EmmaDobozi

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I would like to make a safe copy of my OS (Win7 SP1 64 bit), if possible outside of the PC.
I had a panic situation and I would feel more secure if (in case of boot drive failure) I would have a solution to continue without major interruption.

My boot partition is on a 256 GB SSD : used space is about 25 GB (of that, 8 GB is PageFile).
So, I was thinking to utilize an USB stick of 32 GB for making a safe copy.
I might try to set BIOS to boot from portable device.

Motherboard is ASUS M5A88-V EVO ; in manual, the possibility of booting from portable device seem to be listed :

1st – xxth Boot Device
These items specify the boot device priority sequence from the available devices. The number
of device items that appears on the screen depends on the number of devices installed in the
system. Configuration options: [Removable Dev.] [Hard Drive] [ATAPI CD-ROM] [Disabled]


Is it possible to make an identical copy of my boot partition to USB flash drive, and eventually use this to revive the PC ? From time to time I might upgrade the saved copy.

If this would not be possible, I have to think on a spare HDD outside of the PC, partition it and use one of the partitions as a safe booting resource.
But this option seems much complicated ; in case of emergency, would require an operation with opening PC, changing HDD cables in an environment where connection to monitor, etc. is very difficult as PC is hidden in an enclosure.

Please kindly advise me !
Emma
 

USAFRet

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A MUCH better way is with an Image, or series of Images.

I use Macrium Reflect for this.
You can save the Images to a USB HDD.
Then, create a Macrium Reflect Rescue USB.

In case of need, you can boot from the Rescue flash drive, and recover that Image to the internal HDD/SSD. Or to anew drive.

My systems get a Full or Incremental backup every night or every week, depending on the system.
 
Reactions: CountMike
There is supposedly a way to get Windows to run directly from a USB drive: https://www.pcmag.com/how-to/how-to-run-windows-10-from-a-usb-drive

However you could also make a System Image to create a backup copy of the OS, but you can't boot from it. You have to use a recovery environment to put it on a new drive.

Another thing to do is make periodic backups of C:\Users\[username], as most apps store settings and data in there. Whenever you reinstall the OS and apps, you can plop a copy of this back in and for many apps, it's almost like nothing happened. This doesn't apply to software that requires activation or whatnot however.
 

Bob.B

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I would like to make a safe copy of my OS (Win7 SP1 64 bit), if possible outside of the PC.
I had a panic situation and I would feel more secure if (in case of boot drive failure) I would have a solution to continue without major interruption.

My boot partition is on a 256 GB SSD : used space is about 25 GB (of that, 8 GB is PageFile).
So, I was thinking to utilize an USB stick of 32 GB for making a safe copy.
I might try to set BIOS to boot from portable device.

Motherboard is ASUS M5A88-V EVO ; in manual, the possibility of booting from portable device seem to be listed :

1st – xxth Boot Device
These items specify the boot device priority sequence from the available devices. The number
of device items that appears on the screen depends on the number of devices installed in the
system. Configuration options: [Removable Dev.] [Hard Drive] [ATAPI CD-ROM] [Disabled]


Is it possible to make an identical copy of my boot partition to USB flash drive, and eventually use this to revive the PC ? From time to time I might upgrade the saved copy.

If this would not be possible, I have to think on a spare HDD outside of the PC, partition it and use one of the partitions as a safe booting resource.
But this option seems much complicated ; in case of emergency, would require an operation with opening PC, changing HDD cables in an environment where connection to monitor, etc. is very difficult as PC is hidden in an enclosure.

Please kindly advise me !
Emma
Get another 256GB ssd and a usb>sata cable.
Clone int to ext.
Make sure the ext will boot and run.
If the int suffers file corruption you can boot the ext and clone back.
If the int croaks and a clone won't work just remove int and install ext.
Your back in business.....order a new ext.
It would be a good idea to redo the clone every so often int to ext just to keep it current.
 

USAFRet

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Get another 256GB ssd and a usb>sata cable.
Clone int to ext.
Make sure the ext will boot and run.
If the int suffers file corruption you can boot the ext and clone back.
If the int croaks and a clone won't work just remove int and install ext.
Your back in business.....order a new ext.
It would be a good idea to redo the clone every so often int to ext just to keep it current.
"Make sure the ext will boot and run."
That is problematic.

You can't just take a clone, put it an external, and hope it runs from that external connection.
 

