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I'm trying to use a Debian installation boot CD to copy an entire Windows partition from one drive to another so that I can have a bootable backup of my ...
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  1. #1
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    Copying an NTFS partition


    I'm trying to use a Debian installation boot CD to copy an entire Windows partition from one drive to another so that I can have a bootable backup of my Windows system. The drives and partitions are all being recognized but when I go to the copy partition option, it tells me that the handling of an NTFS filesystem isn't incorporated yet, sorry for the inconvienence. Is this true throughout Linux or just Debian specific? I'm using what I believe is the latest image I got through Debian.org. Can somebody please tell me how I can use a Linux boot disc to copy a Windows partition.

  2. #2
    Linux Newbie sdimhoff's Avatar
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    Hi himrockffan-

    First of all, welcome to Linux Forums! Now down to your question. Linux side support for the NTFS file system is indeed available. What you want to install is a package called ntfs3g (or ntfs-3g). This will install the necessary support to not only read, but also to write to an ntfs partition. It has been stable for a year or two and I have never had any problems.

    Once you have installed ntfs-3g, you then mount a parition with either:

    ntfs-3g <device|image_file> <mount_point> [-o option[,...]]

    or

    mount -t ntfs-3g volume mount_point [-o option[,...]]

    In case you are wondering why in the world this support would not come standard, it is because the specification is a pretty tightly held microsoft trade secret so support under linux has to be built in a reverse engineering type of fashion (if I'm not mistaken). The developers also keep it out of the standard linux kernel because as they say:

    When it becomes clear that a huge, complex, feature rich and general purpose file system can not be as reliable and well-performing in hybrid space as purely in the kernel. At the moment there are no such strong indications. In fact, more and more experiences show just the opposite. -- NTFS-3G Read/Write Driver Support
    good luck
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    Thanks

    Thank you for your response, sdimhoff. From what I am hearing from you, it sounds like I'm going to have to get Linux installed on my machine in order to use this file and its function as opposed to simply using the one bootable installation CD. Or is there a way I could get ntfs3g to work just off the CD? I hope I am making myself clear.

  4. #4
    Linux Newbie sdimhoff's Avatar
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    You do NOT have to install linux to that computer. It would seem that just that installation disk doesn't have it. You should just be able to use a boot disk as long as the package comes pre-installed (for any boot disk distro, just do some checking online and you should be able to see if ntfs-3g is on there by default.)

    Note:
    ntfs-3g comes pre-installed on Ubuntu.
    Linux since: 2001
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  5. #5
    Linux Guru Jonathan183's Avatar
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    I use PartedMagic for copying partitions ... its a quick download and has worked on every system I have tried so far

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    Thanks again!

    Appreciate you all's responses. I am pleasantly surprised. It looks like Parted Magic might USE ntfs3d inorder to work with that file system. I'll look into PM and the Ubuntu installation CD. Thanks guys!!

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    Follow-up

    I used PartedMagic and what a cool app!

    It copied the Windows partition lickidy-split. I copied it to an external HD through USB. Entered BIOS setup to boot from the USB HD. The boot process made it to the black Windows logo screen (with the blue scroll below it) but then it crashed there. Windows gave me the blue screen of death saying that it could be a hardware or software(virus) problem. Bummer.

    I haven't figured out why it couldn't finish loading Windows from the USB device. The source copy (internal HD) is just fine. But for all intents and purposes it appears that Pmagic did everything right.

    It might be a laptop specific problem. Not until I am absolutely sure I have a way to recover the complete bootable primary partition will I copy the backup(USB) over the primary(internal) to see if it will finish the installation simply because it is off the internal HD and not the USB. Comments are welcome.

  8. #8
    Linux Guru Jonathan183's Avatar
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    I find PartedMagic usually copies the partitions correctly (if it does not it displays errors) ... must confess I have not really tried to make a bootable backup of Windows. I suspect if its XP or Vista you will find things difficult to get to work and even if you do you may find that you need to re-activate afterwards.

    I found with Windows keeping data on a separate partition was essential as I usually ended up having to reinstall every couple of months. If your doing this with XP then provided the hardware is the same you should be able to copy /windows/system32/wpa.dbl and wpa.bak files back over after a fresh install and it should save you having to reactivate. Not sure if this works on Vista ... its not something I intend using very much

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    I'm not sure what you mean by reactivate.

    I want to wean myself off Windows but I need to keep the it alive until I am able to get Debian working on this laptop. I am trying to research the best way to backup the system and I think it is just copying the partition bit for bit which, theoretically, should make the backup bootable. But getting the machine to boot from a USB HDD looks to be a hurdle I'm going to need to clear. I don't think reinstalling Windows, in case of the inevidible failure whether that is because of software or hardware, is a desirable option for me since I want to keep all the programs I have installed on it. If I could find a way to copy just a portion of the system that would allow me to get back to where I was (all the same programs and appropriate files) then I could use the total reinstallation method after a failure as opposed to the bootable backup method.

    This laptop can accomodate a second internal HDD but I'm am unwilling right now to pay the price for it so I'm trying to find a way around that.

  10. #10
    Linux Guru Jonathan183's Avatar
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    MS will try to avoid the copy being bootable otherwise it is an easy way to copy Windows from one machine to another ... as an individual user of XP or Vista after installation it needs to be activated otherwise after 30 days it stops working (another MS attempt to stop people copying). This activiation is based on the hardware you are running Windows on ... not sure if change of hard drive would change this, but some hardware changes require re-activation.

    If you want to copy the whole partition then PartedMagic will let you do that. You can copy the whole partition or individual files and folders back when you want. The time you would struggle with this approach is if you install or uninstall software in Windows. While copying files from your data area - Word documents etc will still work, you would only be able to restore Windows to your previous backed-up state. Depending on the version of Windows you are using restore points in Windows may help you out.

    I assume you already have Debian working as a dual boot on the machine. If your backup is to allow you to resize partitions and install Debian then copying the whole partition will be sufficient - it just means you would restore Windows back how it was before the Debian install. PartedMagic can also be used to resize the partitions (I use this instead of Partition Magic on Windows which has let me down badly in the past).

    I use clonezilla for backup and restore of OS and data, however to be fair I would probably re-install OS and restore data in almost all instances - that's my preferred way of doing things. You and others may take a different view & approach ... thats up to you

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