MR 7 sees system partition as unformatted


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fizzgig
fizzgig
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A happy new year to everyone. I just installed Win 10 Pro 2004 on a Samsung NVMe and updated to 20H2. Then I installed MR 7 Home to make a full image of the fresh System. According to Windows Disk Management all is good and well. The C partition on disk 1 is a healthy NTFS partition with about 53GB used space out of 150GB available.

According to MR 7 however, the system partition is unformatted and doesn't even have a drive letter.

Now I'm hesitant to install any further apps and would be very grateful for any help.
jphughan
jphughan
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I've never seen that before, but I see that you're running the German version of Reflect.  As strange as it sounds, there have been at least 4 cases I can think of where a Reflect bug only affected the German version -- so this could be one of those!

But it also looks like you installed Windows 10 onto a completely separate disk, since your EFI System Partition is on a completely separate disk.  Is this a Linux/Windows dual boot system?  If so, be aware that the Windows disk will NOT be independently bootable.  If you removed or erased GPT Disk 1 in your screenshot, the Windows disk does not have the necessary partitions to boot on its own.  The system is currently always booting to the EFI partition on GPT Disk 1 to load the boot manager, and it would then boot from Windows when desired.  That's normal for a dual boot arrangement, but if you ever wanted to restore your system to include only Windows, you would have to perform a custom restore that would involve manually creating certain partitions before restoring.

fizzgig
fizzgig
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Yes, this is a dual boot system. I installed Windows on it's own disk first and afterwards Linux on a separate disk. I did this following the advice on several Linux forums to keep the boot loaders seperate and to avoid exactly the trouble that you describe. Now I'm a bit confused to be honest.

Do I have to reinstall Windows and Linux? What is the recommended method to keep both systems completely separate?

jphughan
jphughan
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I'm not sure how you would have ended up with a GPT disk that contains only a Windows partition if you installed Windows before Linux, in fact that disk shouldn't even be bootable on its own.  If you want to have fully independent OS environments, which you'd then need to switch between by invoking something like your system's one-time boot menu rather than relying on a single bootloader that's aware of both Linux and Windows, then you should set up your Windows disk properly to include an EFI partition, an MSR partition, and then your Windows partition.  The Windows Recovery partition is technically optional.  The easiest way to do that in your case is probably to capture an image backup of your current disk, then boot to Rescue Media, wipe that disk, manually create the appropriate partitions, then restore your image backup in a way that preserves those existing partitions, which will be achieved by dragging and dropping them onto the destination disk beside the existing partitions rather than just clicking "Copy selected partitions".  Then you'll need to run Fix Boot Problems to have Reflect copy the necessary bootloader files from the restored Windows partition into the EFI partition you created manually beforehand.  This is all summarized in this KB article.  The purpose of that article is to cover a slightly different scenario than you're dealing with, but the steps are exactly the same.  Just make sure that when running diskpart you select the correct disk for erasure, i.e. NOT your Linux disk, and then in your case you'll also be restoring your D partition of course.

fizzgig
fizzgig
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Thank you for your immediate reply. At first I didn't even realize that there is only one boot partition!
I was told that sometimes the Windows installer scatters the partitions around when there's more than one disk available. Therefor it should only one disk be present for a Windows installation. In my case I installed all three NVMe disks prior to running the Windows installer. Maybe that's the catch.

Well, given that I am not so tech savvy, it seems to me less of a hassle to do a clean install. But then again, what is the best method? Would the removement of two NVMe disks prior to the Windows installation do the trick?

jphughan
jphughan
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If you're sure a clean install would be less hassle, my recommendation would be to have only the desired NVMe disk be present during setup, either by physically removing the others or disabling the slots those other disks are using in your motherboard's firmware if it supports that capability.  Otherwise, especially now that you've already got an EFI partition on another disk, Windows might try to use that one rather than setting up a "self-contained" disk.  And then when you get to the step in Windows Setup asking where to install Windows, make sure all partitions on the target disk have been deleted so that the only entry for that disk in the list is a single item that says "Unallocated space".  Windows will automatically create the partitions it needs if you're installing onto a completely empty disk.

fizzgig
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Well then - I'll give it a try and post about the outcome tomorrow if all goes well. Thank you again.

fizzgig
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Here's an update to the situation. Sorry for being late but it's a lot more difficult than I expectet.
First I physically removed all but one Disk and installed Win 10 Pro. Then I added another disk on which I installed Linux Mint 20. The Linux installer allows to choose the disk and partition to write its boot loader on to. So I thought it would not affect the Windows boot partition, but it did. Windows was no longer bootable without the physical presence of the Linux disk, causing non bootable MR Windows images.

I was able to repair the Windows boot partition with the MR rescue media. The next step would have been the repair of the Linux boot partition. But as this would again damage the Windows boot loader I had to protect the Windows disk somehow. To remove this disk physically I would have had to disassemble the whole PC. To avoid this I decided to activate fast boot in the mainboard's BIOS, started Windows and shut it down again.

Then I put the Linux disk back in the PC and reinstalled GRUB to the Linux boot partition with "boot-repair". The GRUB installer recognized the "sleeping" Windows (as fast boot was activated) and therefor left the Windows boot partition untouched. And yet the log file shows several attempts to write to the Windows disk!

I checked if Windows is now bootable without the Linux disk being present and it is. And for now when I power on my PC I switch systems by the mainboard's BIOS.
But fast boot can not be enabled permanently because of the horrendous amount of write actions, shortening the disks life time significantly. I only enabled it once to perform the repair tasks.
When the next GRUB update takes place the Windows boot loader will most likely get altered again. So my last questions are:

When I make a full backup image of a single system, will it be bootable if I include both boot partitions?
And if the answer to this is "no" - is it possible at all to maintain two separate and independable systems on one PC, including regular images and backups?

What do I have to do to achieve this?

Thank you again for your help.
jphughan
jphughan
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I’ve never tried to achieve your setup, but if I were trying to, I would have a single disk connected while installing Win10, then disconnect that disk and connect only a single OTHER disk to install Linux. From then on I’d boot from the desired device using the BIOS boot menu, ideally accessed from a one-time boot menu hotkey as needed. I’m not sure what connection you’re seeing between Fast Boot and horrendous writes.
Beardy
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I think this is all a side effect of neither Linux, nor Windows, officially supporting the other's boot loader, however, on dual-boot setups especially with separate physical disks, I personally tend to follow the Microsoft supported setup.

Personally I'd do much what @jphughan suggests, but with the refinement of then allowing / arranging for each to have the other as a boot option, GRUB will find Windows if updated, & Easy BCD will also add Linux to the Windows bootloader, soo no need for using the BIOS/EFI boot option every time.

Edited 10 January 2021 2:27 AM by Beardy
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