Duplicating XP Partitions

Discussion in 'Acronis True Image Product Line' started by Kear45, Mar 17, 2005.

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  1. Kear45

    Kear45 Registered Member

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    I'm looking for the easiest way to duplicate a XP partition to the same drive so I can boot to either one. Imaging the partition and restoring it to a new partition doesn't seem to work even if the Boot.ini file is modified for the correct partition number. What am I missing?
     
  2. tachyon42

    tachyon42 Registered Member

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    For a partition to be bootable it must start within the first 8GB of the disk.
     
  3. Kear45

    Kear45 Registered Member

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    I have another system with a 17G partition followed by a 11G partition. Both have XP loaded and using OS Selector I can boot to either one. It's been some time since I set it up and I think I did a clean XP install to the second partition and I want to avoid that this time if possible.
     
  4. MiniMax

    MiniMax Registered Member

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    A couple of things must be correct for WinXP to boot:

    1) The boot loader (inside the MBR) must be loaded by the BIOS. I am not sure about the 8 GB limit tachyon42 refers to, but it could very well be true that the BIOS is unable to see past the first 8 GB on the disk.

    2) The boot loader needs to locate the WinXP boot code (C:\NTLDR) I am not sure how it does that - I don't think it is intelligent enough to understand the filesystem and can read the directory entries, so my guess is that utilities like FIXBOOT is used to hardcode the (sector) location of NTLDR inside the boot loader.

    3) NTLDR reads BOOT.INI and presents you with the menu.

    4) NTLDR transfers control to the selected OS.

    Now, assuming that you have 2 copies of WinXP installed, the original in C and the copy in D. What happens when you launch the copy in D? It reads the registry and gets totally confused because it is filled with references to stuff on C.

    The simplest way to solve the conflict is hide the first partition (the C drive) which for all intents and purpose makes partition #2 appear as C. For that you need a partition manager.

    Or something like it.....
     
  5. Acronis Support

    Acronis Support Acronis Support Staff

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    Hello Kear45,

    Thank you for your interest in Acronis software (http://www.acronis.com/homecomputing/products/).

    We regret to inform you that the restrictions of Windows XP (as well as Windows 2000 and Windows 2003) connected with letter assignment do not allow you to perform the cloning of system partition within the same disk. The only way for you is to install another copy of Windows on the same disk and then use Acronis OS Selector to be able to boot both of them.

    Thank you.
    --
    Ilya Toytman
     
  6. Eliot

    Eliot Registered Member

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    There is another way to do what you want. Just boot to your XP cd and install another copy to the 2nd partition. This will add the info to make it see both. Then restore image of partition 1 to the new one, deleting the fresh install and you should have the desired results. Hope that helps. :D
     
  7. MiniMax

    MiniMax Registered Member

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    No Eliot, it will not. The image-install will still have registry entries that points to the wrong partition. If you don't believe me, please try it and report back here.
     
  8. Eliot

    Eliot Registered Member

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    Very good point.Your exactly right.
     
  9. jmk94903

    jmk94903 Registered Member

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    Since you now know that you can't do this on the same drive, the obvious thing to do is use a second hard drive. It can be an internal drive that you also use for data after restoring the image to it.

    Personally, I like having drives in removable drawers for the situation you describe. That way, you can use one drive and then swap to the second drive for something else such as experimentation with new hardware or software. When you finish experimenting, you pop the first drive back in.
     
  10. Leo Scott

    Leo Scott Guest

    The easiest way to have multiple instances/operating systems is to use Virual PC 2004. Search Microsofts web site for it. This allows you to have multiple virtual computers running at the same time. I have a host WinXPsp2 computer that has a virtual WinXPsp2 and a vitrual Win98se running at the same time. You just click the windows when you want to activate the other virtual computer.
     
  11. Paul Leisy

    Paul Leisy Guest

    I would not write-off the possibility of Duplicating XP partitions just yet.

    Some partitioning software (like Partition Commander) include utilities to help with this operation. If you plan on using a separate boot program, then you can
    hide one XP system from the other. That may take care of the Drive C problem. They both come up as C: and do not see each other.

    If you "copy" an XP partition from one to another (or backup and restore) then
    there are at least 2 items that are identical but need changing and here is
    where those utilities may help.

    1. Each partition on a drive requires a unique SID (security id) and I believe
    part of that SID is created from the partition starting point on the drive.
    Partition commander has a utility which will update the SID after a copy.

    2. The boot.ini file needs to point to itself (if you are using a separate boot
    manager). So the new partition you copied into or restored into needs it's
    boot.ini fixed. Partition Commander has another utility to perform that also.

    I have not actually tried this, but I hope to in the next week or so.

    This site has lots of information about multiboot and some tricks to fix up XP partitions that are restored to another partition than the one it was installed on:

    http://www.goodells.net/multiboot/index.htm#partsigs

    If anyone else has experience duplicating XP partitions, it would be nice
    to hear how they did it.
     
