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I am unexperienced with cloning software and I've decided to use Clonezilla as it seemed best as freeware. I chose device > image and left most options standard. I chose expert mode anyway to see what I could configure, and decided to try the lzop algorithm instead of the default one for compression. The rest was left at default.

When Clonezilla asked me which partitions to clone (I chose parts to image), I chose the C:\ drive but Windows 7 also creates a 100MB partition on setup for system files (the actual boot partition?). I copied that into the image as well. The reason I didn't choose disk to image is that I also have a data partition that needs to stay intact.

Now I'm simply not sure that this is the way to go, should I ever need to restore my disk image. Will Clonezilla know what to do with both partitions and will Windows 7 work perfectly after restoring? Should I even copy the 100MB partition?

Edit: apparantly a similar question has been asked before. The link to the first article in the answer is not relevant to me since it covers a direct device-to-device clone.

It appears the windows installation disk can repair the 100MB partition. As for Clonezilla, it copies "hidden data after the MBR" by default too. I don't know, I feel I'll be allright whether by restoring the partition with Clonezilla or repairing it with the Windows 7 disk.

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It looks like Clonezilla doesn't backup the MBR to make it bootable. See here. The articles I'm reading recommend doing a Windows repair boot after cloning. Bleh. Have you considered making a Windows PE disc and using imagex to capture a .WIM? You can run bcdboot as part of your restore script to make it all bootable again. – Kasius Sep 25 '12 at 21:00
@Kasius please see my edit. Imo Clonezilla should be fine for cloning Windows 7 installations... – MDeSchaepmeester Sep 25 '12 at 21:11
FWIW I've read thing indicating that you don't need to keep the 100 MB partition of the hard disk, much less back it up. – martineau Sep 25 '12 at 22:48
Sounds good. @martineau I think you're right that it isn't technically needed. You can install your BCD into your main partition if you want. – Kasius Sep 26 '12 at 20:11
up vote 4 down vote accepted

I create images frequently and you can just create a device-to-image (so full, not just partitions). Whenever you need to restore, work with image-to-device. It will create a full backup.

You might encounter an error regarding partition table out of range (atleast, I believe that is the error). You can just run any live cd and use Gparted to fix the partition table.

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I think you got my question a bit wrong, sorry if it's unclear. I specifically state that I don't want to clone all the partitions because the disk contains a data partition that should stay intact. The image should only serve to refresh the Win7 install every couple of months. – MDeSchaepmeester Nov 12 '12 at 19:28
@MarioDeSchaepmeester I don't see how the data partition would no longer be intact after the clone? It doesn't change anything to the files / blocks that are being backed up. – Devator Nov 12 '12 at 19:35
Okay, but I'm just not 100% sure about what happens when restoring an image with clonezilla. Can it map the 100MB and C: partitions correctly? I guess so? I mean, does it automatically detect the 100MB partition and the C: partition on my device when restoring the image. – MDeSchaepmeester Nov 12 '12 at 19:38
@MarioDeSchaepmeester Yes it does. If you have VirtualBox / VMware, you could do a quick install of Windows XP and experiment with it. – Devator Nov 12 '12 at 19:39

One solution to cloning Win7 that overcomes having to fix MBR or boot partitions is to re-install Windows 7 on the source computer under a single partition. Win 7 will not install the hidden boot partition when there is no unallocated drive space. You must have 1 continuous NTFS partition before installing Windows. After this the process of backing up with Clonezilla is then easy, you can almost take all the defaults until it requests the location of the backup media (ie. external USB drive) and clone/restore type. I've backed up and restored Win 7 images to new computers of the same type/model and the restored computer boots perfectly.

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