What and how should I backup for Dual Booting.

#1
I have an external USB connected HDD with backup images of all the Laptop partitions.
If the Laptop suffers a total HDD failure I can restore all the partition images to a new HDD.
Two weeks ago that failed until I used a Boot CD to "repair" the MBR, then everything was fine.

Since then my son installed Windows 7 in a partition no 6 and installed EasyBCD for dual booting.
(Actually partition no. 7 if we count the 3 GB unallocated space I left between two earlier partitions)

I believe I should now include the MBR as a vital thing to backup, otherwise I believe if I ever repair the MBR I will have the default of only booting into whatever is installed in Partition 1.

My old BIOS does not seem to support booting from a bootable flash-drive, but is good for a Boot CD. In fact I am surprised that your O.S. selection start-up screen can use my USB keyboard - I have never been able to use it for entering SAFE mode at start-up.

Should I install EasyBCD into XP as well as Windows 7 in case I ever get stuck without dual boot capability, or might I invite aggravation if I use XP to configure dual booting in a way that conflicts with what Windows 7 set/expects ?

How does the Dual Boot mechanism identify what to boot into ?
I am concerned that various methods of identification could fail when I restore a partition from an image :-

1. Partition image disc identity GUID as per System Restore drivetable.txt, e.g.
C:\/\\?\Volume{390ae991-d1ef-11dd-914e-806d6172696f}\ 3b 0 2457 ACER
M:\/\\?\Volume{b1e4e783-9751-11df-91b1-806d6172696f}\ 11 0 50 Windows 7
I notice that 806d6172696f is common to all partitions on the HDD,
and the other numbers may be affected by the particular tool that created the partition,
and also perhaps the size and start position of the partition.
I told Acronis to backup an image of C:\ from my old 30 GB drive
I restored the image to a new 160 GB drive and everything worked,
excepting Acronis failed to backup C:\ again. because it was NOT trying to backup C:\,
but trying to backup some partition such as Volume{12345678-9abc-def0-1234-56789abcdef0]\.
I had to recreate the task so the correct ID was specified instead of what it had been on the 30 GB drive.
I am bitten once, twice shy;

2. A specific track number starting from the edge of the disc, in which case I must be careful if I use a Partition manger to alter the size or position of a partition;

3. the partition number, in which case I assume that I hit trouble if I create a new partition in the 3 GB unallocated space immediately below C:\
 

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JustinW

Super Moderator
Staff member
#2
Restoring the MBR in an emergency as you previously did would not affect the multi boot as long as Windows 7's bootloader is in charge (which it should be), and you're using Windows 7 DVD or our recovery disc to perform startup repair. If an option from the menu is missing its fairly easy to add it back with EasyBCD. With at least 1 copy of Vista or Windows 7 installed you should be able to run EasyBCD from any of your Windows installations to configure the boot without issue. It isn't required that you do this, but having it installed in all OSes gives you greater ability to hopefully recover from future problems.
 

Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#3
Or, since it's a portable app, just install it somewhere you can access it from any of the Windows OSs.
 
#4
Firstly going off-topic :-

I apologize for asking questions that have already been answered on this site,
but not all my fault -honest - I blame search defaults.

I started by looking at the F..A.Q. and then the WIKI and was surprised you said you did not modify the MBR I searched for things such as "restore MBR" and got no results. I saw that system requirements included .NET Framework and thought that if the O.S. partition boot process depended upon launching .NET Framework I am halfway to becoming Alice in Wonderland, believing 6 impossible things before breakfast ! !

I decided I am not learning anything sensible by myself - it is time to post a query.
After seeing a topic with title "How to restore MBR" I wondered why my search got zero results,
and on retracing my steps I found I had searched on a neosmart.net web page which had SITE options I previously had not noticed - and I had failed to select the whole neosmart.net site and was actually searching a very restricted sub-set of this site, hence no results.

It would be helpful to newcomers like myself if search defaults always chose the whole site.

