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Windows 7 Ultimate System Reserved Partition

Posted on 2010-11-28
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Hi, I have Windows 7 64 bit Ultimate installed on my machine.  As part of that install, I also have a 100MB "System Reserved" partition on my hard drive.  My machine runs fine except my Windows Home Server will not backup this machine.  In my troubleshooting, I found that the backup fails because WHS automatically selects all partitions to backup and the backup is failing trying to backup the System Reserved partition.  If I deselect the System Reserved partition in the backup, then the backup runs fine.

In googling this problem, it appears in order for VSS/Windows Backup to work, there has to be a minimum amount of free space on the partition (some forums suggest at least 50MB).   Right now, looking at my System Reserved partition, I only have around 30MB free.  Therefore, I am guessing this is the reason why the backup is failing.  When I look at the files in the System Reserved partition (including system and hidden files), I see only about 15MB's worth of data, however, Explorer is reporting 70MB's worth of data.

I would like to "reclaim" the missing space so that WHS can backup my whole disk.

Has anyone encountered this problem and have a solution?

I have tried to erase the entire partition with Acronis Home Backup and then do a repair using the Win7 install DVD, but even with that, I still see roughly 70MB's of usage on the partition.  I'm guess this is a clean as it get since I would think the repair process would only write back the necessary files in order for the machine to boot and if those are the "default" files, then Windows Backup should work...

TIA!  Hammer8  
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Question by:Hammer8
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by:John Hurst
ID: 34226196
Windows 7 creates this partition for itself. The best thing to do is to deselect it and forget about it. You do not need to back it up and you should not try to delete or change it. It is seen as System Reserved in Disk Management.
... Thinkpads_User
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by:Hammer8
ID: 34226877
That's true, but I have other Windows 7 Ultimate installs and this is the only one with the problem.  The other PC's have only 30MB's of data in the Reserved Partition...so short of a reinstall, is there a way to fix this?
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by:John Hurst
ID: 34226897
No. If the system is installed, the System Reserved partition cannot be removed because it contains some boot files.

From what I have read, it is possible to reinstall Windows 7 so as to not use the partition, but that is on re-install.

It is pretty nonimal in terms of space, so unless you need 100 Mb (really really tiny in a modern large HD), I really would not worry about it. It is completely benign.

... Thinkpads_User
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by:John Hurst
ID: 34226928
BTW, reviewing your first post, are you short of space in your main partition? My shadow storage in my main partition swings by 20Gb up and down, that is, swings by 200 x what you are talking about.

I ask, because this partition has never caused an issue for me or caused an disk operation that uses a lot of disk any issue.

Thanks, ... Thinkpads_User
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by:ngcmos
ID: 34227858
in order for windows 7 not to use the reserved space. you have to clear all partitions. create a custom partition. then tell windows to install on that partition
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by:noxcho
ID: 34228478
You can get rid of this 100MB partition without reinstalling Windows 7.
If you need instructions then here they are:
1)Get a copy of Paragon Partition Manager 11 Professional www.partition-manager.com
2)Install it in your Windows 7 - start - full scale window - select there Volume Explorer.
3)In Volume Explorer browse the 100MB partition and find there Boot folder plus BootMgr file. Right click on file - export - target for it - C: drive. Copy the folder Boot and Bootmgr file to C: root directory.
4)Now, create Recovery CD of the exe file you got with download. It is Windows PE CD image. Simply double click on exe and it will burn itself to CD or USB flash.
5)Boot the machine from this CD - run Partition Manager from it - right click on MSR partition and delete it.
6)Then you can either allocate the space to C: or leave it as is. Right click on C: and select Set Active.
7)Then get to main menu and run from there Boot Corrector. Update BCD there automatically.
8)Then quit WinPE and try to boot into Windows 7. It could fail in some cases but this is fixable easily. Boot the machine from Windows 7 DVD and run Startup repair. This will update BCD and let the system boot from C: partition instead of MSR.
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Author Comment

by:Hammer8
ID: 34229666
Thank you everyone for their recommendations...but I am still wondering why Explorer (if I assign a drive letter to the System Reserved partition) is reporting only 30MB of free space when I see only 15MB's worth of files (system + hidden).  Where has the missing space gone?  Since the partition is 100MB, having 15MB of files should leave free space of 85MB (or there about) and not only 30MB.  I think this is the root cause of my problem...could it be related to the fact that the drive is an SSD?  It's an intel 160GB, G2 drive.  Thanks!
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by:John Hurst
ID: 34229729
My partition shows 70 Mb used and 30 Mb free. The free space is the same as for you.

Do you get the same numbers as you reported above by opening disk management and then in the list above the drive map, do Properities on the System Reserved partition. What does the pie chart show?

I don't think the usage of space in here would be related to the SSD drive, but I cannot say for certain.

