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Windows 7: Win 7 Ultimate 100mb Partition & Cloning

03 Dec 2010   #1

Windows 7 Ulitimate 64 bit
Win 7 Ultimate 100mb Partition & Cloning

I've just built a new PC with Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit installed on a 1TB "OS/Programs" hard drive (or "c" drive). All my data is on two other drives, though I do use the "c" drive desktop as temp work space and downloads as well.

Unfortunately, I've had OS problems in the past for a variety of reasons (software conflicts, virus, etc) w/ my old XP based PC (maybe 6 clean installs in 3+ years), and have already installed Win 7 a few times on my new PC as well (long story - it's been the build from hell :<).

My goal is to back up my entire "c" drive via the the most reliable (and ideally simple) way possible. I think that the best way to do that would be to periodically clone the "c" drive (1-2 times per month). That way, if something goes wrong - just clone everything back. My understanding is that in theory, you could clone back & forth any number of times and the end result works just like the original since it is exactly the same. If I'm wrong about any of this this, please let me know!

FYI - I don't know if this matters, but I quick format the back up drive and then remove all partitions (via Partition Wizard) each time prior to cloning. I beleive that's the correct procedure to get an accurate clone. If not please let me know the proper to do it.

After reading a bunch of threads about the 100MB partition, I now wonder if it could cause problems with cloning, or even down the road as I've seen posts on how it can get filled up. Giving up bit locker, and (I think) boot/repair files on a separate partition is a small price to pay if I can be certain that when I clone back, everything will work. Acronis True Image WD Edition does clone the partition along with everything else, and most of the time, the process worked fine. I could boot off of either drive with both installed by selecting the boot HDD in the bios...but there's been a couple of times when things did not get fully restored to 100% working condition when I cloned back.

I'm not good with software at all and could really use some guidance on the following:

(1) Per above - would NOT having the 100MB partition decrease the chance of something going wrong either when cloning or cloning back. It's worth it to give up Bit Locker or have the Windows repair/boot files separate from the OS, or even spending extra time cloning manually (i.e. no auto schedule). I have maybe 60 additional programs so a clean install takes forever. Any increase in accuraccy/reliabily is worth the extra hassle.

(2) If yes to the above (i.e. better off without the 100MB partition), can I format & partition my "c" drive prior to the clean install? I can do this because as mentioned above, I just boot off of the cloned drive. If not I guess I can try shift+F10 and run the diskpart steps listed elsewhere in the forums).

(3) I'm using the WD version of Acronis, but after reading up on it, I wonder if it's really excessive for what I want to do. I'm not going to use scheduling or any of the repair/back up functions. All I need is a good/reliable cloning program. I'm thinking of switching to Macrium or even MiniTool Disk Copy instead. Plus Acronis overwrote the naitve Win 7 back up links which is not something I wanted. So is switching software a good idea (and if so any rrecommendations b/t the two), or stick Acronis since it's worked fairly well so far?

Thanks for the help.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Dec 2010   #2
Microsoft MVP


A better method is to place your User files on a separate partition to be backed up externally so that if Win7 becomes irreparable you can reimage just the leaner OS/Programs partition and your data is waiting and current in its own partition "vault."

The problem with frequent images just to get latest files is that they also capture creeping corruption in the OS. It's best to reimage to just after you setup to avoid corruption creep, or at least have that image always saved as an option.

User Folders - Change Default Location
My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Dec 2010   #3

Windows 7 Ulitimate 64 bit

Thanks for the reply. Sorry if I wasn't clear, but all my data is already on separate drives ("d" & "e") so data back up is not an issue at all (see attached pic). Just think of my "c" drive as an OS/program partition.

What I want to do is periodically back up my OS & programs. I have a lot of software (maybe 60 programs), and it's installing all the non OS software along with updating Windows & drivers that takes a long long time. Win 7 actually installs fast. Taking an image right after everything is installed is helpful, but not nearly as much as if I could have working updated images.

Is there any reliable method to periodically back up OS/programs, or is "creeping corruption" unavoidable? What would you do?

Frankly, I'm still confused. I thought Acronis and other software has the ability to routinely back up OS/programs as well as data and then repair (essentially overwrite) if needed. Is that better/worse/equal in terms of reliablity?

I guess the safest thing to do is to make an image to temporarily boot off from, full format the "c" drive and the clean install Win 7 (withOUT the 100MB partition just to be safe), but then the question of all the other software remains. I'd much rather install, all the drivers & software then image, but would that cause "corruption" - especially if I have to update all that stuff as well?

After that, I guess I would keep the "clean" image and maybe try updated ones as well. Would it be better to have the images on separate hard drives or can I partition a drive in half and put the "clean" image on on partition and the updated ones on the other? I have two spare 1TB drives, though I'd rather not use both for OS/program back up unless necessary.

Thanks again for the reply. I really apprecaite any help you or anyone else can give me on this

Attached Thumbnails
Win 7 Ultimate 100mb Partition &amp; Cloning-disk-management.jpg  
My System SpecsSystem Spec

04 Dec 2010   #4

Windows 7x64 Home Premium SP1

Cloning and imaging are different. Cloning is more like a straight bit copy ("dubbing") from one disk to another. It can be useful for replacing or upgrading disks.

You appear to requiring an imaging program that would enable you to image all partitions on c:. When you reimage you are back to the same state you were at when the image was made.
1) You should image to a physically separate drive in case disk 0 (C dies.
This can be either of your other HDDs or an external USB HDD. For reliability I recommend images on 2 separate physical drives.
2) I would not rely on a single imaging program. I use two:
* Windows inbuilt imaging. I have never had problems and even recovered to a brand new disk using it. Other people have had problems and don't trust it.
* Macrium Reflect free. Has strong support on this forum.

Both can backup the MBR, System Reserved (100MB partition), other partitions including Boot/OS partition. There is no reason to get rid of the 100MB partition unless you particularly want to. The above imaging programs will back it up and restore it.

By making progressive images you can always go back to a time before some undesirable situation arises.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Dec 2010   #5
Microsoft MVP


Win7 backup imaging, free Paragon 10 Backup and Restore, or any of the paid programs can schedule regular backups of your files and an image. These are incremental backups so that only what has changed since the last one is added or removed.

In addition, I would save the oldest image you have in a folder named "Baseline Image" so that if you ever have to reimage Programs/OS partition and it later proves corrupt in any way you have an older image (ideally from right after install) that you can go back to. If you have no such image then you can wait until when you reinstall to make it, if ever.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Win 7 Ultimate 100mb Partition & Cloning

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