How to duplicate my system for dual boot ?

Discussion in 'Acronis Disk Director Suite' started by alvanoto, Feb 9, 2009.

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  1. alvanoto

    alvanoto Registered Member

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    Hi all,

    A somehow very simple question but it's been 2 weeks i am working on it and just reached a point where it's now driving me crazy.
    I bought Acronis Disk Director 10, three weeks ago and since i'm going through a long nightmare.

    The main reason why i bouhgt this was that i wanted to set up a dual boot sytem based on the current copy of Windows XP PRO service pack 3 i'm using right now.
    I would like to use this system as it is at the moment, plus a copy of it but without any IP/internet drivers.
    This sytem doesn't have any particular tweaks, but features specific software installs i need for my work. If i have to reinstall it from scratch completely on another disk, it's gonna take me a long time to end up with teh same result.

    I first tried the "copy" function in Os selector, but, every time i tried this, i end up with a process bar for a minute, and then the software quits or crash, and then nothing.
    Secondly I tried to copy my main system partition to some unallocated space left i had on my main drive. The copy went ok, but once done after a couple of reboots, OS Selector - sytem detection wizzard was unable to recognize this new system partition.

    I contacted Acronis through their live chat.
    People were nice, but i had this unpleasant impression to know more the product than them.
    When i explained my problem, they recommended me to go - again ! - through the reading of the manual, chapter 3.3, section "Copying partition".
    When i told them that at this point of the manual there were no mention to system duplication for dual boot purpose, but just to sytem or data backups, the chat stoped ! ..
    They also recommended me to use a new and unnoficial build of Disk Director ... but at this point, i'm super suspicious and wouldn't like to be used as a guinea pig for their business. And ultimately, during another chat, a guy recommended me to fix my MBR, whenever the sytem i have now is running perfectly fine ...

    Anyway, i'm a bit confused now, and indeed, truely desapointed by this product, but if some of you can suggest a clear step by step tutorial on how to,
    - either copy my sytem using "os selector" - and therefore suggests a few ideas about WHY this function is not working with me
    - OR, duplicate my sytem to another partition of the same drive, in order to make it active and recognizable by Os selctor so i can switch in between these 2 copies,
    i'd be glad to consider their solutions and comments!

    I've tried to search this forum before, but didn't really find any help.
    Thanks very much,

    m.
     
  2. MudCrab

    MudCrab Imaging Specialist

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    Avoid using the OSS Copy OS feature. It won't do what you want.

    You may want to accept the updated build of DD offered by support. The currently released build (2,160) is quite old. Acronis has only given out the newer build(s) via support. There may be fixes and better support for newer hardware.

    I'm looking for the thread that has a procedure you might want to try...
     
  3. MudCrab

    MudCrab Imaging Specialist

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    Here is the thread: Drive letters and repetitive cloning for multi-booting Windows (Vista)

    ---

    Basically, what you want to do is just use DD to copy the existing XP partition into unallocated space. Then, edit the boot.ini file to point to the correct partition.

    After that, you will need to fix any drive letter problems. These can be avoided by clearing the MountedDevices key before you copy the existing partition (as detailed in the thread linked above) or by mounting the Registry of the copied OS from the booting OS and clearing it (as detailed in this post). In your case, you would boot into your original XP, load the hive from the XP copy's partition, clear the MountedDevices key, unload the hive and you're finished.

    OSS should be able to find the copied partition either automatically or by using the OS Detection Wizard (make sure to select the partition and make it bootable). If it doesn't, it can be added manually.

    I suggest you read through the linked threads and get the general idea. Then post back with any more questions before you proceed.
     
  4. alvanoto

    alvanoto Registered Member

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    Thanks very much MudCrab for your quick answer,
    I'll stay tuned and will be really glad to consider any procedure you may propose. Depending on it i will see what i will do and especially if i'll update Disk Director.
    I've downloaded the new build anyway ...

    By the way, what's wrong with the system copy function in OSS selector ?
    I've rode some of your comments on this forum where most of the times, you are preventing ADD users from duplicating their system this way. Is it buggy and unreliable ?

    best,
    m.
     