It would be even more helpful if a reply survived the "Preview Post" button, which always seems to require me to log in again and having logged in it fails to redirect me back so I have nothing to post. I always select my whole post and copy to my paste buffer so only a slight inconvenience to me - others may be less fortunate.

My next post will be back on topic.

Alan

Addendum:

Terry60
I like the idea of a portable App. My partition H:H_Portable holds 2 GB of Portable Apps.
I assume that instead of XP running the EasyBCD utility in H:H_Portable, it could presumable run it where it has been installed, which as seen by XP is in M:\Windows 7

Justin
1. In case I get this wrong, by "our recovery disc" do you mean
Download Windows 7 System Recovery Discs The NeoSmart Files
I like the fact that you provide MD5 checksums to assure freedom from corruption.

2. If I suffer a "special" day and lose all partitions I will restore my partition image backups.
If some partition backups have been damaged, I can use a Partition Manager to create empty partitions of a similar size, or does the number of partitions before Windows 7 not matter ?
I assume that so long as I can restore "M:\Windows 7" I should be able to boot into Windows 7,
or will it also be essential to restore XP to the first partition.
I will attempt to restore all partitions, but want to arrange for a minimal subset that will at least get me back on the Internet.

3. I like the idea of additionally controlling EasyBCD from XP (I am still struggling with W7).
I assume that as per my reply to Terry, XP can simply invoke EasyBCD where it lives in "drive M:\".

4. If EasyBCD is installed in both XP and W7, then will the XP partition also hold a copy of "Windows 7's bootloader" ?

I have read, and need to read many more times before I understand,
Multibooters, Vista Dual and Multibooting - A Guide to the Multiboot Process
The section titled "A smarter IPL" indicates that XP can be booted direct from the IPL without visiting the Vista (or W7) partition.
This seems to negate your staement "as long as Windows 7's bootloader is in charge".
Is there a better article with pictures showing how EasyBCD would present an O.S. Boot selection menu on the journey from the IPL through the W7 bootloader to the requisite O.S. ?

Regards and thanks
Alan
 
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Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#5
Do you have "remember me" flagged at logon ?
If you have cookies disabled (as I do for general browsing), try adding NeoSmart to your trusted websites.
That will selectively turn it on again and keep you logged on to the site.

Addendum:

EasyBCD 2 can be exec'd from wherever it can be seen, but you shouldn't allow XP to see Vista or Seven if you have restore points or backups you'd like to hang on to.
You should run this hack in XP
http://www.vistax64.com/tutorials/127417-system-restore-points-stop-xp-dual-boot-delete.html

Addendum:

The "smarter IPL" is advocating use of a 3rd party boot manager, not Vista/7 bootmgr.
That's outside the scope of EasyBCD, which manages the latter.
I use grub (in the form of a customized HnS) for my boot, which does call each of the OS's own bootloaders completely independently.
 
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#6
Thank you for quick response.

I am rushing off for lunch now, but when I return I will ensure I check "remember me".
I have previously avoided that because I thought it simply used a cookie to automatically log me in with zero effort the next day.

I will go through your links after lunch, thankyou

Regards
Alan

Addendum:

Terry

In preparation for my son installing W7 I used XP to create partition M:\ and to configure System Restore that monitoring was disabled for M:\ as well as all the other partitions.
I do not understand why XP would still damage system Restore on W7 - but there is much about Microsoft products that leaves me gobsmacked with horror ! !

I vaguely recall horror stories a few years ago about the damage XP could do to Vista if it saw the Vista Partition, and also the damage Vista could do if it saw XP. I remember my horror, but cannot remember the details.

System Restore is not enabled by W7 for ANY partition, but I do not know if any harm was done when I first booted XP after W7 was installed, or if my son intended to omit System Restore because we have Acronis 2010 to capture partition images for backup/restoration purposes.

I have actually thought about disabling S.R. on XP, and am unlikely to use S.R. on W7 because I understand the 60 MB size R.P. of XP are mere pin pricks compared to what Vista and W7 create.

