Information requested for dual OS system backup/restore

Discussion in 'Paragon Drive Backup Product Line' started by Southcoaster, Jan 25, 2012.

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  1. Southcoaster

    Southcoaster Registered Member

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    I use Paragon Backup & Recovery 2012 Free, and I am in the process of upgrading from XP to Windows 7. I have XP on my first partition, Windows 7 on the second (my data happens to be on a third), all on the same physical disk.
    I would like to fully understand what I need to backup in order to correctly restore in the case of a total disk failure.

    Put simply, my understanding of my boot process is as follows:
    1. BIOS locates MBR, which in my set-up above always points to the Windows 7 second partition.
    2. Code in Windows 7 second partition, gives me my ‘select operating system’ screen.
    3. If I select XP, then the XP operating system in first partition boots. If I select Windows 7, then the Windows 7 operating system in the second partition boots.
    If my above understanding is adequate, am I correct in thinking I could simply backup the MBR, plus partition one (XP) plus partition two (Windows 7), and this would be enough to fully restore my system. However that’s a big backup and XP over time will hardly change and become less important?

    So am I also correct in thinking that I could separate my backups, e.g. backing up MBR plus partition one (XP) separately from MBR (maybe) plus partition two (Windows 7). In this way I can backup Windows 7 seperately more frequently?
    Then using the recovery CD, so long as I restore MBR plus partition one from my XP backup image file, plus partition two from my Windows 7 backup image file (completed before I attempt a PC boot), I can successfully restore and boot using a new blank disk?
    Of course I am assuming my partition sizes remain static between any separate backups, otherwise clearly I may have to start from scratch.

    Would the purchased version of Paragon Backup & Recovery give me any additional facilities or indeed is it necessary here?

    Many thanks.
     
  2. seekforever

    seekforever Registered Member

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    I'm a relatively new Paragon user and I don't do dual boot systems. However, I think what you are suggesting throughout your posting will work fine. Normally one of the key items is to keep the partition order the same on the disk such that booting gets to the right space.

    The safest way is to make a whole disk backup of the MBR and all the partitions so you can fall back on it. However, leaving out the data partition should not be a problem if it is last in the partition order.

    You don't need to back up every partition all the time, you can make an image of just XP or just W7 and restore them indelpendently.

    The absolute safest way to make sure you have no surprises should you have a disk disaster is to do a test restore to a spare HD. A spare is recommended because if the process fails for any reason the partition being restored is already deleted and you will end up with unallocated space. Once you know the Paragon recovery works then you are in good shape.

    I obviously don't know what's on your PC and what you do with it but when I moved to W7, I started fresh and loaded up everything on W7 that I could. I had a some apps that didn't work and I just set up a free MS virtual PC using XP under W7 so I could run them. Anyway, that suited my purpose perfectly but it depends on what you want to lkeep running under XP since the virtual PC route is best suited for "business" style apps.

    The functionality of the free product is all you really need to do partition images and restores. The only problem can be the recovery environment which is Linux based and sometimes it doesn't work well, if at all, on some machines. The latest and greatest tend to be more of a problem since there may not be adequate drivers included in the Linux package. The paid product gives you access to a WinPE recovery environment which is Windows based and usually overcomes the problem. It also has the facility to load drivers if you have some unsupported piece of hardware. Another bonus is that it will often run faster than the Linux.

    HTH
     
  3. Southcoaster

    Southcoaster Registered Member

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    Hi Seekforever,

    Many thanks for your reply, and confirmation that I am on the right track.
    I take your point to make sure any partitions used for restore are in the same order, and I will try to make them the same size if I need to create them before restoring.

    I have already made a whole disk backup as well, although the disk I had spare was 500GB whereas my current disk is 600GB, but I was able to squash the partitions down a bit to fit. I think this method was slower than just backing up a partition and I only have one spare disk, whereas I can create a number of partition backup image files.
    I have been reluctant to test the whole disk backup method as it would mean diving into my PC to physically swap disks. Although not a real problem as I did build the PC in the first place back in 2008 and it was not a real fancy machine, just an E8500 CPU, P5Q-E motherboard and SATA2 disks.
    In case you are wondering how I connected my spare disk then, I have a disk caddy in the front of the PC that allows me to plug in a SATA2 disk.

    I have to admit I hadn’t picked up on the virtual PC for XP alternative when I started my Windows 7 ‘upgrade’, hence the dual boot configuration, but yes like you I started afresh with my Windows 7 installation.

    As you say, it’s possible that the free recovery CD will be adequate for me. I don’t mind paying for the software but was put off as Paragon support is only for one month which for a paid product is absolutely dreadful.

    Many thanks again.
     
  4. seekforever

    seekforever Registered Member

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    I also use disk caddies. If you can beg/borrow/steal another HD for a test it is easy to put it into the caddy and change the boot order in the BIOS to access the caddy before the normal HD.

    If you do this be very careful that you are restoring to the disk in the caddy. To be real safe you can just unplug the SATA data cable to your regular drive and that likely would put the caddy at the top of the HD boot order since the PC wouldn't know about the normal disk.

    Meaningful partition labels are very important too since the Linux environment does not necessarily end up with the same drive letter assignments. This all gets fixed up when Windows boots again and does its drive letter assignment method.
     
  5. Southcoaster

    Southcoaster Registered Member

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    I think I need to do more than just change the disk boot order (i.e. disconnect one of the system disks) as I seem to remember the PC couldn’t handle two active system partitions at once even if they are on different physical disks.

    I have some other work I need to complete on the PC first, then I will delve into the PC and will give your suggestions a try, many thanks.
     
  6. seekforever

    seekforever Registered Member

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    Yes, if Windows sees two identical disks with the same disk signature etc then it can get confused. I don't know what Paragon does when it just restores an image. This used to be a problemw with Acronis if the disk was cloned or a complete raw sector-by-sector copy was used. In these cases everything got copied to the target disk.

    Disconnecting the original disk is the certain, easy way out of it. Once the disk has done its first successful boot the other disk can be reconnected with no problem.
     
  7. SIW2

    SIW2 Registered Member

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    It is because windows changes one of the disk id's if they are the same.

    Because bcd relies on the disk and partition identifiers, it can cause the bcd entries to be pointing at a non existent location.

    Imaging apps. nowadays will correct bcd entries during the restore process as a matter of course.
     
  8. Southcoaster

    Southcoaster Registered Member

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    Many thanks for the info.
     
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