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Laptop travel backup strategy: external duplicated bootable HDD? (w/extra partition?)

Last response: in Windows 7
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September 12, 2013 8:31:31 AM

I am running Win7 64 pro on a Thinkpad x120E. I sometimes travel, and would like to create a duplicate of my entire internal HDD on a larger external (USB) HDD. I have no problems cloning the HDD right before travel to get a fresh copy, and can save new documents during travel on a flash drive as 'updates.' I have 3 main questions, based on the following:

I have tried MiniTool Partition Wizard to clone my HD (without resizing partitions). It reports that the c: (system) partition can't be copied because it's active, but will copy it on reboot. It doesn't--comes up with a brief message that something changed, then goes to regular WIn7 bootup. I did clone all 3 partitions (C:system, SYSTEM_DRV, and Q:Lenovo Recovery partitions) using EaseUS ToDo backup (workstation), which I also use for incremental backups on a local (non-traveling) external HDD.

So, my 3 questions:

1 (non-critical): Am I doing something wrong with Partition Wizard, or is there a way to set it up to clone all 3 partitions of my internal HDD? PW seems faster than EaseUS Todo.

2: Can I make the external HDD bootable, rather than having to restore it to my internal HDD in case of a crash? I'd rather not have to make a recovery CD, carry around an external optical drive, go thru restoration (if internal HDD is still working), etc. I'd rather plug in the external cloned HDD and set the BIOS on startup to boot from it so I can access files and get back to work immediately. In Disk Management, my cloned system partition (assigned x:)  shows as active and primary partition. but not as a system or boot partition. I read something about running a WIn7 install 3 times to install boot files on the cloned partition, etc., but would rather not go thru this hassle. Is there a DIRECT cloning/copying technique to actually copy my internal HDD (all partitions) to an external HDD that can simply be attached and booted from?

3: My external HDD is larger than my internal one. I'd like to create another partition in the unassigned leftover space on this drive (about 1 TB) and use it for other storage/backup of files. Is there a way to do this where this "storage" partition won't be erased when I re-clone updated versions of my internal HDD to this same physical drive? (This may require a particular backup/cloning utility, I realize.) The size of the cloned partitions won't change, of course, so it shouldn't have to affect the extra partition.

Perhaps a sector-by-sector copy of the system partition may address some of these issues, but my understanding is that is MUCH slower. True? Also, is it true that I would just have to update the copy of the system partition on the external HDD, and not the 2 other partitions?

This backup strategy makes a lot of sense to me, as it would allow me to get up and running immediately on the road with my external drive that has a recent clone on it. But I haven't found a way to do this after much reading/searching on various sites.

Any suggestions on how to do this would be most welcome!!!

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a c 285 D Laptop
a c 572 $ Windows 7
September 12, 2013 8:41:01 AM

Generally speaking, Windows will not boot from an external drive.

See this discussion at superuser.com:
http://superuser.com/questions/62506/can-windows-7-boot...
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September 12, 2013 8:47:31 AM

USAFRet said:
Generally speaking, Windows will not boot from an external drive.

See this discussion at superuser.com:
http://superuser.com/questions/62506/can-windows-7-boot...


Thx--I did not come across that simple fact! Given that limitation, is there a simple way to execute a restore strategy with the backups above, using either the Lenovo or WIn7 or EaseUS Todo recovery capabilities, via a flash drive rather than having to boot from an external optical drive?
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September 13, 2013 12:44:05 PM

Just to follow up on my solution (stopped looking for how to make the external usb hard drive bootable!). EaseUS Todo Backup has a utility to create a bootable flash drive.(Only available in paid versions, not the free one.) So, just doing this and creating an image of my laptop hard drive makes a pretty simple emergency restore solution when I'm on the road. And the rest of the external hdd is available for backing up other files.

As a reference point, creating a full encrypted image of my internal drive with about 160GB of data took about 1.5 hrs via usb 2.0.
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