... Thinkpads_User
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by:noxcho
ID: 34229798
I guess the rest of the space is used by Shadow Copies.
Microsoft here says: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd799232%28WS.10%29.aspx that it must have at least 50MB space for shadow copies thus I suspect the space is taken by them.
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Author Comment

by:Hammer8
ID: 34229808
Yes, that's where I see the 30MB free is under Properties.  However, when I select the actual files and folders in the partition, and do Properties on those, I only see 15MB of files.

I've also tried to use acronis home to back up that partition to see what files the backup software sees and again, it only sees 15MB of files.

I just can't figure what is taking up the additional space!
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John Hurst earned 250 total points
ID: 34229826
It is entirely possible you are not seeing all the files because of the design / limitations of Explorer. If there are shadow copies as noted earlier, this may be the reason.  ... Thinkpads_User
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by:noxcho
ID: 34229847
Looks like shadow copies, no other visible reason for it. I think System Volume Information that is storing the copies takes the rest space. As MS does not allow digging in this folder for more specific details I would blame this folder.
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by:ngcmos
ID: 34229923
Ok here is some more detail on the System Reserve Partition:

1) What its for:
This partition is for OS boot files.  If you ever get a BOOTMGR is missing or corrupt..and you have this partition something happened to it.  The other part is for advanced features in Pro\Ult\Ent editions...its what BitLocker uses.

2) How it got made:
When you install windows 7 or iIsta with out formating the partition your self first it creates this partition automatically, and the allows you to use advanced features like BitLocker.

To avoid it you must manually format the partition first and tell windows to install there

3) CAUTION!!!...

I learned this the hard way....If you plan on using disk imaging and you have setup windows and it created the system reserve partition YOU must use a sector by sector image of the whole disk...tools like ghost(non sector copy) and imagex will not work.

I am not to familiar wth acronis but i have a feeling what you are doing is doing a file based image...if you have a system reserve partition dont waste your time...

I suggest starting over...creating a partition yourself, formating your self and the telling windows to install on that partition...then you WILL NOT run into these imaging copies.

If not just take a sector by sector image using a imaging tool on the ULTIMATE BOOT CD...
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by:Hammer8
ID: 34229938
Is there a way to delete the shadow copies?  I did look to see if shadow copies is enabled on this partition and it says no, but maybe there are orphaned copies?
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by:noxcho
ID: 34229999
Is there a way to delete the shadow copies?  I did look to see if shadow copies is enabled on this partition and it says no, but maybe there are orphaned copies?
I guess there is no way to remove shadow copies. Moreover it does not show in Advanced Settings - Protection - any option to disable or enable protection for this partition. So they are made by default and cannot be controlled by user.
Simply move the boot files to C: like I instructed in ID: 34228478 or reinstall OS.
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by:ngcmos
ID: 34230146
To delete shadow copies...disable system restore on all drives..then disable the volume shadow service...restart and you are deleted the vss files from system restore..it uses vss
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by:Hammer8
ID: 34235585
Hi, I just tried:

To delete shadow copies...disable system restore on all drives..then disable the volume shadow service...restart and you are deleted the vss files from system restore..it uses vss

But the reported used space is still 70MB...any other thoughts?
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by:ngcmos
ID: 34235626
Ok there are so many posts here...i went back to the original question...

you want to backup the computer using windows native tools...

but because there is less than 50Mb you cant....

Get the ultimate bootcd...startup parted magic...and resize the partition...make it bigger...

I cant guarantee that will work...the sys reserver partition  is a pain to deal with....backup anything important..before resizing your partition
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Author Comment

by:Hammer8
ID: 34235639
Yes, that's what I ultimately want to do, but at this point, it's really bugging me as to why I can't reclaim the space.  What is in the partition that I can't see?
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Assisted Solution

by:ngcmos
ngcmos earned 250 total points
ID: 34235658
LOL...i i hear ya and i wish you the best :-)  I have been an IT consultant for years now...and there are just those little things that when there are other options you just gotta say F#$%-IT!! :-)

LOL .. i have been in your shoes so many times...i am laughing so hard right now cause i know how much this is buggin'  you...but I have reached the F&^%-IT point

I hope you dont watch the sun come up :-)  

In all seriousness i have never really had to account for the files in that partition...so i dont have an answer for you

I hope you find your answer...and can sleep at night :-)

Good Luck Hammer :-)
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Author Closing Comment

by:Hammer8
ID: 34235678
I give up!
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by:John Hurst
ID: 34236031
Thanks. I would not worry to much about the partition. It should be fairly benign overall. Good luck and I was pleased to assist you. ... Thinkpads_User
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by:noxcho
ID: 34236906
I always wonder what do asker usually estimate in the answer s\he admit as solution. Very often the admitted answer has no useful info and those who look solutions by searching EE are given usually helpless links.
Nox
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