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Move your Boot Camp with Winclone

Winclone IconI recently replaced the 250gig HDD that came in my Macbook Pro with a new 500gig drive. I installed a fresh copy of OS X on the drive, and then restored all of my files from my Time Machine backup during the initial setup on the first boot. Everything went much smoother than I was expecting, but the process didn’t help me move my installation of Windows XP on my Boot Camp partition.

I plugged my old 250gig system drive into an external USB enclosure and tried manually copying the Boot Camp installation into a blank Boot Camp partition on my new hard drive. I wasn’t expecting it to work, and it lived up to my expectations when it didn’t. My assumption is that there are issues with things like the Master Book Record that can’t be solved with a simple file copy.

I did a web search and found a (free, donationware) utility called Winclone that was created for backing up Boot Camp partitions into image files, and then deploying those image files onto new machines. The application made an image file out of my original Boot Camp partition with no problem, even though it was living on an external HDD at the time. I then used OS X’s Boot Camp Assistant to make a new partition on my new hard drive a little bit larger than my old BC partition. (I tried making them the same size at first, but the new one always ended up being a little bit smaller and the restore operation would fail.) Once I had the new partition, Winclone restored my image file to it relatively quickly.

When Winclone makes the image file you can compress it so that the image is only as large as the actual used space of the partition. This means if you had a 32gig install of XP on a 60gig partition, your image file backup will only be 32gig instead of 60gig. I think Winclone will be a great tool for doing periodic image backups of my XP install that can then be dumped onto my external archive drive. Before, I didn’t have any backup solution for my XP install beyond Dropbox.

At any rate… if you find yourself needing to migrate a Boot Camp installation from one hard drive to another, or one Mac to another, give Winclone a serious look.

Winclone Homepage

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SmartSleep for Mac Notebooks

I’ve always loved the nearly-instantaneous sleep feature of Mac notebook computers. If I needed to get up and go with my 12″ Powerbook G4, I could snap the lid shut and throw it into my bag. Recently I grabbed a new Macbook Pro, and noticed that the computer didn’t go into sleep instantly. Instead, the computer was writing RAM to the hard drive, a process called hibernation, which kept the system’s state safe in the event of power failure (your battery dies, or you swap it out for a new one). This is a great feature, but I don’t have a secondary battery to swap, and I was getting tired of closing the lid and waiting for the white light to start pulsing. If you don’t wait for the light to pulse, then you’re moving the computer while the hard drive is active, and you risk damaging the drive. The sudden motion sensor (SMS) is active while the machine is in use, but apparently isn’t active during this hibernation process.

I can across this great blog post by David Alison describing the situation and showing a quick terminal command you can use to disable the hibernation mode. After running the command, shutting the lid on the notebook will skip dumping RAM to the hard drive, and will just instantly sleep. I was hessitant though, because if you don’t hibernate and your battery dies while the machine is asleep, you lose your system’s state. Also, if I bought a second battery, would I remember to hunt down the terminal command and reverse the setting? I’d also be losing the instant sleep state again.

Thankfully Jeremiah posted a link to SmartSleep in the comments of David’s blog. SmartSleep is a preference pane that lets you turn on and off hibernation (writing RAM to disk) with a drop down menu. It also features a mode called SmartSleep, where the computer will hibernate if the battery is below a certain threshold of charge, but otherwise sleep will be instant. Perfect!

If you’re a Macbook user and you want instant sleep, grab a copy of SmartSleep for yourself.