  5. alvanoto

    alvanoto Registered Member

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    MudCrab,

    thanks very much for the infos, however and before i go further with these readings, can you confirm me that the procedure you gave me the link - the one for Vista - works exactly the same with windows XP, the system i currently use and wish to duplicate ?

    thanks again,
    m
     
  6. MudCrab

    MudCrab Imaging Specialist

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    I don't like the OSS Copy feature because it involves actually making a copy of system files/folders and then restoring them back depending on which "copy" you want to boot. It's also not what you want to use if you want each OS on its own partition.

    ---

    The basic procedure from the linked thread is the same and the MountedDevices key is in the same place.
     
  7. alvanoto

    alvanoto Registered Member

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    MudCrab,

    Ok i went through all the links you kindly provided, here my comments and questions :
    So if i understand you well i have to proceed followingly :

    1st - I edit my BOOT.INI file, but how ?
    here is a screen copy of the structure of the disk where my system partition is :
    http://img502.imageshack.us/img502/5991/hd1pe4.jpg
    The disk we're talking about is the first one, i would like to copy the active primary system partition to the next unalocated green space.
    Could you tell me how to modify the BOOT.INI accordingly ?

    2nd - I have to clear the "mounted devices" key - this is completely new to me and going through regedit to perform this change also ... If i understand it well, the difference in between your way and the one of JUSTANOTHERNOOB, is that you use another computer to proceed ? Can you confirm ?
    Can you also confirm that using JUSTANOTHERNOOB's way, i'm only concerned by the step C of its tutorial (Clean up the "MountedDevices" registry key (once only) and not by any further steps like step D for instance, where he is explaining how to prepare two .reg files ?
    According to you what would be the most simple way to do so ?
    I also don't really understand when you speak about loading or unloading "hive" ... whatever way is the best, i would really appreciate if you could sum up a simple and comprehensive method to deal with this "mounted device" key as i'm in no way a technical expert ..

    3rd - Once this "mounted device" key has been cleared, i have to clone or copy my sytem partition to the unalocated space using Disk Director, knowing that the computer will have to reboot several times during this process, won't it (at least twice ?)
    Will the reboot happen safely knowing all the changes i will have done previously to the BOOT.INI and to the "mounted devices" key ?

    4th - If i understand well during the last reboot, OSS selector will appear and will maybe, automaticaly detect the new system. If not, you mention a manual way to do so, can you explain a bit more ?

    Finaly :
    - If i clear the "mounted devices" key, will it affect the way my PC currently connects to other additional external and internal hard drives or any other USB devices ?
    - Will this procedure affect any of teh settings of my current and running system ?

    thanks very much for your help,
     
  8. MudCrab

    MudCrab Imaging Specialist

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    All good questions. I'll try and layout the procedure for your scenario.

    Note: If you have a backup imaging program (True Image, for example), creating an Entire Disk Image of the drive before you begin is a good idea (just in case something goes wrong).

    1. If OSS is installed, it will probably be best to uninstall it. Select your current XP as the default OS. Usually, the best method of uninstalling OSS is to boot to the DD CD and select the OSS Setup option and then the Uninstall option. If you don't have the OSS programs on your DD CD, create a new DD CD using the Media Builder program and include them.
    2. The computer should now boot directly into XP.
    3. Boot to the DD CD and start DD. Select the Manual Mode for more control.
    4. Copy the original XP partition to the unallocated space (make sure that the new partition is Primary). Apply the change.
    5. Make sure the original XP partition is still set Active. If it's not, set it Active and apply the change.
    6. Exit DD, remove the DD CD and boot back into XP. Your original XP should be the one that boots.
    7. The new XP-Copy partition will be found and assigned a drive letter.
    8. Open My Computer and browse to the XP-Copy partition. In the root folder, find the boot.ini file and open it (it should open in Notepad). If you can't see the file because system files are hidden, follow the instructions here to enable viewing of hidden and system files.
    9. In the boot.ini file, you'll need to edit the partition(#) entries to point to the correct partition table slot. This value may be 2, 3, or 4, though I'm guessing it's probably 3 since 1 would most likely be the original XP partition and 2 is most likely the Extended Partition Container for your Logical partitions (see Note A, below). Once the change is made, save and close the file.
    The next step is to clear the MountedDevices entry on the XP-Copy partition. You can do this while booted into the original XP.
    1. Start regedit. If you need help starting the Registry Editor, click here.
    2. Click on the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE key to select it.
    3. Click on the File menu and select Load Hive...
    4. Select the drive letter assigned to the XP-Copy partition. I'll use F: in this example.
    5. Browse to the F:\Windows\System32\config folder.
    6. Select the system file and click the Open button.
    7. A box will come up asking for the Key Name.
    8. Type in MyXP_System and click the Ok button.
    9. You should now see the MyXP_System entry added to your local registry under the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE key. (An example picture of this can be seen in Figure A in this post.)
    10. Browse to the MountedDevices entry under the MyXP_System entry.
    11. Delete all the entries under that key except for (Default). To delete an entry, right-click on it (\DosDevices\C:, for example) and select Delete from the pop-up menu.
    12. When finished, unload the Hive by clicking on MyXP_System to highlight it, selecting the File menu and then selecting Unload Hive... Finally, click Yes and then close the Registry Editor.

