the original drive is replugged in as the 3rd drive. If you elect to use the fast install to restore an image through Windows following the guide the new host will need to be Drive #1 for the Windows installer to place the boot files and mbr info there.

Booting live from the 7 dvd is the other option that will see the new host listed as Disk 0 as well where it will also detect the latest image. If you boot live from the 7 dvd to restore an image leave the new 3rd unplugged since the repair tools will detect that installation if you haven't added a fast 7 install on the new host. This will insure the image is restored to the intended drive even without a temp install of 7.

4) With the new host/boot drive running well you can now use the original drive to store an image made to protect the new host in case of any need to replace the cloned or reimaging of 7 there. The builtin tool has been found the most reliable for restoring host drives!

Since you couldn't store an image on the first drive from the start or opted for a direct clone you now have another use for that drive. You may even elect to reformat it in order to store the host image and if planning to try restoring a working image to the second the image made with Acronis.

5)Once the first four steps are met you create a full disk image using a 3rd party program for restoration on the to be second drive and store that on the original. From there you use the recovery options in Acronis verifying which is the "destination drive" by looking at the drive indicator which lists the drives installed.

One tip here is labeling each drive ahead of time as the 7 host/boot, test drive, and new storage drive in order to avoid confusion when using clicking on the listing for the destination drive(then 2nd HD) before clicking on the "proceed" button. You will also see the "0 sector", "100mb(if originally seen)", and the main 7 primary listed on the next screen.

Acronis will list things a bit differently then the builtin system image and recovery options listing the "0" sector item or mbr while the 7 tool shows checked off items for the 100mb and C primary.

6) With the main drive running normally you may want a fresh single primary seen on the second drive rather then one left "raw". A quick partition and format will allow Acronis to see the destination drive when going to restore that image onto the new 2nd drive. You will still see the warning about any previous files and data being overwritten and can ignore it since you won't have anything there to worry about yet.

7)Lastly is the actual test of the second drive to see if the image went on well where you can test each drive in progression using the boot device menu anyways. This test will insure the second drive can boot on it's own and show the restored image was successful when seeing 7 running there.

Once each drive is found working it's now time to decide on the simple addition of the boot entry for E, F, G depending on which free drive letter you set for the second drive in the host drive's DM tool you add the new entry for that as a boot option. Note you can still select either drive from the boot device menu at any time with or without the boot option seen when starting up.

The one thing to know right from the start here however is that setting up a dual boot with two separately created drive images was experimental and not a "work always" proven method. What was found was that restoring a single image made by only one program or with the backup option in 7 could not be configured as a dual boot.

The use of the backup feature already included in 7 is competent to backup the host drive while it took an image created by Acronis to see results when restored to a second drive. Paragon, Reflect, Ghost, and other programs might also see results while not having been used for testing this type of dual booting.

In any case the first thing to remember is to maintain the new host drive since that is your main system drive as far as OS is concerned while the rest is "at your own risk"! Be sure to have a suitable place to back things upto beforehand in order to have a "disaster recovery plan" inplace.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

20 Oct 2010   #24

Windows 10 Pro. EFI boot partition, full EFI boot

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Trailerman View Post

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.

All I can tell you is that in my experience (true image home sector level clone), the volume shadow copies (restore points) will step on each other. I had to diddle with the BCD to setup the boot to the cloned drive - but that was simple.

Everything else in my cloned dual boot configuration is independent, and the drives/partitions show ups as you would expect. However, if I have system restore set on the "backup" clone, it will see the restore points from the other boot, and eventually after enough boots to the backup, the restore points on the system disk will disappear. I examined the shadow copies on both with vssadmin and all seemed in order for an independent boot. And I had, on each, restore points set for only C:.

I ended up turning of restore points and disabling the VSS service on the "backup" clone. All seems well but I sure would like to understand what was happening.

- Gene
My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Oct 2010   #25
Microsoft MVP


Gene: did you try booting independently via BIOS rather than interlocking the HD's with Windows-managed Dual Boot? Has solved this prob for me.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Oct 2010   #26

Windows 10 Pro. EFI boot partition, full EFI boot

Yeah, no problem if I boot independently through the BIOS with separate system partitions on each drive rather than both off the system partition of the main drive. But I have to go in the BIOS and disable the first drive to boot the second independently. I sync files between the two so that is not workable.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Oct 2010   #27
Microsoft MVP


Every computer or mobo has a one-time BIOS Boot Menu key which when tapped at bootup will override the first boot device. Dell's is F12. Have you tried that?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
21 Oct 2010   #28
Night Hawk

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

Too often many have not even heard of it or they may have that option on some premade systems. For some you have to go into the bios setup to set which type as well as which drive from a separate list screen there will be default not having a one time option.

I've run into that at times! As far as dual boots the problems were seen as far as XP and Vista dual boot when the previous version was released since Vista had to be hidden from XP. In 7 that problem is no longer seen.

(with the full system image option who needs restore points anyways???! even without the drive space. Mainly novices!)
My System SpecsSystem Spec
21 Oct 2010   #29

Windows 10 Pro. EFI boot partition, full EFI boot

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by gregrocker View Post
Every computer or mobo has a one-time BIOS Boot Menu key which when tapped at bootup will override the first boot device. Dell's is F12. Have you tried that?
Yes, for my system F12 only give a choice of data, usb device, or cd-rom - no choice between sata drives, just the first it finds.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
21 Oct 2010   #30
Night Hawk

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

When clicking the hard drive item you should be seeing a list of HDs when more then one installed. Or the bios used on that model board is limited as some have been found.

When looking at the dual boot guides here at SF you'll note that they point right to using the EasyBCD program which has seen extensive testing not only by those here but all over in fact. And when you run into limited boot options.... which always stinks of course that will simplify things once everything is set correctly.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Safest Way to Clone Windows 7 Volume for Dual Booting

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