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How Best to Convert Dell/Win7 for Cloning (Read 11901 times)
NightOwl
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How Best to Convert Dell/Win7 for Cloning
Apr 12th, 2010 at 1:04am
 
To all

I helped a friend set up their new Dell computer with Win7 last week--it came with a single 640 GB HDD that was partitioned as follows (this is what I saw in Disk Management):

*Recovery*            approx. 10 GB    (System, etc...?  Does this partition have a
                                                          *Restore to Original Factory Software* Image File?)

*C:\*                      approx. 565 GB/10GB used

*Dell OEM*             approx. 55 MB  (is this the *Utility* partition?)

The system did not come with a Win7 OS installation disc.  I could not browse the *Recovery* partition or the *Dell OEM* partition--so I don't know exactly what was on them.

There has been a discussion in the DOS Ghost forum on how best to set up Win7 for using Ghost 2003 for cloning:  Ghost 2003 strategy for Windows 7


But my question is--how to best convert the above Dell system setup for better cloning and data storage--regardless of whether using Ghost or some other imaging software?



What I'd like to know how to do is:



1a.  Setup the above system so it does not need the *Recovery* Partition for booting (I think this is the Win7 System Reserved Partition (SRP) as well as possible a software recovery partition for Dell's OEM restore image file).

1b.  Eliminate the *Recovery* Partition if it's no longer needed for booting

2.  Be able to eliminate the *Dell OEM* partition

3.  Add a second *Data* partition in addition to C:\--so a D:\ partition

4.  Add a second HDD for storage of image files for recovery purposes




Brian has mentioned in several threads how to eliminate the Win7 *100 MB System Reserved Partition which you don't need and is a pain* if you already have it--I assume that is what's on the *Recovery* partition, in addition to possibly a *recovery image file*--because it was ID'd as being the *System* partition, among other things, in Disk Management.

Remember, there is no Win7 installation disc to do boot repairs if you wish to delete the above *Recovery* partition that I think is also the Win7 SRP partition as well!

So, I'm not necessarily asking about using Ghost specifically.  And, I suspect this issue occurs with HP systems as well--I think they have a similar partitioning scheme on their systems.

I'm looking for a discussion as to how best to be able to take back control of one's system to use whatever imaging program without needing the Windows SRP partition and not having to depend on a *Restore back to Factory Fresh* starting point if one needs to recover from problems!

So, if there have been previous posts in other forums that address this issue--please post links in response to this thread.

Thanks for any responses for this *project*!
 

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Dan Goodell
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Re: How Best to Convert Dell/Win7 for Cloning
Reply #1 - Apr 12th, 2010 at 5:54am
 
Dell computers:

Your understanding of the partitions is correct.  Note the order of the partitions, though, as it will have an impact on any repartitioning plans.

In a typical Dell/Win7 layout, the first partition ('DellUtility') is usually 47-100 MB, and is CHS-aligned.  The partition is booted via the bios one-time boot menu (F12 during POST).  The "Dell Diagnostics" utility itself is readily available from Dell's website, so keeping the on-disk partition is optional.  Some people like to keep it because it has historically been more convenient to use than downloading the utility and running it from a DOS boot CD or flash drive.  A few years ago, however, Dell began changing their bios firmware.  Now when you press F12, it will eventually boot partition-1 but not until the bios completes a new and very lengthy "Pre-boot System Assessment" routine.  PSA can take 10 minutes or more to run, and there's no way to bypass it.  Accordingly, I find nowadays it's more convenient to run Dell Diagnostics from a bootable CD instead of via F12.

The second partition ('Recovery') is typically around 10 GB, 2048-aligned, and does indeed contain the factory recovery image ('\dell\image\factory.wim') in image-x format.  Booting this partition is an option on the F8 Windows boot menu.  Note this partition is in front of the main OS partition, so if you choose to delete it, recovering the use of that disk space is not as straightforward as it would be if the recovery partition were behind the OS partition.  If you ever lose the factory restore option from the F8 menu (not a rare occurrence), see this reference.  Although the link describes booting from a Vista Reinstallation DVD, all you actually need is any WinPE environment, so this technique should work equally well from a XP CD's recovery environment, a BartPE disk, or via a command-prompt window with the Dell HDD attached to another Windows computer.

The third partition ('OS') is 2048-aligned, and occupies the rest of the disk space.

On certain laptops Dell includes a fourth partition ('MediaDirect').  This is roughly 2.5 GB, 2048-aligned, and is at the very end of the disk as a logical volume in an extended partition.

