Can I make a copy of my laptop drive and run it from a USB drive?

edited December 2014 in AOMEI Products Support

I have been banging my head against the wall for quite a while trying to get this to work. 


I recently purchased a new laptop with Win 8.1 "with bing".  I believe this is classified as an OEM copy.


The computer did not come with any disks.


I would like to make a copy of the built-in hard drive on a USB hard drive, and be able to boot and run from the USB drive.  (I want a disposable, trashable "playground" for trying things out without messing up my main built in HDD)


I have made numerous attempts using the partition manager software and the backup software, and nothing seems to work.  Every time I try to boot from the USB drive, I get "no bootable device - insert boot disk and press any key".


(I have also tried the "repair MBR" function)


Is this possible to do, or am I making a stupid mistake?


Thanks in advance for any advice.


Comments

  • Which function did you use to turn your USB drive into bootable device? Migrate OS to HDD? or Copy Partition?  

  • edited December 2014

    I have been trying this with two traditional mechanical spinning disk external drive assemblies with USB interfaces.  One is a 60G and the other a 75G. 

     

    I have tried numerous things over the past couple of weeks, and honesty I have forgotten some of the specific details of everything I have tried so far and the specific results, (other than "that didn't work) so I am going to have to re-do some of them to give you more specific answers.  (more to follow as I reproduce some things)

     

    This is a partial list of things I have tried; 

     

    - Windows to go creator (I do not have disks from the manufacturer, and the only ISO I have been able to download has the newer install file that is incompatible with the Windows to go creator, as discussed in another thread on this forum)

     

    (I was successful making a bootable disk from that ISO with someone else’s software, "WintoUSB", however, it appears that the result is not the correct version of windows and will not accept my activation key, though it will run as "unactivated")  (I have been able to copy this from one external drive to another using AOMEI "Migrate OS to SSD", even though both external drives are traditional spinning disks)

    (note; I am not trying to "pirate" anything, I have no intention of running this on any other machine, "one user, one machine")

     

    - The AOMEI disk copy.

    - The AOMEI partition copy.

    - The AOMEI backupper (backup and restore)

    - The AOMEI backupper Clone

     

    My original internal HDD is GPT and has five partitions;

     

    WINRE NTFS 650M

    "*"         FAT32 260M

    "*"      "OTHER" 128M

    Windows NTFS 445G

    Recovery NTFS 19.7G

     

    I don't need or want the "recovery" partition on the external drive.

     

    It will take some time do re-do some of these, so more information to follow.

     

    Any advice for the best way to proceed would be appreciated.

     

  • OK, I re-did my attempt with AOMEI Partition Assistant - Disk Copy

     

    I have both external USB disks connected, and have booted from my "unactivated" copy of windows on one of the external USB drives, not the internal drive that I am trying to copy.  (I am using that instead of a "Windows RE" on a USB stick.  I did use AOMEI PA to make a Windows PE on a USB stick, and that seems to work just fine.  However, I have been using the WintoUSB from the USB mechanical HDD just because it is faster, and already has mouse support, and I hate the touch pad)

     

    - I right clicked on "Disk 1" (the internal HDD) containing the partitions listed above, and selected "Copy Disk".

    - I selected "copy disk quickly", selected the destination (I am booted from "disk 2" and the destination is the other the other external USB drive, "disk 3")

    - The default option for copying the disk makes the three small partitions (the "winre" and "*" and "*" even smaller, so I did select "edit partitions" and made them the same size as the source.  Obviously, the "windows" partition is smaller on the destination drive.)

    - Clicked "finish" and then "apply" from the main toolbar.  It ran and then completed. 

     

    I then tried to boot from the new copy on the external drive and got "no bootable device - insert boot disk and press any key".


    Trying to think of things to try, I then rebooted from my other drive, selected my newly made copy and ran a "rebuild MBR".


    I then tried to boot from the new copy on the external drive and got "no bootable device - insert boot disk and press any key".


    Are there any extra steps needed to make the disk bootable?


    I tried copying the partitions one by one in earlier attempts, I did not make detailed notes, but the result would not boot. 

     

    For my next attempt with notes, I think I am going to go try the Backupper again.  More to follow.


