Backing up Boot Camp

October 8, 2012 at 12:42 am 2 comments

About a year ago I had trouble with my SageTV server.  It was a machine built from parts and was rebooting at random, or something along those lines.  I had another parts machine that I attempted to move it to, but that failed and neither machine was working well.  Fortunately, I was very zealous about backing up, so I had all the SageTV data on my NAS.  Ultimately, I looked around the room and noted that I had a Mac Mini that wasn’t really being used, which already had Windows 7 installed in a Boot Camp partition.  I installed SageTV there, copied my backup SageTV folder, and it’s ran fine ever since.

People familiar with SageTV might wonder how I’m storing all the video files, or how it runs at all from there.  Prior to my move, I was using Silicon Dust network tuners, so there was no extra hardware to try to cram into the Mac mini, and I had also outsourced my storage…  The resultant files were stored on a ReadyNAS Pro Pioneer.  So, the mini pretty much decided when to tune into a channel, then served as a traffic director getting it in from the tuner and writing it out to the NAS.  Other than that, it’s the brains behind the HD200 set-top boxes in my home.  To date, this Windows 7 installation uses up a little over 40 GB of space.

Recently, though, it hit me.  I’ve been very serious about backups for a long time.  Time Machine on all my Macs, and Acronis True Image for my Windows boxes, but I realized that I wasn’t backing up the Windows 7 partition that has become the only OS this machine ever boots to anymore.

Searching the web turned up lots of people who wanted to back up their boot camp partition from within OS X, but a smaller number that wanted to do the same from within Windows.  I don’t want to boot to an Ghost CD once a month or so.  I want “set-it-and-forget-it” reliability, just like I had before.  The advice to these people mostly said you can’t do it.  Acronis won’t work, most people said.  The Acronis support people seem to stick their fingers in their ears and hum loudly when anyone says Mac, if the messages I read were any indication.  Perhaps someone will see the potential market here and get their talented coders to add support for Mac hardware.

In the event of a drive failure, I’ll swap my drive, reload Lion from my Time Machine backup, then create a Boot Camp installation for 100 GB (the current size of my boot camp partition).  I’ll try the Acronis Boot CD, but if that fails (as sounds likely from what I’ve read), I’ll install VMware and boot to the Boot Camp installation that way, with the Acronis Boot CD to see if I can restore then.

If that fails, I’ll just reinstall Windows, reinstall Acronis, then connect to my backup image across the network and selectively restore directories/files atop a fresh SageTV installation (much like how I “moved” the install to the Mini in the first place).

The way I look at it, at least I have a good backup now… I might not be able to fix it as cleanly as I’d like, but I should be able to rebuild it in a few days at least.

Should I ever have to go down this road, I’ll try to post an update to this entry with what worked and how…


Entry filed under: Mac, Networking.

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. DonChino (@DonChino)  |  May 28, 2014 at 4:15 am

    Um, so did you ever get Acronis to work? I am running Windows 7 Boot Camp on a Mac Mini 2012. Have Mavericks on one partition and Windows 7 on another, so this backup thing has now come to my mind and found your post. Always used Acronis with Windows, but have no idea if it will work with Mac Mini, if it will do a disk backup, etc. Share any findings you have made…

    • 2. ptaylor  |  May 28, 2014 at 10:14 pm

      Well, yes, it does back up my bootcamp partition just fine. So far, I’ve been lucky enough that I’ve only had to restore individual files so far. I’d expect that if I replaced the drive, I’d need to re-load Mac OS, then set up a boot camp partition and try restoring to that.


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