Windows 10: Is it possible to create a bootable backup of the entire system drive?

  1.    05 Apr 2017 #1

    Is it possible to create a bootable backup of the entire system drive?

    Just wondering for transferring to other drives.

    Also because I'm kinda curious about making my own Windows distro of sorts. I have my own way of setting up Windows to be secure and private with nice open-source programs which many people really like, but I'm really tired of repeating the whole process over and over again (it easily takes 2-4 hours to do depending on the speed of the computer).

    Thought maybe it'd be possible to make my own distro and replace the license key with theirs when I install with a new system (and then install drivers relevant to their hardware). This would cut-down on the time and work the process takes tremendously as well as hours of explaining if I'm helping someone long-distance.

    If not then at least I'll know how to move from one hard disk to another when I need to.

    I'm figuring it's not quite as simple as just copying all the contents of C: over to an external and moving them to another computer's C: drive and expect the new computer to boot it like normal, right? Further I expect some files would give me a hard time while trying to move them, I know Windows has protected files.

      My ComputerSystem Spec

  2.    05 Apr 2017 #2

    Ummm....well....sure. Just make an image backup of the C: drive partition with Macrium Reflect free:
    Macrium Reflect Free | Macrium Software

    Restore the image to the "new" computer's hard drive/SSD. Run the utility under the restore menu (when booting from a Macrium Reflect rescue drive) to fix Windows startup problems. The other computer will then boot into the restored Windows 10 OS and the first screen will say Getting new devices ready (or something similar) as it loads device drivers for the new computer hardware configuration. As long as that computer had a digital license for the same version of Windows 10, it will activate automatically. If it doesn't, then you can go to the activation screen under settings, Updates & Security, and change the product key to the product key for the "new" computer.
      My ComputerSystem Spec

  3.    05 Apr 2017 #3

    Okay, thanks.

    Sorry if it was an odd question, but it's something I hadn't done before and just figured I'd ask first while I'm here (originally came to ask a different question which was about permissions controls).

    Yeah I use Windows 10 Enterprise so they'll probably need to change the serial 99% of the time.

    To clarify, this will retain all the software and settings I put on the system, correct? I use tools like the Windows 10 Privacy tool that does lots of changes to the system like rooting out the pre-installed apps and blocking Microsoft Telemetry servers through hosts+firewall, add a lot of stuff to the hosts file, Group Policy edits, add useful open-source software, set-up the browser a specific way, etc. I know that Win10 Home doesn't even have the Group Policy editor so I sort-of wonder if that would even be reflected for them. Still, if that's the only thing that gets lost, not a huge deal.

    The end objective being to make Windows 10 more secure and far more private without inconveniencing the user, though I'll certainly be leaving a ReadMe about good browsing habits and what to avoid as well.
      My ComputerSystem Spec

  4.    05 Apr 2017 #4

    You can only do what you are proposing if the user's Windows 10 is the same version or higher. Very few normal computer users will have Windows 10 Enterprise installed on their computers. They will have Home or possibly Pro, but not likely to even have Pro, let alone a legally activated copy of Enterprise. So, what you will end up with is an installation of Windows 10 Enterprise installed on their computer with no way to activate it. Changing the product key to their product key to activate it on their computer only works if the Windows 10 version matches the product key or can be upgraded to match the product key - but it won't work to downgrade the Windows 10 to match their product key.

    The "hierarchy" of Windows 10 is:

    Home, Pro, Enterprise, Education (I believe). You can go "up" the hierarchy by changing the product key, but you cannot go "down" the hierarchy without a re-install of the OS (or some manipulation of registry entries).
      My ComputerSystem Spec

  5.    05 Apr 2017 #5

    Huh, haven't even heard of Education before actually.

    So in other words I should do this on a Home system and then go from there, for compatibility sake.
      My ComputerSystem Spec

  6.    05 Apr 2017 #6

    AlexanderM13 said: View Post
    Huh, haven't even heard of Education before actually.

    So in other words I should do this on a Home system and then go from there, for compatibility sake.
      My ComputerSystem Spec

  7.    05 Apr 2017 #7

    One last thing to be clear - Will work to install from USB to a blank hard drive?

    Basically what I usually do is reinstall Windows cleanly. That involves booting from USB, choosing the "Custom Installation" option and then deleting all the existing partitions of the C: drive, then choosing the new unallocated space as what to install to.
      My ComputerSystem Spec

  8.    05 Apr 2017 #8

    You are talking about transferring a pre-configured image to a different computer. You have basically two choices.

    1. You can transfer only the OS partition. The existing hard drive/SSD in the target computer would have to have it's own system partition containing boot files. This has the advantage that UEFI or Legacy BIOS booting would not matter because the partitioning type (GPT v. MBR) of the existing hard drive would be retained as well as having a System Reserved (for legacy BIOS) or an EFI System (for UEFI) partition would already be there.

    2. You can transfer an entire drive image containing the OS partition as well as the system partition - and possibly a recovery partition. The problem with this is that transferring an image created from a UEFI computer with GPT partitioning will not boot on a legacy BIOS computer, nor will an image created from a legacy bios computer using MBR partitioning boot on a UEFI computer.

    The other potential stopping point is the disk controller configuration. There are three basic types: IDE, AHCI, and RAID. Unless the driver that Windows loads matches the mode set in BIOS/UEFI you might end up with a non-booting OS. For example, the standard way to change from IDE mode to AHCI mode is to boot Windows in safe mode and uninstall the device manager entry for the PCI disk controller. On reboot enter BIOS/UEFI setup and change the drive controller mode from IDE to AHCI. Then reboot back into Windows which will install the driver for the new drive controller mode only because the previous drive controller driver was uninstalled. Reboot without uninstalling the previous drive controller first and Windows won't boot.

    Of course you might be able to use sysprep /generalize to overcome these issues.
      My ComputerSystem Spec


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