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EFI questions

by wpgwpg / January 8, 2013 12:36 AM PST

OK, I'm new to EFI so I have some questions about it in trying to get up to speed with this new (to me anyway) technology. I've read a couple of articles on the subject (Wikipedia has a nice write up) and I've seen some of Bob Profitt's comments about how it changes the backup and recovery scenario. I see that it can replace the BIOS and the MBR. OK, so it uses tables to determine how to load the OS. Fine, but aren't the tables on the hard drive? What Windows 7 and 8 systems, if any, are using EFI now? My 5 month old Dell Inspiron 620 doesn't seem to use it, and neither does my year old Toshiba Satellite L755 laptop, both run Windows 7.
On my 64 bit Windows 7 Home Premium I see there's a C:\Windows\Boot\EFI folder with a good bit of stuff in it; is that the tables EFI uses? How does EFI know where those tables are? I take it that this is supposed to make the computer less vulnerable to malware (in addition to getting away from 16 bit addressing), but if the EFI tables are on the C: drive, why does EFI make things more secure, and why does this complicate backup and restore? Since it doesn't use the MBR, how does EFI know where to find where to load Windows? Something has to tell it, so I assume the Windows install process must do that, is that right? If so, doesn't that mean the EFI is just as vulnerable as the BIOS is to malware? I see Norton Ghost doesn't support Windows 8 yet, but Easeus todo Backup Home does. Doesn't that mean that I can back up my Windows 8 partition and use it to recover similar to the way I do with Windows 7 and Vista?

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All Answers

Best Answer chosen by wpgwpg

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Until you have a PC/Laptop with EFI
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / January 8, 2013 12:43 AM PST
In reply to: EFI questions

All my comments are just that. You don't have a worry yet. Windows 7 and 8 support EFI boot (and classic BIOS).

I'm going to shortchange you a bit here and head to my interpretation of why they changed. There are 2 reasons I am getting on this. 1. Cost. (EFI license fees are lower.) 2. Security.

Microsoft wanted to move to a "Secure Boot" where you can't walk up to a PC and boot off USB and get in. For now it appears they've done that and I'm on the lookout for tools to boot up and recover user files when the OS is blown on an EFI based PC. So far we have to pull the HDD to recovery files on another PC.

-> Your words make me cringe a little. Sure you can backup a partition and restore a partition but that rarely results in a working SYSTEM. A partition can be part of a working OS and you didn't get the boot area. You can see folk post about "I restored the partition and it didn't boot. Why?"


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Thanks Bob for the prompt reply
by wpgwpg / January 8, 2013 12:54 AM PST

Bob, you're both very knowledgeable and very quick! Sorry for making you cringe re the partition restore. Mischief I'm aware that at least Windows 7 Pro (I'm not sure about Home Premium) uses a separate partition from the one with C:\Windows. Now I know that EFI means you can't boot from a flash drive. But can't you boot from a CD or DVD still? Is there a way with EFI to go into setup and change the boot sequence to allow booting from a disc? I guess this is at the heart of my not understanding the recovery process with EFI. TIA

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Woah. I didn't write you can't boot from USB on EFI.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / January 8, 2013 1:02 AM PST

But so far we can't boot with the normal tools and access the HDD. The few EFI machines I have seen support USB booting but when you do that with the tools we've collected over the years, you can't get to the HDD.

The question about boot sequence varies with the make and model so my answer is "it depends."

-> The recovery process needs work. We can save the user files if we pull the HDD to some USB case or machine and re-gain normal access. If someone encrypts the drive then that was their choice and recovery is now way out there at a few thousand at the usual places.

In the past, if folk didn't backup it was usually a simple boot a cd/usb thing and let them fish out their files. COST? Not much.

Today, with EFI the cost of recovery of files has gone up.

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That helps, Bob, I'm still in EFI learning mode
by wpgwpg / January 8, 2013 1:19 AM PST

It sounds like just like we had a learning curve re the BCD, we've got to get new tools for backup and recovery. I know there're too many tools out there for you to know the details about all or even most, but when Easeus says their backup / restore program supports Windows 7 and 8, I assume that means you could boot from a disc and recover your system just like we've been able to in the past. Obviously I will need to verify that with them! I live a short distance from a Micro Center store, so I'll inquire there as well. I don't mind searching, digging, and reading to keep up with these things even though a lot of people do. I always point out to my students that reading the materials we give them and using the online help will not give them leprosy! Laugh
At least now I know enough to ask about backup and recovery before I buy another computer. At the very least, if you back up to an external hard drive with something like Ghost or Easeus, you can plug that drive into another PC and get your data back (they both have programs to let you selectively recover files and folders). That would also apply to flash drive backups even though external hard drives are the far superior media (speed and reliability). <div>

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Thanks for that.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / January 8, 2013 1:27 AM PST

My prediction and what I'm seeing is that when a new Windows 8 EFI laptop (or such) machine won't boot, the user under the normal support systems loses all their files they didn't backup.

Microsoft had a few shots at creating a "restore and leave the user files standing" but this concept seems foreign to them. I've been to Redmond over the years for various reasons and the response is always "they should backup their stuff."

Apple rolled out this feature long ago.

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MS seems to keep coming up w/new backups
by wpgwpg / January 8, 2013 3:22 AM PST
In reply to: Thanks for that.

Every new OS that MS comes out seems to have a new backup program since I started with DOS 3. I guess that's a bit of an acknowledgement that they haven't got it right yet. System Restore and shadow copies are a big help, but if you wait too long or can't boot at all, they're no help. It's easy enough for you or me to remove the hard drive, put it in an enclosure and get the data from it, but if somebody like my wife had to do that, she could die trying and never get it. Mischief Thanks for all the good info.

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To top it all off.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / January 8, 2013 3:25 AM PST

When MSFT issues a new backup system it rarely can import or use a prior version backup files. This issue showed up in XP, 7 and now 8. And is a prime reason I never use MSFT backup apps.


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OK, I just had a chat w/Dell re EFI
by wpgwpg / January 9, 2013 10:06 AM PST
In reply to: To top it all off.

Dell says all their current systems have BIOS and none with EFI, and they don't think other PC manufacturers have it either. I keep seeing it mentioned in these forums, so I'm wondering who does have it and why you're warning about it. Is it because it is going to start being on new PCs soon? As it is, I don't know how to get prepared for it since aparently none of the PC manufacturers have implemented it yet, and the guy I chatted with couldn't say when it might be. He did say he doesn't think it's fully debugged yet. I just wonder how far off EFI is for laptops and desktops. Maybe we need to wait a year or two or three before worrying about it?

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I have a few lenovos on my desk with EFI. (UEFI)
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / January 9, 2013 10:29 AM PST
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