Shrink Volume on USB HDD

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Old 09-12-14, 12:33 AM
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Shrink Volume on USB HDD

I want to do a system backup on my new laptop but either windows 8.1 or Asus offer to do this job on a USB and not on DVDís which I would prefer. Furthermore the utility says that all data on the USB would be erased

I have a 1.4TB USB HDD with a lot of data which I would prefer not to erase (about 80GB). Is there a way I can shrink the volume on this HDD and make a new volume for my new backup?

I will assume the laptop will make the backup on the new volume and leave my existing data unchanged
 
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Old 09-12-14, 02:28 AM
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You could partition the external hard drive and make windows think you have two different external hard drives. For that you would need partitioning software or you can let Windows partition the hdd. Another way to get around your problem is to get an external dvd writer that would plug into your usb port and then use something like Roxio or a free alternative that you can find by looking for something like Roxio. I am not experienced with Windows 8.1 so I can't explain how to partition your external drive safely.

I know I have heard of a free version of a program called Macrium Reflect that some people consider to be better than any backup solutions that Windows might have. I however have never used Macrium Reflect so I can't guide you in its use but they do have a website and a knowledge base. I believe I remember someone saying that you could use DVD drives for backups.
 
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Old 09-12-14, 06:30 AM
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Macrium Reflect looks pretty good but for now I will stick with the windows disk management. I may copy all the files on the USB HDD to my desktop PC and then partition the USB HDD and see if the backup leave one partition free.

Perhaps another member here may give me a hand on this subject
 
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Old 09-12-14, 09:08 AM
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It's really not worth the risk of sharing a drive that is to be used for backup, especially when it comes to restoring the data. I have my data on 2 different external drives. I don't bother with system backups. It's just my data which includes music, a few videos, .doc, .xls, .txt & .pdf files. An external drive can go bad just like any other drive so make sure that your backups are on at least 2 drives. Then you can get into the question of off site backups. In other words, I have my two drives but they are in the same location. If there is a flood or fire, I might lose both of them. Maybe I should have yet another drive in a safe deposit box. There are many options.

Edit: Don't assume that your data will be left unchanged, if you partition the drive. That's risky business.
 
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Old 09-12-14, 09:29 AM
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I agree with you Pulpo but I don’t get why you don’t bother with the system backup. Do you have a windows DVD? In my case I have a new laptop with no DVD for windows 8.1; if my system crashes I’m left with a useless laptop so my first step is to create a backup or image of my system including all the drivers etc and then I will be ok

I agree that is risky business to share a backup drive and I’m thinking for my options. I also do two backups of my previous system, one on DVDs and one on my USB HDD
 
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Old 09-12-14, 11:28 AM
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I agree with Pulpo about partitioning and while I can't guide you much as far as windows 8.1 is concerned I can give you a few tips about offsite storage. All of these are free with a small amount of storage but after a limit is met you either have to remove some things or you have to buy more space. They also have rules about attending to your storage as you need to keep it up. One is called DropBox and can be found here https://www.dropbox.com/, another I just found out about is called Megasync and can be found here https://mega.co.nz/.

Lastly Amazon.com has a free trial period of storage and you can learn about it here Backup and Recovery . Megasync and DropBox both require a download of software to use their services. As for Amazon.com I can't say for certain but have been aware of it as a Amazon.com customer. Of all of the above that I am aware of I have only used DropBox and then just for a short while as it didn't offer much free storage space. I became aware of DropBox and Megasync as I also have Linux in use on another laptop.

Getting back to partitions though I bet you have a copy of Windows 8.1 on another partition on your laptop. Most manufacturers including Dell and Asus usually have that set up so you can reinstall Windows if you have a crash of your hard drive. Usually there is an application set up so you can make your own copy of Windows 8.1. I would make that copy now so you have it in case you ever have a problem. Consult your manual on how to make that copy.
 
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Old 09-12-14, 12:55 PM
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Well I'm kind of old fashioned but I dont like to store my backups in a place I cant see LOL. Actually I only like backups on DVDs but considering the size of todays systems, a USB will be fine. Asus gave me 5GB free storage on Cloud servers but I deleted the link.