In a Dell/Vista system: partition-3 is the active partition, F8 can boot either 'Recovery' or 'OS', and 'Recovery' has a drive letter when 'OS' is booted.  In a Dell/Win7 system: partition-2 is the active partition, F8 can boot either 'Recovery' or 'OS', and 'Recovery' does not have a drive letter when 'OS' is booted--but you should be able to give it one via Disk Mgmt when you need to access its contents.

With 640 GB to work with, there should be little need to get rid of the 'DellUtility' or 'Recovery' partitions.  I would still recommend changing the system partition, but unless you're multibooting you shouldn't need to remove any existing partitions.  Adding or adjusting the size of an extended partition should be all you need to accomodate one or more separate 'Data' partitions.

As you've noted, Brian has elsewhere covered how to move the BCD and system files from partition-2 to partition-3.  I would also recommend editing the BCD boot entries to make 'OS' more immune to partition changes.


HP computers:

I haven't examined any HP/Win7 systems yet, but the HP/Vista systems I've examined use a somewhat different approach.  The recovery partition is at the very end of the disk and is an unhidden NTFS WinPE recovery environment.  You boot into it via F9 at POST (or is it F10?  I can't remember--one key is to bios setup, the other is the one-time boot menu).  I don't think the recovery image itself is in Microsoft's image-x format, but might still be a proprietary app HP licenses from elsewhere.

If you want to examine a HP recovery partition, it typically has a drive letter when booted into Win7.  However, HP manipulates Windows Explorer's autorun and display "features" to discourage casual perusal of its contents.  There are several files in the root of the recovery partition that are designed to catch the most common ways a Windows user might try to get nosey.  Their 'SH' attributes are marked, though, so you'll need to first have things set to view hidden system files to see them.  Here's a description of some of these blocker files:

    warning.bmp - (a "HP Invent" graphic used by folder.htt)

    folder.htt - (a "Recovery Partition, Warning!" html page that Explorer displays when you try to open the drive folder ... if renamed to folder.htm you can review it in any browser)

    protect.ed - (same as folder.htt but different format ... if renamed to
    protect.doc it can be viewed in MS-Word)

    desktop.ini - includes the following lines:
         [ShellvRTF]
         RTFPath="protect.ed"

    autorun.inf - includes the following lines:
         [AUTORUN]
         ShellExecute=Info.exe protect.ed 480 480

    info.exe - (the autorun executable)


[EDIT]:  This post inspired me to take a look at a HP/Vista laptop I happened to have on the workbench at the moment.  It turns out the factory recovery image ("\preload\base.wim") is indeed in image-x format.  Like Dell, HP created their own restore app (well, licensed from Softhink, it appears) to prettify the restore process.  It looks like the wim file can be restored just as well with image-x.  Unlike Dell, however, HP does not include Microsoft's free image-x utility in the recovery partition, so you'd have to get it yourself.

 
 
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Re: How Best to Convert Dell/Win7 for Cloning
Reply #2 - Apr 19th, 2010 at 11:56pm
 
@
NightOwl

What did you decide to do?
 
 
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Re: How Best to Convert Dell/Win7 for Cloning
Reply #3 - May 25th, 2010 at 10:26pm
 
@
Brian

Well, my friend decided to not let me *experiment* on his system--mostly because I don't have any *hands on* experience with this as yet!  He does not have a backup/restore setup either--I've been trying to convince him to proceed--but he doesn't want to invest in additional HDDs and software at the moment.  So I was hesitant to push the idea further!

But, what I was hoping for was your input to links where you discuss how to avoid and/or remove the SRP--such as this thread:  Windows 7 and SRP
--How to Remove the SRP--see Reply #7!


Do you have other links that would be helpful!
 

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Re: How Best to Convert Dell/Win7 for Cloning
Reply #4 - May 26th, 2010 at 12:21am
 
@
NightOwl

There is interesting stuff here.

http://www.terabyteunlimited.com/kb/category.php?id=61

To avoid getting a SRP, install Win7 into a partition. Don't choose unallocated space in the Win7 install setup.

You can install into a legacy cylinder aligned partition or a 2048 sector aligned partition. The former would be preferable if you plan to use Ghost 2003.

If you create the partition with Acronis Disk Director you must let the Win7 setup format the partition (again) or the install will abort. This doesn't apply to Partition Magic.

If you have a Win7 setup with 2048 sector aligned partitions, don't let Partition Magic anywhere near it. PM will offer to correct "errors" and will cause partition overlap. Win7 will no longer boot until the partition overlaps are corrected.

Installing Win7 is easy. Easier than the preceding Windows OS and I'm amazed at how it automatically downloads drivers for much of your old hardware. I'm still using WinXP as my main OS but I'll be happy to move to Win7 full time with my next computer.

