Imaging software... question concerning Windows 8.1 upgrade

Discussion in 'backup, imaging & disk mgmt' started by TheRollbackFrog, Jul 8, 2014.

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  1. TheRollbackFrog

    TheRollbackFrog Registered Member

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    Greetings all! It has been observed on systems with a MSRP (Microsoft System Reserved Partition) that when the W8 > W8.1 upgrade is applied, that upgrade process appears to "downsize" the main SYSTEM partition by 450mB and in that space creates a new 450mB MSRP... the old 300mB MSRP is no longer needed but remains.

    Without going into a massive test phase concerning this change, I'm asking if anyone who has this type of system configuration (MSRP) experienced any major problems with their imaging software following the upgrade. Since that type of upgrade completely changes the BASELINE protected partition size reference, it would appear to me that, and follow-on incremental or differential imaging based on the W8 baseline, would be almost bogus at this point. Possibly some imagers would detect the main partition change and automatically start a new baseline at this point so I'm just trying to find out what many of you may know about this.

    I'm interested in any observations concerning any imaging software that you may have used during this upgrade transition... thank you.
     
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2014
  2. Jim1cor13

    Jim1cor13 Registered Member

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    Hi TRF :)

    Thank you for this thread. I think it will get interesting to see how imagers are handling this level of change. Personally, I find this step that M$ has taken is beyond reasonable in my opinion. It is dangerous, and also an aggressive step that has potential to break more than one imager especially incrementals I would think. My question is why did M$ go to this extent for an update to 8.1? No wonder RBRX and I am sure other tools were blown out of the water. Who could plan for this level of update unless they were told previously which that was not the case if I understand it.

    Amazing they would take this kind of aggressive approach for an update unless it was deemed necessary due to perhaps an issue with a previous MSRP or to wipe out perhaps some piracy? In any case, good thread start my friend, and I still am amazed at what BrianK found. I wonder how many systems became inoperable due to this level of drive manipulation, or how many perhaps have backups/images that may not restore properly? It should be interesting to read how others were affected by this kind of update. I am thankful I stayed with Win 7 also.

    Thanks TRF :)
    Jim
     
  3. TheRollbackFrog

    TheRollbackFrog Registered Member

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    I had some free time so I did the following... with a few surprises.

    I have both AX64 Time Machine v2 BETA and Macrium Pro v5.2 located on one of my test machines. So I played around with a 450mB reduction in the protected partition.

    Following the reduction, Time Machine executed, without fanfare, an attempted incremental snapshot... actually taking what appears to be a FULL baseline (size is as expected for a full baseline) in the process. This is kinda what I expected... it did notice a change in partition size and baselined the new partition, but it said absolutely nothing, making me believe that nothing had changed. BUT... any attempted restore (HOT, WARM or COLD) to any previous snapshot or baseline failed. This would be quite a surprise to any user who felt those previous snapshots were very important... and of course, wouldn't know anything until he actually needed that snapshot.

    I went through the same exercise with a Macrium DIFFERENTIAL chain. Macrium took the requested DIFFERENTIAL but actually created a new FULL image with a new coded filename... it also didn't say anything when this occurred, the user would think all was normal. When I attempted to do LOCAL restored RECOVERY MEDIA restore of the previous differential prior to the partition size change, it allowed me to drag the larger differential image to the now smaller partition and the recovery began. The problem... the recovery time was so long I couldn't believe it was actually happening. Usually the imaging or recovery of this partition is about 11-min... this recovery was progressing at a rate about 10-times as slow. I decided to abort the process and recover the partition back to its normal state.

    I'm not a big Macrium user yet so I don't know if Macrium was trying to do something really strange in the recovery of that partition or not, I chose not to wait for that entire attempt.

    Both of the above scenarios scare me a bit as the user knows nothing of the partition size change and their imaging tool of choice seems to not let them know until they need the image later in the timeline. Macrium v5.2 is supposed to be able to restore to a smaller partition... I have not looked into that capability yet.
     
