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Backing Up My MBR


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#1 tb75252

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Posted 16 August 2010 - 10:06 PM

I have a desktop with two physical hard drives. Each hard drive has a single partition. Right now, both drives are formatted NTFS.
Drive c:\ has Windows XP Professional SP3 installed; my plan is to install Ubuntu 10.04 LTS on the other hard drive (d:\) which is otherwise empty and, using GRUB, create a dual-boot system. I would describe myself as moderately knowledgeable with Windows and an absolute newbie with Linux.

I have done some research on the Internet and noticed that some people run into troubles with the MBR if they decide to uninstall Linux and GRUB from a dual-boot system. I am familiar with the fixmbr command (I do have the retail CD version of Windows XP) but, as a backup plan, I am wondering whether I should also back up the MBR before installing Linux.

Questions:
1) Does the above plan make sense?
2) How do I back up the MBR and, equally important, how do I restore it should there be a need?

Thanks.
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#2 I.hate.doze

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Posted 16 August 2010 - 10:14 PM

I've done I don't know how many dual boot systems and never had a problem with losing the MBR. But then, maybe I'm just lucky. I'd use the Linux application "dd".

Here's a pretty decent howto describing how to backup and restore the MBR.

#3 tb75252

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Posted 16 August 2010 - 10:36 PM

I've done I don't know how many dual boot systems and never had a problem with losing the MBR. But then, maybe I'm just lucky. I'd use the Linux application "dd".

Here's a pretty decent howto describing how to backup and restore the MBR.


Is the backup/restore method that the article suggests possible using a Linux Live CD? I don't suppose I should backup the MBR _after_ I have installed Linux and created a dual-boot system, right? I think that would not help me in restoring the MBR should I decide to revert to single-booting with Windows.
As I said before, I am not much of an expert so I want to fully understand what and how to do this.
Thanks.
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#4 I.hate.doze

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Posted 16 August 2010 - 11:14 PM

I would expect that any Linux Live CD will have dd available since it is a fundamental part of the operating system. I guess if I were really paranoid about it I'd use dd from a shell (think of it as an msdos prompt) while runnning the live cd and back up the MBR before installing Linux. If all is well (and your still paranoid) you could always back it up again.

dd is the only program you would need.

Perhaps this will help - learn the dd command

Food for thought, since you are new to Linux. You need to adjust your thinking a little with Linux when coming from a windows environment. Linux is an operating system that is comprised of thousands of applications that are built upon hundreds of other "smaller" applications that perform very fundamental and simplistic tasks. dd is one of those fundamental applications that doesn't do a whole lot, but it is an extremely powerful tool at the same time.

fdisk /mbr from doze (recovery console I'd guess) should straighten out a hosed MBR also, as well as making the linux boot manager go away. Not to overcomplicate things but, keep in mind that any non-dos partition types are inaccessible from within doze and unless you make them accessible first by setting them to a dos type they will disappear on you, if you simply restore the MBR.

Edited by I.hate.doze, 16 August 2010 - 11:36 PM.





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