You are right that my Asus has "somewhere" a recovery partition but I cant see it even with the setting "show hidden files and folders" ON. My laptop crashed yesterday and to my delight the system guided me to recover my system and files. Now I would like to backup this partition but the option is to backup only to USB. The size of this backup will be 16GB but I try to find out now what this 16GB will include.
 
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Old 09-12-14, 07:07 PM
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I think I would contact Asus they have good technical support and will be glad to help you with your back up of Windows issue. I have an Asus motherboard on my desktop upstairs and was able to find information I needed on their website. Perhaps some software needed is missing it wouldn't be the first time I had heard of something not being included that should have been there.
 
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Old 09-12-14, 07:12 PM
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Yes, I have a Windows DVD for a reinstall on both Windows 7 & XP.. As hedgeclippers said, computers these days usually have a hidden partition to send the computer back to the date of purchase. Sometimes F11 or whatever the manufacturer chose will access that partition. I once took a snapshot of the XP box (system backup) but never tried to use it. So I don't know if it will actually work or not. More recently, I was told that taking a snapshot of the drive from within the volume is nowhere near as good as taking it from outside the volume.

Edit: I don't trust the cloud yet although & probably never will. I wouldn't mind creating my own cloud if I had two separate locations.
 
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Old 09-12-14, 08:08 PM
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I did contact Asus and they told me about their backup utility which was installed on my laptop (Backtracker) but that is the utility I tried to use and only allows you to make a rescue drive using a USB (16GB max). Now I try to find what this 16GB image will include, is just the windows / drivers or what and if it is bootable.

Searching my BIOS I discover that I have EFI booting and there is no option to boot from DVD or USB. My BIOS is Aptio setup utility by American Megatrends.

Looking on my drives with the windows disk management utility I can see that I have the following disks

Disk 0 has a 100MB EFI system partition, 900MB recovery partition, C:\ 279GB NTFS Boot primary partition, Data D:\ 398GB NTFS primary partition and a 20GB Recovery partition. What is strange all these partitions are 100% free except the C:\ which is 75% free. So when my system crashed couple of days ago and I followed the system instructions to recover my system, I don’t know where the system found all the required files.

The disk management utility also shows my USB HDD as F:\ 1400GB NTFS primary partition. Can someone tell me how I can make 2 partitions on that disk instead of just one? And if I do that would I loose my data (about 80GB) on that disk?

My idea is if I can make 2 partitions, lets say 300GB on the first, perhaps I can use the Asus utility to make my rescue disk in there.
 
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Old 09-13-14, 02:40 AM
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If I am reading this right that 100MB you see in Disk 0 is reserved for Windows alone and probably somewhere hidden it has the product key for Windows and EFI from my little bit of understanding is a protection thing built into Windows. This is just from memory not what I looked up so I might be wrong. The C: drive is just like any drive on say Windows XP only it is a partition. D: is where your back up copy of Windows is so be careful with it and don't save anything to that partition. Usually at least in older laptops D: was always reserved for DVD drives but not in this case.

For your recovery USB drive I would use a blank USB drive like a small flash drive and use Backtracker to make a copy of Windows 8.1 on that. I believe it might just copy all files presently on your computer plus any bloatware you might not like, like for instance an anti-virus program you don't like. You though can always delete that if you don't want it on your computer. As to starting your computer with a flash drive I just looked at another forum and they said to press the F2 key at start up followed by the ESC key if you ever need to boot from the USB drive to reinstall Windows.

That information was on the Ubuntu forum from an Asus owner who has Windows 7 and wanted to do a dual boot. As to partitioning any drive you can try Parted Magic but be careful if you don't use it exactly as directed and carefully you could cause problems. I have never used Parted Magic before but I do believe that Ray2047 has as it is Linux based but can be safely used with Windows. Here is a link to their website PartedMagic - Partitioning, Cloning, Rescue, and Erasing. . On the website I suggest you expand your browser by pressing the F11 key and looking at the documents section as they say they have videos.

I imagine more than just videos and other documentation as well. I also noticed a forum there where you can ask questions. Good luck to you!
 
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Old 09-13-14, 08:48 AM
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Booting from the DVD has to be an option, in the boot sequence. You should be able to boot from a USB port as well. I don't see any reason for the need to partition any of your drives.
 
