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Moving on from XP to Win7 – Disk imaging


Batch

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I’ve been an ardent WinXP user for many years, but have succumbed to an Acer Win7 (Home Premium 64 bit) laptop offer.

This is the first of a series of questions I shall post (I shall aim to keep each posting to one topic).

I have been using Acronis True Image 8 (ATI8) for many years and swear by it.

The new lappie inevitably will be without a Win7 CD, so my first port of call will be to create a back-up image of the system partition before doing anything else (I already have bootable ATI8 CDs and pen drives). By “before doing anything else” I mean the very first thing to do will be to boot in to the BIOS, then boot from CD or pen drive and then create the image on an external HDD.

Although ATI8 is not supported on Win7, I am assuming that as ATI8 supports NTFS (v3.1 as used by XP as well as Vista / 7 / 8) there should not be any issue in what I have proposed above as the OS will not have been part of the process. Question 1 – anyone see an issue with this?

Question 2 – Once I’m up and running in Win7, is there any point in using free 3rd party imaging software (e.g. Paragon / Macrium / EaseUS) or will Win7’s imaging capabilities suffice? All I shall wish to do is full image creation (as a copyable file similar to ATI8's .TIB files) to another partition on the same HDD and/or an external HDD, plus restores from the same (typically using a bootable CD to kick off such restores).

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rdave13

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Played around with the inbuilt image creator in 7. Did a restore from an image and found some programs had to be re-installed and other niggles. Can't remember now but it is certainly not perfect. Paragon for me.

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lotvic

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"some Win7 installs include a separate boot partition as well as the OS partition (and any recovery partition). Whereas others have the boot info merged with the OS partition"

If when you install W7 you are putting it on an existing partition then boot info is on same partition as OS W7. (no separate 100mb boot partition is made)

If you install W7 to an unallocated space then W7 creates the separate 100mb boot partition and a partition for W7 OS.

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Batch

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Thanks lotvic - another interesting part of the jigsaw. Although I was sort of referring to the pre-installed configs that come with PCs.

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lotvic

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the pre-installed configs that come with yours will depend on how Acer have done it :)

AFAIK about the 100mb boot thing - this partition is marked 'Active' so pc bios boots into it and then the 100mb partition boot ini points it to W7 OS on the next partition or it can boot into the Recovery part if W7 OS has a problem. (I'm a bit shaky on that point)

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Batch

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lotvic - yeah, I'd sort of got the bit about the boot partition being the "gateway" (I gather it also supports bitlocker in Ultimate and Enterprise versions on Win7)

This very much focuses attention on the point I raised about whether one should image / restore the boot partition in tandem with the OS partition.

Bitlocker - this from wikipedia:

....BitLocker Drive Encryption is a logical volume encryption system. A volume may or may not be an entire drive, and cannot span one or more physical drives....

In order for BitLocker to operate, the hard disk requires at least two NTFS-formatted volumes: one for the operating system (usually C:) and another with a minimum size of 100 MB[14] from which the operating system boots.

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Aitchbee

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Batch: A general response:- Today, my sister took her Acer aspire laptop back to Argos because of 'booting up problems' [I spent the last week, making backups and restores etc to no avail] ... I do hope she gets a replacement.

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lotvic

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"This very much focuses attention on the point I raised about whether one should image / restore the boot partition in tandem with the OS partition"

If you don't image/restore the Active 100mb boot partition, the bios won't be able to find an Active partition so how is W7 going to boot up? (Unless you make W7 partition Active - will that work? but anything I say will be theory as not got firsthand knowledge)

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xox101

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Windows 7 normally creates a partition of 100meg for boot files. Supposedly this is only to be created in Ultimate and Enterprise but I have seen it in other versions as well. Any PC I have set up over the last few years normally has three partitions, boot (hidden), system and manufacturers recovery. That is unless whoever I set it up for is happy with me deleting the recovery partition.

As you can probably guess I am not happy with using said recovery to return any PC back to the way it left the shop. In my opinion you then spend as much time getting rid of all the preinstalled bloat and trials as you do simply installing a clean copy from scratch. Of course problems can arise if you want to use the Office trial or any other trial that is installed in the factory. You also end up with the nagging feeling that your laptop could be a lot faster if only you had done a clean install in the first place!

I bought my daughter a cheap but brand new Samsung NC110 netbook off Ebay a few weeks ago. The first start was painfully slow and didn't get any better. I then added a 2gig stick of ram and swapped the mechanical hard drive for a Samsung 120gig SSD and did a clean install of Windows 7 Pro. The difference was like night and day. Of course most of the difference could be attributed to the SSD but I am convinced having worked on a few of these netbooks that the clean install also helped a great deal.

A clean install and doing away with unneeded partitions also means you don't run into the sort of problems you have described above where the boot.ini file was pointing to the wrong partition.

Once the clean install is done and you have it set up the way you want as opposed to the way manufacturer has set it up then you could do a system image knowing that if you ever have to use it that it will return your laptop to exactly the way you want.

I have rambled on a little in this post and it is of course up to you what you want to do but hopefully I have given you something to think about!

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xox101

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Lotvic has explained very well the whole 100 meg partition thing. I suspect that as 99% of any repairs I do involve wiping the drive and starting from scratch explains why I see the 100meg partition all the time!

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xox101

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And I'm now wondering if I have seen a drive with three partitions including the recovery partition. I could well be wrong due to what I wrote above!

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