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Windows 7: Dual Booting Plus Cloning: Need Help Plus Questions

14 Apr 2012   #1

Windows Vista 6 Ultimate
Dual Booting Plus Cloning: Need Help Plus Questions

I've got a fresh install of Win 7 on a smaller hard drive. I'm looking to move my current Win 7 installation, its Programs, its Drivers, pretty much the entire Local Disk to this fresher install. Both drives are housed in the same machine, so mismatch in drivers and installed programs to outlying libraries (program referenced caches on other drives) shouldn't be a problem. I pretty much want a mirror copy of my Local Disk. This way if one hard drive has a physical failure, I can boot into the same exact runtime environment while repairing or replacing the corrupt one. Also might try 8 CP on a test run...maybe.

My question is, will cloning do exactly that? Granted I'm moving the from a bigger HDD 500GB to a smaller one 250GB, but all the content on my current Local Disk can fit on the smaller drive. I'm trying to maximize my use of the 500GB. I'll use the 500GB as storage mostly with an OS partitioned as a rescue. This keeps my media files and what not safe just in case the smaller drive goes out from more frequent use. Then all I have to worry about is a new OS and not file recovery.

Right now this is my setup:

2 x 400GB WD (Storage/Cache Drives)
1 x 500GB WD (Current Local Disk, will need to copy, and use a further storage/rescue OS)
1 x 250GB WD (Where I want to copy Local Disk to and start using as the Primary OS)
1 x Raptor 80GB WD (Electrical Failure, installed in 2005, timed out 2011)

It's been a since Win 7 RC that I've done a Dual Boot, so forgive me if this all sounds like a broken record. Any help would be appreciated.


Also to mention, all the disk are internal.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Apr 2012   #2

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1, 64-bit

Offhand, I think you are over-complicating the issue.

If I understand you correctly, you want to end up with 2 Windows 7 installations on different physical hard drives. You would boot to the smaller drive as long as it worked, but have the ability to boot into the second drive on demand if the smaller drive drops dead.

Is that right??

I'm not sure that is legal with a single Windows license.

It may be possible, but complex.

Why not just make an image of your fresh Windows 7 installation on the smaller drive and store it on one of your 400 GB storage drives. If the smaller drive drops dead, restore the image to the 500 GB drive.

Downtime perhaps 30 minutes.

No dual boot or licensing issues.

By my definition, a "clone" is a move without the use of an intervening image. The result is a single system on the destination drive, not 2 systems. But "clone" means different things to different people.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Apr 2012   #3
Microsoft MVP


Agreed. The modern way to handle this is an image backup stored on another HD or externally.

I would use the premium Acronis cloning/imaging suite which comes free with any WD or Seagate HD in the mix. WD Acronis free cloning app. The Manual is easy to understand and with the download link.

Then if Win7 ever becomes irreparable simply boot the Acronis boot disk to re-image the OS/Programs partition, or to another HD if you want since Acronis gives you maximum flexibility of what you want to image and where you want it restored exactly.

An alternative is Macrium - Image your system
My System SpecsSystem Spec

14 Apr 2012   #4

Windows Vista 6 Ultimate

I think you misunderstand.

Before: (500GB) OS, Settings, Programs, Drivers ----> (250GB) Fresh install, ready to be nuked, empty

After: (500GB) Nuked & Repurposed: 8 CP Dual Boot or OS mirror + Mass Storage----> (250GB) OS, Settings, Programs, Drivers, exactly as how the 500 was

I don't want to have to hassle with reinstalling programs and hard to find device drivers on top of references pointers from programs on the Mass drives.

Is cloning what I need to do to accomplish that?
I got what I needed. I just wasn't sure it was going to do all that I asked. That's why I was consulting some more experienced ones.

After I get the Local Disk moved, then I'll figure out what I want to do in re-purposing the larger drive.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Apr 2012   #5

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1, 64-bit

Your second post only has me more confused. I have little idea what you have or want.

You say "I don't want to have to hassle with reinstalling programs and hard to find device drivers on top of references pointers from programs on the Mass drive".

Imaging will avoid that hassle.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Apr 2012   #6
Microsoft MVP


Easiest method for Dual Booting is to unplug the other HD during Win8 or other OS install to separate HD.

After install plug back in other OS HD, set preferred HD to boot first in BIOS setup, boot other OS HD using the one-time BIOS Boot Menu key given on first boot screen.

If this is not to your liking, install EasyBCD to primary HD to add the other OS by drive letter seen in Explorer, Save. This will keep System boot files on both HD's whereas installing with other HD plugged in will only update the Boot files on existing HD requiring major repairs to remove it.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Apr 2012   #7

Windows Vista 6 Ultimate

I got it. It's cool. Cloning was what I was looking for. I just wasn't sure.

When you're Googling making a duplicate of your Local Disk, migrating, imaging, and cloning get tossed around like a homogeneous mixture.

I got. I successfully created a copy of my OS and it's drivers, it's programs and their cache references, even my Mozilla profile and my Windows MSStyle customizations onto the 250. It's exactly the same. Same windows license, same network settings, same services enabled and what not. Even programs that I installed on the other drives, that still stored registry keys and licenses on the 500, run without a hitch with the 250.

Now I'm free to reconfigure the 500 altogether and apparently I can keep a duplicate copy of the OS and still boot from it. To the system it still looks like the C: Local Disk with an Operating System on it, no matter which hard drive I boot from.

So I'm good. Thanks for the help on this.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

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