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Windows 7: Create duplicate O/S installation - easiest way?

26 Jul 2015   #1

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64-bit
Create duplicate O/S installation - easiest way?

I have (or soon will) a new system for gaming. The drives I've chosen are 2 x 480GB SSDs, each with a smaller partition for the O/S and a larger one for the programmes (MS FS9 on one, FSX on the other).

As I have had an SSD die on me before, I want to make this setup a bit more fail-safe by having the O/S (Win7 x64 - or it may be Win10 x64 in the end, but I guess that won't effect the basics of this question?) cloned on the 2nd SSD, in the smaller parτition (so if one SSD does die, I can still boot using the other).

What's the easiest way to achieve this? Make an image of the O/S partition on the first SSD (when everything is installed and running OK) and install it to the second SSD? Or is there a better way?

What's then the easiest way to set up a dual boot screen at startup so that I always have the option of which instance of the O/S to boot into?

Many thanks,


My System SpecsSystem Spec
26 Jul 2015   #2

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1

You don't need 2 SSDs to be honest. And no cloning is needed either, instead image backup and if anything goes wrong you can just recall the image. Don't waste your money on a hypothetical failure (keep it in your pocket) and buy a new one if you really have to.

So I would get:
- SSD for OS and large games
- HDD for data and other games
- HDD for backups of SSD and data HDD
My System SpecsSystem Spec
26 Jul 2015   #3
Microsoft MVP


Our favorite here is Macrium Imaging - Windows 7 Help Forums which is as easy as installing it (or using the boot disk which you should make anyway) to save a backup image of your completed setup to an external hard drive or another hard drive.

Then if the SSD ever fails replace it, boot the macrium disk to apply the image as shown in tutorial.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

27 Jul 2015   #4

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64-bit

Thanks for the replies.

In fact I have a lot of data to fit onto just one 480GB SSD, it would be 90% full immediately by the time I add my Flightsim programmes, so two is ideal: Flight simulator (and the rig is just for MS FS9 & FSX) reads from scenery files, terrain files, aircraft files (Process Monitor shows the huge number of files loaded in any given second) and I'd like all this on an SSD, not an HDD. Performance by way of FPS may not increase much (but with an i7-4790K at 4.00GHz that should be fine), but loading times will.

I often use Win7's own image copy facility to make an image to an external HDD. Is this for some reason not also useful to do what I want here? I really do want a dual boot (into cloned O/Ss) rather than just the option to restore from an image stored elsewhere (I will still back up sometimes to the external HDD).

Thanks again.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
27 Jul 2015   #5

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1

How much space needed for each of those games? (I am curious :)) OS will need about 50-70 GB, most of the time even less, considering future growth and pagefile,hiberfil etc. And best to have 25% free space on an SSD as a rule of thumb.

I don't know if Windows built-in backup can clone a drive, you would still need Macrium or a similar program, and my understanding is that it is not a good idea to have cloned drives attached to the PC all the time (they will both be marked active and such). What you want is not called a dual-boot though, to clarify. My 50GB OS partition takes 10 minutes to restore and backups take 15 minutes tops (75GB - 2 partitions Windows 7 and 10 - when verification is on, verify takes longer than actually backing up ). Don't forget a total SSD failure is not the only reason why you would need a backup.

Simply put: Best method would be a small enough C, that you backup regularly (have a couple of generations). And file sync copy of your games to another HDD (FreeFileSync or similar program) whenever your files change a bit.

However, your PC, your money :)
My System SpecsSystem Spec
27 Jul 2015   #6

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64-bit

Hi... Well, out-of-the-box, not that much, but with over ten years of addons, well my FS9 installation is about 200GBs (terrain data files are huge, for instance). Plus FSX.. Yes, it'd all go onto one SSD I suppose, but I am ready to pay for an extra SSD to split things as I said. It's not so expensive to do that... But I could I suppose have a second SSD at just 120GBs, that would cut costs a bit. I was imagining 80GBs for the O/S partitions, leaving 2x400GBs for the two FS programmes. I'll see how much I save by having the 2nd SSD smaller... I do back up (file copy) my data partitions regularly - every week or so (I wrote my own batch script which automatically synchronises the back-up with existing data); no, not at all just in case of HDD/SSD failure. I also make an new image of the C drive to an external HDD every few months...

I believe I have Macrium already somewhere (haven't really used it). I also have Partition Manager, which will doubtless do the same job. As I am abroad, as I said, I can't check that at the moment...

Not sure there's any issue with more than one active boot partition? So long as you get a boot option screen at start-up. My old FS laptop, for which this is a replacement, dual booted between Win7 x64 and Win XP x64 with no problems.

Thanks for the reply.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
27 Jul 2015   #7

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1

With what you had on your old laptop, you had only 1 active partition, which dual booted.

The scenario you put forward here is 2 identical (hence active) partitions and one OS.

As an example, Newegg Samsung EVO pricing:
120 GB - 75 USD
250 GB - 100 USD
500 GB - 183 USD

So I would get 1x250GB (price difference with 120GB is little with respect to space gained) + 1x500 GB. And put a bit more on top of what I save and get a backup HDD (3TB or so) that would hold everything.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
27 Jul 2015   #8

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64-bit

With what you had on your old laptop, you had only 1 active partition, which dual booted. The scenario you put forward here is 2 identical (hence active) partitions and one OS.

Oh, OK! So would that scenario actually cause issues? Can I not dual boot from two partitions/identical O/Ss in the same way? Like what problems might there be? I assume I'd have a boot menu at startup just the same asking which instance of the O/S I want to go into?

To add a second 120GB SSD costs 51, a 240GB is 76 and a 480GB SSD 152; so yes, the 240GB would be the best option.

Thanks for taking the time to reply to this thread...
My System SpecsSystem Spec
27 Jul 2015   #9

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1

Hmm, maybe I am not exactly right, just checked for this again (I searched a bit about this when I set my SSD few months ago, I was cloning the drive, and remember reading a clone drive being plugged in all times is not a good idea. I have switched to imaging alone since then)

Anyway, Can you have 2 active partitions in the same Win 7 box ? - Microsoft Community

Best is you can try what you want and remember this conversation if any issues arise.. :)

Edit: Wanted to add, you might have to change the boot order in BIOS, or use the Boot Menu, to boot from the clone drive. You won't get a OS select menu with clones.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
27 Jul 2015   #10

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64-bit

You won't get a OS select menu with clones.


Well, I'll keep Googling and thinking what's best...
My System SpecsSystem Spec

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