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Boot-It Bare Metal née BING (Boot-It Next Generation)
(not to be confused with Bing the Microsoft Search engine),
is both a tool for managing partitions, (creating, deleting, growing, shrinking and
sliding) and a boot manager. The current version of Bare Metal is 1.31aLast revised/verified:2015-07-04.
It is the one I chose to use myself after experimenting with many of them.
It handles MBR (Master Boot Record), EMBR (Extended Master Boot Record) and GPT (Globally unique identifier Partition Table) but not dynamic disk.
There are separate downloads for trial and production. I could not get downloads
to work with Firefox, but I could get them to work after several tries with Google
Bare Metal adds a number of features over Boot-It NG, the most important
Lets you copy and undelete partitions
Can dynamically resize FAT/FAT32, NTFS (New Technology File System)
and Linux Ext2/3/4 partitions
Convert between MBR, EMBR
and GPT type disks.
Directly edit the Windows BCD (Binary Coded Decimal)
store to fix booting errors
Supports hard drives beyond 16 exabytes.
Support booting to Linux, MS-DOS, OS/2 and more.
Higher resolution screen. It is much easier to read.
Easy to hide partitions from a given OS (Operating System).
Can copy partitions, not just slide and resize them.
Features still not available that I would like:
Script controlled partition resizing/moving so you don’t have to sit
there and babysit.
Virtual mode parturition resizing/moving so you can rapidly simulate the steps
needed and then once you have specified all the steps, walk and away and have the
physical bit shovelling done.
Have a way to specify which partition each OS
you boot can see/modify.
The current and presumably last version of Boot-It NG is 1.86bLast revised: 2009-11-05 Verified: 2011-04-11
It lets you have more than 4 primary bootable partitions
if you use Boot-It exclusively for boot and partition management. It will back up the
MBR. Boot-It will
modify the MBR for each OS
so that it gets to see the MBR
in its preferred order with a partitions hidden it is not supposed to touch. This
lets you shift partitions around without having to manually edit all the boot.ini
files. It will also see the MBR as if it were originally the primary boot partition.
It can also create images of partitions for backup. It is not a full blown backup,
but it gives you the basic operation needed.
The competition is Acronis,
a much slicker product, but which failed on my Vista machine. The venerable Partition Magic has not been updated to
I chose it after experimenting with many to use myself both
for partition and boot management.
It is pedestrian, but solid. I find it fairly easy to understand what it is up
It has a free
. You get to prove to yourself it works before you
spend any money, though you will of course spend considerable time.
Works with DOS, W3.1, OS2, W95, W98, Me, NT, W2K, XP, W2003, Vista, W2008, W7-32, W7-64, W8-32, W8-64 and Linux
You create a boot CD (Compact Disc) which will let you repair damage even when your
machine is not bootable.
You optionally can install it in its own partition where it won’t get
clobbered. Before you can install Boot-It boot manager on your hard drive in its
own partition, you must have an empty slot for it in the 4-slot MBR bootable primary partition table. If you
don’t, you have to use the bootable CD
to copy a partition to an extended slot to free up a primary slot.
TeraByte did an excellent
series of videos that explains boot.ini and its
numbering scheme among other arcana. I got quite a kick out of watching the
expert cheerfully editing partition table without any sign of terror or
It worked where others failed.
It lets you edit the Vista BCD
multiboot configuration using a low-level GUI (Graphic User Interface)
If you buy it for
by clicking the shopping cart icon,
Boot-It’s main limitations include:
It will not resize Linux partitions. You must delete and recreate them, or use
GPart under Linux. Literally it can resize partitions, but it does not reshape the
file system. You must do that within Linux, so for all practical purposes you must
use Linux to resize Linux partitions.
It will not format Linux partitions. You have to do it in Linux. The Boot-It
people consider this a feature, figuring it is best to leave this up to the
OS which is most
It will not format NTFS partitions. You have to do in it
W2K, XP, W2003, Vista, W2008, W7-32, W7-64, W8-32 and W8-64. Again the Boot-It people consider this a feature.
Sometimes Vista can’t see the unformatted partitions created by Boot-It.
It will not remember the names you assign partitions between runs.
It cannot split partitions.