USAFRet

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That's why you test it.
On this machine it works fine just a little slow moving data through the usb port
Whereas an Image always works.
Boot from the Rescue, apply the Image to the drive or replacement drive, done.

Don't have to suck up a whole external thing, and easier to keep multiple images and incremental/differentials.
 
Just an idea here. My go-to system image tool is Clonezilla. This tool are also capable to copy a disk to another disk (or per partition as well), so if you have two identical disks, this can be done. However, as of current version, Clonezilla doesn't support incremental backup so this isn't something you want to do on a daily basis.

In general, I agreed with the other posters that indicate making a disk image is a better idea (doesn't require the whole disk and you can add several disk images until run out of disk space).
 

Bob.B

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Whereas an Image always works.
Boot from the Rescue, apply the Image to the drive or replacement drive, done.

Don't have to suck up a whole external thing, and easier to keep multiple images and incremental/differentials.
'Whereas an Image always works.'
No it does not.
You can not apply and image to a busted drive.
Not everyone keeps a spare drive sitting on the shelf waiting for the orig to fail.

The op can pick which ever method they feel comfortable with.
 
'Whereas an Image always works.'
No it does not.
You can not apply and image to a busted drive.
Not everyone keeps a spare drive sitting on the shelf waiting for the orig to fail.

The op can pick which ever method they feel comfortable with.
You can also not boot from your usb>sata cable if that cable breaks down...
Also you need a pretty expensive cable that fakes a sata drive to your bios because if it shows up as a simple usb drive a simple clone will not boot from it.
 
Also also, windows to go works by using a .wim file (windows image) so you can boot into that .wim if you install a bcd unto your usb drive and you can also use it to deploy that image back to your main hard drive using imagex.
(bcd and imagex are part of windows)
 

Bob.B

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You can also not boot from your usb>sata cable if that cable breaks down...
Also you need a pretty expensive cable that fakes a sata drive to your bios because if it shows up as a simple usb drive a simple clone will not boot from it.
True....if the cable goes wonky then your SOL.
True again.....10 bucks is a lot to spend for a cable.
 
Buy a samsung 2.5" ssd. Minimal size to contain 25gb might be 128gb, but more likely a 250 samsung evo for $45 will be available.
Connect the ssd to the pc via the usual sata data and and psu cables.
It can remain loose since you intend to remove it later.
Use the samsung ssd migration app to create a copy of your C drive to the new ssd.
Instructions and app here:

The original source will remain unchanged.
You can test that the copy worked correctly by disconnecting the original sata data cable and booting to the new ssd.

Remove one or the other as your known proven backup as of the time you did the copy.
 

EmmaDobozi

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I am really thankful for all your advice.
Just I do not fully understand -- it is my shortcoming, I am sorry for this.

I tryied to read and understand articles (and even watched some tutorial videos), but I need to ask much more help.
Looking into TerryLaze answer : I did not found bcd and imagex -- I am sorry, I made a search in my system and they seem not to be (or my search was not appropriate ?).

I bought a cable-adapter that looks similar to the one suggested by Bob.B
It is this : https://www.secomp-international.com/en_US/value-usb-3-2-gen-1-to-sata-6-0-gbit-s-adapter/i/12.99.1052-10
I am not sure if this will work with 3,5 inch disks that I have ; I do not know if this would harm a disk, but it states "Suitable for type 2.5 Serial ATA HDD/SSD"

I went to Clonezilla page, but it seems that using it would require much more understanding than I have.

The most convenient solution seems to be the one offered by USAFRet
Please, kindly let me know if the free version would do the job, or I should think about buying a license ?

I am grateful for your help !
Emma
 

USAFRet

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The free version of Macrium should work just fine.
I have the paid version on my main system, free on all the others.

You can do either a full clone, or an Image.
The clone will consume the entire drive.
An Image will result in a single file, and allow you to use the rest of that drive for whatever.
 
Looking into TerryLaze answer : I did not found bcd and imagex -- I am sorry, I made a search in my system and they seem not to be (or my search was not appropriate ?).
The BCD is a collection of files that tells your PC what to load next, it's how you can select to boot into a different version of windows.
If your USB has one installed it can boot even without any disks in your PC.
https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/previous-versions/windows/desktop/bcd/boot-configuration-data-portal

Imagex is windows free tool to create and deploy images, the official windows installation works by using imagex to clone a generic image to your system and later customizes it.
https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/previous-versions/windows/it-pro/windows-7/dd744377(v=ws.10)?redirectedfrom=MSDN

If you don't know much about PCs go with a more friendly software, if you look up your hard drives/ssds and go to their webpage almost all of them have a free copy of acronis there to download which is one of the most simple for the user to understand cloning tool.
 
