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I'm running Windows 8 and OS X on a late 2010 Macbook Pro using Bootcamp. I'd like to replace the internal HDD with an SSD, but want to get a backup process in place first.

I read this article by Jeff Atwood and am planning to buy an SSD to replace the internal drive, and then I'd use the current HDD, in an external enclosure, as the backup drive. The internal and external drives will likely be different sizes/brands.

Can I use Acronis True Image or similar to create a block-level backup of both the Windows and OS X partitions (i.e. the whole internal drive) to the external drive, so that I just need to replace the internal drive with the external drive if the internal drive fails? Specifically I want to avoid restoring a backup from the external drive to anywhere - I just want to swap and go. Is that possible? Is it possible with unmatched drives?

Thanks for any advice.

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1 Answer

So it seems that using Acronis True Image to back up a Boot Camp partition with Windows installed is not supported.

Here's the process I used to move my OS X + Windows 8 installations to a new SSD. It's also the backup/restore process I now rely on:

  • Create a bootable clone of the OS X partition using Carbon Copy Cloner to a 2.5" HDD in a USB-connected enclosure - I do this every week
  • Incrementally back up personal files on the OS X partition using Time Machine (backed up files are stored on a Synology DS207+ NAS)
  • From within OS X, use Winclone to create a non-bootable image of the Windows 8 partition to a 3.5" HDD in an external enclosure - I do this every week
  • Incrementally back up personal files on the Windows 8 partition using File History (backed up files are also stored on the NAS)

To restore my OS X + Windows 8 environments to my new SSD this is what I did. This is also what I have to do if I need to do a full restore:

  • Plug in the OS X backup HDD (mine is naked and sits in a USB-connected 2.5"/3.5" enclosure) and boot into OS X off it
  • Use Disk Utility to erase the Boot Camp partition on this drive, and reconfigure as FAT (Winclone will restore the correct filesystem)
  • Use Winclone to restore your latest Windows 8 image to the Boot Camp partition on the target drive (my Winclone images are stored on a separate external HDD)
  • Swap the internal drive for the newly-prepared drive
  • Disconnect any USB drive just to make sure you don't boot of the wrong one, and reboot into OS X from the internal drive
  • Restore personal files on the OS X site using Time Machine
  • Reboot into Windows 8 and restore personal files using File History

Other notes:

  • When cloning the OS X partition Carbon Copy Cloner also appears to clone the Boot Camp partition, but this partition will not be bootable. I've never relied on the integrity of this partition, and when I had to restore Windows (above) I erased this partition using Disk Utility and restored Winclone's image of Windows 8 over the top of it.
  • I couldn't 'dual boot' into Windows 8 from the target drive while it was connected via USB
  • Regarding 'block-level' backups of a HDD - sounds like they are hard to do. A couple of programs were mentioned, but anecdotally they sounded slow, and I have't tried them
  • Here's a good overview of migrating a Boot Camp partition using Winclone (although I got away with not running sysprep in Windows)

Sorry for the lack of reference links - I don't have the rep on SU. - links added

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+1 Nice of you to come back and share your experiences. Feel free to add broken links (without http, with spaces etc.) and someone will fix it for you (or you can add the links in a comment). –  Karan May 28 '13 at 23:11
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@Karan Thanks for your comment :) The upvote just gave me enough rep so will add the missing links now in case someone else finds them useful. –  nzduck May 29 '13 at 8:43
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