  • edited December 2014

    Tried a backup and restore;

     

    Previously I had used AOMEI Backupper to make a copy of theinternal HDD.

    I then ran a restore to the external USB disk.

    On this attempt I selected “Disk” “Disk0”.   (on previous attempts, I tried it partitionby partition, to save the time for restoring the “recovery” partition, which Ido not need or want on the destination)

    On this attempt, I used the default “fit all partitions toentire disk” rather than adjust the partition sizes.

    And still;

    "No bootable device - insert boot disk and press anykey".


    Hmmm...  On previous attemtpts I was unable to get this to work with a "Clone" either.


    Questions;


    What is the difference between a “System Backup”, a “DiskBackup” and a “Partition Backup”, and which one would be the correct thing touse for this application?


    What is the difference between a “System Clone”, a “PartitionClone” and a “Disk Clone”, and which one would be the correct thing to use forthis application?


    (I have not been able to get a clear answer for thesequestions from the documentation, I tried…)

     

    More reproduced attempts to follow…


  • Hi,


    Thank you very much for the details.


    About the attempt you did by Partition Assistant, I am wondering why you boot from a external bootable medium to make the disk copy. Actually you can boot from your internal system disk which you want to copy to do the disk copy. But anyway, as you said you cannot boot from the new copy on the external disk. As an alternative way, I will suggest that you boot from the internal system disk directly, then use Migrate OS Wizard to migrate your current OS to the disk. It will not affect the original OS. 


    As for restore you did using Backupper. What kind of backup you made previously? If you use Partition Backup to backup your system partition, I don't think you can boot after restoring. It's better to do a system backup or disk backup, there is a highier possibility to boot after restoring. Partition Backup is designed to backup the data partitions. 


    In general, backups are created in case the current system or data corrupted. Clones are used when you want to replace the old disk by a new one. System Backup/Clone are designed to manage the partitons which are necessary for system, not including other data partitions. Partition Backup/Clone are for the data partitions. Disk Backup/Clone will back up all the partitions on the disk. 


    Hope my words could help somewhere.


  • you don'know the difference between system, partition, and disk,or something?I think system clone will be ok.

  • edited December 2014

    (BTW, thanks for the replies!)

     

    OK, I have been back at it again. 

     

    Apparently "Migrate OS to SSD" will not work with a GPT drive in"standard edition".


    From a command prompt I set up the small boot partition, cleaned it, set it asactive and formatted it for Fat32.  Then used AOMEI to copy over the OSpartition.  Went back in under the command prompt and used BCDBoot tocreate the boot files on the boot partition.  It "tried" towork.  It at least started to boot but failed part way through the bootprocess with a blue screen and no usable error code information.


    More probably dumb questions:


    What are the "WRE", "EFI" and "MSR" flags?


    Thanks.


  • edited December 2014

    Tried this;

    Opened diskpart and performed these operations;
    clean
    convert gpt
    create partition primary size=650
    format quick fs=ntfs label="WinRE"
    assign letter="T"
    create partition efi size=260
    format quick fs=fat32 label="System"
    assign letter="S"
    create partition msr size=128
    create partition primary
    format quick fs=ntfs label="Windows"
    assign letter="W"
    I then used AOMEI backupper to manually copy each partition from the original drive to the partitions in the USB drive.  Did not work, "no bootable device"

    Went back in and used BCDBoot tocreate the boot files on the boot partition.  Still did not work, "no bootable device"

    When creating partitions it appears that a "reserved" partition of 128M was created by diskpart before I started creating partitions.  Since it "tried" to work on the previous attempt, could that be the problem?

  • Hi


    If you are useing diskpart command from within Windows and issue the commands

    "clean" and "convert gpt", Windows per default will generate a MSR partition in front of any other partition you generate later.  I have also noticed that. To avoid that, boot  e.g AMOEI Win PE from an USB stick and then run diskpart. Then you should be able to generate  the exact partition layout you want above on the selected drive. It is a bit confusing.

    Generally I think Windows does not allow and was not intended to BOOT and RUN the full OS from USB attached disk. So your attempts may fail simply because of this, as the even if you prepare the same partition layout on the USB attached disk as on your original System disk and restore the backup to it the Boot fails. 

