backup - Does Windows system image include the boot partition?

  • Ampersand

    I'm planning to switch my boot drive to an SSD. I've reduced the size of my C:\ drive so it would fit on the SSD, and made a system image via Windows Backup and Restore.
    I'm not certain if the 100MB Windows 7 boot partition is included in that image.

    If the entirety of the system drive is backed up, I can simply restore that image onto the SSD and be done, right? If not, how do I move everything to the new drive, and assign it as C:\?

  • Answers
  • music2myear

    I'm not sure the default Windows Backup and Restore creates an image. It normally creates an archive of files and settings and certain programs, but in cases of full system failure or new HDD, you'd have to install windows first, and then run the Backup and Restore to put all those files and settings back into place.

    Many HDDs come with imaging utilities on bootable CDs that allow you to copy one HDD to another, in cases of an in-place upgrade such as you're doing. Or they allow you do download a tool like that from their website.

    Otherwise, there are several disk imaging tools for free and cheap you can use to do this as well.

  • nhinkle

    I'm not entirely sure how the process works, but I can tell you that as long as the backup completed successfully, you don't need to worry about it.

    My laptop's hard drive died a few years ago. When I got a replacement drive, I just put it in and restored from the backup using the recovery tools on the Windows 7 installation DVD. The image was restored exactly how it was on the original drive, including the recovery partition and everything.

    I don't know if it actually backs up the recovery partition or if it just recreates it during the repair process, but it will be there.

  • Related Question

    osx - How do I restore Windows 7 from a System Image to a Boot Camp partition without formatting?
  • pattern86

    I had a 70GB Boot Camp partition on my iMac that I wanted to increase the size of, so after creating a system image (.vhd) on an external FW drive of the Boot Camp partition using Windows Backup and Restore, I removed the Boot Camp partition from within OS X and re-created one that is now 140GB.

    When I go to restore the system image using the Windows 7 installation disc or the repair disc, it says that when restoring the image, the entire [physical?] disk is going to be erased and formatted so that the image can be restored to it. (I don't see any options to choose just a partition!)

    I've considered that there may be a command line utility on the Windows 7 install disc to restore the VHD to the partition, but can't find any documentation for such. Is there a cost-free way to just restore the system image backup to the new partition while preserving the OSX partition?


    Basically what I am saying is that when installing Windows 7, there is an option to install to a specific partition on the physical disk, but when restoring, I do not see that option...

    UPDATE: (bounty)

    I am still looking for a way to restore a VHD image to an NTFS formatted partition on a hard drive. Specifically a boot camp partition on a Mac.

    I really don't understand why Windows won't allow this, although it allows installing to a partition...

  • Related Answers
  • harrymc

    I would suggest to first install Windows 7 on the new partition as a new installation.

    Then, within Windows 7, Restore your computer from a system image backup using Control Panel -> Recovery -> Advanced recovery methods -> Use a system image you created earlier to recover your computer, and then follow the steps.

    If worse comes to worst, you can always mount the .vhd in Disk Management to retrieve your data.


    I have found new info from this article using Acronis True Image Home 2011 (trial version available):
    Restoring Windows 7 VHD Backup Files with Acronis True Image Home 2010.

    The article says:

    Windows 7 has a special System Reserved Partition, which is hidden and contains boot files. This partition can be viewed in Windows Disk Management (Start-Run -> diskmgmnt.msc).

    When making an image of your Windows system using the Windows 7 Backup tool, it will create a separate .vhd file for each partition that is in the system, including the System Reserved Partition.

    If you choose to restore your system partition from the created Windows 7 Backup .vhd files, you will need to restore the whole disk where this system partition is.


    1. Boot from Acronis Bootable Media and select Acronis True Image Home (Full version)
    2. Click Recovery, browse to your Windows 7 Backup .vhd files and select any of the files
    3. Once selected, right-click on the .vhd file and select Recover
    4. Select Recover whole disks and partitions and click Next
    5. Check the partition to recover

    This approach has failed if you are warned that all data on the destination disk will be erased:

  • S.T.A.L.K.E.R.

    Your Mac OS X system should be intact. Windows 7 "see" just bootcamp partition as HDD. Is there size of hard drive? to help you figure out?

    usually bootcamp partition looks like last with BOOTCAMP name on it. If your restore will be unsuccessful, Install fresh copy of windows 7 to partition what you created. try to use virtualbox ( or this method to access your files:

    Next time use winclone free software to change win bootcamp partition Or Paragon (trial or buy)

  • nhinkle

    This is not the most direct approach, and would be inconvenient, but would probably be the safest.

    I would recommend that you restore the VHD to a different computer hard drive - either an external drive, a spare one you may have lying around, a different computer if you have one you don't care about — anywhere you can. Then, use a different imaging suite (with the capability to restore to a particular partition) to create an image of that, then using that, restore to your original machine.

  • Eli

    A simple solution would be to convert the vhd disk to a raw disk file, (which would take up 70gb) then 'dd' it to the given partition. qemu-img, which is part of QEMU, can handle the conversion. (You would obviously have to install qemu on the osx side)

    qemu-img convert -f vhd -O raw YourW7Disk.vhd OutputDiskImage.raw

    This would, as it is a raw disk image, require 70gb of space. You would then, after creating the raw disk file:

    dd if=OutputDiskImage.raw of=/dev/disk0s2

    Replacing disk0s2 with the path to the partition device node. You can find the partition device node name in Disk Utility.