    Now, you need to setup the boot manager (OSS, in this case).
    1. I sugest that while you're booted into the original XP, you set the desktop background to something different so that you'll be able to tell which OS you booted. I also suggest that you place a "tag" file in your My Documents folder to allowing checking of any cross-linking. A "tag" file can be any file that is specific to that partition. For example: In your original XP, just create a .txt file (or Word file) named This is my Original XP.txt in your My Documents folder. This file should only be found when you boot into your original XP. If it exists when you boot into the copy, the partitions got cross-linked.
    2. Reinstall OSS. It should find the original XP and it (hopefully) will find the copy. If it doesn't find the copy, see Note B, below.
    3. While in the OSS menu, check the Properties of the original XP OSS menu entry and verify that the correct partition is set Active and has the checkered flag on it.
    4. Boot back into the original XP and make sure everthing is okay. Your desktop background should be what you selected and the "tag" file should exist in My Documents.
    5. Reboot back to the OSS menu. Check the Properties of the XP-Copy menu entry and verify that the correct partition is set Active and has the checkered flag on it. Boot into the XP-Copy menu entry. When it boots, the desktop background should be what the original had when you copied it and the "tag" file you created should not exist in My Documents. If your desktop image is the new image or the "tag" file exists, see Note C, below.
    At this point, the dual-boot setup should be working. If you want to hide either OS partition from the other, you can select the appropriate options in each OS's OSS properties.

    ---

    Note A: What ...partition(#) do I use?
    If you don't know which partition table slot is used by a partition, you can use DD to view the partition table. You can run DD from your original XP if it's installed. Instructions and a sample picture can be found in Post #3 of this thread. If you have a problem figuring this out, post a screenshot of the partition table so I can see it.

    Note B: OSS doesn't find my copied OS
    Please post a copy of the BOOTWIZ.OSS file (instructions can be found here) so I can take a look at it.

    Note C: My partitions are cross-linked
    Please post a copy of the XP-Copy partition's boot.ini file and a copy of the BOOTWIZ.OSS file (as in Note B).

    ---

    If you have any questions or run into any problems, please ask. It's often much easier to avoid a problem than fix it afterwards.
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2009
  9. alvanoto

    alvanoto Registered Member

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    thanks very very much mudcrab,
    your explainations look very clear and are very comprehensive, although the whole process is not really user friendly for a commercial software i must say ! (shame on Acronis I'm tempted to say ... :(

    i'll try all these (it looks like quite a lot to do !) tomorrow and will let you know.
    I'm already scared when i read the first step as i managed to get a DD bootable CD from acronis (originaly an ISO image i burnt) a few weeks ago which never load at startup, always showing an error message - after it loaded its component - saying : couldn't find any disk (!!!!)
    Since i tried it unsuccessfully a few times, i didn't insist ... but i will try to build a DD CD image directly from DD tomorrow and then will see what i get ...
    Last questions for today : If i ever start to think that all these is definitely too complicated for me, and that i will spend less time and will take less risks reinstalling a new partition of a fresh windows install from my XP DVD, do you think i can do it simply, following the different steps featured in DD manual (chapter 8.2.2 installing another windows on a separate partition) assuming that then, DD and OS selector will take care of all the "mounted devices" clearing and letters assignment issues for me, allowing me to switch from one system to another ?

