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Image Windows 7 boot partition using Ghost (Read 12585 times)
DantheMan
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Image Windows 7 boot partition using Ghost
Aug 14th, 2011 at 12:23pm
 
Hey there folks!

Dan here, been browsing a bit and first of all just want to say how great it is to find such an awesome community! Smiley

I have an old backup PC that runs pretty much 24x7, and the primary HDD has just started developing a serious case of bad sectors. Obviously, I want to replace it with a new drive ASAP, before it gives up its ghost. Smiley The drive is a 250 GB SATA one, with a 60 GB active NTFS primary partition (with Windows 7) and the rest (~173 GB) as another primary partition (with data). I also have a couple of 1 and 2 TB SATA drives in there as well with multiple NTFS primary partitions in each.

I want to replace the 250 GB drive with a new fast 500 GB one. I was thinking of copying the existing 60 GB boot partition as-is, and once I'm in Windows I'll partition/format the remaining space and copy the data from partition #2 of the old drive.

Now what would be the best way to go about this? I have Ghost.exe (Ghost 2003) copied to a bootable USB stick with WinXP PE. Do I need any more files? Is it as simple as booting from the stick into LiveXP, copying the 60GB boot partition to an image on one of the other HDDs using Ghost, then replacing the HDD and restoring the image? If so, some questions:

1) Do I have to set any options while copying the partition to an image, to ensure Ghost copies the MBR/boot code etc. completely?

2) Do I need to partition the new HDD first, or will restoring the image automatically create a 60 GB bootable active primary partition (as I have at present) and leave the remaining space unallocated?

3) Will the restore allow me to boot into Windows 7 normally, or will I need to repair the installation?

4) Will I need to re-activate Windows?

Hope the experts here can let me know exactly what I need to do.

Cheers! Smiley
 
 
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Brian
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Re: Image Windows 7 boot partition using Ghost
Reply #1 - Aug 14th, 2011 at 3:56pm
 
Dan,

I suggest creating an image of the Win7 partition as soon as possible. If you have too many bad sectors the project won't work.

Do you have a 100 MB SRP (system reserved partition)? It will show in Disk Management.
Is the Win7 partition 2048 sector aligned? I guess the only way it wouldn't be is if you installed Win7 into a cylinder aligned partition. How did you install Win7? Into a partition or into unallocated space. If it was a partition, which partitioning app did you use?

 
 
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Dan Goodell
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Re: Image Windows 7 boot partition using Ghost
Reply #2 - Aug 14th, 2011 at 6:12pm
 
DantheMan wrote on Aug 14th, 2011 at 12:23pm:
I have Ghost.exe (Ghost 2003) copied to a bootable USB stick with WinXP PE.

I thought ghost.exe from Ghost 2003 was a 16-bit, real-mode executable, which means it won't run from PE.  Are you talking about a different version--Ghost 8.3, perhaps?

Regardless, Job #1 is to get an image of that OS partition ASAP.  If you don't get a usable image, all the rest of the issues are irrelevant.

As for potential "gotchas" in the process, a lot will depend on your answers to Brian's questions.  I'm guessing you're talking about a computer that did not come with OEM Win7 and that you upgraded at some point to a retail Win7 with WPA activation online?




 
 
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DantheMan
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Re: Image Windows 7 boot partition using Ghost
Reply #3 - Aug 21st, 2011 at 6:22pm
 
Brian, Dan - thank you both very much for the prompt replies! Unfortunately, a family emergency kept me away from home these last few days, so I was unable to respond.

@Brian: I don't have that 100 MB SRP, since I used my LiveXP USB to partition the drive into two first. Not sure about sector aligning, but as I just said, partitioned (not formatted if I remember correctly) using XP and then did the rest via Win7 setup (yep, retail copy activated online). Formatted the second partition from within Win7 once it was up and running.

@Dan: I will image the 60GB partition immediately, however before that I need an answer to query #1 above (how to copy the MBR/boot code completely) if you would be so kind. Also, can I skip bad sectors during image creation, and how do I go about ensuring that the image is fine so that I don't find myself up the creek without a paddle later when I need to restore?

