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I currently have a computer that has windows 7 installed. How can I create an image of my current Windows on this computer, and be able to restore this image back to a partition?

The plan is to partition my current hard drive to 2 partitions, which will naturally wipe out my current OS. I want to restore this OS to both the partitions later, so that I can run them independently as separate environments for testing purposes.

I have searched around, but all those image creation and recovery tools need me to install an application on Windows. Since partitioning the HDD will format it too, I won't be able to boot into Windows to do that. I need to be able to restore the image(with Windows) even when the computer doesn't have its OS yet.

How can I achieve this?

  • I have used Clonezilla to accomplish this a lot of times, and I can say it is not hard to recommend it. It runs straight from a live CD and has a simple BIOS-like interface. clonezilla.org – osvein Jun 21 '14 at 18:01
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There are plenty of tools to do this. You don't need to reformat the drive to repartition it. I like EASEUS because it's free and does the job well:

  1. Download EASEUS Partition Master, it's free.
  2. Open your drive. Perform the following operations:
    • Shrink the existing partition to half its size (preserves all data).
    • Copy the partition to the newly unallocated space.
    • Press "Apply".
  3. At this point you will be asked to reboot your machine. When you do, EASEUS will come up instead of Windows and perform the operation. It will take a while.

And now you have the setup you were looking for, with no wiping of data, boot CDs, etc. If you're using Linux, gparted performs the same functions as the EASEUS tool.

When you boot your computer it will boot off of drive C - the original partition that you shrunk. You can update the boot menu like so (pretend your new copied partition is F:), from this answer:

bcdboot f:\windows
bcdboot c:\windows

Then reboot. If all went well you should see two "Windows 7" entries in the boot menu. Pick one. Then depending on which on you picked you can now set the label to distinguish them. Say you picked the one on C:, then (pick whatever name):

bcdedit /set {current} description "Windows 7 (Partition C)"

If you want the current partition to be the default boot choice:

bcdedit /default {current}

If you want the current partition to appear first in the menu:

bcdedit /displayorder {current} /addfirst
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  • Windows 7 has a built in backup imaging tool. The following basic instructions taken from Microsoft. Go to the website for more in depth explanation.

To back up your programs, system settings, and files

  1. Open Backup and Restore by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, clicking Control Panel, clicking System and Maintenance, and then clicking Backup and Restore.

  2. In the left pane, click Create a system image, and then follow the steps in the wizard. Administrator permission required If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

  • You can re-partition your hard drive in Windows 7 without wiping out the existing OS. Instructions taken from Microsoft

If you are logged in as an administrator, you can repartition your hard disk by using the Shrink feature in Disk Management. You can shrink an existing partition or volume to create unallocated disk space, from which you can create a new partition or volume. (Note that the terms partition and volume are often used interchangeably.)

  1. Open Computer Management by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, clicking Control Panel, clicking System and Security, clicking Administrative Tools, and then double-clicking Computer Management.‌ Administrator permission required. If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

  2. In the left pane, under Storage, click Disk Management.

  3. Right-click the volume you want to shrink, and then click Shrink Volume.

  4. Follow the instructions.

  • If you are trying to create a dual boot system with two Windows 7 OS's, then there are various opinions on the subject here at SevenForums. Including that you will need a separate license key for the duplicate.

  • Another option, if this is for testing purposes, is to virtualize the system image in a virtual desktop like VMWare Workstation or Oracle VirtualBox. You wouldn't have to sacrifice HDD partition space with this option and allows you a safer margin if your paging file size is large and your HDD is small. But again, this would probably require another license key.

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I hate to recommend a specific product, but acronis works very well for doing that. I even prefer to have the system backup occur when the windows system is not running, so I use only the Bootable CD method. That way when the system will no longer boot, I just undo the same thing I had done, restoring the system partition image from an image file. the image file could be stored on a chip, or another disk, or even on a cd/dvd. I prefer that the image come from a disk like a "spare" disk.

If you have a WD (western digital) drive you can use the free WD version of acronis which has that capability, yet does not really have the rest of the capability that works with a system operating.

Like working with a paint program, it sure helps to have used and worked with any of the methods , prior to actually needing them. backup and restore a clean new instalation, see how it goes. With windows7 and UEFI and these additional partitions like recovery and system (actually the boot stuff MS calls it system) it can complicate the processes some.

With MANY of the cloning imaging or mirroring programs you can create a bootable cd or maybey even bootable flash chips to run the program that does the disk work. They have a minor operating system it boots to, which will get mouses keyboards and USB and optical devices working, really odd devices will not be accessable unless supported. Even hardware raid is supported with many of them.

Make the CD or Bootable flash to begin with, You didnt say you have no working computer that could create such a thing, or shoot an ISO onto a CD? So in reality all you need to find is any ol' cloning mirroring or imaging program that works from or is capable of creating a bootable media for which to run these from.
Be able to boot to said media as the first item, via either setting the bios to boot to it first, or using "boot menu" some motherboards have (via thier biosoftware) to quickly select a boot item prior to boot.

Many of the softwares also are simple Grafical user interfaces, so it is not like you need a manuel for typing in a bunch of weird commands. browse, select , check, go through all the options so it is set the way you want it. The only rocket science is getting things straight for the OS your cloning, and juggling the data, because your already Outside of the Operating system, If you could read/write the image then, you will be able to again outside of the system.

Fun Quote from me "The system is not working when you need to restore a system backup most, therefore the best system backup is done without that system."

  • +1 for Acronis. It will create a bootable CD with all the tools you need on it. EASEUS Disk Copy Home is another good one, for drives under 1TB, and it's free. It's main purpose is to clone drives, and also will create a bootable CD with the right tools on it, and has a very easy UI. EASEUS Partition Master in general is a pretty good piece of software for disk management tasks. – Jason C Jun 21 '14 at 7:02

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