    Obviously, these commands would have to be run on the OSX side. This is all assuming that the VHD disk is an image of just the W7 partition, and has the bootsector/etc intact.

    This, of the solutions I have seen, is the easiest. It can be done in the already installed system, with minimal effort and time. The only thing you would have to install is qemu (which provides qemu-image iirc), which you can get through macports/brew/fink.

  • harrymc

    Here is how I think one can restore the vhd to a physical partition, into a partition of 140 GB. I assume that the vhd is on an external disk drive. You will need a partition manager tool with a bootable CD. A free one is MiniTool Partition Wizard Bootable CD.

    1. Re-partition the 140 GB partition into 2 partitions of 70 GB and format them as NTFS. You can either format as FAT32 by using OS X "Disk Utility" in /Applications/Utilties to format as "MS-DOS File System". Or (preferred) you can use the MiniTool bootable CD to do both the partitioning and format directly in NTFS. Be careful not to destroy any other Mac partition and ensure that the first partition is exactly the same size as when it was backed-up to the vhd. The two partitions should now be visible to the Windows 7 boot installation DVD.
    2. Install Windows 7 into the first partition. If possible, create the partition in NTFS format. Else, Convert a FAT or FAT32 Volume to NTFS in Windows 7 after the installation.
    3. Try to use the backup utility to restore the vhd. If successful, use the Windows Disk Manager to erase the second 70 GB partition and resize the first (system) partition to include the second. If restoring the vhd has failed, continue to the next step.
    4. If required, in Windows 7 format the second drive as NTFS if it is not already in NTFS and assign it a drive letter.
    5. In Disk Management, Mount a VHD Within Windows 7 as a virtual disk.
    6. Use Control Panel / Folder Options / View tab, set "Show hidden files and folders" and unset "Hide protected operating system files" and press OK.
    7. Copy all files from the vhd virtual disk to the second partition.
    8. Use MiniTool to erase the first partition and move the second one in its place.
    9. Try to boot into Windows. If unsuccessful, try to Do a Repair Install to Fix Windows 7.
    10. If successful, use the Windows Disk Manager to resize the system partition to include the unused space left when you moved the second partition.

    There is of course no way that I can test if my above advice will really work, but let me know if you have any difficulties.

  • bzsparks

    You could try to convert the VHD to a WIM file and use ImageX to apply the WIM to the new partition. I haven't tried this but it is an option to explore.

    This will require the The Windows® Automated Installation Kit (AIK) for Windows® 7

    Mount the VHD (as read only) in your host system:
    - diskmgmt.msc
    - Action > Attach VHD
    - check Read-Only
    - select the VHD. Let us assume that it has the letter D: assigned.

    Then use imagex to create the WIM:

    imagex /compress fast /flags “Ultimate” /check /capture D: C:\image.wim “Windows 7 Ultimate”

    Afterwards boot from a Windows PE disk and apply the image with the following command:

    imagex /apply d:\image.wim 1 c:\ /verify

    Microsoft ImageX reference

  • techie91

    I happened to have an old Mac that didn't have anything on it, so losing Mac OS wasn't an issue for me with that particular machine. For that reason, I tried restoring from an image directly from the Windows 7 Ultimate CD, and not only did the restore succeed, but the warning was inaccurate, I didn't lose anything! If you are reading this, go ahead and try it... the worst that can happen is that you do lose Mac OS, but that is what Time Machine is for, right?

    EDIT: I did this process again on my primary Mac. Oddly enough, the Macintosh HD partition was reformatted to FAT32, but the installation remained. Both Windows 7 and Lion worked independently, and I could view Mac from Windows, but not Windows from Mac. The Bootcamp partition wouldn't mount in Disk Utility, either.

    The problem, however, is that since Macintosh HD became FAT32, the boot camp assistant gave an error saying that the startup disk is not supported. Fortunately, I made backups of both Mac and Windows, but I will have to restore everything and lose the last week of changes to my Windows installation. Not terrible (for me), but I would like to advise against trying my solution.

  • Santa

    Step 2 Point 7 from here:

    Format and repartition disks box: NOTE: Special thanks to MJF for this addition. 1) Grayed out and selected You are forced to have the whole disk formatted and repartitioned to match the partition structure of the disk the image was made from. This can occur when restoring an image to a new disk or the original disk with a modified partition structure. Data on other partitions on the disk you are restoring to will be lost.

    2) Grayed out and unselected You are not given the option to format and repartition the disk. This will occur if you are restoring Windows from a partition on the same disk.

    3) Not grayed out and unselected Here you have the option to select format the whole disk and repartition or not. In this case the disk the image was taken from has a matching partition structure to the disk you are restoring the image to. By not selecting the format and repartition option your image will be restored and other partitions untouched such as valuable data partitions.

    in short, you (and me) are screwed =/

  • sweetiebll

    I just did a downgrade from Lion to Snow Leopard with a Bootcamp installation, and restored the bootcamp partition with the default Windows 8 system image backup tool (It's the same as Windows 7)

    When restoring from the VHD image, yes it will say that the entire disk will be formatted but in reality it will only write to the bootcamp partition and leave the mac osx partition untouched (and for me the partition still stayed as Mac OSX Extended)

    Just make sure to setup a Bootcamp partition within Mac OSX before restoring