Disaster Planning


Hi - I'm a bear of little brain - which allows me to rush in where angels fear to tread. Not knowing what I'm doing has never discouraged me from experimentation - so I am very familiar with that sinking feeling that accompanies BSOD followed by failure to boot. For many years, life was simple - I used single boot Windows 98/XP/Vista combined with Paragon external backups - so - when I wrecked the OS (regular occurrence) - restore and reboot was simple and painless.
A couple of months ago, I invested in a super-duper i7 2600k and the urge to expand my horizons was irresistible. First there was overclocking - I've got that out of my system - I'm now content to run at stock speeds. Next came dual booting - I tried Ubuntu and liked it - so, I setup Windows 7 (64 bit) first and then installed Ubuntu 10.10 (64 bit) alongside. I switched from Paragon to Clonezilla - since Clonezilla handles all the file systems for windows and linux and works first time every time. UNFORTUNATELY - in a dual boot situation, Clonezilla restore of the ubuntu partition (or of the entire disk W7+ubuntu) always runs into some kind of boot loader problem - it always warns me that I need to REINIT the linux boot loader - and then takes me to a black screen where I'm invited to enter commands - I end up re-installing W7 then Ubuntu and rebuilding the systems - until I run into the next disaster ...

So ... I rubbed my two brain cells together - and concluded that virtualization was the answer - single boot, but multiple OS - therefore simple restore - I spent 2 -3 weeks of solid experimentation with all of the mainstream VM options - in each case, I either ran into BSOD or else the VM was unsatisfactory by virtue of poor sound / no dvd playback / lack of good visual effects or some other situation that I deemed unacceptable.

So - back to dual booting - but this time (unusually) - I want to do it right. This is where EasyBCD comes to the rescue - I hope.
I have printed your guide (Adding Ubuntu to the Windows Bootloader) and found that guide to be simple/painless - dual booting is now quicker and easier. So far so good.

I have got W7 and Ubuntu 11.04 working - everything as I want it to be. I'm using a ramdisk in W7 for all temporary files and downloads - which together with SSD drive makes the OS extremely responsive. I intend to do further work to expand the role of ramdisk for W7 and ubuntu - which means that I'm going to break one of the OS sooner or later.

Now - here's the thing - I want to PLAN for the next disaster - so that recovery is quick and painless - I want to know in advance, exactly what I need to do to get my systems restored and booting without problems.
What preparations should I make to avoid boot problems in future?

Your thoughts/advice would be greatly appreciated.
Hi Joe.

You need a backup program that makes a backup of the whole disk, not individual partitions. That way, when you restore, the UUID of the Linux partition and the UUID-like value of the Windows partition that's used by the BCD will not be modified upon restore.

Or you can just bite the bullet and keep doing what you're doing now, and just follow a few simple steps to get it working again with the help of EasyBCD and our recovery instructions: Recovering the Vista Bootloader from the DVD - NeoSmart Technologies Wiki
Thanks Computer Guru - I have had a very productive day.

I printed some of your recommended guides and I created various DVDs that may prove useful in the event of unforeseen problems.

The first thing I noticed (in Ubuntu) was that my GRUB version was 0.97 - so I followed the guide (Reinstalling GRUB2 from LiveCD) to install GRUB2. As usual the guide was entirely reliable.
On completion of installing GRUB2 - I found that Ubuntu 11.04 would boot - but there was no dual boot menu - Windows 7 was not bootable.
So - I then followed the guide (Repairing the Windows 7/Vista Bootloader) ...
all went well except that the command:

C:\boot\bootsect.exe /nt60 all force

did not work - because bootsect.exe was not present in the /boot directory.
I continued with the guide instructions - bootrec rebuilt the BCD ...
which then allowed me to boot directly into Windows 7 -
I then used EasyBCD to add an entry for GRUB2 linux partition -
which then repaired dual booting - and everything was AOK!

I have subsequently run full disk Clonezilla backup and run the full disk restore - NO PROBLEMS.

I dont know if I will need it, but I copied BOOTSECT.EXE from
/Program Files/Neosmart Technologies/...
just in case it is required for some future eventuality.

In conclusion - I would like to commend you for two things -
1) producing excellent software that provides an essential service and
2) making available guides that are crystal clear and very easy to follow