  4. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

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    Hi Froggie

    I know zip about Win 8, but I have done something similar in WIn 7. The standard Win 7 configuration that comes when installed is the 100mb partition, and then the c: drive with the OS. I was using Shadowprotect. First image I would take is the whole drive volume which would give one image of the 100mb partition and then another image of the c: drive. Then what I'd do is do a restore picking just the image of the c: drive. When selecting the restore location Shadowprotect gives you the option to delete both partitions on that volume. It essentially leaves it unallocated and unformated.

    Then it gives you the option to create and new partition from the image, but using all the unallocated space. Then I would set the following options. Set active, restore mbr from image, restore track 0 and restore the disk signature. Shadowprotect would then restore the image taking up the whole disk, and at the end of the restore, would do a boot repair, making the c: partition bootable. Worked like a champ.

    I may try it with Win 8 in a virtual machine.

    Pete
     
  5. zapjb

    zapjb Registered Member

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    I'm confused. Still using 7 here, have some 8 experience. These smaller factory? installed partitions aren't full OSs like the hidden 5-20GB partitions. What are they, hidden restore points or MBR? Any computer in my control I make factory restore discs 1st thing, get around resizing partitions wiping out hidden partitions or just doing a clean install. Then I just make OS images every ~month & backup data separately.
     
  6. TheRollbackFrog

    TheRollbackFrog Registered Member

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    Zapjb, if the factory decides to use an UEFI construct for booting the system, the traditional MBR does not exist. Instead a small EFI partition, formatted at FAT32, I believe, is used to support the same functionality as the old MBR except it is extensible. The most common extensibility of the EFI partition now offers up to 128 PRIMARY partitions on a single disk where the old MBR only supported 4. The 2nd partition seen the most is the Microsoft System Reserved Partition (MSRP). Microsoft BOOTs through this partition on its way to your SYSTEM partition. The REPAIR facility is usually included in that partition.

    For instance, if you build WINDOWS on a system that has its BiOS selected to be in UEFI mode and the HD(SS)D is unallocated at that time (no partitions), the system will create an EFI partition, and WIndows will create a MSRP partition before it builds the SYSTEM partition. If the HD(SS)D already has an existing partition structure and isn't using a MSRP, when you tell Windows where to build itself (select a partition), it will only build Windows in that partition and will include the REPAIR facility in that partition.
     
  7. zapjb

    zapjb Registered Member

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    I forgot to mention, so far I've only chose MBR/legacy mode I think. lol. Older now & my memory, like Ron Popeil says, "Set it & forget it!"
     
  8. TheRollbackFrog

    TheRollbackFrog Registered Member

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    If all you're dealing with are homebuilt Legacy/MBR systems that are pre-partitioned then Windows built... you'll never see this problem, but most of the current OEM systems being store bought have been this way for quite a while now.
     
  9. TheRollbackFrog

    TheRollbackFrog Registered Member

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    Hi Pete! That's basically what I do when I rid a system of its MSRP but I don't do a restore. All I do is blow away the MSRP then BOOT to a Windows distribution and select the REPAIR facility. In that I say fix the BOOT problems and it now makes that SYSTEM partition the BOOTable one. At that point, if I need the space that the MSRP took up I just resize the repaired partition and all is well.
     
  10. Robin A.

    Robin A. Registered Member

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    IF you are "upgrading" from 8 to 8.1, create a full system backup before doing the upgrade, to restore it if some problems arise after the upgrade. If everything works well, begin a new backup cycle based on 8.1, which is a different OS.
     
  11. TheRollbackFrog

    TheRollbackFrog Registered Member

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    Robin, this is fine if you image the entire HD(SS)D involved with the SYSTEM partition. If you're only imaging the SYSTEM partition, you cannot go backwards unless you have an imager that can restore to a smaller partition... which many don't. That's what the W8.1 upgrade did to MSRP-based systems... it shrunk the system partition.
     
  12. stapp

    stapp Global Moderator

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    TRF,
    Do you think Microsoft's own built-in imager would be affected in the same way?
     