BTW, since Brian mentioned sector aligning, I was just checking out new drives and saw that the bigger ones are all Advanced Format? Some manufacturers even provide an "aligning" utility to be run after install. I'm not too sure what this is all about, but I think it sorta ties in to query #3 above, in that will the restore work or do I have to repair the installation, run the align utility and what not? If there's so much work involved, I might as well give Ghost a go-by, back up my data and simply reinstall Windows and my apps and re-customize everything and so on... (Sigh!)
 
 
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Re: Image Windows 7 boot partition using Ghost
Reply #4 - Aug 21st, 2011 at 7:05pm
 
Dan,

Your Win7 partition alignment is almost certainly cylinder which Ghost 2003 "prefers".

Here is an interesting article which should be reassuring.

http://www.terabyteunlimited.com/kb/article.php?id=546
 
 
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Re: Image Windows 7 boot partition using Ghost
Reply #5 - Aug 28th, 2011 at 1:01pm
 
Sorry for the delay in replying (too many things going on right now; haven't found time to touch my old PC).

Thanks Brian for the link to that tutorial, but would someone be so kind as to answer my specific queries above (first post), especially #1 and 2?
 
 
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Re: Image Windows 7 boot partition using Ghost
Reply #6 - Aug 29th, 2011 at 4:08am
 
DantheMan wrote on Aug 14th, 2011 at 12:23pm:
I want to replace the 250 GB drive with a new fast 500 GB one. I was thinking of copying the existing 60 GB boot partition as-is, and once I'm in Windows I'll partition/format the remaining space and copy the data from partition #2 of the old drive.

Okay, so that means you'll be doing partition-to-partition (or partition-to/from-image) instead of disk-to-disk (or disk-to/from-image).



Quote:
1) Do I have to set any options while copying the partition to an image, to ensure Ghost copies the MBR/boot code etc. completely?

I never use those options and don't have a reference handy.  (Brian might, or if not, I think NightOwl probably has a link somewhere to the command-line switches.)

Rather than using Ghost options, though, I recommend using Mbrwork to copy the boot track (first 63 sectors) of the source HDD and simply paste it onto the new HDD.  This guarantees you'll have an exact replica of the MBR, boot code, DiskID, and partition table.  In fact, that has the effect of also "partitioning" the new HDD by laying out the partition boundaries.  (Technically, the partitions will be left "raw" and unformatted, but that's inconsequential because the partition will become formatted as a byproduct of restoring an image.)

Once you've got the boot track and partition layout in place, you can restore your OS image with an ordinary partition-from-image restore.



Quote:
2) Do I need to partition the new HDD first, or will restoring the image automatically create a 60 GB bootable active primary partition (as I have at present) and leave the remaining space unallocated?

Copying the boot track will have the side-effect of partitioning and carrying over the active partition boot flag.  The partitions will be the same size as they are on the source HDD, which means you'll have additional unallocated space beyond the first 250GB.

Restoring the OS image will take care of formatting the OS partition as part of the process.

Once you're back in Windows, use Disk Mgmt to format the raw data partition.

You can also use Disk Mgmt to manage the unallocated 250GB by either creating a third partition, or extending the existing data partition, or deleting the data partition and recreating it larger to fill the space.



Quote:
3) Will the restore allow me to boot into Windows 7 normally, or will I need to repair the installation?

Ah, there's the fly in the ointment.  Win7 uses a BCD instead of XP's boot.ini file.  Ghost 2003 knows nothing about BCD, so cannot adjust the BCD during the cloning/restoring process to make sure Win7 will still boot.  Most likely, the clone will not boot without repairing the installation.  If you've still got the Win7 DVD, though, that's not a difficult task.

In order to use Ghost 2003 effectively, you need to edit the Win7 BCD to "generalize" it--that is, to tell it to boot the boot partition instead of some particular, specific partition.  When you initially installed Win7, the installation routine by default would have set up the BCD to point to a specific partition--which the BCD subsequently won't be able to find after you've cloned it.  Since you don't have a SRP, you can edit the BCD to tell it, "Just boot whichever is the active partition," and Ghost 2003 will be able to clone the OS partition and it will boot.  (If you had a SRP, this technique wouldn't work.)

The BCD can be edited with BootIt-BM.  Or better yet, just forget about Ghost 2003 altogether and use BootIt-BM to do your cloning/imaging.



