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So I have a windows multi-boot system with XP installed first, then windows 7. I also have further partitions for user data, etc. I do not fully understand where (and what) data is stored on a pc hard drive, other then the partitions I create (i.e. MBR, partition table, recovery partitions, etc..), but presumably my HDD would look something like this:

# HARD DRIVE #
--------------
**{mbr}**
**{secret stuff??}**
**c - XP**
**d - Win7**
e - {user data1}
f - {user data2}
...

What I want to do is get a disk image that contains the MBR, and both OS partitions and anything else 'secret', starting from the beginning of the disk and ending with the end of the windows 7 partition. I don't have to use clonezilla, but a free tool is desired.

Why?
Because I want to be able to re-image my hard drive OSes/MBR/'secret stuff' when the hard drive has been in use for a while and has user data in the other partitions, without losing or having to restore (from backup) the current state of the data partitions.

What I read, is that making partition images of the OSes only won't get the MBR or other secret data (Win 7 recovery partition for example).
But I don't want kill my user data partitions' data, by restoring a full disk image (since the full disk image would be a snapshoot of my PC fairly soon after I installed my multi-boot OSes, and thus would have invalid user data).

And there are reasons why I still want XP (its network access will be disabled) as a separate OS, but presumably the same question could be asked if I was multi-booting a different combination of OSes.

So does anyone have any suggestions how I can do this (tool and special settings/switches needed) or alternative method that will do the same thing (i.e. restore the 1st "half" of the drive without killing the rest of the drive's data)?

Thanks in advance!

  • Btw, afaik this question has not been asked before. It is different then asking how to clone a larger, not fully partitioned, drive to a smaller drive. . What I am asking how to get a viable partial disk image of a fully partitioned drive, such that some but not all of the (sequential) partitions can be restored with one file image file, including the MBR and any secret partitions (i.e. W7) – JohnV Dec 2 '14 at 1:53

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