What is the make/model of your boot drive?
If it is a ssd, it is a 2.5" drive.
But that does not matter.
Even if it is a 3.5" HDD the process is the same.
Actually, better since a ssd is much better for a C drive.
If you buy a samsung 860/870 evo, it will be a 2.5" drive that will work with the cable you bought.
Read the instructions for the free samsung ssd migration app on the link I gave you.
The process is simplicity itself.
Plug in your new ssd via the adapter cable to a usb port.
The samsung ssd migration aid will copy your C drive to the new ssd.
When done, you have a copy of your boot drive.
To verify that all went well, just replace the old boot drive with the new copy and test.
During this process, the original boot drive will remain unchanged.
 
If 25 GB is enough, perhaps a 32 GB flash drive will indeed do..,, but , not for Clonezilla which seems to demand a drive of equal or greater size

(I second the recommend for Macrium Reflect; RescueZilla is also good for creating images...
 
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Bob.B

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I am really thankful for all your advice.
Just I do not fully understand -- it is my shortcoming, I am sorry for this.

I tryied to read and understand articles (and even watched some tutorial videos), but I need to ask much more help.
Looking into TerryLaze answer : I did not found bcd and imagex -- I am sorry, I made a search in my system and they seem not to be (or my search was not appropriate ?).

I bought a cable-adapter that looks similar to the one suggested by Bob.B
It is this : https://www.secomp-international.com/en_US/value-usb-3-2-gen-1-to-sata-6-0-gbit-s-adapter/i/12.99.1052-10
I am not sure if this will work with 3,5 inch disks that I have ; I do not know if this would harm a disk, but it states "Suitable for type 2.5 Serial ATA HDD/SSD"

I went to Clonezilla page, but it seems that using it would require much more understanding than I have.

The most convenient solution seems to be the one offered by USAFRet
Please, kindly let me know if the free version would do the job, or I should think about buying a license ?

I am grateful for your help !
Emma
Think about what situations your trying to protect against.
If your int hdd/ssd has file corruption then an image will work fine.

If your int hdd/ssd has a hardware failure then your stuck until you get a new hdd/ssd to restore the image to.

If your making a clone to an ext hdd/ssd you have the entire pkg ready for a quick swap.

Your call.
 

EmmaDobozi

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My boot drive is an SSD.
PC is enclosed and indeed difficult to disconnect / move our from enclosure / reconnect.
My spare HDDs are 3,5 inch form factor ones. I shall look for another adaptor, like the one suggested by USAFRet

If I will make a clone from my boot drive (boot partition is on a 256 GB SSD : used space is about 25 GB (of that, 8 GB is PageFile) : will I need 256 GB space ? Than the USB stick will not make it.

After I made the the conversion from HDD to SSD with Samsung Data Migration tool : it seems that the boot partition from the original HDD vanished (at least, I was not able to reboot from that HDD, when I made a checking attempt after the migration).
I will have to get the above mentioned adaptor and look into what left on the former boot HDD ; maybe you can warn me not to search if migration will cause a MOVE operation (and not only a mere COPY type of operation).
 
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If 25 GB is enough, perhaps a 32 GB flash drive will indeed do..,, but , not for Clonezilla which seems to demand a drive of equal or greater size
This can possibly be done by:
  • Using a tool to reduce partitions, such as Gparted. But it also introduce a new step where things coulg go wrong (i.e. ends up with corrupted partition)
  • Use Gparted to create ampty partitions on the destination disk, resized (I haven't done this myself so I'm not sure if this is a necessary step)
  • Clone each partition on the drive. This may cause the MBR not being transferred to the destination disk.
  • Figure out some way to transfer the MBR between disks (I know I should have had a known good working solution for this before posting, but I think one possible idea is better than nothing) :unsure:
[edit]

There is several sources online to describe this steps, here ara a couple:
https://www.ubackup.com/articles/clonezilla-clone-larger-disk-to-smaller-disk-4348.html

and
https://www.ubackup.com/articles/clonezilla-destination-disk-is-too-small-4348.html
 

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