Quote:
4) Will I need to re-activate Windows?

Probably not.  WPA is based on a kind of points system, where changes made to the hardware score points.  If you've made enough hardware changes to accumulate enough points, reactivation is triggered.  For instance, changing a network adapter counts as four points, while changing the HDD counts as one point.  So if the HDD is the only change you've made since initially activating Windows, it won't trigger reactivation.

(Aside: I don't know this for sure, but my impression is the HDD doesn't even count as a change unless the DiskID or the position of the OS partition are changed.  Copying the boot track with Mbrwork would keep the same DiskID and keep the OS partition in the same exact place that is was on the source HDD, so I suspect it wouldn't even accumulate a point.)




 
 
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DantheMan
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Re: Image Windows 7 boot partition using Ghost
Reply #7 - Aug 29th, 2011 at 12:43pm
 
A far quicker reply this time from me! Smiley Thanks Dan for the detailed response, much appreciated.

Dan Goodell wrote on Aug 29th, 2011 at 4:08am:
Okay, so that means you'll be doing partition-to-partition (or partition-to/from-image) instead of disk-to-disk (or disk-to/from-image).

Yes, I just want to image the boot partition, and backup only the necessary data from the data partition (have already done this in fact).

Dan Goodell wrote on Aug 29th, 2011 at 4:08am:
Rather than using Ghost options, though, I recommend using Mbrwork to copy the boot track (first 63 sectors) of the source HDD and simply paste it onto the new HDD.  This guarantees you'll have an exact replica of the MBR, boot code, DiskID, and partition table.  In fact, that has the effect of also "partitioning" the new HDD by laying out the partition boundaries.  (Technically, the partitions will be left "raw" and unformatted, but that's inconsequential because the partition will become formatted as a byproduct of restoring an image.)

Once you've got the boot track and partition layout in place, you can restore your OS image with an ordinary partition-from-image restore.

Cool, this sounds like an easy enough solution to follow. Thanks for the link!

Dan Goodell wrote on Aug 29th, 2011 at 4:08am:
Ah, there's the fly in the ointment.  Win7 uses a BCD instead of XP's boot.ini file.  Ghost 2003 knows nothing about BCD, so cannot adjust the BCD during the cloning/restoring process to make sure Win7 will still boot.  Most likely, the clone will not boot without repairing the installation.  If you've still got the Win7 DVD, though, that's not a difficult task.

In order to use Ghost 2003 effectively, you need to edit the Win7 BCD to "generalize" it--that is, to tell it to boot the boot partition instead of some particular, specific partition.  When you initially installed Win7, the installation routine by default would have set up the BCD to point to a specific partition--which the BCD subsequently won't be able to find after you've cloned it.  Since you don't have a SRP, you can edit the BCD to tell it, "Just boot whichever is the active partition," and Ghost 2003 will be able to clone the OS partition and it will boot.  (If you had a SRP, this technique wouldn't work.)

The BCD can be edited with BootIt-BM.  Or better yet, just forget about Ghost 2003 altogether and use BootIt-BM to do your cloning/imaging.

I'm a bit confused. Since the exact boot code and primary partition will be recreated using Mbrwork, won't the BCD remain unaffected? Or does it check the specific physical drive used as well (some sort of hardware signature perhaps?)

Just had a look and BootIt BM seems quite nice, but frankly given the current state of the economy, dropping $40 on this or $50 on Acronis True Image Home 2012 (another program I looked at) is a bit difficult at present. I was kinda hoping my copy of Ghost would suffice, plus I also have Ubuntu CDs with me if required and my LiveXP USB as well. Mbrwork seems to be free as well and should work from my LiveXP USB (which can also boot to DOS).

So here's the final plan which I hope you can approve for me:

1) Use Mbrwork to backup the boot code to a file.
2) Use Ghost to image the system partition to a file.
3) Use Mbrwork to restore the boot code to the new HDD.
4) Use Ghost to restore the system partition to the new HDD.
5) Use the Win7 DVD to do a repair install to repair the BCD.
6) Within Windows, mess with the data partitions as required using Disk Management or a 3rd party utility.

Does that sound ok to you? Also, should #4 come before #3, i.e. should I use Ghost first to restore the data, and then Mbrwork to finally restore the boot code?

