How do I create Backup HD (Windows 7)?

Discussion in 'Windows 7 Help and Support' started by sfbob, Mar 19, 2011.

  1. sfbob

    sfbob New Member

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    Can I create a backup laptop hard drive using Windows 7 Backup? I'm hoping to create an HD that will be an exact replica of the one in my machine, so that if it crashes I can simply replace it with the backup HD and there will be no differences at all. When I tried to do this, the new HD had all the data, but when I swapped it with the current HD and tried to boot, I got a "BOOTMGR missing" message.

    Thanks in advance for any help.
     
  2. Trouble

    Trouble Noob Whisperer

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    sfbob;
    Hello and welcome to the forums.
    It sounds to me like what you are attempting is not actually a backup or even really an image in the true sense of the words, but rather a clone. There are many free as well as commercial (paid for) software options that will allow you to do this. My personal preference is a commercial software from Acronis called True Image. It allows you (as does many others) to create a CD to boot from (independent of the operating system) to create a clone of one drive to another, as well as many other rich features that you may find valueable. Of course the value of any clone, image or for that matter backup is dependent on how current it is.
    Hope this helps and thanks for joining our community. Hope to continue to see you around.
    Randy
     
    1 person likes this.
  3. sfbob

    sfbob New Member

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    Yes, it does help. Thanks very much for taking the time to reply. I get confused by the terms "back up DVD," "system image," "clone," and probably a couple of others. Whenever I've upgraded or replaced an HD, I've had no problems with my data, documents, photos, etc. But it's a bit of a hassle finding my bookmarks, reinstalling programs, and having sites that I regularly visit no longer "remember me" or my passwords. It sounds like the cloning software you mentioned will be a good bet for me.

    I guess the problem I had when I just copied my HD onto a larger one is that it put what should have gone into the boot sector somewhere else and that this is why it wouldn't boot with the copy.
     
  4. Saltgrass

    Saltgrass Excellent Member
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    You can use Windows Backup and Restore to create an image that can be restored to a new hard drive and will work exactly as the original. Make sure it includes the OS partition and the boot partition.

    Acronis is good, but I have seen no reason to use it, unless you want to restore an image to a drive smaller than the original partition.
     
  5. Joe S

    Joe S Excellent Member

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    Cloning and Imaging have some differences and knowledgable people are pretty divided on which is best. I use Acronis and make an image. I partitioned my drive and can restore the system partition in about 8-10 min.
    Joe
     
  6. sfbob

    sfbob New Member

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    I suspect I'm overlooking something obvious, but I can't figure out what it is. I tried Windows Back Up on a brand new HD and still got the "BOOTMGR IS MISSING" message when I swapped it into my laptop. Here's what I did:

    --Format new HD in NTFS from command prompt after running CHKDSK to confirm there are no problems with it.
    --Go to Control Panel > System and Security > Back Up and Restore
    --Click "Back Up Now"
    --Wait for it to say it's completed the task successfully
    --Swap the HD into my machine
    --Turn it on

    The BOOTMGR IS MISSING message appears immediately. I also can't seem to find the boot partition on the new HD, but that's probably because I don't know where to look.

    Sorry to be slow in catching on, and would definitely appreciate further help.
     
  7. Saltgrass

    Saltgrass Excellent Member
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    You have to restore the image to a drive in your computer.

    Use an external drive to store the backup. Change the drive in your computer and boot to the DVD or a recovery CD and select restore from image.

    You do not use the backed up image as the new drive install. That might work if you are cloning a drive, but not an image backup.
     
  8. sfbob

    sfbob New Member

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    Sorry for being so dense, but I still don't get it.

    I neglected to mention that I attached the new HD as an external HD connected to my laptop via a USB port, where I formatted it and directed the backup to it. It shows up on the "Computer" screen as "UNTITLED D:" with my current HD being "ACER C:". The Backup is on D:, but the laptop won't boot from D: when I put it into the machine.

    I'm assuming, probably wrongly, that what I'm doing is mapping every byte on the C: drive onto the D: drive in exactly the same locations, so that the boot sector (and every other byte) from C: will go into exactly the same place on the identical (same size) HD D:. So shouldn't it just boot from the new HD just as it does from the old one?

    Can you tell from this description where my thinking is wrong?
     
  9. Joe S

    Joe S Excellent Member

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    Windows backup is not the same as cloning a drive which I think is what you are trying to do. I think in some installs the boot manager is placed in a separate hidden partition.
    Joe
     
  10. Saltgrass

    Saltgrass Excellent Member
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    As Joe says, by creating a backup image, the drive the image is stored on does not have a file structure in place to be able to use it. Only after restoring the image to another drive can it be made bootable and usable.

    To move your Win 7 install to a new hard drive. First you make a backup image on a second, or external drive. You then replace the original Win 7 drive with a new drive. The image is still on the other drive it was backed up to.

    You then use the recovery options to restore the image to your new hard drive. So you need 3 drives to complete the process.

    If you clone a drive, which Windows Backup cannot do, you copy the original drive to a second drive bit by bit so it is usable without any other steps.

    Check this Microsoft site for an explanation.

    http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-vista/Restore-your-computer-from-a-system-image-backup
     
    #10 Saltgrass, Mar 20, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2011
  11. Trouble

    Trouble Noob Whisperer

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    #11 Trouble, Mar 21, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2011
  12. sfbob

    sfbob New Member

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    I read the material in Saltgrass' link and also the Wikipedia article on disk imaging. I'm over my head here and don't want to take up any more of people's time with this thread. I think I'll experiment with Acronis and with using 3 HDs to create a clone. I can probably find some info on hidden partitions and why they're used. Then maybe I'll be able to add something to a discussion here rather than just be a slow-learning receiver of information.