I assume therefore I need not hide one O.S. from the other, but please correct me if I am wrong.

If I use XP and link to the EasyBCD editor in the W7 partition, does that use the .NET 2.0 framework installed on my XP partition, or the .NET 3.5 installed on the W7 partition?

If disaster struck the W7 partition and its bootloader, would the computer instantly boot straight into the first partition, or would it lock up seeking partition no. 6.

I am sorry but a 40 year career designing electronic instrumentation for petro chemical refineries and Real Time software for intruder/Fire alarm systems has taught me that Murphy's Law always wins, so I always consider every possible disaster and how to mitigate. About the only "old man thing" my children have yet to see is me wearing braces as well as a belt ! !

Regards
Alan
 
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Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#7
In Vista and W7 system restore has become a special case of the volume shadow copy function used for backup. It's therefore a completely different format to the XP version, but uses the same super-hidden folder name as before.
(Why they didn't just change the folder name since the average user never sees it anyway, is a question they might well be asked)
When XP sees one of these folders, it says "That's a load of *&%£ !!" and proceeds to "fix" it by reinitializing it as an empty XP version.
If you don't use SR (or Windows Backup, which is also clobbered) on Vista/7, then you won't be affected because there is nothing to be lost.
Vista and Seven are almost the same under the skin ( Seven is virtually Vista SP3 with a tune-up) and both are backwards compatible with XP and will do no harm to it.
EasyBCD needs the .NET 2.0 framework as a runtime environment on the system which executes it regardless of where it's picked up from.
Unless you installed W7 independently (in a way where it could not see an existing OS), you'll find that it has followed the MS design architecture common to all multi-boots of a later system added to an earlier. It will have put its boot files into the "system" partition, the pre-existing XP OS, and the XP partition will be still "active" and in control of the boot, albeit with an updated cuckoo-in-the-nest MBR and boot manager.
If W7 is broken (or removed) the boot manager on the XP partition will continue to boot XP as before in a 2-stage process, bootmgr chaining NTLDR. You can always use EasyBCD to reinstate the native XP MBR if you ever decide to ditch W7.
 
#8
Thank you for the information.
I especially appreciate your full answer to the last question.

The day before W7 and EasyBCD were installed I created an Acronis partition image backup of the XP system C:\ ready for restoring normality after trying VirtualBox for running W7.
W7 under VB was painfully slow, hence we moved on to a proper full installation of W7.

I understand from your answer that if I restore the Acronis image of XP it will remove the folder C:\BOOT and as a result I immediately lose dual booting.
Do I simply need to copy C:\BOOT elsewhere before restoring the Acronis image, and then copy the folder back to C:\, or are there different actions that I should perform ?

I note that C:\BOOT was created 26 July 2010, 16:38:17
and C:\BOOTSECT.BAK was created 26 July 2010, 16:38:21
Do I also need to preserve C:\BOOTSECT.BAK ?

Going off-topic now :-

I am now tidying up and VB has uninstalled very nicely so that does not require restoration of the Acronis image, but there is unexpected malicious junk I do have to purge.
I have an unwanted never permitted infestation of Norton to be purged.
I allowed Norton the privilege of protecting my W7 system partition, and they have hijacked every NTFS partition on the computer.

Before I.T. Support (my son) returned home, after giving up on VB and doing a real install of W7, we created an Acronis image of the fresh W7 partition and then installed Comodo - but something failed, and due to intense pressure of time we did the unthinkable and installed a free trial Norton to protect W7 and give me time to sort out the Comodo problem.
Regretably Comodo in XP was not active and defending XP when W7 was installing Norton,
and I have found that XP C:\System Volume Information\ now holds
LightningSand.CFD created 30 July 2010, 21:00:15 and
EfaData\ created 26 July 2010, 15:05:15 and modified 5/08/2010
Obviously Norton in W7 is attempting to hijack XP every time W7 is running ! !
I have the devious ability which would probably allow me to run W7 and both add and delete registry keys in a non-active XP system - I guess Norton hijackers do it every day ! !

