By muckemuck - 30 December 2020 4:39 PM
Before anything actually goes bad, trying to *test* that a backup/restore works for my laptop Win10 install. Backing up *internal* laptop SSD (we'll call SSD_int) and restoring to *external* USB SSD (we'll call SSD_ext) and trying to boot on the same machine. Could not get restored backup on SSD_ext to boot. I cannot just disconnect my SSD_int, so think that might be interfering with the test here, but I don't want to lose my OS in the process of trying to test a backup!
Macrium: Home Edition (64-bit) UEFI, v6.3, build 1865
Win10: Version 1909 (OS Build 18363.1256)
WinPE: From Reflect's Other Tasks / Create rescue media... (default options)
* full backup of internal laptop OS disk based on Backup/Backup Windows which chose partitions 1-4 to backup (1. 260MB FAT32, 2. 16MB, 3. C:\, 4. Windows RE tools), and not partition 5 (Recovery D:\).
* to avoid just booting original OS, change order in UEFI options to boot from USB first, before OS boot manager
* boot to rescue
* with completely unpartitioned SSD_ext on E:\; restore to E:\
* exit and reboot, removing rescue USB stick. Hangs before exiting the OEM splash screen (perhaps 15-20 seconds into boot)
* reboot to rescue, "Fix boot problems".
* it detects both OS disks (original C:\ and restore on E:\). Choose to boot from E:\ disk. Green checkmarks. Confirm in UEFI setup that the Windows Boot Manager has this SSD_ext.
* exit and reboot, removing rescue USB stick. Hangs before exiting OEM splash screen.
* reboot to rescue, "Fix boot problems". Go back to SSD_int image to boot. Fails with File: \WINDOWS\system32\winload.efi Error code: 0xc000000e.
* do another "Fix boot" sequence with SSD_ext disconnected.
* Finally, can boot my original OS again. Never got the restored OS image to boot.
What am I doing wrong? I figured creating a Windows Boot Manager with just the SSD_ext in it was the best/cleanest setup for a test, but it is all feeling a bit risky here as I almost lost my good OS in the process of doing this test!
By jphughan - 30 December 2020 4:52 PM
Are you trying to boot from the external USB SSD while it's connected externally via USB? Windows does not support being booted from a storage device attached via USB. That's called out in the "Important" callout box on this page of the manual. The only exception is the Windows PE "mini-OS" kernel that is used by things like Windows Setup and Rescue Media, and then "Windows To Go" environments that are explicitly designed to support booting full Windows from USB, but that environment requires special preparation and licensing. If you want to keep an SSD connected via USB for period clones from your internal disk so that you have a spare always ready to go, that's perfectly fine, but if you ever want to boot from it, you'll need to connect it internally (or via eSATA, or possibly Thunderbolt 3, although I haven't tried the latter.)
By muckemuck - 30 December 2020 5:26 PM
Hmmm...Okay, then. Wish Macrium had coded up a run-time warning/error for this situation. Yes, the backup drive is external to my laptop and is using the USB-C port to attach. I am often perplexed by why vendors chose to impose certain restrictions such as the one you state here. In this day of virtual OSes, booting from network, etc, certainly they could support it. I figure the most likely scenario is that if my internal laptop SSD fails, I'd want to boot from an external SSD since getting into a laptop and disconnecting/connecting an internal SSD is not trivial.
I totally believe you and trust Macrium's assessment, but that note was from 2015. Wonder if things have changed in 5 years?
Thanks for the reponse!
By jphughan - 30 December 2020 5:51 PM
Not sure how Reflect would be able to code an error for this. Cloning to a USB-attached disk on a regular basis and installing it internally only if the user needs to start using it as their primary disk is a pretty common use case, so an error wouldn't be appropriate there. (In fact in that scenario, the fact that it isn't possible to boot from the USB-attached disk can be a perk, since it avoids accidentally booting from that clone target disk and unwittingly using it as your source.) And Reflect isn't involved in the boot process you attempt from the clone target disk. It would certainly be nice if Microsoft updated their Windows Boot Manager code to throw a helpful error in this situation -- or as you say, just removed this limitation entirely -- but Macrium can't really do anything about that. And to my knowledge, the information about Windows not supporting USB booting is still current.
As to why the limitation exists, my guess is that it's a combination of licensing concerns and the fact that although it's getting better, Windows still doesn't handle being "transplanted" to different PCs very well. I realize in your case you'd be trying to boot the same PC from a different disk, but officially supporting USB booting would create the expectation that users could create portable Windows installations. That became possible with Windows To Go, but the hardware compatibility issue meant that setting those environments up was a pretty significant chore. That's probably why it's only available to enterprises that have IT personnel, and restricting to enterprises also conveniently simplified the licensing questions. Windows still relies heavily on having the necessary drivers installed and available in the driver library. It's not like Linux. And Microsoft outside of enterprise situations still primarily ties Windows licenses to specific PCs to be used by any user, not to specific users to be used on any PC they own, although that is changing somewhat.
By muckemuck - 30 December 2020 7:00 PM
Think I am "getting it" a bit more. The Windows To Go is really not what I am looking for, but understand why Microsoft doesn't allow arbitrary movement of your OS from machine to machine without you paying money for the privilege. Still, seems like they could easily restrict the external drive to only work with a specific PC. Looked into internal SSD replacement for the laptop and it isn't so bad I suppose. Just a shame I cannot test the backup before catastrophe strikes.