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  1. #1

    skallal's Avatar
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    Best way to backup and restore Boot Camp partitions?
    After several months of running Windows 8.1 in a Parallels VM, I finally tried Boot Camp. I had an extra license leftover from a Microsoft sale last year. So I finally pulled the trigger and installed it in it's own Boot Camp partition. And what a difference it makes!

    That said, I've grown very fond of Time Machine and full disk cloning that I can do with OS X. So I tried to do something similar with Windows 8.1 on Boot Camp. I tried Macrium Reflect free edition, and decided to do a backup and restore from an image as a test. I was able to restore the image okay, but it would not boot. And the Macrium support forums, I found out, are only for registered users and not for free or trial edition users. And would think that they would also support pre-sales buyers.

    I also have looked into Clonezilla and I've already made a boot disk on a USB thumb drive. It appears to be all textbased with no real GUI.

    Then there is Winclone. Just saw another member endorse it on a different thread in this forum. At $29, it will probably be the route I'll go. But I prefer not to have a Mac only solution. I'd like to have a tool that I can use in a purely Windows environment.

    My goal is to be able to experiment with my Boot Camp partition, and be able to completely restore it if something goes wrong. In fact after the Macrium Reflect restore failed, I reinstalled Windows 8.1 twice yesterday. The first reinstall failed. I never want to go through that again.

    Parallels desktop supports running a Boot Camp partition through a VM. It would be great to run the same Windows environment with and without OS X integration. In case something goes wrong, I don't want to go through yet another clean reinstall, with hours of reinstalling my favorite software.

    Can anyone here comment on Macrium Reflect with Boot Camp?

  2. #2

    chscag's Avatar
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    Then there is Winclone. Just saw another member endorse it on a different thread in this forum. At $29, it will probably be the route I'll go. But I prefer not to have a Mac only solution. I'd like to have a tool that I can use in a purely Windows environment.
    WinClone for now is likely going to be your best solution. Pure Windows solutions such as Acronis True Image, Ghost, Easus, and Macrium are not reliable or do not work with Boot Camp because all those solutions rely on the BIOS. As you know, the Mac operating system and Macs do not use a BIOS.

    I'm not familiar with how the built in backup in Windows 8 or 8.1 operates, however, the built in backup in Windows 7 will backup everything up file by file compressed, and additionally, will make an image of the drive or partition to an external hard drive formatted to NTFS. In case of a failure, the Mac can be booted with the Windows 7 DVD and the image used to restore the BC partition. However, this can be dangerous and tricky since it's easy to overwrite your Macintosh HD with the Win 7 image.

    I would say for now, go with WinClone until something better comes along in Windows that you can use.

  3. #3

    skallal's Avatar
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    Thanks for the reply!

    Yes it does look like Winclone is the easiest and most direct solution. However there is one feature I find it is sorely lacking, that is incremental backups. Is there a workaround for that?

    Perhaps I could archive each image separately on my 3 TB drive. If there was a way to mount each image, then I could do a comparison between them.

    Otherwise Winclone looks like the way to go.

  4. #4

    chscag's Avatar
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    Unfortunately, WinClone does not provide for incremental backups. And as far as I'm aware, there is no way to extract individual files or data from the image as can be done in Carbon Copy Cloner (which is OS X only).

    Why don't you look into the backup program provided with Windows 8? I suspect that it works very much the same way as does the one in Windows 7.

  5. #5

    skallal's Avatar
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    I did a little research and found out that WinClone will allow me to mount a previous image backup within OS X. That could allow me to use a diff utility to do some file comparisons if necessary.

    Yes chscag, I took your suggestion and researched the tools built into Windows 8.1. I discovered the System Image Backup from Windows 7 is still present in Windows 8.1, though hidden in a more obscure location in the Control Panel.

    I probably should quit doing all this analysis and just buy WinClone. I'm between jobs right now, so money is tight. And the price tag is less than the alternatives.

    My end goal is to boot my new Boot Camp partition from a Parallels VM, yet still retain the ability to boot from Boot Camp directly. While Parallels does support this, I am looking for some insurance in case things don't go right. I simply want to return back to the starting point if it fails.

  6. #6

    chscag's Avatar
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    Hey, whatever works best for you is the way to go. And good luck looking for a job, nowadays it's getting more difficult to find work.

  7. #7

    harryb2448's Avatar
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    skallal personally I never found Winclone to work satisfactorily so good luck.

    When running Windows 7 via Boot Camp, made a backup using the Windows software, and simply did another Boot Camp install on a new machine, installed Windows 7 and used the backup to transfer files over. Bit more work admittedly.
    Hang on to those original install discs like grim death! Using OS X.7 or later make a bootable USB thumb drive before running Installer!

  8. #8

    skallal's Avatar
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    I've spent several days trying a Microsoft solution included in Windows 8.1 called System Image Restore. While it seemed to work, it really was NOT. I mentioned it in a previous post in this topic.