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Old 09-13-14, 09:58 AM
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I did not see any DVD booting option but have to search again, its a new BIOS for me and lots to learn.

I would like to partition my USB HDD because I think I can keep one partition for the EFI for my new Asus laptop and the other partition for regular backups
 
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Old 09-13-14, 10:03 AM
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I really wouldn't risk partitioning the USB drive as long as you can afford to buy another drive.
 
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Old 09-13-14, 10:33 AM
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No problem buying a new 20-30GB USB but since I have the 1.5TB USB I find it more convenient to have one place for all my needs
 
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Old 09-13-14, 10:36 AM
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As I said before, if something happens to the "one place" it makes all your work worthless. Backups have to be looked at differently. It's up to you.
 
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Old 09-13-14, 12:46 PM
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I have to agree with Pulpo I really think you should keep that one back up of Windows on another drive for one thing once you make that copy and you point to it using your bios it really needs to have other things off of that drive for Windows 8.1 to load properly. Think of the USB drive as a commercial copy of Windows 8.1 you could buy on disk. That disk will not contain anything other than Windows itself and any drivers that are necessary. Having other things on there could just muddle things up and cause problems.

Up to you of course but as Pulpo also said the flash drives are not that expensive. It is your computer though and you have to decide what is best for it.
 
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Old 09-14-14, 09:10 AM
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Hedgeclippers you score again high, the Macrium backup you suggested earlier saved my day. An excellent program which guides you in every step and even suggest your next step. So I shrank the USB HDD volume and created 2 volumes but Macrium was still not happy to make my rescue drive, it was looking for a MBR. So I shrank again the volumes and created a 1GB volume. Now Macrium asked me if I want to create a MBR on that volume and it did it and then created the rescue drive on my USB HDD. I went to the boot menu and selected to boot from Macrium and it worked. Then I made a DVD with the same process as a backup. Next step is to copy the recovery partition on the USB HDD and also on a DVD (Macrium suggest that).
 
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Old 09-14-14, 11:35 AM
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I guess I'm going too fast here. As you can see from the attached picture the Seagate USB HDD (F is a healthy primary partition but I cant access it neither Macrium, they say drive is not accessible. On file explorer I can see the drive but trying to make a new folder on it the system says the drive is not accessible. Why?

Perhaps because the Macrium G: boot sector is at the end of the drive?

Or if you look at the left of the F: drive there is another unallocated 1MB partition. Perhaps this should be assigned to something and if yes how I do this?
 
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Old 09-14-14, 01:37 PM
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I was afraid of that which is why I stay away myself with partitions. I once tried having two operating systems on the same computer one Linux and the other Windows XP. Linux partitioned the drive and it did work for a while and then crashed on me. When you partition a drive you essentially shrink down an area on the drive to make it available for one thing only. That isn't entirely bad but can cause problems for those who don't do it every day. It is a good thing this is on an external drive and not the main drive.

I unfortunately have never used the program so I can't guide you. There are a few here who have used it though and can and the forum for Macrium Reflect can help you too as there are experienced users there. It looks like the DVD portion is working well and that is good as you at least have a copy of Windows.
 
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Old 09-14-14, 03:02 PM
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The Macrium partition shown in your screen shot is only 401 MB & FAT 32. What good is that?
 
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Old 09-14-14, 07:36 PM
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The Macrium 401MB is the boot sector which Macrium needs to boot the USB HDD and it works.

Finally I fix the problem. I took a chance and deleted the F: volume and this took off the 1MB volume on the left of F: Then I made a new volume for all F: and it worked. Now on the USB HDD I have F: with 1.4TB space and G: which is the boot sector for the USB HDD.

Then I used Macrium and created an image of all installations in the laptop including hidden partitions. Took about 12 minutes and the process completed successfully

Later on I will get a stick USB to backup only windows 8.1 which will be like having a DVD (just to be on the safe side)
 
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Old 09-15-14, 07:39 AM
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It's not the way I would have done it but I'm glad you're satisfied. You still might want to copy that entire drive to a second drive.
 
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Old 09-15-14, 09:36 AM
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I plan to do so after I resolve the problem with the crashes
 
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