Moving on from XP to Win7 – Disk imaging

  Batch 18:25 13 Feb 2013

I’ve been an ardent WinXP user for many years, but have succumbed to an Acer Win7 (Home Premium 64 bit) laptop offer.

This is the first of a series of questions I shall post (I shall aim to keep each posting to one topic).

I have been using Acronis True Image 8 (ATI8) for many years and swear by it.

The new lappie inevitably will be without a Win7 CD, so my first port of call will be to create a back-up image of the system partition before doing anything else (I already have bootable ATI8 CDs and pen drives). By “before doing anything else” I mean the very first thing to do will be to boot in to the BIOS, then boot from CD or pen drive and then create the image on an external HDD.

Although ATI8 is not supported on Win7, I am assuming that as ATI8 supports NTFS (v3.1 as used by XP as well as Vista / 7 / 8) there should not be any issue in what I have proposed above as the OS will not have been part of the process. Question 1 – anyone see an issue with this?

Question 2 – Once I’m up and running in Win7, is there any point in using free 3rd party imaging software (e.g. Paragon / Macrium / EaseUS) or will Win7’s imaging capabilities suffice? All I shall wish to do is full image creation (as a copyable file similar to ATI8's .TIB files) to another partition on the same HDD and/or an external HDD, plus restores from the same (typically using a bootable CD to kick off such restores).

  xox101 22:02 13 Feb 2013

I assume this is a brand new laptop? In that case I would suggest that the very first thing you do is boot into Windows, get rid of all the preinstalled crap you don't want, install what you do want and then set the system up exactly as you want it to be.

Then make an image.

  Fruit Bat /\0/\ 22:11 13 Feb 2013
  Batch 08:29 14 Feb 2013

xox101 - thanks for your input but I'm not looking for advice on strategy. With Q1 I'm just trying to establish if ATI8 will suffice to make a good restorable image before booting into Win7 at all (I guess the system will come with Acer's eRecovery / recovery partition anyhow, but I'd prefer a straight forward image). My gut feel is that it should work (as I said, ATI8 supports NTFS 3.1 which is what is used for Win7). If ATI8 is suspect though I shall need to install some other (more recent) imaging software on an XP machine just to make a bootable CD that I can use to make that initial image on the new machine.

FB - As I originally mentioned, I'm already aware that Win7 has some imaging capabilities. With Q2 I'm interested in views as to whether it really is up to the job of simply making and restoring images of the system partition and other partitions (and, I guess, cloning as well).

  Aitchbee 09:13 14 Feb 2013

"... my first port of call will be to create a back-up image of the system partition before doing anything else."

I would suggest running CHKDSK /f to eliminate any disk/file errors which might appear after removing the 'bloatware' [if you decide to remove it] that comes with your Acer laptop.

I've just did the above on my sister's Acer Aspire laptop.

PS. I use Ocster Backup Pro for backups and Revouninstaller Pro '30 day Trial' [64bit] version to get rid of bloatware.

  Batch 11:13 14 Feb 2013

Aitchbee - I already have Revo Free, but good idea about the trial pro Revo for blasting the bloats.

Of course, if I had a Win7 OEM CD, I'd just reinstall from scratch and overwrite the existing install, saving a lot of hassle (so if anyone cares to share a copy.....).

  Simsy 20:48 14 Feb 2013

If you're happy to use Acronis TI8 only by booting via CD, then that will be fine.

However, my experience is that sometime older versions of TI can have problems seeing SATA drives.

I was in the same position as you, and minded to follow the same protocol...

Frankly I'd give up on TI8 and buy a newer version, (it's not dear in the scheme of things, when you consider what grief it can save!), or, as you say, go for a freebie such as often available on coverdiscs from Paragon.

Good luck,


  xox101 21:34 14 Feb 2013

As far as I remember there is an official Microsoft partner site where you can download an ISO of whichever OS you have now and use it to reinstall Windows using the license key which came with your laptop. My Digital Life? I'm sure someone else will chime in with the correct site. I get everything from Technet which does make it so much easier but of course that has to be paid for.

I gave up on Acronis last year after way too many errors including reversing the backup, going from the 1TB drive on my server to the 128gig SSD in my main laptop instead of the other way round. Didn't work too well and it did it twice! Never did work out why so uninstalled Acronis. I don't use anything to make a system backup now as it is just so fast to reinstall Windows 7 from a USB drive onto a SSD. Only thing that takes any time these days is reinstalling all the updates but again that goes pretty fast due to BT Infinity.

  lotvic 22:13 14 Feb 2013

Windows 7 page of MS Direct Download links for .iso's on scroll down to the panel with English(USA) Service Pack 1 Media Refresh (SP1 U) and choose the version you want. There are no forms to fill in, when you click on the .iso link the download starts. Be aware you will need to use Product Key from the sticker on laptop.

  lotvic 22:18 14 Feb 2013

To future proof, I'd be inclined to also make the Recovery DVD's that should be an option on your new Acer laptop. (First golden rule: Always make sure I can go back to how it was before I messed it up)

  Batch 09:21 15 Feb 2013

Thanks for all the valuable input. A few responses below.

lotvic: Yup, the whole thing of creating an image before even booting in to Win7 is to follow that golden rule.

I did wonder if ISOs would be available on a torrent or something like that (one might say why wouldn’t they be). I’ll look in to the links.

xox101: I’ve been very happy with ATI8. Restored and cloned many times without a glitch. I’ve already done some research and seen that later versions of ATI seem to be running in to problems. From what I’ve found, Paragon Back-up and Recovery is good, but still some concerns. Macrium Reflect seems to be the (current) best bet, albeit with more limited functionality than some others.

But I still have not resolved whether the Win7 onboard facilities will do all I want - create full image, restore full image (of both system and non-system partitions), plus cloning. I suppose I am suspicious of Microsoft tools in that so much MS stuff tries to be far too clever for its (and my) own good.

simsy: I’ve used ATI8 for imaging SATA drives without problem (desktop and netbook), or do you mean that ATI8 has problems seeing SATA external HDDs?


As I have not taken delivery of the lappie yet I don’t know what the set-up on the HDD will be. My Acer netbook (WinXP) had a hidden receovery partition (partition 1) and the active system partition (partition 2). After having taken the requisite images, I installed XP from scratch (but left the recovery partition in place). But system would not boot (missing HAL.DLL). I guessed straight away that boot.ini was pointing to the wrong partition. The WinXP install had ignored the hidden partition and created boot.ini pointing at partition 1 for WinXP, so I just booted in to Recovery Console and edited the boot.ini manually (to point to partition 2). All was fine until, after a couple of years, I decided to get rid of the recovery partition. Having pre-planned, I edited boot.ini (back to partition 1) whilst in Windows. Closed down and booted Partition Magic from pen drive, removed recovery partition and rebooted to Windows OK.

Footnote to the above – I’ve subsequently read that installing XP (and I guess other OSs) in the way that I did would have overwritten the particular MBR that Acer create to facilitate their so called Disk to Disk Recovery (which you also have to enable in the BIOS to be able to use it). And so would not have been able to use the recovery partition anyhow without “manually” re-editing the MBR and re-enabling the hidden partition as active..

Now, I gather that some Win7 installs include a separate boot partition as well as the OS partition (and any recovery partition). Whereas others have the boot info merged with the OS partition. Which the Acer lappie will be I will have to wait and see (anyone have any ideas)?

If the boot info and the OS partition are one, then imaging will be straight forward as before. BUT, if they are two separate partitions (which I suspect they will be), I sort of assume that one should image (and restore) the two in sync. So QUESTION 3: Anyone got on comments on that whole aspect?

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