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steveheflin

Disaster Recovery for Dual Boot System - is it possible?

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I have a notebook that I dual boot between Windows-8 and Linux-Ubuntu-12.04.  After the main drive went bad and was replaced, I realized that it appeared impossible to restore the system from my Retrospect Backups.  I booted the Disaster Recovery CD that I made and restored the C: drive, but it wouldn't boot because the MBR had been modified by Linux to point to the Linux /boot parition which didn't exist yet!  Is there any way to build and later restore a Windows/Linux dual boot system?  If I was able to modify the MBR back to the way Windows had it prior to the Linux dual boot modification, I would be all set.  Unfortunately, I couldn't find a tool that worked.  They all produced the error message "Repair Unsuccessful".

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Bootable Windows 8 install media should be able to restore the MBR. If I remember correctly (I can't find my Windows 8 install USB key) when you boot the media there is an option to repair the installation.

 

Boot the affected machine from the Windows 8 boot media. The first screen will ask for the language and keyboard layout to use: select as appropriate and click on 'Next'. On the screen with the 'Install now' button click on 'Repair your computer' at bottom left. Click on 'Advanced option' then 'Automatic Repair'. Once this has completed Windows 8 should boot again.

 

It is sometimes possible to get into boot an existing Windows installation from a Linux live CD such as PartedMagic which have a bootloader on them that can chainload Windows.

 

The best way I have found to backup and restore Windows/Linux multiboot sytems is to make an image of the disk using Clonezilla. If a multiboot disk fails I restore it from the Clonezilla image then bring the Windows systems up to date with Retrospect.

Edited by Scillonian
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I bought an extra set of hard drives so I could test the recover procedure and see what actually works and what doesn't.  I could NOT get Windows 8 Installation to repair the MBR after it had been set to dual boot by Linux.  Retrospect Restore System does NOT work.  Windows System Recovery Backup / Restore does NOT work.  There is something about the modified MBR that breaks all of these tools.

 

Thanks to Scillonain, I then tried CloneZilla and found a solution that works beautifully.  I use CloneZilla to backup the entire hard drive infrastructure, and Retrospect to Backup and maintain incremental backups of the files (both Windows and Linux), and Regedit to backup the Registry after installations and updates.  I use different directories on an external 3TB external SATA drive to store each area of backup.  Then to Restore onto a new hard drive, I boot the CloneZilla CD and restore the initial working dual boot system.  Then boot to the Windows partition of the new disk, and use Retrospect to restore JUST THE FILES on the Windows Partitions.  Then use Regedit to restore the Registry.

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I Continued my CloneZilla testing by restoring to different size hard drive.  My original dual boot disk was a 1TB,  and I tried to restore to a 750GB.  It failed with partitions won't fit errors.  I don't understand why because I backed up individual partitions not the entire disk.  I didn't want to leave the impression that CloneZilla was trouble free.  Being able to replace a hard drive with the exact same size is not always possible.

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The destination partition too small error can be down to a combination of the underlying disk geometry and the partitioning tool being used. The destination partition needs to be EXACTLY the same size or larger than the source partition. Because the underlying geometry for a 750GB disk will be different to that of a 1TB disk if the partitioning tool rounds the partition size to the nearest cylinder the partition could end up a few megabytes smaller or larger.

 

If you are familiar with partitioning you will know that Windows and Linux treat the sizing and positioning of partitions differently. Where possible I always try to use GParted on the Parted Magic CD (which also includes Clonezilla on it) to create all my partitions. So far this has cured the partition too small error for me at least for partitions I have created.

 

Did your Windows 8 come as an OEM install with the laptop or did you install it later?

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I installed Windows 8 later, the notebook came with Win-7-Pro.  I'm an MSDN member so I used that version of Win-8-Pro.

 

You are absolutely right about the disk geometry, I failed to calculate the sizes correctly.  I tried the experiment again with smaller partitions and it worked perfectly.  CloneZilla Live is a fantastic product that saves the day for us dual-boot users!  It is the only way I know of to save and restore a dual boot system!  The compression is very good so I'm inclined to make a CloneZilla backup regularly.  I'm also looking for a way to make a donation to both CloneZilla and Parted-Magic organizations, those guys are heros!

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On 6/29/2013 at 6:42 AM, steveheflin said:

Thanks to Scillonain, I then tried CloneZilla and found a solution that works beautifully.  I use CloneZilla to backup the entire hard drive infrastructure, and Retrospect to Backup and maintain incremental backups of the files (both Windows and Linux), and Regedit to backup the Registry after installations and updates.  I use different directories on an external 3TB external SATA drive to store each area of backup.  Then to Restore onto a new hard drive, I boot the CloneZilla CD and restore the initial working dual boot system.  Then boot to the Windows partition of the new disk, and use Retrospect to restore JUST THE FILES on the Windows Partitions.  Then use Regedit to restore the Registry.

Reviving an old thread.

I have a multi-boot desktop system, but it's multiple installs of Windows 10, and no Linux (so far).  Steve, how did you configure Retrospect so that it would backup changes to your Linux partition?   If it matters, the disk holding the multiple installs is UEFI/GPT based.

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