Also, if you'll just indulge me, one final query regarding Mbrwork as well. Just checked its ReadMe and saw these options:

Quote:
1 - Backup the first track on a hard drive.
2 - Restore the backup file.

C - Capture up to 64 disk sectors to a file.
R - Restore up to 64 disk sectors from a file.


Should I use 1 and 2 or C and R?

Thanks so much for holding my hand during the process. Smiley Am learning a lot, although as you mentioned, whenever possible I'll probably buy a modern program that can deal with all these new-fangled HDD partitions (Advanced Format, GPT etc.) and Windows BCD changes (whatever was wrong with Boot.ini?) so that I don't have to waste my time (that's the major point of this whole exercise after all, right?!)
 
 
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Re: Image Windows 7 boot partition using Ghost
Reply #8 - Aug 30th, 2011 at 4:22am
 
DantheMan wrote on Aug 29th, 2011 at 12:43pm:
I'm a bit confused. Since the exact boot code and primary partition will be recreated using Mbrwork, won't the BCD remain unaffected?

Maybe.  It might work.  But I haven't explored the limits of exactly when things break down, so don't want to mislead anyone by saying it will work.

My understanding is the BCD is GUID-based, so there's more to it than just a DiskID and partition number like it was with XP.  I'm not well enough versed in GUIDs to understand how they're derived.

(FTR, every machine of mine has an edited, "generalized" BCD because it makes my images far more versatile.  Thus, I don't dabble with Microsoft's default BCD on a regular basis.)



Quote:
Just had a look and BootIt BM seems quite nice, but frankly given the current state of the economy, dropping $40 on this or $50 on Acronis True Image Home 2012 (another program I looked at) is a bit difficult at present.

I'm not a big fan of True Image.  It works okay for typical users, but it's hard to justify spending money for it when there are free competitors that work just as well.



Quote:
So here's the final plan which I hope you can approve for me:

1) Use Mbrwork to backup the boot code to a file.
2) Use Ghost to image the system partition to a file.
3) Use Mbrwork to restore the boot code to the new HDD.
4) Use Ghost to restore the system partition to the new HDD.
5) Use the Win7 DVD to do a repair install to repair the BCD.
6) Within Windows, mess with the data partitions as required using Disk Management or a 3rd party utility.

That looks good to me.  Step 3 must come before Step 4--that's what is going to layout the partition boundaries for Step 4 to use.



Quote:
one final query regarding Mbrwork as well. Just checked its ReadMe and saw these options:

Quote:
1 - Backup the first track on a hard drive.
2 - Restore the backup file.

C - Capture up to 64 disk sectors to a file.
R - Restore up to 64 disk sectors from a file.

Option 1 is just a special case of option C.  Option 1 always captures 63 sectors starting from LBA Sector 0, while C lets you specify the starting sector and the number of sectors to backup.  If you tell option C to capture 63 sectors starting from 0, you'll get the same result as option 1.

IIRC, C also lets you choose the filename of the backup file, while 1 defaults to something generic like "backup.bin".



 
 
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Re: Image Windows 7 boot partition using Ghost
Reply #9 - Aug 30th, 2011 at 4:54am
 
Dan,

The latest BootIt BM has a "copy sectors" feature similar to MBRWork. It's a component of TBOSDT in Scripting. The sectors file is saved to the BootIt BM partition.

Out of interest I "copied" the first 2049 sectors of a Win7 system where the Win7 partition had an offset of 1 MB. I then deleted the Win7 partition and chose Clear Boot Sector so Win7 couldn't be Undeleted. The First Track was zeroed from MBRWork. Restoring the 2049 sectors from BootIt BM brought everything back to normal.
 
 
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Re: Image Windows 7 boot partition using Ghost
Reply #10 - Aug 30th, 2011 at 5:21pm
 
Brian wrote on Aug 30th, 2011 at 4:54am:
The latest BootIt BM has a "copy sectors" feature similar to MBRWork. It's a component of TBOSDT in Scripting. The sectors file is saved to the BootIt BM partition.

I haven't dabbled with the BM version, but what does that last part mean?  Does it mean you have to have BootIt-BM *installed* in order to use the "copy sectors" function?  (...because you don't have a BootIt partition unless it's installed, right?)

