Thursday, 19 July 2007

Backup a windows bootcamp partition

Lots of places on the net deal with methods on how to back up your main OS X partition using a variety of utilities such as Superduper and Carboncopycloner.

Not to knock any of these articles but when I want to back up my computer, I'd typically like to back up everything, which means if youre using bootcamp even the windows partition.

I searched high and low for a while and the only option that I found to do it was this CopyCatX. While this looks like an excellent option at the time it was beyond my finances, so I found other ways around the problem.

A couple of weeks ago though I came across this - Winclone which is purpose built utility to backup and restore your bootcamp partition from OS X, for free. So far it has been working for me flawlessly, Ive had no issues backing up and restoring Windows partitions on my Macbook Pro.

I found out though, purely by chance how flexible this utility is, as an example let me share a story with you, I had a user come into my office with his Macbook and a new iMac that he'd bought. He'd also bought a scanner that was Windows only. A search on the internet just to be sure, revealed that there were no drivers for it etc, so it looked like it could be a bit of a dead end.

I offered to install Parallels or VMWare for him and to set the scanner up on there but after forking out for the computer plus scanner he was broke. So I offered to install Bootcamp for him and put the scanner there. He seemed quite happy with this solution and left me to it.

On opening the box of discs he'd brought with him though, I soon found out that there was no windows CD inside - argh. Thats when I remembered Winclone.

I installed Winclone onto his Macbook and backed up his Windows XP partition onto an external drive.
  • Next, I connect the drive to his iMac, installed winclone there and also downloaded and installed Bootcamp.
  • Once done I created a partition via Bootcamp that was the same size as the one on his Macbook (Ive since found out that you can also create the partition via Winclone but Ive yet to try this).
  • Then using Winclone I restored his Windows XP image from his Macbook into the new, empty partition on his iMac, the whole process went smoothly.
Once complete I rebooted into Windows and that was that - everything was working just as it did on his Macbook. I have to admit that at this stage I was a little surprised as I expected XP to complain about different drivers or something but it was quite happy, so kudos to Apple for the Bootcamp drivers and to TwoVolcanos for Winclone.

Needless to say that afterwards it was a simple case of plugging in the scanner and installing the drivers.

After my colleague returned I recommended that he should invest in Parallels or VMWare as both of them would let him start from his Bootcamp partition in OSX and save him having to reboot (I initially tried to get him to return the scanner but he didnt want to). I also explained to him about the additional Windows license but Im not sure that it got through to him.

Still at the end of the day the story had a happy ending and left me quite impressed with a good piece of free software.

Have any of you tried Winclone?


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The said...

CopyCatX is a great option for disk duplications. I use it all the time on client's machines when they are upgrading to a new machine. It makes EXACT duplicates and preserves everything from permissions to icon placement. Also, if your copying a 250GB hard drive to a 500GB drive it will expand the partition size after the duplication to allow you to use the entire drive space (guess that's kind of like their VolumeWorks dynamic partitioning tool can do). Cool to hear you found a good option for ya. If you have the money, CopyCatX is well worth it.

Andrew said...

Hey thanks a lot for the tips and the info - have you been using it with an OSX/Windows partition i.e. bootcamp?