Move Windows 7 partitions to new drive

time

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I have a PC with a hard disk drive partitioned into 100MB Windows 7 system boot, 120GB C drive, and 1.7TB D drive.

I need to move the Windows 7 boot and C drives to another drive, a 120GB SSD.

I'm really not having fun, and can't seem to find tips that I suspect other people have left here. In particular, I can't seem to persuade Windows to boot from the system partition on the SSD; despite BIOS settings listing the SSD first, Windows says it booted from the original HDD.

After a lot of meetings between head and wall, I think I've solved the other problems I had, by using the Paragon Rescue Kit to correct the BCD (Boot Configuration Data) file.

I made the partitions with gPartEd (through Parted Magic) and copied them with Clonezilla.
 

ddrueding

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I just did something fairly similar?

1. Clone first two partitions to SSD, resize as necessary.
2. Disconnect original drive, leave only the SSD for booting.
3. Confirm that the startup is working and that your OS/Apps survived the move
4. Connect HDD and destroy old OS partitions, resize data partition.

I used Acronis. What problems are you having at the moment.
 

time

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When I disconnect the HDD and boot from the SSD, Windows complains that it's missing an object(?), presumably meaning there are links to the HDD.
 

Bozo

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Isn't there going to be a problem with the SSD offset? If you cloned the original from a HDD it is going to have a standard install without the offset.
 

ddrueding

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I've never bothered with anything regarding offset of anything, and I don't have any noticeable performance issues.
 

time

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You can probably fix whatever it is either with bcdedit or with EasyBCD.

Tried EasyBCD; seems like yet another handy tool that would be standard in a Linux distro but M$ couldn't care less about.

Unfortunately, I hosed my boot completely with it, so it's definitely not idiot proof. :oops:

The fact that you have to mess about yourself putting it on a WinPE disc isn't very exciting. You can re-allocate drive letters with the free bootable copy of Partition Wizard, BTW (as well as the free Paragon Rescue Kit).

So I had fun, but it didn't help.
 

mubs

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I remember reading somewhere that when you install Win-7, if other partitions / drives are present, it writes small files on them and causes this kind of problem when the Win-7 partition is moved later. Bit fuzzy on the issues, but this may be what you experienced.
 

LunarMist

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I remember reading somewhere that when you install Win-7, if other partitions / drives are present, it writes small files on them and causes this kind of problem when the Win-7 partition is moved later. Bit fuzzy on the issues, but this may be what you experienced.

Sure is, but how is it fixed?
 

Stereodude

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Did that. See my second post.
I'm not sure what else to suggest. I used gparted and Clonezilla to move a Windows 7 Home Premium system from a spinning HD to a SSD without any issues.

What is the exact specific error Windows 7 complains about?
 

time

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I went through quite a few tools in this quest to assert control over Windows 7 x64:

  • PartedMagic 6 - fatal graphics problem with either the Radeon card or the Sandy Bridge chipset
  • PartedMagic 5.10 - bootable disc that includes GPartEd and Clonezilla (although this version of Clonezilla was incredibly slow)
  • Clonezilla - can't copy to a partition that's even a couple of empty blocks smaller than the source, weirdly can only copy over the top of existing partitions (the opposite of the normal safety precautions you'd expect from a partition management tool), couldn't copy the Windows 7 system (100MB) partition accurately, resulting in Windows and other tools being unable to identify the format (still seemed to work, but it reduced my confidence in the product)
  • Paragon Rescue Kit - free bootable CD that fixes basic Windows 7 boot problems; there's a paid 'technician' version that has more options. I found it recommended on a couple of forums, it's great for a free product.
  • EasyBCD - need to install it, interesting but a bit meh.
  • Partition Wizard - free bootable CD (also paid versions) that is your archetypal partition management software. Main problem is that it is completely clueless regarding alignment issues. Otherwise a handy free tool.
  • Windows 7 x64 recovery disc - it fixed one of my configurations, other than that it's a useless POS that may damage your setup - as you would expect from Microsoft. At one stage, it couldn't see any OS, went ahead with the 'repair' anyway and just sat there for 20 minutes with only the Cancel button not grayed out. I clicked it and it told me that the "current operation can not be canceled". Real cute.
  • Paragon Hard Disk Manager 2011 Suite - I got fed up and bought this for $50 ($35 with one of the many discount offers that they send to their mailing list). It does absolutely everything (including the BCD repair), can be either installed or comes with a bootable PE version, and ... wait for it ...

