Macrium Reflect, GPT & MBR

Discussion in 'backup, imaging & disk mgmt' started by Mac29, Dec 19, 2019.

  1. Mac29

    Mac29 Registered Member

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    I want to use Macrium Reflect free ver to clone an SSD so I can boot from the clone HDD. The SSD is GPT and 250GB but so far I only use ~80GB. The HDD is MBR and has two 250GB partitions.

    Can I use 'clone' to copy the recovery partition, the weird FAT32 26MB partition, unformatted 16MB partition and the 80GB C: partition (W10) to the first 250GB partition on the HDD and boot from it if I develop an issue w/the SSD? When I try this MR automatically makes the HDD MBR, so I presume this will work.

    If not, can I image those partitions to same HDD partition, and will it boot? I plan to use the rest of the HDD to copy partitions from my DATA HDD, as one part of my backup routine.


    Thank you,

    Mac
     
  2. Brian K

    Brian K Imaging Specialist

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  3. Mac29

    Mac29 Registered Member

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    Thanks Brian K. Very good link. I'll re-think my routine. For one thing I still have a lot of blue ray discs.
     
  4. jphughan

    jphughan Registered Member

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    @Mac29 does the HDD have to remain MBR? And what's on those existing 250 GB partitions? If you can dump those partitions, then tell Reflect to clone the entire SSD to the HDD and it will switch it to GPT. If the disk has to remain MBR and keep those existing partitions, then cloning isn't going to work here for a few different reasons. First, you're going to face the issue that MBR disks can only have 4 total primary partitions. Second, since you apparently hope to be able to boot from that disk, you'll have the additional issue that the partition layout required to boot from a GPT disk is completely different from what's required to boot from an MBR disk. The EFI partition (small FAT32) and MSR (the weird one you mentioned) are both meant for GPT disks set up for UEFI booting and wouldn't be applicable to an MBR disk. The Recovery partition is also tagged in a particular way, but that mechanism is different on GPT disks vs. MBR disks. And lastly, a GPT disk is meant to be booted in UEFI mode and can't be booted in Legacy BIOS mode, while an MBR disk is exactly the opposite. Macrium does offer guides for performing customized clones/restores of GPT disks to MBR disks and vice versa in a way that will lead to a bootable result, but that wouldn't really work for a situation where you'd be performing clones on some sort of regular basis.

    As for the image option, you would be able to set up an image backup job that would generate a file containing all of your source disk's partitions, and you could store that file on an existing partition of your HDD. However, you wouldn't be able to boot directly from an image backup. Macrium has viBoot which will allow you to boot an image backup as a VM within Windows (if you have a version of Windows that gives you access to Hyper-V), but booting directly on hardware wouldn't work. You'd have to actually restore that image somewhere. But on a broader note, image backups and clones are very different things, and it's not a good idea to consider either one a substitute for the other. Many people mistakenly consider a clone to be a backup because "I have a second copy now", but that really isn't the case. One major risk is that when you perform a clone, the destination has to be put into an unusable state when the clone begins and doesn't become usable again until the clone completes -- so in a periodic clone scenario, you basically have to destroy your "backup" every time you want to update it. But that means that if your SOURCE disk ever happens to fail in the middle of your clone operation, you'll have no usable source AND no usable "backup". That wouldn't happen with a proper image backup strategy since you don't have to destroy existing backups to create new ones. And image backups also of course allow you to retain backups from multiple points in time, whereas a clone can only ever store a single state.

    I would recommend that you plan to create regular image backups of your SSD to be stored as files on your HDD, and choose whatever retention policy is appropriate for you based on your destination storage capacity and how far back you want to be able to go in time using your backups. That does mean that if your source disk fails, you'll have to obtain a replacement and restore your image onto that in order to boot again -- as opposed to a traditional clone situation where you could just install your HDD internally and immediately boot -- but if a clone would otherwise be your only "backup", I think the risk I described above outweighs that convenience. It's normally not THAT difficult to get your hands on a replacement SSD on short notice if needed, after all. And again, your particular proposed clone setup has multiple issues that would make it a non-starter anyway.
     
  5. Mac29

    Mac29 Registered Member

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    jphughan - Thanks for the in-depth reply. The 2 partitions were empty. I re-discovered the 4 primary partition limit. My Bios says it's using Legacy Bios mode even though the SSD is GPT but it must be some hybrid setup. In any event I agree, the risk outweighs any convenience. I had not read - anywhere - that cloning generates an unstable state of your source disk. No brainer: cloning won't be used.

    I'll use multiple images to multiple disks, and blu-ray if images fit. Then think about RAID as well. Need to be rock solid with these MS updates and the off chance of a disk failure.

    Thanks.
     
  6. jphughan

    jphughan Registered Member

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    It's possible to have a motherboard configuration that allows both Legacy BIOS and UEFI booting at the same time. You'd have to disable Secure Boot and enable UEFI Compatibility Support Module (sometimes called CSM or Legacy Option ROMs). However, if you don't actually NEED to boot in Legacy BIOS mode from anything and you're always running OSes that support Secure Boot, then you should enable Secure Boot. It's a nice anti-rootkit measure, and the only downside is that you can't use that feature with OSes that don't support Secure Boot or any Legacy BIOS boot devices.

    To be clear, cloning does not generate an unstable state for your source disk. It generates an unstable state for the destination disk. But the risk is that if you just so happen to have a source disk failure during that clone, i.e. your drive just picks that moment to give up the ghost, then because you had to place your destination in an unstable state for the clone operation, you now have no source disk and no usable destination disk.
     
  7. Mac29

    Mac29 Registered Member

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    Apologies for the late reply. Yes, had to turn off Secure Boot. Don't think I can use UEFI since I switch drives for my Linux Mint on HDD.

    Thanks for clarifying that clone info. BTW I think my chances of failure on the source disk (SSD) are vy slim but never say never.

    Cheers.
     
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