Is EasyBCD right for me?

#1
A few months ago I bought an Apple Mac Mini. Using Boot Camp, I configured it to dual boot with Windows 7. Today I copied the Win7 partition using Paragon's Drive Backup 10. This performs a block-level copy, rather than just copying files. I wanted to use the second Win7 partition for stuff like testing out new software, prior to installing it on my main Windows partition.

I've tried using Microsoft's bcdedit utility to set up a boot menu for my 2 x Windows 7 partitions. However, it always seems to boot up into the first Win7 partition, no matter which one I select from the boot menu.

Someone suggested that I ditch bcdedit and try EasyBCD but I have a couple of questions.... firstly, would I need to replace Boot Camp with EastBCD (i.e. to give me a triple-boot option)? Or would I just use it to select between the two Win7 partitions? Secondly, is it free software or if not, how much does it cost?
 

mqudsi

Mostly Harmless
Staff member
#2
Hello Johne53,

EasyBCD is freeware, and it'll cost you zero dollars :smile:

You can try using EasyBCD to set up the dual-boot between the two Windows. DO NOT use it to replace Boot Camp, things could go wrong.

Give it a shot: Download EasyBCD 2.0.2 - NeoSmart Technologies

Odds are, though, if you did a block-level copy it won't work because of partition-naming conflicts. Post back, and we'll guide you through the alternative steps.
 
#3
Many thanks for that, Mahmoud. If it's any help I've already renamed the copied partition to give it a unique volume name. Is that what you meant by a possible naming conflict?

[Edit...] Incidentally, when I click on the "Download Now" link on your page, it seems to direct me to some other product called Driver Mender. Is that what's supposed to happen?

[Edit2...] Ah... there seem to be two Download links. The second one takes me to the correct product!
 
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mqudsi

Mostly Harmless
Staff member
#4
Hi John,

Sounds like you clicked an advert instead of the actual download link. Sorry about that.

What do you mean by "unique volume name?" That could be what I'm talking about, depending on what you're referring to.
 
#5
I'm just talking about the volume name for the partition. Typically, it's called "Windows" or "Windows XP" or something like that, but Apple's Boot Camp utility tends to call it "BOOTCAMP". Here's my sequence of events, so far:-

1) Several months ago I bought an Apple Mac Mini and configured it to dual-boot with Windows 7 (using Apple's "Boot Camp" utility). I left plenty of free space in case I wanted to install further OS's at a later date.
2) Yesterday I used Coriolis's iPartition utility to copy the Windows 7 partition (sorry, not Paragon Drive Backup as I stated earler). This produced an exact replica of the full Windows 7 partition.
3) I then downloaded EasyBCD and installed it on the original Win7 partition.
4) I mounted the copied partition as drive Z: then changed its volume name to "BOOTCAMP-2" (since the two volumes were previously identical, I needed a way of knowing whether or not the correct boot volume was being used).
5) Next, I added the new Z: volume as an alternative boot option (using EasyBCD). I called it "Windows 7 Fallback".

Now, when I reboot, I get a menu whereby I can choose between my original boot partition ("Windows 7") and the copied partition ("Windows 7 Fallback"). The original partition works exactly like it did before. However, if I try to select "Windows 7 Fallback" my machine fails to boot (both in safe mode and normal mode). In normal mode I see a message saying "autocheck program not found. Skipping AUTOCHECK" and my system then resets itself. The same thing happens in safe mode, except that I see a a lot of text output preceding it.

According to things I've read on the internet, this will happen if the boot volume is not set as being the active volume. Don't know if that helps us at all.

[Edit...] I just tried using Paragon's DB10 to mark the partition as 'active' but it made no difference. Has EasyBCD ever been tested with an Apple Mac and Boot Camp?
 
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mqudsi

Mostly Harmless
Staff member
#6
Yeah, that's not what I was referring to. The volume label isn't seen by any software, just by humans.

You need to modify the volume serial number. You can use a utility like this:
VolumeID
 
#7
As it happens, Drive Backup 10 allows me to change the volume serial number but that didn't improve things. What did improve things (very slightly) was to copy the partition again, this time to an external USB drive. After doing that and setting up EasyBCD again I ended up where the second boot option got a bit further (this time I actually got to the animated screen that says "Starting Windows" but almost immediately I get a blue scrren of death!). In true Microsoft style, the BSOD stays on my screen for less than half a second so I don't get anywhere near enough time to read what it says. Sometimes I can't help feeling that companies like Microsoft and Apple just don't bother testing any of this stuff..!

[Edit...] FWIW I thought I might as well use EasyBCD to try adding my OS-X partition as a third boot-up option but that didn't work either (it fails with the error "BOOTMGR is missing"). Has this definitely been tested with Apple hardware Mahmoud?
 
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Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#8
Use F8 to get to the extended boot menu, then select "no automatic restart".
That should hold the BSOD and enable you to read the stop error code.
 

mqudsi

Mostly Harmless
Staff member
#9
johne, yes, it has been tested with Apple hardware on my MacBook. But, like I said, it's not designed to _replace_ BootCamp, only work with it. As such, it cannot be used to add an OS X entry on real Macs, but it can be used to manage dual-boots of other non-OSX, non-EFI operating systems installed w/ BootCamp.
 
#10
Thanks guys. This information has been very helpful. I also discovered (from some other forums) that the Mac's firmware does not support booting Windows from a USB or Firewire device. That almost certainly explains the BSOD. The BSOD simply told me that an unexpected problem had been encountered and to run CHKDSK /F. I haven't bothered though, knowing that it isn't supported anyway.

I did find out something very interesting though.... although OS-X cannot be installed onto a conventional (MBR) disk, once installed it can be copied to an MBR disk and will run perfectly. This opens up the possibility of using an MBR boot manager such as Lilo/Grub (which I'm already very familiar with) or even using an OS-X based boot manager such as rEFit. Tomorrow I'm planning to buy a spare hard drive for my Mac and try some experiments with that.
 

mqudsi

Mostly Harmless
Staff member
#11
I honestly would recommend sticking to GUID + BootCamp.
 
#12
I did find out something very interesting though.... although OS-X cannot be installed onto a conventional (MBR) disk, once installed it can be copied to an MBR disk and will run perfectly.

[...]

Tomorrow I'm planning to buy a spare hard drive for my Mac and try some experiments with that.
Just an update on that scenario.... I bought myself a spare hard drive, installed it in my Mac Mini and formatted it for the MBR partitioning scheme. This has improved things ENORMOUSLY. It took me about 2 days to get everything configured but along the way, I discovered that I can install Windows 7 onto a logical (i.e. extended) partition. This has made it much easier to install multiple copies. It's still early days, but fingers crossed - everything's been working fine so far!
 

mqudsi

Mostly Harmless
Staff member
#13
Hey, thanks for posting back with a status update.

Good luck with that, and let us know how it goes or if you need anything.