Multi-booting Win7 is just as easy as WinXP. I have 4 Win7 flavours on this computer. Mainly out of date betas.

This is interesting. Installing Win7 from a USB flash drive. You need to use diskpart from a Vista or Win7 system. Or that Active@BootDisk I told you about. Diskpart in WinXP can't see USB drives.

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/magazine/dd535816.aspx
 
 
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Re: How Best to Convert Dell/Win7 for Cloning
Reply #5 - May 26th, 2010 at 3:21am
 
A video on "Installing Windows 7 to its Own Primary Partition". It is 7 MB.

http://www.terabyteunlimited.com/videos/bing/win7.wmv

BING oriented but you don't necessarily need to use BING. Just install into an active, primary partition.
 
 
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Re: How Best to Convert Dell/Win7 for Cloning
Reply #6 - May 26th, 2010 at 5:11am
 
Brian,

Quote:
Just install into an active, primary partition.

A clarification, please: Should the full space of the HDD be allocated with no free space, e.g. 100 GB + 900 GB on a 1 TB HDD or would creating/formating a 100 GB partition with 900 GB free on a 1 TB HDD suffice? The former leaves no free space for Windows 7 to create a SRP but the latter does.
 

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Re: How Best to Convert Dell/Win7 for Cloning
Reply #7 - May 26th, 2010 at 1:03pm
 
@
Christer

Christer wrote on May 26th, 2010 at 5:11am:
would creating/formating a 100 GB partition with 900 GB free on a 1 TB HDD suffice? 

That is fine. Installing Win7 into the 100 GB partition will not create a SRP in the 900 GB of free space. That's how I do it in my test computer. Win7 is installed into a small (10 GB) active, primary partition. Some folks get into trouble when they have more than one primary partition and they install into a primary partition that is not the active, primary partition. The booting files are always installed into the active, primary partition so they inadvertently finish up with a very large "SRP". Win7 still works OK but it is not an ideal situation.

If you tried the reverse, installing Win7 into the 900 GB of free space, you would get a SRP. In my experience, the SRP is always 100 MB. In Disk Management the SRP is the Active, System partition. So when restoring a Win7 partition with Ghost 15, don't set it Active if there is a SRP. When restoring the SRP, set it Active.
 
 
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Re: How Best to Convert Dell/Win7 for Cloning
Reply #8 - May 26th, 2010 at 3:44pm
 
Brian,
thanks for the clarification. I have no partition management tool and as you may recall, my first Windows 7 installation took a detour over Windows XP which was (temporarily) installed first, only to create and format the partitions. Now, I know that creating/formatting C: is sufficient.
 

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Re: How Best to Convert Dell/Win7 for Cloning
Reply #9 - May 26th, 2010 at 4:12pm
 
@
Christer

You can start with a blank HD and let the Win7 setup create a partition. But it also creates a 100 MB SRP. Click "Advanced" and delete the SRP. Then the install will go as you really wanted. I've done this a few times but I'm a little fuzzy on details as I usually use BING to setup the partition. I'll do it again and provide details.
 
 
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Re: How Best to Convert Dell/Win7 for Cloning
Reply #10 - May 26th, 2010 at 4:18pm
 
I too am a little fuzzy ... Shocked ... and I assume those 100 MB are at the front of the disk and I don't want them there. My assumption is based on the ability of Windows 7 to resize partitions and those 100 MB, if still used as the SRP, would be in the way if positioned "behind" C:, right?
 

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Re: How Best to Convert Dell/Win7 for Cloning
Reply #11 - May 26th, 2010 at 5:36pm
 
@
Christer

OK. Installing Win7 to a blank HD.

choose a Custom install
click Drive options (advanced)
click new and choose a partition size (say 10000 MB)
you will then see a message about "Windows might create additional partitions for system files"
the partitions appear with a 100 MB SRP as the first partition
delete the SRP and you will have 100 MB of unallocated space preceding your 10 GB partition

Win7 will install without a SRP but you will have 100 MB of unallocated space preceding the Win7 partition. It is better to create your own partition before you boot from the Win7 DVD as you won't have this wasted space. Sure, you can remove that space but a Win7 slide (move) takes time.
 
 
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Re: How Best to Convert Dell/Win7 for Cloning
Reply #12 - May 26th, 2010 at 11:22pm
 
@
Brian

Thanks for the additional feedback--every bit helps!!!!

Quote:
I'm still using WinXP as my main OS but I'll be happy to move to Win7 full time with my next computer.

I'm not too sure I'm going to like Win7--may switch back to WinXP--see here:  Computing Woes and Frustrations

I'm out of town for a couple days--so I'm not ignoring any replies!!!!
 

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