Windows 8 and 8.1 Forums


Quickest Way to Backup & Clean Install Windows 8.1 Pro?

  1. #1


    UK
    Posts : 275
    Windows 8.1 64 bit

    Quickest Way to Backup & Clean Install Windows 8.1 Pro?


    I've been advised elsewhere on this forum to clean install Windows 8.1 due to problems with the BCDEDIT entries. I currently have one hard disc split into two user partitions (Drives C: & D). I want to move to a SSD system disc when I do the clean install and minimize the program installation. Please advise the best way of doing this. I'm thinking of doing the following:

    1. Backup the current system using RECIMG to preserve all programmes
    2. Wipe the current hard disk and and create one partition (Drive D)
    3. Format the new SSD with one partition (Drive C) and clean install Windows 8.1
    4. Install the hard disk (Drive D)
    5. Recover the original installation using RECIMG (the system will have 2 drives C: & D: as before)

    Is this the best approach or are there other avenues?

    I only have the product key for the Windows 8 Pro x64 OS I bought. Will this key work if I install from a Windows 8.1 ISO disk? If not, what do I do?
    Last edited by Steve C; 04 Jul 2015 at 04:21.

      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  2. #2


    San Jose - California
    Posts : 2,847
    8.1x64PWMC Ubuntu14.04x64 MintMate17x64


    I looked at the other thread Fast Startup Fails at Random. I did not see anything out of ordinary with the partitions layout and with your BCD result.

    What I saw is you initially had Windows 8 installed and the partitions are:
    300MB + 100MB + 128MB MSR + C Drive
    Then you updated to Windows 8.1. During update to 8.1, Windows created an extra 450MB partition after C Drive and moved the file: Winre.wim which was initially in the 300MB partition to this 450MB partition and that's why you see an extra entry in the BCD to point to Winre.wim in the new partition, this is perfectly normal.

    What I suspect is your system disk is a 2GB mechanical drive so when you cold boot the PC, it does take some time to spin up and the fast boot cannot read the hiberfil.sys fast enough causing the error.

    Since you plan to use an SSD to replace your mechanical HD as a system disk. I suggest to make a backup image of Windows with Macrium Reflect Free.
    1. Connect your SSD to the PC.
    2. Make a backup image of Windows to D: drive, this will create a single image file.
    3. Restore the image to the SSD.
    4. Shutdown, disconnect the HD then boot up with the SSD.


    NOTE: I prefer backup/restore rather than cloning since cloning might duplicate the disk signature and you'll end up with 2 disks with the same signatures.


    Click image for larger version
    Last edited by topgundcp; 04 Jul 2015 at 04:16.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  3. #3


    UK
    Posts : 275
    Windows 8.1 64 bit


    Thanks. What about the product key - will that be a problem?
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  4. #4


    San Jose - California
    Posts : 2,847
    8.1x64PWMC Ubuntu14.04x64 MintMate17x64


    Quote Originally Posted by Steve C View Post
    Thanks. What about the product key - will that be a problem?
    No, when you restore it, everything should work. If you replace the MB then you'll need to re-activate Windows.

    In addition. It is easy to delete the duplicate/unknown entries in the BCD. Download: Visual BCD Download
    Run it. From Menu, create a backup of the BCD first just in case.
    Right click on the item you want to delete. Be careful to look at the GUID, If they are different then they are not duplicates.
    However, I can assure that BCD is not the cause of the problem.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  5. #5


    UK
    Posts : 275
    Windows 8.1 64 bit


    Thanks. I plan to install the new SSD using the expanded steps below please advise if I have made any mistakes. Note my current HDD is partitioned into two drives drive C containing Windows and most programs & drive D containing games programs and user data. I also have an external USB drive E for backups.


    1. Make a backup image of my system disk C (Windows) to drive D (or to my external USB drive E?) using Macrium Reflect Free, creating a single image file of drive C.
    2. Shutdown and connect my new SSD to the PC. What do I need to do to format the SSD for UEFI boot and assign a drive letter?
    3. Reboot and restore the image of drive C to the SSD using Macrium Reflect Free. Is there a need to reactivate Windows? Note I only have a product key for Windows 8 Pro, not the Windows 8.1 Pro upgrade.
    4. Shutdown, disconnect the HDD and external USB drive, then boot up with the SSD as the only disk connected. At this stage the PC should boot from the SSD. Is drive C automatically assigned to the SSD? Note some programs and user files formerly on drive D will be missing will this be a problem?
    5. If the system boots OK in step 4 shut down, reconnect the HDD and reboot. Will the PC now see the old OS partition as drive D and the previous drive D as drive E? If so, I then propose to change the drive letters using Windows Disk Manager so the old C drive is labelled say X and the old D drive is labelled as D again.
    6. Reboot and I should now have the OS and program files on drive C (SSD), the user files & games programs on drive D (HDD) and the old OS files on drive X (HDD). There will also be various Windows recovery partitions now no longer needed on the HDD.
    7. After thoroughly checking the PC, I then propose to delete the old OS partition (drive X) and the various redundant Windows recovery partitions on the HDD. I propose to use Paragon Partition Manager to expand the size of Drive D using up the space freed by deleting the above partitions.
    8. Shutdown and reconnect my external USB drive as drive E.
    9. I should now have the new OS with all programs installed as before on the SSD (drive C), the user files on drive D now containing more free space and my external USB drive E.


    The above procedure should be much quicker than a clean install of all programs and data if it works!
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  6. #6


    San Jose - California
    Posts : 2,847
    8.1x64PWMC Ubuntu14.04x64 MintMate17x64


    If you follow exactly what I suggested in previous post. You should be fine. Then do steps 5 thru 9 in your post.
    Last edited by topgundcp; 05 Jul 2015 at 07:48.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  7. #7


    UK
    Posts : 275
    Windows 8.1 64 bit


    I'm ready to restore the Macrium Image from drive D: to the new SSD.

    See Restoring an image from within Windows - KnowledgeBase - Macrium Software

    Please advise:
    1. What options do I select for the restore?
    2. Do I need to resize the restored partitions and how should I set the partition alignment to ensure a bootable SSD?
    3. Will the new SSD be UEFI bootable?
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  8. #8


    UK
    Posts : 275
    Windows 8.1 64 bit


    I hit a problem. My C: drive is a 249GB partition of which 52.8 GB is used and the SSD is 240GB.

    Macrium Reflect won't restore the image since the SSD is too small even though only 52.8GB of the C: drive is used.

    What do I do now - shrink Drive C: to something like 200GB using Paragon Partition Manager or is there an option in Reflect I'm missing?
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  9. #9


    You can restore to a smaller drive, see here: Restore to smaller drive?

    The target drive (SSD in your case) has to be larger than the used space on the source drive.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  10. #10


    UK
    Posts : 275
    Windows 8.1 64 bit


    I had 5 partitions on the disc - the 4th was my C: drive and the last the PBR recovery partition. My original C: drive partition size was just too big to allow room for the PBR partition on the new

    It's quite easy to adjust the partition size when you work out how to use Reflect. You need to drag each source partition to the destination drive. On dragging over the C: drive to the destination drive, there was not enough room for the PBR partition. I just used the option under 'Restored Partition Properties' to resize the C: drive on the new disk to enable the remaining PBR partition to fit.

    The OS has now been restored to the new SSD and all works fine. Thanks to all for your help. I'll post a guide shorty showing all the steps for 'newbies'.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

Quickest Way to Backup & Clean Install Windows 8.1 Pro?
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