    There is a suite of utilities called GPT fdisk created by Rod Smith, who also created rEFInd. It includes a command line utility called gdisk. And gdisk reported my drive had a GPT/MBR mismatch.

    Eventually I lost my whole hard drive. I failed to make any Time Machine backups the past two weeks and lost it all. Fortunately, I had the Windows Boot Camp partition backed up with Winclone.

    I did buy Winclone, but the current version 4.3.1 did NOT work for me out of the box. Winclone support let me download version 4.4 beta which corrects Windows 8.1 booting issues some users were having. That is what ultimately worked for me.

    I went through a lot of grief discovering issues with the Microsoft included System Image Backup. Again the gdisk command line utility was an eye opener. While I did not use gdisk to repair the partitions, I did use it to diagnose it.

    Bottom line: I now recommend Winclone for Boot Camp backup and restore. But that is with the caveat that the current version might not work with Windows 8.1.

    BTW: there are now new Boot Camp 5.1 drivers on the Apple website, which now include Windows 8.1 support. I have been using the 5.0 drivers without any apparent issues.

  9. #9

    chscag's Avatar
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    Thanks for posting back. I'm familiar with the GPT utilities and what they can do, however, I would be hesitant using them on any system that employs EFI rather than BIOS booting.

    It's too bad the MS Windows 8.1 image backup utility did not work for you. I know the same image backup is used in Windows 7 and will restore the Boot Camp partition but that it also may not restore the boot MBR. Using the repair function from the Windows 7 DVD will usually correct that. Anyway, it looks like you have the latest and greatest from WinClone that works.

    My advice is when you get back to work and can afford it, buy a copy of Carbon Copy Cloner and make your OS X backups with that in addition to using Time Machine.

  10. #10

    skallal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chscag View Post
    My advice is when you get back to work and can afford it, buy a copy of Carbon Copy Cloner and make your OS X backups with that in addition to using Time Machine.
    I have made to the second interview level on one position, and have another direct interview next week. I am a MS ASP.NET web app developer by trade. I got let go just after Thanksgiving, which is not a good time of the year to look for work. Otherwise I would have never had the time to spend on Boot Camp recovery like this.

    I do have Super Duper and used a drive cloned by it to determine what was going on. I had to download and install gdisk on the cloned drive to see what was going on. I didn't use gdisk to repair the drive. I reinstalled OS X from a flash drive and restored from my most recent Time Machine backup.

    I am not really a sys admin type. It was a real education learning about GPT partitions. I've got a Windows 8 tablet, I need to sell, that boots EFI. But I never gave it a second thought, because Windows 8 came installed. I'd set my Boot Camp partition to boot EFI, but I don't think my MBP will EFI boot Windows. The newer MBAs will.

    Boot Camp, however can't always be treated as regular Windows in terms of disk management, because of the Hybrid MBR Apple employs.

    I might of given up on Boot Camp if I was working, simply because I would have been too busy to learn about its quirks.

  11. #11

    skallal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chscag View Post
    Hey, whatever works best for you is the way to go. And good luck looking for a job, nowadays it's getting more difficult to find work.
    Well, I will be back to work in another week. And the new boss is running Windows 7 with Boot Camp on a rMBP 15. In fact he inspired me to move from VM to Boot Camp. Software development can sometimes require every hardware resource. I'll likely end up with a quad core i7, 16 GB RAM, and an SSD Windows 7 box. But I'll still love my personal MBP 15 maxed out!

    Can't get back into the grind too soon!

  12. #12

    chscag's Avatar
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    Congratulations on the new job! And keep us posted.....

  13. #13

    MacDuck's Avatar
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    I use Clonezilla Live for backups of everything on my Mac.
    I use backup images of separate partitions or a full disc backup.
    They've never let me down for Boot Camp backups.
    15" MacBook Pro retina 10,1

  14. #14

    chscag's Avatar
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    They've never let me down for Boot Camp backups.
    That's good to know. One question though... after restoring a Boot Camp partition, were you able to boot Windows from it? Every Boot Camp partition restore program that I'm familiar with requires "repairing" the Windows boot sector after the partition is restored.

  15. #15

    MacDuck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chscag View Post
    That's good to know. One question though... after restoring a Boot Camp partition, were you able to boot Windows from it? Every Boot Camp partition restore program that I'm familiar with requires "repairing" the Windows boot sector after the partition is restored.
    Yes they've been fine. I do always choose to check the backup image is restorable though. It takes a little longer to do the checking but at least I know it's restorable.

    A long time ago a restore failed to restore the MBR boot code (or whatever it is) but this was easily fixed with Windows automatic repair utility.

    Clonezilla Live backs up everything. I had a Windows partition and an Ubuntu partition together with the standard 3 OSX partitions and disk images have always restored fine.

    It's actually quicker to restore a disk image than it is to create one :-)

    It can be a little cumbersome to get used to though, originally.
    15" MacBook Pro retina 10,1

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