    BCDBOOT also may not work as you expect for properly correct/prepare a 2nd EFI partition for the OS available now on the USB disk in your system.

    You can  remove the internal system disk and then boot from Win PE and open the Windows recovery tool and try to repair the Boot environment.






  • Check to see if your BIOS even supports boot to USB. Sometimes it does not.

  • edited January 2015

    @Hercules

     

    It appears that that default partition is created when "convert gpt" is issued.

     

    I tried what you suggested, but when booted from the AOMEI WinPE, my external USB drive was not recognized.  (GPT vs. MBR issue?)

     

    However, when booting the existing Win8.1 system, I was able to open an Administrator Command Prompt, and after "clean" and "convert GPT" was able to "select partition" to change the focus to the MSR partition, and remove it by using "delete partition override".

     

    A more detailed description of what I did:


    (based on instructions from Microsoft technet)

    http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh824839.aspx
    http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh825686.aspx


    Opened an Administrator Command Prompt

    Ran Diskpart

    Identified my external USB HDD with list disk.  (disk 1)

    select disk 1
    clean
    convert gpt
    create partition primary size=650  (size selected to match existing HDD I am trying to copy)
    format quick fs=ntfs label="Windows RE tools"
    create partition efi size=260
    (from MS web site:  Note: for Advanced Format Generation One drives, change to size=260.)
    (this matches the existing HDD I am trying to copy)
    format quick fs=fat32 label="System"
    create partition msr size=128 (size from MS web site, and matches existing HDD I am trying to copy)
    create partition primary
    format quick fs=ntfs label="Windows"

    I then issued command list partition to check what I had.  

    I discovered that there were 5 partitions.  Partition 1 was a Reserved partition of 128M that is apparently automatically created by default when the"convert gpt" command is issued.

    So I removed that partition by "select partition 1" and then "delete partition override".

    Then did this again;

    create partition primary size=650  (size selected to match existing HDD I am trying to copy)
    format quick fs=ntfs label="Windows RE tools"
    create partition efi size=260
    (from MS web site:  Note: for Advanced Format Generation One drives, change to size=260.)
    (this matches the existing HDD I am trying to copy)
    format quick fs=fat32 label="System"
    create partition msr size=128 (size from MS web site, and matches existing HDD I am trying to copy)
    create partition primary
    format quick fs=ntfs label="Windows"

    I then did "list partition" for both the existing HDD I am trying to copy and my external USB HDD.

    Partition 1, 2, and 3 are identical, partition 4 is smaller on my external drive, and the external drive does not have a partition for the OEM recovery files.

    I then exited out of diskpart and the administrative command prompt.

    As the AOMEI software does not let me migrate OS on GPT drives, I am currently trying something with a different developer's software.  (sorry)


    I am very greatful for all of the assistance I have been offered, so I will come back and try copying the partions with the AOMEI software as an experment and report the results shortly.


  • @ Helpdesk


    The BIOS does support booting to USB.  I can boot the AOMEI PE from a USB flash drive, and I have booted a Win8.1 "win to go" on a USB HDD created with another developer's software. 


    The problem with that is that my existing Win8.1 is an OEM version that was pre-installed on the laptop HDD and I do not have a disk or ISO or .wim for that version; and the "win to go" that I created is from an ISO that was downloaded from the Microsoft web site, which is a different version than my OEM, and as a result, my activation key will not work with it)


  • @SomeGuy


    I have created a bootable USB stick with WinPE builder without any problem and booted (EFI mode) with attached USB 3.0  drive (I included proper Inf drivers). Actually I always make my backups from my System disk (EFI,MSR,Windows partition) from Win PE integrated Backupper to external USB device. (very fast). If your USB drive is not recognized by Win PE it is most probably a driver problem. Connect the disk to a USB 2.0 port (not hub) or include proper USB 3.0 Inf drivers in Win PE.


    PS.

    Did you try  "Windows to Go Creator" feature integrated in "AOMEI Partition Assistant", which you can just install and run on your PC 


    Good luck with your experiments.



