Instead of Imaging a drive/partition....

Discussion in 'Windows, Linux & Others on the Mac' started by chrisworld, Apr 22, 2010.

  1. chrisworld macrumors member

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2006
    #1
    So I have a question here...but I need to explain my reasoning before I really ask it.

    OS X seems to be a god at doing this. I pop a DvD or CD into the drive, right click the disc on the desktop, right click the desktop - hit paste and the raw data is copied with no question asked. Once the original medium is removed from the optical drive, this "folder" of the disk remains as useful as the disc itself. If it's a dvd movie - it plays no problem in VLC or rips with Handbrake. If it's a CD - the AIFF's play and can be ripped in iTunes at a later date if you like to keep lossless music backups (*cough* audiophiles)

    So heres my question... can this be done with a Windows partition? Rather than make a disc image of say.. a 260 GB partition using 200 (wasting 60 GB in empty space while the image is made). technically.. can't I just copy the Windows disk and throw it into a backup on my HFS external HDD? It would only copy what's used. Then, if windows has a problem -- throw the Windows folder back into the disk repairing/replacing vital files any massive Windows-destroying damage it previously suffered? These files are raw, windows isn't running, so what's the harm in this? Of course good data or programs might not respond properly because the registry might not be up to key but they have cleaner/repairers for this and if this does work I'll just backup the registry more often. Hey I can even just add small changes I made to windows per my next backup, instead of making an entirely new backup.

    So why do people use disk images rather than this oldschool method of dragging and dropping? Wouldn't it be faster to drag and drop the windows into a new folder than waste time making a fancy mountable DMG?

    So thanks for reading my strange question though, hope someone can answer this for me.
     
  2. balamw Moderator

    balamw

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2005
    Location:
    New England
    #2
    The Winclone native disk image isn't really all that different from what you describe.

    The reason it does just a bit more is that for the Windows partition to be bootable some files need to be put back in exactly the right place and with the right signposts to them.

    Basically the Winclone image is just a folder with the files in it and some additional bonus info to make the disk bootable. As you say it will be just as big as the data you have on the partition and not a bitwise copy of the partition itself.

    Basically, for the old school among us, when you were trying to copy an MS-DOS partition you could xcopy the files all you want, but you needed to run sys and fdisk to make the partition bootable. Winclone handles both the xcopy and sys.

    B
     
  3. chrisworld thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2006
    #3
    So are OS X's default .DMG's still ok when imaging a windows drive or does it HAVE to be imaged with Winclone? I'd imagine if some files went corrupt in Windows to make it no longer boot, wouldn't replacing the bad ones via the Finder right while booted in OS X fix it too? The partition could still be an NTFS bootable, but Windows itself is just files sitting in a root directory on it - MBR aside. I'm mostly computer savvy I just don't understand the disk imaging or it's boot record stuff quite 100%.
     
  4. balamw Moderator

    balamw

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2005
    Location:
    New England
    #4
    Unfortunately that's just it. It's not just a bunch of files. Even back in the DOS days to be bootable you need a number of things to be true. You need the MBR, a partition marked active in the partition table and a boot sector in the active partition (outside the file system). Then inside the file system you need IO.SYS and MSDOS.SYS plus COMMAND.COM to exist.

    If you just copied the files, you need to run sys.com to restore bootability. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sys.com

    It just gets more complicated from there, but there remain things outside the files in the filesystem that are required for booting. Hence, imaging tools like winclone and other boot process related tools like EasyBCD.

    B
     
  5. chrisworld thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2006
    #5
    I think I'm going to use WinClone on my next partition backup, then. Do you think it is safe to use? I don't want to end up corrupting my partition and ending up with a dud of a image file as well, resulting in a loss of nearly 200 GB of data that will take an entire day to reinstall, setup ..etc. I'm paranoid when it comes to my data so I always want to know what programs/methods will care or not care about the integrity of my data.

    EDIT - Nevermind, Winclone's disclaimer on the first run has me a bit worried. "Only use this tool with computers you can afford to lose all data on" dosent sound like something I want.

    So finally, should I just stick to copying the Windows C drive into a folder on my HFS backup drive, and when i ever need to restore (hoping never) I should run sys and fdisk on the newly recopied windows files? I know that any problem with windows is a result of a virus doing something to win32, so a replacement of those files from a healthy backup of them should fix any problem. Again though, should I just do the copy files, run sys and fdisk method?

    I'm sorry if I'm making confusing posts. I just want to know if I can copy all the contents of my Windows partition to a backup, and restore them when necessary incase Windows decides to say..get a virus. Since I have NTFs 3g I could theoretically erase everything in the volume and replace it with the clean previous backup, not touching the bootable side of the drive, just the stuff that makes windows itself boot and run, nothing that makes the partition boot.

    Example: system32 gets viruses thrown all into it, hopeless, reinstall needed. I can just then boot into OS X, view the system32 windows folder in finder, delete it and put it back with the clean one from backup.

    Again sorry about the confusing posts, I just want to get the point across, get someone to understand it, so that way I can get a clearer understanding of the simple thing I want to do (if it is really going to work, or give me a headache)
     
  6. balamw Moderator

    balamw

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2005
    Location:
    New England
    #6
    I just used fdisk and sys as an example. This method doesn't work for anything after Windows ME. NT4-XP and Vista-7 use other methods.

    If you don't trust Winclone, there is no other tool you can use from the Mac side to image the partition in a way that preserves the NTFS information and restore bootability without using Disk Utility or dd to make a bitwise (i.e. large) image.

    If you can create the image from Windows, and wanted something you can trust, you could use Acronis True Image Home + Plus Pack.

    EDIT: I'm a firm believer in belt & suspenders when it comes to backup, you can never have too many backups...

    B
     

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