  13. Brian K

    Brian K Imaging Specialist

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    As an experiment I resized a Win8.1 partition 450 MB smaller and then tried to create a differential image with IFW/IFL and IFD. All refused to create the image. This was on a Legacy/MBR system.
     
  14. TheRollbackFrog

    TheRollbackFrog Registered Member

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    Stapp, I'm not a user of this tool, but from previous discussions my feeble memory says that the IMAGING capability of the M$ tool only does FULL images, not INCREMENTALs or DIFFERENTIALs. I believe its FILE-based backup is incremental but its imaging is only fulls. If that's the case, there shouldn't be a problem with restoring full images made by M$'s imaging tool.

    Anyone with better first hand knowledge, pls confirm.
     
  15. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

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    I played around last night on a brand new virtual machine. Installed a fresh copy of 8.1 It had a 350mb system reserved partition. All my efforts to remove that with imaging as I had done with Win 7 were a failure. My only conclusion is I am so glad I was able to buy new machines with Win 7x64. I have already deleted the VM with 8.1. No thanks.
     
  16. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

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    I was always told that you could only create one image, and you had to rename it to keep it from over writing. Turns out not true at least on Win 7. Based on the increased use in disk space, I'd suspect the added images weren't full images. Unfortunately, due to the lack of any feature set there was really no way to confirm. It's a hard imager to play with as it is soooooo very slow.

    Pete
     
  17. TheRollbackFrog

    TheRollbackFrog Registered Member

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    This is what I would expect an imager to do, with maybe the added offer of creating a new FULL image at that time. Not letting the user know until he needs to restore a previous image would be a real shock to the casual user.
     
  18. taotoo

    taotoo Registered Member

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    AFAIK on Win7:

    It will do incrementals if triggered by a schedule (I believe Previous Versions has to be enabled for the target drive for incrementals to occur).

    If triggered manually, I've a feeling it won't do incrementals - that might account for different people having different experiences (as would Previous Versions needing to be enabled on the target drive I suppose).

    As an aside, I believe that when making an incremental, it first moves the sectors within the existing image that are to be overwritten out to VSS, and then updates the image with the new sectors. So the latest 'incremental' is in fact a full image, and the baseline is a combination of the full image and sectors stored in VSS.
     
  19. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

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    When I tested windows imaging, I did everything manually. Also once the other images were there, finding them reminded me of the old DEC Adventure games twisty passages. Grrr
     
  20. TheRollbackFrog

    TheRollbackFrog Registered Member

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    The more I look into this W8 > W8.1 anomaly, the worse it gets. There's threads all over the place about Windows imaging failing after the W8.1 upg and a whole bunch of SONY laptop users whose HDDs were full due to M$ RECOVERY partitions, System Reserved Partitions, OEM Recovery partitions and the SYSTEM partition... and after the W8.1 update was applied, M$ deleted the OEM recovery partition in order to get room for the new Windows RECOVERY partition. Why it didn't try and shrink the SYSTEM partition, I haven't a clue.

    I'm almost ready to recommend what Robin suggests above, for any major Windows update. The problem is that any users that use AUTOMATIC updates may not be able to prepare for such changes in time. That's what happened to a few users of Rollback RX when W8.1 was applied.

    Either imaging the entire HD(SS)D that the SYSTEM partition is located on, or only imaging the SYSTEM partition by using an imager that can restore to different size partitions (larger AND smaller... who knows what M$ will do next) seems to be the way to go if you're in control of your system M$ updating.

    Clearly moving into the world of Windows 8 using UEFI/GPT-based systems is a challenging effort even for those of us who "think" we have control of our systems. I have no idea what's going to happen when either W8.1.2 (later this year) or W9 (next year) "hits the fan."