    Ultimately, one thing which is not clear at all for me :
    When i will manage to have these 2 systems on 2 different partitions, will OSS manage them in a transparent way for me, making the unused system partition invisible, or will i have to hide/unhide partitions manually on every new boot ?

    Otherwise, and to make you feel less nervous ! - my computer is now fully backed up with True Image, so in case of problems, i should hopefully be able to recover any data loss ...

    but what a mess ! i initialy bought Disk Director, thinking that with their OSS system copy function (the one which allows you to copy and use up to a hundred copies of the same system .. ah ah ah !), I will be able to switch in between different systems for different use, freely and simply .. what a desapointment !
    Let me know your thoughts (if you can) about a new windows install, and i'll let you know tomorrow anyway about my progress in sorting out this dual boot nightmare.

    my very best,
    m.
     
  10. MudCrab

    MudCrab Imaging Specialist

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    You're welcome. While OSS may have its problems, there are certain procedures involved in setting up a proper multi-boot computer that are independent of the boot manager.

    If DD can't find any drives, it usually means that the Linux drivers don't support the computer's chipset. Try the Safe Mode version of DD. If the Safe Mode version doesn't see your drives, OSS won't either (both access the drives through the computer's BIOS).

    If OSS will see your CD/DVD drive correctly, you can probably install okay that way. On my main OSS computer, the DVD drive isn't seen so I have to do manual installations. Personally, I prefer it anyway because it gives me more control.

    You don't have to worry about MountedDevices and drive letters when you do a clean install because the new Windows takes care of it when its installed (it starts empty, just like when you clear an existing one). Just understand that installing an OS (especially Windows) into a multi-boot system takes preparation for it to come out correctly. If you're not careful, Windows will take over and "merge" the booting partitions, which is not good if you want isolated installations.

    It's the job of the boot manager (OSS, in this example) to take care of the settings for each OS. You can set which partitions are hidden, etc. for each OS and OSS will apply those settings automatically for you when it boots that OS.

    Hopefully, you've at least booted to the TI CD and successfully validated your backup image and made sure TI sees your drives correctly.

    I also purchased DD for OSS (I was looking for a boot manager). I ended up liking DD much more than OSS. The "copy OS" feature can work. It just won't give you what you want. It's just not worth the hassle, in my opinion, and I don't consider it very safe.

    I've done it both ways and both ways work. The process outlined here is not as complicated as it first seems. Doing a new install can have its own set of problems. The bottom line is what works. If the copy works, it will be quicker than installing, updating, installing programs, configuring, etc. to get the OS up and running.
     
  11. alvanoto

    alvanoto Registered Member

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    MC,

    as usual, thanks for your time and detailed explainations.
    Troubles start from step 1 as expected as i can't get the DD cd to boot in safe mode. Can you advise ?
    At startup, and right before DD starts to load its component, i press F8, but all i get is screen asking me to choose from which drive i'd like to boot ...
    I've tried to install the new build i've downloaded from Acronis yesterday as i saw that some of this forum users got better result with the DD boot cd they managed to create out of it. But the install is asking me to remove all DD components of the previous version first, including OSS ... so with this option i'm back at the beginning. i also tried to build a DD boot cd from my version of Disk Director, but the process fails every time and every way ... bad luck i guess.
    thanks for your help,

    m.
     
  12. MudCrab

    MudCrab Imaging Specialist

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    It sounds like F8 is the BIOS boot menu key. You should be able to select the CD/DVD drive from the boot list and boot the DD CD.

    The Safe Mode version of DD will be a menu selection in the Acronis Menu that loads from the CD. This is the same menu from which you would select the Full Mode version. If it's not there, then the CD you have doesn't include the Safe Mode version.

    You should be okay to uninstall DD/OSS. OSS was going to be uninstalled anyway.

    Can you please explain what the problem or error is?
     
  13. alvanoto

    alvanoto Registered Member

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    MC !

    about your first comment, then it means that i dont have a version of DD boot cd which include safe mode - any ideas on where to find one ?
    The one i have was given me by the acronis staff a month ago during a first round of problems i had using their product.

