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Cloning Windows 7 on back up Hard Drive...

Last response: in Storage
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April 16, 2012 6:47:04 PM

Hello,
I have been experimenting with back up SATA hard drives on my new computer build with Windows 7 64 bit.
First...fresh load of Windows 7 onto primary drive, load the software I like and then clone the back up drive to have in safe keeping mostly for a bug free clean load of a fresh operating system in back up. I have done this for years with Windows XP and always worked out well. With Windows 7 I learned that the BIOS alone will not boot a back up drive because the boot manager is in a separate partition of a fresh installation and therefore I found a boot manager software called Easy BCD and finally was able to boot up my cloned back up drive. Some may know that Windows 7 is a bit different in that for standard installation...the hard drive is partitioned with a separate boot manager...called System Reserve with its own partitian ID. I believe there is a work around for having a single partition but there are quite a few steps to do this and not sure to what end.

I am looking for somebody who maybe able to answer the following question. I am now using my cloned back up hard drive as my primary drive and decided to clone it as a back up as it is an early and clean copy of Windows 7...in effect a clone of a cloned copy of Windows 7 Home addition. In spite of wiping all partitions and full and not quick reformat...and cloning an operating system that boots fine as my C drive...I can not get the clone of a clone to boot. I recloned the fresh drive twice, thinking that perhaps an error occured in the cloning process. No go. So...perhaps one clone off of the original hard drive is all that will work? This is my experience. There is nothing wrong with the back up hard drive...healthy...can load files on to it etc...just will not boot in spite of being an identical version of Windows 7 that was cloned from my original installation...and this is with using a boot loader program like Easy BCD.

Any thoughts on this is appreciated. Maybe a clone of a clone just won't boot...and only one clone off the original operating system for Windows 7 is all one will get to boot. Of course I have the orignal Windows 7 disk but this saves from having to reload all the extra software and settings that is required with a fresh installation.

Thanks for any comments.
a c 228 $ Windows 7
a c 371 G Storage
April 17, 2012 12:40:40 PM

I don't have an answer per say, but I don't see why one clone would be different than an other. I've cloned OS's to a larger drive and repeated the process two or 3 more times over the years, in essence a clone of a clone, and it always works.

EDIT: You just have to make sure the original drive contains both the boot loader and OS. Windows will try to put the boot loader on a seperate drive unless there is only one drive in the system during the install. This is why I always add additional drives after the OS install.
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April 17, 2012 1:19:19 PM

Thanks Hawkeye for your response. I too have had no problem with a clone of a clone in the past on my old computer...but that was Windows XP and not Windows 7. You likely know that the boot manager is much more complex with Windows 7...created on a separate partition... and cloning isn't as straight forward. I researched this on the web as was pretty astounded about the complexity of different work arounds for getting a cloned drive to boot...mind numbing really in terms of different options.

For further clarification...I have 3 Sata hard drives on my system. 2 Sata drives will boot which were first clones of clean Windows 7 installation. The middle drive...I can't get to boot based upon a clone of a clone. No doubt it relates to the boot loader. I just don't know why. One problem is...when booting between the first and 3rd drive is my middle drive letters change...both partitions...Reserve space and primary partition sometimes change letter. This of course confuses Easy BCD boot manager software. But I have tried it often enough and what happens is...when trying to boot to my middle drive is...the computer always boots to my C drive...in spite of changing BIOS settings as well. I believe the clone of a clone is identical...but there is something in the boot loader that is keeping the middle drive from booting. For some reason...Windows 7 can't differentiate the cloned drive from the drive it is cloned from and always boots the original drive.