IAC, DanTheMan indicates he wants to stick to free or already-owned utilities, so he could use Mbrwork guilt-free.



Brian wrote on Aug 30th, 2011 at 4:54am:
Out of interest I "copied" the first 2049 sectors of a Win7 system where the Win7 partition had an offset of 1 MB. I then deleted the Win7 partition and chose Clear Boot Sector so Win7 couldn't be Undeleted. The First Track was zeroed from MBRWork. Restoring the 2049 sectors from BootIt BM brought everything back to normal. 

Is there anything in LBA 63-2047?  On my systems I haven't seen anything but zeroes there, so my practice is to copy only the first 63.  Would your test have been just as successful if you had only backed up the first 63?



 
 
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Re: Image Windows 7 boot partition using Ghost
Reply #11 - Aug 31st, 2011 at 9:02am
 
Dan Goodell wrote on Aug 30th, 2011 at 4:22am:
(FTR, every machine of mine has an edited, "generalized" BCD because it makes my images far more versatile.  Thus, I don't dabble with Microsoft's default BCD on a regular basis.)

I'm certainly gonna look into BootIt BM later and dabble in generalizing my BCDs!

Dan Goodell wrote on Aug 30th, 2011 at 4:22am:
That looks good to me.  Step 3 must come before Step 4--that's what is going to layout the partition boundaries for Step 4 to use.

Awesome, I'm gonna get right to it then. Smiley

BTW, my friend just mentioned that he has a copy of GSS 2.5.1 (which contains if I'm not mistaken Ghost.exe and Ghost32.exe 11.5.1.2266). Since these are Windows 7 aware, do you guys think that just as earlier versions edited Boot.ini automatically while restoring, this version will do the same for the BCD and thus make the restored OS boot without issues?
 
 
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Re: Image Windows 7 boot partition using Ghost
Reply #12 - Aug 31st, 2011 at 4:32pm
 
@
Dan Goodell

I was just messing around to satisfy myself that it worked. I wouldn't choose 2049 sectors in real life. I'd choose 63 sectors as you suggest. My Win7 partition started at LBA-2048 so that's why I "copied" the first 2049 sectors. When I deleted the Win7 partition I also chose "Clear Boot Sector" so LBA-2048 was zeroed.

BM was installed on my computer so abc.bin (backup name) was saved to the BM partition but I could have run BM from a USB flash drive and saved abc.bin to the flash drive. I started to test this but didn't restore abc.bin from the flash drive. The flash drive was seen as HD0 in BM and my first HD was seen as HD3 (three hard drive computer).

After restoring abc.bin, Windows 7 booted normally.

Edit... I ran through this again and I think I gave misleading information in my last post. I didn't zero the first track with MBRWork. I deleted all partitions (except for BM) from the HD prior to restoring abc.bin.
 
 
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Re: Image Windows 7 boot partition using Ghost
Reply #13 - Aug 31st, 2011 at 5:25pm
 
@
DantheMan

DantheMan wrote on Aug 31st, 2011 at 9:02am:
and thus make the restored OS boot without issues? 


I see the non boot (if it happens) with Ghost 2003 as a non issue. You can fix it in 5 minutes with a Win7 DVD or 30 seconds with a BootIt CD.
 
 
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Re: Image Windows 7 boot partition using Ghost
Reply #14 - Aug 31st, 2011 at 6:16pm
 
Brian wrote on Aug 31st, 2011 at 4:32pm:
I was just messing around to satisfy myself that it worked. I wouldn't choose 2049 sectors in real life. I'd choose 63 sectors as you suggest. My Win7 partition started at LBA-2048 so that's why I "copied" the first 2049 sectors. When I deleted the Win7 partition I also chose "Clear Boot Sector" so LBA-2048 was zeroed. 

Ah, right--copying 2049 sectors vs. 2048 . . . so you were accomplishing two things: backing up the boot track and also backing up the first partition's PBR (the first sector of the first partition).  Thus, restoring the 2049-sector backup would have also restored the Win7 partition's PBR.

If we were only concerned about the boot track, I think capturing 63 sectors would have been sufficient.  But that wouldn't capture the first partition's PBR, if that's what one also wanted to do.



 
 
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