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Copying (cloning) a Windows 2000/XP/2003 installation

Copying or cloning a partition with Windows 2000/XP/2003 does not always lead to second independent Windows installation. Especially when the image is installed on the same hard disk, the second Windows becomes dependent on the original partition. On the other hand, copying the image to another disk seems to work better.

The reason for these problems is that all data are copied unchanged. Especially the absolute partition identifiers are also duplicated. This means the image contains references to the original partition. When the image is booted, Windows follows the references and tries to access the original partition and not the image. If the image resides on another disk, it seems that Windows considers the references as invalid and accesses the image correctly.

These problems can be avoided by deleting the following registry key before creating the image:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\MountedDevices.

Using this measure the references to the original partition are missing in the image. When the original partition or the image is started the next time Windows recognizes that this registry key is missing and reconstructs it from the existing partitions.

This tip has been kindly provided by Christian Wittmer from Scorpio IT (http://www.scorpio-it.com). Thank you very much.

Attention:
When trying the above tip it is strongly recommended to backup the registry before deleting the registry key. When Windows has not been installed on C: severe problems have been reported after deleting the registry key. In general you are applying this tip at your own risk.