I will continue to explore different options. If you have any further suggestions...I would appreciate it.
Thanks again.
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a c 228 $ Windows 7
a c 371 G Storage
April 17, 2012 1:23:49 PM

Have you tried swapping the sata ports the drives are on? I'd try the middle drive on port SATA_0 and see if it boots then.
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April 17, 2012 1:35:13 PM

Yes I have...thanks. I also tried removing all drives and connecting my clone of a clone to the SATA_0 port. I get a solid blue screen with a small note in the bottom right hand corner that states...Not a genuine copy of Windows 7. As stated above...there are work arounds to this which I have not tried because of their complexity. I really don't like revising my registry...if I don't have to. It is suggested this is due to the cloned drive letters do not agree with the original drive and why Windows 7 will not boot it. As stated...there are complex work arounds that I prefer to not attempt. At the end of the day...if a clone of a clone doesn't work, then clean install is likely still easier than very complex counter measures.
Cloning is still very effective for back up...and of course restoring downloaded programs saved as .exe files that can be quickly installed without re-downloading.
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April 17, 2012 3:35:26 PM

Hawk..
Check out the link below to learn how insidious the drive letter ID thing is when cloning a drive with Windows 7. Explains why Windows misconstrues a clone as non genuine installation. I didn't run into any of this with Windows XP. It may relate to how or why Microsoft revised Windows 7 such that when installing...it creates two separate partitions...separating the boot loader from the Primary partition with OS. Seems ridiculous they would introduce another level of complexity...perhaps as a countermeasure to cloning their OS if their research shows users do this versus purchasing another OS.

http://www.anotherwindowsblog.com/2011/02/windows-7-not...
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a b $ Windows 7
a b G Storage
April 17, 2012 3:59:05 PM

I have done this numerous times for my backups and it works flawlessly. What I use is Acronis true image. Make an image of the drive and then unplug the drive, both power and SATA connector to store it. If you need to boot up under the new drive make sure the old drive is disconnected BEFORE you boot onto the new drive and change the bios to point to the new drive as the boot drive. If you let Windows come up and see the other drive on the system it won't work right from that point on (my own observations).

I have done this since I started using Windows 7, 2 yrs ago now because I like having a full image of my Windows 7 setup. I have tested the backup drive making it the boot drive numerous times without fail.
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a c 228 $ Windows 7
a c 371 G Storage
April 17, 2012 4:08:55 PM

Wow. Still seems odd. If you clone the drive, it should clone all partitions on the drive. I guess windows sees the drive on a different sata port and assigns it a new letter. I wonder if attaching the cloned drive to the sata port the original drive was on immediately after the cloning process if it would still report not genuine.

Anyhow, good info. Thanks.
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April 17, 2012 9:31:57 PM

What I find pretty disappointing is...in 2012 there shouldn't be any mysteries about this stuff and yet one still has to play with the registry which is like DOS from the early days. This has to be orchestrated by Microsoft to discourage cloning..or they sure aren't promoting a clean path to do it. 10 years from now this will be be the dark ages. An OS should have adaptive capability and there shouldn't be this run around. Hawk...there are all kinds of strategies how to cope with this issue. The link I provided is about the cleanest approach. But as ahnilated stated...if you take it one hard drive at a time and then disconnect, it seems to work better. That is what I did the first time. I brought each clean hard drive in separately and didn't have a problem with cloning either drive off my original installation hard drive...but I didn't try to have them all live together...left one drive disconnected. So maybe Windows 7 becomes confused when there are more than two drives.
I believe as ahnilated stated...best practice is...bring in one drive at a time. I may in fact do this next and see if it works...remove my third drive and clone my second off the first without the third drive present...even though my first or C drive is now a clone of the original. A clone of a clone may not be the root cause for this issue in fact...it maybe that I have three hard drives in place that confuses Windows.
Cheers.
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December 7, 2012 3:44:24 PM

To clarify, what you have to do to eliminate "This computer is not running genuine windows" pop-up after cloning your hard drive but you know your windows is activated: Get the Intel Rapid Storage Technology Driver from one of two places, depending on whether you have a brand name or generic computer, and then reactivate windows online. For generic drivers for all versions of Windows XP thru 8, including updates for December 2012, go to: http://downloadcenter.intel.com/SearchResult.aspx?lang=...(Intel%c2%ae+RST)
For my brand, Lenovo Thinkpad T410-T430, for Win7 (32 bit): http://support.lenovo.com/en_US/downloads/detail.page?L...
Don't forget to reactivate Windows, using your product i.d., or you'll still get the "Not genuine windows" pop-up.
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