    Aligns partitions perfectly every time, even when resizing, etc (I checked).

    I'm sure there are flaws (eg the time remaining estimates are laughable, the CD takes 5 minutes to boot), but while I'm surrounded by crap products that don't work as advertised, it's impossible to recommend this too highly.
 

Stereodude

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Clonezilla worked perfectly for me, but I did a disk to disk clone and the source had the same (or less) blocks / sectors used by partitions than were available on the target drive. I simply used gparted to align / resize the partitions on the source spinning HD to fit the target SSD and it worked without any issues (including the 100MB system partition).
 

time

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So I took this experiment further in an effort to test the software that created the situation, CMS Bounceback. It backs up your main partition to another drive (in this case internal, but it can be an external USB), which you can then use to boot from if the primary drive fails.

Very cool and that part does work. I unknowingly went off the rails by utilizing the remainder of the backup drive to store user data:

SSD: 100MB + 120GB (primary)
HDD: 100MB + 120GB + 1.7TB (backup boot partition(s) + user data)

Unfortunately, I failed to test the next step, which is putting Humpty Dumpty back together again after he falls off the wall. In other words, when you replace the failed primary drive.

Turns out, the Bounceback software assumes the backup drive is an exact copy of the original drive and attempts to restore all the partitions on the backup drive to the replacement drive. This isn't so obvious at it seems, because during the backup you get some level of control over what will be backed up.

So my first effort was to duplicate what the software was trying to do, and I mostly succeeded once I had the tools, but it also required uninstalling and reinstalling the software to stop it thinking it was still the backup copy. Once I did this, it no longer recognized the actual backup drive and insisted on repartitioning it for future backups!

CMS now informs me that the software monopolizes the backup drive for its own purposes, so even if you have only a 120GB primary drive, you still have to waste a 500GB or bigger USB drive just to backup that boot partition (doesn't support network drives).

So I tried to be clever and replicated the boot partition(s) to yet another drive, which I then ran Bounceback from and told it to restore the SSD primary drive. Unfortunately, it didn't f*cking work! It went through the motions and the SSD now boots Windows, but all I see is a blue-gray screen instead of a desktop. :(

I've tried to repair it with some of the 8 different tools I mentioned, but no dice. So I conclude the software is yet another POS that doesn't do what it's supposed to do. Unfortunately, I hounded the customer into buying it, so I'm trying to work out what my next move is. Can anyone recommend a *simple*, *free* and *reliable* image backup that I can use instead?

I've spent days on this because I was counting on that poxy software for much bigger things. :( It's also taught me that it's unlikely to be commercially viable to recover a damaged copy of Windows 7. :(
 

time

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I've never bothered with anything regarding offset of anything, and I don't have any noticeable performance issues.

As I understand it, alignment is more of a problem for SSD write performance rather than read performance, so you probably wouldn't notice anything obvious.

Unfortunately, it can also affect SSD longevity and ongoing responsiveness (I think).
 

time

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When you install, do it with a single physical disk connected, and preferably no other partitions on the drive. Add the other partitions and disks after install is finished.

I was mindful of this when I did the initial install (thanks to Ddrueding for posting the tip quite some time back). Unfortunately, this was not an install, it was a recovery.

You're right though, I think most of my problems were due to Windows continually reassigning drive letters at each boot. It's out of control, a few times it assigned a drive letter to the 100MB system partition on the non-booting drive. And the blue-gray screen I had turned out to be Windows deciding it was booting from drive F! Being Windows, anything other than drive C completely breaks the installation (everything is stored with absolute directory paths).
 

time

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The Acronis/WD free edition should work.
Also the Acronis/Seagate free edition.

I suppose they might if I had either a WD or Seagate drive. :???:

Not sure what I would gain over the free version of Partition Wizard - both don't respect partition alignments. That's why I was trying to follow in Stereodude's footsteps and use Clonezilla.
 

time

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To sum up: I was restoring what is effectively a dual-booting setup, with two drives and 5 partitions between them. Windows 7 plays merry hell with this if it has any chance at all, and none of the tools I used could stop it completely. The easiest solution in general (which I used so much I was worried about the SATA connectors) is to unplug anything you don't want it to see. You *must* have a boot corrector tool that runs from a bootable CD or USB drive, in particular one that can reassign drive letters. I recommended the free Paragon Rescue Kit.