    I've been pretty lucky to date. Based on user's requirements, every system I've personally built turned out to be a Legacy/MBR-based W7 system with no RECOVERY partitions and NO System Reserved Partitions... only the main ACTIVE System partition and a DATA partition if the user requested it. Any M$ Recovery work required is performed by a standard Windows OS distribution DVD, and of course works fine when needed. Any needed as-built RECOVERY images are saved and managed by me (sometimes I copy them on the built system in a BACKUP folder)... if anything blows up, I recover it for them (the user base is small).

    I've dabbled in W8, W8.1, W8.1.1 for testing purposes and in the tablet arena only... I have not recommended it to anyone who has asked me for such yet on a PC, but, if necessary, it can be built in the same simplistic manner as the W7 builds above. BUT, when they buy their own machine, who knows what it comes with.
     
  21. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

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    That is exactly why I buy from a vendor who a) gives me a choice about OS's and b) will do something a bit different if I request it.
     
  22. coffeetime

    coffeetime Registered Member

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    On Win 7 you can prevent/choose to not create the reserved partition and avoid your imaging steps, when you're doing a fresh install. IDK if this works on Win 8/8.1 I never use.

    Few ways, 100mb reserved partition is created if there no parititions/empty drive:

    -at the Win 7 setup drive options, deleting all partitions and create a new part.
    This is when it creates the 100mb reserved part. along with your new part.
    Delete the your new part., extend the 100mb part. to what you want, format and install.

    -use existing partition, format nad install.

    -using bootable partitioning utility or Win7 diskpart to create part.
     
  23. Brian K

    Brian K Imaging Specialist

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    If you install Win8 in Legacy/MBR mode you can have one or two setups. Installing Win8 into an Active NTFS partition gives you a single partition OS. The Booting files and WinRE.wim (the recovery image) are in the OS partition. Installing Win8 into unallocated free space results in two partitions. A 350 MB System Reserved Partition and the Win8 partition. The SRP is the Active partition, not the Win8 partition. The SRP is the System partition, not the Win8 partition. The SRP contains the booting files and WinRE.wim. (The Win7 SRP doesn't contain WinRE.wim. WinRE.wim is in the Win7 partition)

    Microsoft defines the System partition as the one containing the booting files.

    If you install Win8 in UEFI mode you get four partitions.

    Recovery 300 MB
    EFI System 100 MB (EPS)
    MSR 128 MB (Microsoft Reserved Partition)
    Windows 8 (the remainder of the drive or your chosen size)

    See this link for an explanation of these partitions...

    http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/hardware/dn640535(v=vs.85).aspx

    The Recovery partition contains WinRE.wim. The EPS contains the booting files, hence it is the System partition. The MSR isn't visible in Disk Management or Windows Explorer. It is visible in command line Diskpart. (and most partitioning software)

    Edit... When you upgrade a UEFI Win8 system to 8.1, a new Recovery partition is created. Containing a new WinRE.wim. This 450 MB partition doesn't have a label. So in Disk Management (or Diskpart) you will still see your old Recovery partition but the new partition is unlabeled. I don't know what happens to Win8 MBR systems with a SRP. There are no partition issues with a single partition Win8 MBR system when upgrading to Win8.1. The new WinRE.wim goes into the Win8.1 partition.
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2014
  24. TheRollbackFrog

    TheRollbackFrog Registered Member

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    Very informative post... thanks, Brian!
     
  25. Brian K

    Brian K Imaging Specialist

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    A further comment about the importance of installing Windows (any Windows) into the Active partition on HD0. Let's say you have a single data partition on a HD. That partition is likely to be Active. This HD is installed into your computer as the only HD. You now resize that partition smaller and create a NTFS partition in the unallocated free space. You then install Windows into this new partition. The booting files are always installed into the Active partition on HD0 so the data partition becomes a de facto SRP as it will contain the booting files. The data partition will be the System partition.

    Let's say you install an empty second HD into your computer, not necessarily the above computer, create a partition and install Windows into that partition. It doesn't matter if that partition was Active or not, the booting files are always installed into the Active partition on HD0. So the OS on the new HD won't boot unless the old HD is present as it contains the booting files.
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2014
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