    Thanks to all for the help.
     
  13. Trouble

    Trouble Noob Whisperer

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    This is exactly the kind of place to get the information you require to help you learn as well as become more proficient at asking the right questions.
    Anyone can be and often is confused by the seeming overlap and interchangeing of the various terms and phrases used when discussing such tasks.
    Basically a backup is just that, typically used to make copies of critical files and folders to a safe location (usually external but not always) to safeguard those items against accidental deletion, corruption or catastrophic loss as a result of hard drive failure. Backups can be performed by native software (like windows built-in backup) or any number of third party free and commercial software. Backups are not bootable and will often have a unique file extension, often only readable by the software that was used to create it.....
    But not always, the term "back up" can and often does include a process which includes a full system (whole disk, all partitions) backup which is often called a drive image this method takes a point in time snapshot of your entire disk which again is not a bootable source and will often be in a format again only useable by the software which created it. Often these images can be mounted as is the case with a .VHD (virtual hard disk) (the format for a Windows Backup Image, or a .TIB (True Image Backup) (the format for an Acronis Backup Image) after mounting these types of images can be explored, copied from and in some instances even edited (contents altered and changed), kinda handy when just wanting to recover a single file. So now you should understand that an image can be a backup and a backup can be an image. The two terms are often inter-changeable, hence some confusion.
    A clone is just that a clone, like Dolly the Sheep, an exact copy bit for bit of the source drive to another (destination) drive, of the same size or larger (but in some instances depending on the actual used space a smaller drive can be used). A cloned drive if done properly should boot exactly the same as the original drive (in a perfect world), but you also need to know that it's a roses complete with thorns kind of deal, in that if the original (source) drive contains corrupt files, bad sectors, etc. they get cloned as well. There are some methods to work around these problems but they can require some rather complicated steps. And again as is the case with all of these methods a clone is only good for and at a particular point in time. If you clone your boot drive today and swap out your motherboard tomorrow, chances are you will have problems booting from that clone, at the very least it will likely require reactivating windows again.
    I hope this helps a little bit more getting things straight in your mind. But please don't be affraid or feel reticent about asking your questions here. That is our whole purpose for existing.
    Regards
    Randy
     
    #13 Trouble, Mar 21, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2011
  14. patcooke

    patcooke Microsoft MVP
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    You are compounding your problems by trying to boot from an external drive plugged into a USB port. Unless you have modified your bios and set the drive to make it bootable then this will not work. If you want to test the disk as a bootable device it would be best to install it as the internal drive. However, having copied the contents across to the drive does not make it bootable - you need to reinstall the boot manager. A free utility called easyBcd is available to help you do this from the link below.

    As one or two others have mentioned, you would be best off creating a drive image using one of the many imaging systems available (some free, some paid for - I have a strong preference for Acronis True Image.) Using such a package you can create a single file which is a complete image of your drive then use the image to recover the drive, restore it to another drive, mount the image as a virtual drive and recover individual files/folders etc.

    Download EasyBCD 2.0.2 - NeoSmart Technologies
     
  15. sfbob

    sfbob New Member

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    Thanks yet again for the responses. This is a very friendly and helpful forum--especially considering that I've wandered into Advanced Tech instead of something like Barely Intermediate Tech, where I belong.

    Trouble: Your latest, detailed, explanation really helped. I learned the first time my laptop crashed (literally, on a stone floor) that "backup" often means just files/folders. But "system image" sounds so precise that I unthinkingly assumed it is synonymous with "clone" and that there was one universally understood meaning. One of the first things I read was this, from the Microsoft website:

    "A system image is an exact copy of a drive."

    I see now (I think) that this doesn't mean that it's bootable, but I suspect I'm not the first to have assumed that it does. I'll sharpen my understanding of the terms.


    Pat: I did mount the new (replica) HD in the machine each time I tried making a new one. My deep confusion began when I followed instructions on the MS website to insert a Windows 7 Install DVD and click "Repair" at the first window. Each try led to the same error message. At this point I don't really need to back up anything. I've just gotten stubborn and want to understand this whole topic more clearly.

    Best regards.
     
  16. Trouble

    Trouble Noob Whisperer

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    Sounds like you are well on your way to understanding some of the more subtle nuances of the terms involved. But we've obviously added yet another term which requires a bit more detail to understand.
    The term "Mount" really doesn't have much to do with physically installing a drive into a machine or otherwise attaching it to a computer. The term "Mount" when used in conjunction with the term "Image" has to do with the steps you take to make the "Image" available for browsing, exploring or inspecting and examining the contents of the image file itself, to perhaps confirm that the contents of the file are exactly what you expect them to be or to retrieve a file from the image that is no longer present on your drive in its post image state.
    With a .VHD file, created by the built-in backup utility in Windows 7, you can use the disk management utility to mount the image/VHD (virtual hard disk), in the case of a .TIB file created with Acronis, you can use the Acronis Software itself to do basically the same thing, although with Acornis installed you can generally just navigate/browse the .TIB file by using your mouse and double clicking almost like any other container on your computer.
    The definition is still a good one in the sense that an image "is an exact copy of a drive", it's just not bootable and is not intended to be. It is used as PatCooke explained to recover your existing drive in the event of drive corruption due to a virus infections or other data corruption that leaves your existing drive unuseable. Or in the case of catastrophric mechanical failure of your existing drive to restore your image to a third replacement drive, which you would physcially install into your computer as a replacement for the damaged drive, just not necessarily "mount" it.:)
     
    #16 Trouble, Mar 22, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2011

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