The reason there are 5 partitions are:
1. Microsoft is stupid (that's 2 that we don't actually need)
2. One partition is a shadow copy of the boot partition (for when your SSD fails)
3. The data partition is separate from the boot partition

For what it's worth, I managed to restore the functionality of the Bounceback software, but it clearly is unable to restore the backup to the replacement drive - in this scenario anyway, it might work if you have a single drive with a single partition backed up to a removable USB drive, which is their main focus.

The point of persevering with Bounceback is that it automatically shadow copies the SSD to a partition on the HDD. If and when the SSD fails (and it did), there is immediate failover available. Things went off the rails big time when I replaced the SSD and asked the software to restore to it without affecting anything else. With hindsight, all I had to do was remove an entry in the Startup menu folder and change the desktop wallpaper. CMS support could have saved me many, many hours of trial and error if they had actually answered that question when I asked them. :p
 

Mercutio

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You do not even want to KNOW what I had to go through to get a triple-booting sysprep image working on my classroom PCs. I have to lay down an initial image to get the geometry of the partitions right and then re-image each of Vista and Windows 7 so that their installers don't fuck up the system partitions for each other. It took me weeks to figure out the right order of operations.
 

Howell

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For what it's worth, I managed to restore the functionality of the Bounceback software, but it clearly is unable to restore the backup to the replacement drive - in this scenario anyway, it might work if you have a single drive with a single partition backed up to a removable USB drive, which is their main focus.

The point of persevering with Bounceback is that it automatically shadow copies the SSD to a partition on the HDD. If and when the SSD fails (and it did), there is immediate failover available. Things went off the rails big time when I replaced the SSD and asked the software to restore to it without affecting anything else. With hindsight, all I had to do was remove an entry in the Startup menu folder and change the desktop wallpaper. CMS support could have saved me many, many hours of trial and error if they had actually answered that question when I asked them. :p

I was really hoping for better results from BounceBack. I had read in the past that in order to boot from the USB drive the first step is to remove the HD from the external casing and install it into the computer. It is bound to get complicated with a mix of ATA/SATA/SSD. Can you comment?
 

time

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That step is only supposed to be necessary if you can't boot from USB.

As it happened, I was unable to boot from a USB drive; I think I tried to get Bounceback to recover to it and it failed to boot properly - but at that stage I hadn't appreciated how aggressively Windows 7 keeps changing the drive letters.

Anyway, then I pulled the drive from the USB adaptor and used it as a working drive during all the messing about.

My experience turned nasty because I had tried to be too clever and placed the backup partition on a drive with other data. Bounceback insists on partitioning a backup drive before use, which is disastrous if you have other stuff on the drive. I was a smartass and added my own partition *after* Bounceback had done its partitioning, which worked fine for backups, but the software is apparently too limited to track which partitions belong to it and which don't, meaning I couldn't restore. Once I understood the Windows 7 issues and acquired the right tools, I was able to do my own recovery, but then Bounceback wanted to repartition the drive - that also held user data.

So I was in a circular dilemma, particularly because I wanted the user to continue to be able to use Bounceback in the future. I ended up copying the backup partitions (don't forget there are two with Windows 7) to an empty scratch drive, recovering from that to the SSD, launching a backup (which overwrote the scratch drive), then substituting the original drive with the extra data for the scratch drive. All the while fixing drive letters between boots.

With hindsight, I only needed to use another tool to copy the partitions (I recommend Paragon Drive Manager because it respects alignments) to the replacement SSD, fix the drive letters and BCD, remove the entry from the Startup menu and change the desktop wallpaper. But hindsight is sometimes hard earned.

Without my unique complications, the Bounceback Recovery should have worked (it did when I created the scratch copy), except probably for drive letters etc as I described. You'd have to experiment, but yes, it is a disappointment, especially since I wanted to use it with a server with more drives!

To Bounceback's credit, none of the Microsoft or Adobe software required reactivation.
 

mubs

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Before Symantec acquired Partition Magic, screwed it up and then killed it, it used to align partitions. it was the tool to have to manage disks and partitions. Is it reasonable to assume that today Paragon Hard Disk Manager 2011 Suite would be the tool to have?
 

time

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You'd have to see what Acronis comes up with. They used to lead the pack.

I have to admit to a slight bias against Acronis these days. I've had zero success with their 'free align tools' for both Samsung and Hitachi drives.

But I'd definitely try the limited function download of the Paragon product to see if you like the feel; when you're playing with partitions and data, you need to have some confidence in the product.
 
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