  12. Brian K

    Brian K Imaging Specialist

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    I haven't done what you plan but I have two WinXPs on my computer although installed seperately.
    I'd restore your WinXP image to another partition but hide the partition so it doesn't have a drive letter when Windows reboots. Then hide your primary WinXP and make the new WinXP active. Reboot to BartPE and edit the boot.ini of the new WinXP. See if it boots. I'd do most of this with Partition Magic as I'm not sure if TI can hide partitions easily.

    Brian
     
  13. MiniMax

    MiniMax Registered Member

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    I basically do the same (manually hiding and unhiding partions) in order to have both Win95 and Win98 live happily on the same disk. I tried various boot managers, and while they worked, I liked the ultimate control that Partition Expert gives me.

    I have not tried it with WinXP, and I do not plan to do it either. For testing purposes, I have a slipstreamed WinXP sitting in a FAT32 partition. When I need to test new drivers and other stuff that potentially can wreck my production XP, I install the slipstreamed WinXP on a spare partition and do my testing there. But in most cases, I rely on WinXP System Restore Points and my backups to bail me out if the the production install goes belly up.
     
  14. Paul Leisy

    Paul Leisy Guest

    It Works! You can duplicate an XP partition and restore to another partition on
    the same drive and then multi-boot them. I got brave today and tried it out.
    The key is to have a separate boot manager (I used XOSL) so you can hide
    the XP partitions from each other and also to fix up the SID and boot.ini after you
    restore into a new partition and before you boot.

    Here are the steps:

    STEP 1:

    Assuming you have one hard drive with XP installed, use a partition manager (I use Partition Commander) and resize the XP partition to 1/3 of your drive. Also create an extended partition with two logical drives - one FAT32 and one NTFS each with 5gb at the end of the drive. I have a 55gb drive and here is what it ended up being:

    pri part1 20gb WinXP_a
    --- --- 25gb --------
    log part2 5gb FAT32
    log part2 5gb NTFS

    STEP 2:

    Install XOSL on the FAT32 partition. Do this by coping the install files to the FAT32 partition while in WinXP and then booting to Win98 floppy and doing the install from there. When you next boot, XOSL will come up and you can add the WinXP to the boot menu.

    STEP 3:

    Boot to WinXP and using True Image, create a backup image of the WinXP partition and save it on the NTFS partition up in the extended partition.

    STEP 4:

    Boot to True Image Boot CD and restore the partition image you created into the free space just after the first partition.

    STEP 5:

    Boot to Partition Commander CD and use the advanced tools to re-build the SID and fix the boot.ini file for partition 2.

    STEP 6:

    Boot to XOSL and add the second WinXP to the boot menu and also hide the other WinXP. Also change the settings for the first WinXP so it hides the second WinXP.

    STEP 7:

    Boot to the second WinXP. It worked for me. Since the SID was re-built, there was a lot a disk activity and it said a new device was installed please reboot.
    But after that I was able to boot either WinXP with no problems. Both
    came up as C: drive. If you look at Disk Manager, the hidden drives are not really hidden, just an unknown partition type and WinXP will not try to create a SID for them and add them to the registry.

    Since the last two partitions are not hidden, both WinXPs will see them as Drive D: and E: (I moved my CD into drive R: so it will never mess up
    the sequence of Hard Drive letters).

    NOTES:

    If you do not have Partition Commander and the nifty fix up tools you can use some tricks described at this web site:

    http://www.goodells.net/multiboot/index.htm#partsigs

    Anyway, that was my experience. There is a yahoo groups that covers XOSL and there are many questions answered there too.

    Different size hard drives and different size WinXP footprints will require different size extended NTFS partitions. I haven't used the tricks described in the above web site so can't say if they are easy or not or if they work or not.
     
  15. beenthereb4

    beenthereb4 Registered Member

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    Very nice explanation! The SID is the missing key for me.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2005
  16. Paul Leisy

    Paul Leisy Guest

    OK, things are not quite right. Still have a problem.

    I started playing around with each XP partition to make sure they were truely separate and independant. The background, icons, start menus could be changed and looked different. But after I un-installed a few programs from the new second partition, when I went back to first original partition, the control panel -> add/remove programs section showed that those programs were gone.
    I could still execute them from a desktop icon, but the control panel add/remove section was affected by the other partition.

    So, there is still some linkage between the partitions.

    Perhaps Partition Commander's re-build SID utility has a bug and does not update all the registries as it should?

    I'll keep experimenting and post what I find here.
     
  17. beenthereb4

    beenthereb4 Registered Member

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    *#!**, that's what always annoyed me, some things would cross over into the other partition. I was hoping the SID would fix that.
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2005
  18. Paul Leisy

    Paul Leisy Guest

    OK. Found the problem. Partition Commander was not fixing the boot.ini of the new partition like I thought it was. The boot.ini for the first, original partition was exactly the same as the boot.ini fo rthe new second partition. My assumption was that Partition Commander bootfixer utility would fix up the second one so it pointed to itself. Didn't happen.

    So, I re-did the steps that I had done before, but this time in Step 5, used EDITBINI to update the boot.ini file for the new second partition and then used Partition Commander to rebuild the SID for the new, second partition.

    That works.

    So, far, the duplicated XP partitions seem completely separated.
     
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