    About the troubles i had using media builder to generate a boot CD from DD, well i've tried to create both an ISO image or to burn it straight from my CD burner, and each time i did it the process stop immediately and i end up with an error message telling an error happened and Media Builder had to quit, proposing to send a report to microsoft ...

    If i cant get another version of DD boot CD, and cant create my own, i'm afraid i will have to uninstall OSS and DD from windows the classic way ... what do you think about it ?

    again, thanks.
     
  14. MudCrab

    MudCrab Imaging Specialist

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    Here is a post with a screenshot showing what the menu should look like if you include all of the DD programs.

    It sounds like something is possbily corrupt in the Media Builder program. A reinstallation or repair install may fix it.

    You might also ask Acronis Support (via Live Chat) if they will provide you with an ISO that includes the Safe Mode version since you're having problems creating one.

    Another option is to temporarily install DD on another computer and create the DD CD.
     
  15. alvanoto

    alvanoto Registered Member

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    thanks MC,

    i've just received a DD boot iso image from Acronis which include safe boot mode. I will burn it and carry on again tomorrow, and will obviously let you know !
     
  16. alvanoto

    alvanoto Registered Member

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    MC,

    I just finished. Everything went fine, your explanations were perfect, so again, thanks very very much for your time and advises.

    I still end up with one comment, and more important one problem or at least something which puzzle me a bit ...

    first my comment : i found your tutorial to explain how to find the partition number using DD a bit confusing somehow at the beginning and found another way to proceed which for unexperienced users like me my be more straightforward, it's here, in case you may need it in the future :
    http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080325181056AAKi74s
    i double checked the result i found this way with your procedure, and in my case, both ways were matching.

    ok, for my problem now :
    after i completed all the steps of your tutorial, i booted another time to double check everything was ok, and noticed that when i was going into the properties of each OS, i was ending up with a different partition structure than the one i was using before. (which created some problems as my programs are on a separated partition ...)
    before, my 2 partitioned drives where originaly structured like this:
    C: system
    D: programs
    E: mp3
    F: dvd drive
    G: Sample
    I: Work

    after i completed all the steps of your tutorial, and while checking both partition properties of both systems appearing in OSS (Original XP and copied XP), i found this new parition - letter - structure :

    C: system
    D: mp3
    E: sample
    F: programs
    G: work

    This time assuming that the other unused system partition is hidden (i selected this option, maybe i used it badly ... i dont know)

    Then i booted in my original XP to find out that, strangely, it went back to my initial - lettered - partition structure,
    WHILE,
    when i booted then in the copied XP, i ended up with the second structure, the one i first found using OSS ...

    I didn't know what to do, and booted first with DD boot cd to try to change this partition letter structure, to realize that the option which allow you to modify the letter of a partition was not available ...
    I then booted again in my copied XP, opened DD, and changed the letters there back to my initial setting.
    I restarted, re booted in the copied XP, and now the 2 systems are similar and use the same letter partition structure.

    However,
    When i boot and end up in OSS now, when i check again the partition properties, it still shows me the second letter partition structure, the wrong one ...
    Do you think it may hide a more serious problem ? Is there something i can do to fix this once for all ?
    Other athn that, and just to let you know, i proceeded accordingly to your tutorial, changed background color, tagged the "my document" folder of the original XP and it seems like everything is working all right now and that there are no cross copies in between the two systems ...
     
  17. MudCrab

    MudCrab Imaging Specialist

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    When you boot into OSS and are at the OSS menu, OSS just assigns drive letters. These letters may not match what Windows would show. This is normal. Use the partition labels to identify the partitions, not the drive letters.

    When you're in Windows, OSS (running in Windows) may show the correct drive letters as assigned by that Windows. However, I would still go by the labels.

    Since the copy's MountedDevices entry was cleared in the registry, Windows reassigned them when it first booted. The reassignment does not always get the partitions assigned the same as the original. It is usually necessary to use Disk Management (or DD, like you did) to set the drive letters back to what you want. This is also normal.
     
  18. alvanoto

    alvanoto Registered Member

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    all right MC, good to have your confirmation that all is fine on my end now,
    It was a pleasure to follow your instructions and advises !

    a last time, thanks for the help and take care,
    m.
     
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