  • If your USB drive is not recognized by Win PE it is most probably a driver problem





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    Fut coins

  • edited January 2015

    Unfortunatly this thread has devolved into endless pontification about what won't work.  Let's start from the beginning, what will work?


    The original quesiton;


    I recently purchased a new laptop with Win 8.1 "with bing".  I believe this is classified as an OEM copy.


    The computer did not come with any disks.


    I would like to make a copy of the built-in hard drive on a USB hard drive, and be able to boot and run from the USB drive.  (I want a disposable, trashable "playground" for trying things out without messing up my main built in HDD)


    1.  Is it possible?


    2.  How?


  • "Unfortunatly this thread has devolved into endless pontification about what won't work."


    You must be reading a different thread.


    It is possble, but not necessarily easy. Best way is to use the recovery image supplied by your oem. It should be on your hard drive somewhere. Apply the image to the usb stick and hit it with bcdboot - exactly the same way I always install Windows. 


    Windows to go creator does the same thing.


    It depends if the oem has supplied an image ( most do ) and how they have set it up - you may need to reset the drive letter, which is far too complicated to explain.



  • SomeGuy,


    Please try first making a system backup by using Backupper, then restore the system backup to your USB hard drive. After that, try booting from the USB drive. If it cannot work, please tell us the error message when you boot or take a picture of the boot screen. So we can help to analyze the problem. 


  • edited January 2015

    Some glimmers of partial sucess, and another problem...


    I was finally able to create a bootable Win8.1 external USB drive.  (I had to use some non-AOMEI tools and techniques to do it, a long story that I will comment on later)


    I attempted to use AOMEI Backupper to make a copy of the drive, and then restore it to a different drive.


    I have tried with both the "Disk backup" and "Partiton backup".  However, when I restore to the other drive, the other drive will not boot to Windows.  (It opens Repair)


    I have tried running "Rebuild MBR" in Partition Assistant with no sucess.


    "System Backup" seems to only be able to backup the running system.   I want to be booted from the laptop's internal drive, and create copies of my bootable USB drive using the backup image.


  • "System Backup" seems to only be able to backup the running system"


    Yes, of course, that is what System backup means.


    "I want to be booted from the laptop's internal drive, and create copies of my bootable USB drive using the backup image."


    I don't understand. How do you hope to create a backup using an image. Doesn't make sense.



  • "I want to be booted from the laptop's internal drive, and create copies of my bootable USB drive using the backup image."

    I guess, SomeGuy want to create a backup for bootable USB drive.Then restore it and use in the future, as with backupping and restoring OS.

    But ,Backupper can back up the bootable USB drive,but can't boot after restoring.So,This makes no sense.

  • edited February 2015

    That's easy and well known, Windows does not boot from USB, it wants internal disk.


    You can however create virtual computers. They can reside on USB, prefereably USB3. I do this frequently.

    I also use boot CDs in the virtual computers and recently tried AOMEI's boot CDs. (using AOMEI, for tests).


    I already did backup my HP with efi windows 8.1, then restore C:\ to virtual computer (even to MBR). This worked, except of course for activation. And recently a Windows XP did fine except for activation issues.  (not yet using AOMEI I did learn them after, but I'm confident disks are reproduced well enough with AOMEI tools.)

  • edited February 2015

    "The computer did not come with any disks."


    1) an brand OEM computer usually has kind of a recovery disk creator, or recovery stick creator, such than it can be factory-reset. And it usually has a recovery partition, that does factory reset right from the internal disk such that the recovery media mostly not needed.


    2) Windows 7, Windows8, Windows 8.1 including a system image control panel (in Windows 8.1 its name: File History or so. In Win7 and Win8 something like backup and recovery). It is even incremental, keeping the most recent backups.


    Both are kind of hard to test in advance, but both are reliable, especially I tell this about 2).

    It would have been useful to test when your laptop is new anyway. You can try factory reset anytime, and then reinstall your programs, and reload your data files.

    I use 2) quite frequently before critical operations like Win8.1 upgrade that could  fail. And I use 2) to restore when the system has gone awray.


    Option 2) helped me also when I tried to restore to USB boot disks that actually damaged BCD (not AOMEI).



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