I am now raising to highest priority the removal of Norton and installation of Comodo,
then I will restore XP from the Acronis image.

Regards and thanks
Alan
 

Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#9
The Norton site should provide you with a "removal tool", since they are notoriously difficult to get rid of by simple uninstall.
Use Microsoft Security Essentials as your AV (free download from MS) and the built in W7 firewall, and you'll be well protected (it can be installed on Vista and XP too if you like).
 
#10
Thanks, but my son downloaded the removal tool for me before he installed Norton ! !

I will be interested in seeing if use of the Norton Tool on the W7 partition will remove the "collateral damage" that Norton inflicted on the other partitions, or if I will be left with ..\EfaData\ in my XP partition until I additionally run the tool under XP.

More than a year ago I gave myself access to ?:\System Volume Information\ on all NTFS partitions so I could at system start-up detect any changes to certain files. Since Norton I no longer have access to S:\System Volume Information\. I expect Norton Removal will leave that for me to fix with CACLS yet again.

When I remove Norton I will again try Comodo which I am comfortable with, but before I pull down my defences I will first download MSE as my fall back option.

Sorry, but just to be sure, if for any reason I restore an image of XP, or for any other reason manage to lose C:\BOOT\, will I easily regain dual booting if I have a copy elsewhere, or does C:\BOOT also require registry keys or anything else to complicate life ?

Regards and Thanks
Alan
 

Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#11
EasyBCD or the Install DVD (startup repair) will both fix missing boot files.
No need to worry.
 
#12
I have never had an installation disc till two weeks ago when my son installed W7.
I have never used EasyBCD other than to select which O.S. to boot into.
So if simply copying the C:\BOOT\ folder from/to XP is not viable I guess I have to learn some more.

To use the W7 installation disc, do I run W7 and look for a "startup repair" option when I insert the disc, or do I use the disc in Boot CD mode ?
When I ask it to repair startup, will it automatically recognise that it must put boot files in the first partition, or do I need to ensure it does not put them in the W7 partition no. 6 ?

Regards and Thanks
Alan
 

Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#13
#14
If W7 or XP is running, you can use EasyBCD > Bootloader setup > Install Vista/7 bootloader.
You only need the DVD if you can't boot an OS, so obviously you boot from the DVD, select "repair your computer", then "startup repair" (three times because it only fixes one thing per pass, and bootmgr, BCD and MBR all need fixing)
http://neosmart.net/wiki/display/EBCD/Recovering+the+Vista+Bootloader+from+the+DVD
http://neosmart.net/wiki/display/EBCD/Recovering+the+Vista+Bootloader+with+EasyBCD
Belated thanks for the advice so far.
Regret I have been bogged down for a few weeks fighting Windows 7 follies - Junction BlackHoles that mis-direct and lose data so that an essential CMD.EXE script is broke. I now know how to avoid the pitfalls and am back to dual booting.

Please advise me if there is a problem with my plans :-

Use XP to install EasyBCD 2.0.2 on Partition S:\ (externally backed up to protect from danger);
Use XP to run EasyBCD 2.0.2 and change from Dual Boot to Triple boot and test/prove functionality;
Boot into W7 and uninstall EasyBCD 2.0.1.
Restore an earlier image of C:\ because I wish to remove Virtual Box drivers and any other remannts I have recently observed (accepting that this destroys dual/triple booting) ;
Use XP to run S:\EasyBCD and again achieve triple Boot.
There after I expect to use either XP or W7 to run S:\EasyBCD and modify boot options.

N.B. Partition 2 holds a "gold" XP whose files I compare with current XP (partition 1) to detect any unexpected downloads, or applications I tested and forgot to remove. It would be nice to Boot between Gold and Current to see what improvements to use have been achieved with XP, or what degradations of use have arrived due to Patch Tuesday etc.

Regards
Alan