It does not integrate with any other boot manager, including boot.ini, the
Windows boot manager, Grub or Ubuntu. It is almost impossible to deal with the
It can’t grow a partition unless there is free space directly
after the partition to receive the growth. You must get the
rearranging effects you want with many primitive operations. You can’t copy
or move a partition other than into free space. You can’t easily swap or
reorder partitions. It won’t directly steal a little space from other
partition to create new one. You must grow the extended partition and copy the
partition into some free space there. You must get the net effect like a sliding
square puzzle with atomic slide, shrink, grow and copy steps.
It will not directly convert a partition from primary to extended and back.
This is less important that in was. Originally a bootable partition had to be near
the beginning of a disk and had to be primary. It is still preferable for
You can’t queue partition moving operations up then run them unattended
the way you can with GPart or Acronis. Rearranging disk partitions is a tedious
process since each partition slide takes perhaps 15 minutes and you can’t do
anything else on the machine while it copies. The copy operation seems very slow.
The reason it is so slow on some systems is because Boot-It uses
BIOS (Basic Input Output System)
I/O and those systems use PIO (Programmed Input/Output)
instead of UDMA (Ultra Direct Memory Access). A 32 or 64-bit O/S only uses the BIOS
to boot and load storage drivers, after which, it bypasses the
directly accesses the hardware using UDMA.
BootIt includes a third party UDMA
driver that can be used with standard (non-RAID) PATA (Parallel ATA)
drives to increase the speed. You can see they are included on the
CD by ticking off the
SATA/PATA driver options when creating the CD.
It now has scripting features. This may remove some of the tedium of resizing all 6 partitions.
I have not yet seen the documentation on how it works.
Every OS has its own multi-boot scheme and refuses to co-operate with any of the others, including
Bare Metal’s. Each one works fine until some other OS screws it up.
This is fucking ridiculous. We need an OS-agnostic multiboot scheme that all OSes honour. The multiboot is trivial. The problem
is arranging non-interference.
It was not clear if you could boot to extended partitions while staying within
the 4-primary partition limit. I could not managed to add Linux without grub to the
list of bootables. I spent days trying to get Boot-It and Ubuntu Linux to coexist,
wiping out my Windows partitions twice and eventually gave up. The problem was
mostly with Ubuntu’s partition manager stomping over data that were none of
its business. However, I could not get Boot-It to humour it. It may be possible,
but it certainly is not obvious. The Boot-It people don’t see this has a con
for their product. In their view, by lack of success is 100% my own failing even though I had 45
years of computer programming experience, including experience patching partition
tables with my own software. The documentation I had at the time did not seem to
describe the behaviour of the version of Ubuntu/Grub I was using. There is now a
considerable amount of documentation
available on the problem, so some day I may make another stab at it, though I think
it will wait until I can dedicate an entire computer to Ubuntu. The experience left
The documentation and prompts presume you already know how partitioning works
on a low level. You even must understand how to manually edit boot.ini when you
change the number of partitions before the current one.
It does not have an install program. You must unzip, then follow the
complicated instructions in the 50-page bootitng.pdf file
to create bootable floppies or CDs. It turns out that in the ordinary case all you
need to is insert a blank CD
and run makedisk.exe. It is included in the bundle, even
though the manual says you must download it separately. If you are methodical, you
will get through, it but probably the most complicated install you will ever see,
largely because all manner of unusual conditions are described with equal weight to
the ordinary ones. It was not designed with convenience of the user uppermost. The
install process is necessarily more complex than most software since you must burn
a CD then boot from the
CD and install the
software on a partition, possibly a newly created one.
The boot disc you create appears to be totally empty. Not to
worry. It will boot fine.
It does not touch dynamic disks, Microsoft’s proprietary partitioning
Bad sectors are not properly handled. To understand the problem I need some
definitions of various types of bad sector on hard disk.
Severity 0. a sector detected as bad or iffy by the drive hardware and is
remapped transparently, so that all software, including Boot-It, is totally
unaware of it.
Severity 1. a sector marked bad by the OS.
It may well actually be perfectly ok.
Severity 2. a sector marked bad by the OS.
Once in its career a test program such as Spin-Rite determined that it had
errors that were corrected by the hardware ECC (Error Correcting Code)
Severity 3. This as sector marked bad by the OS.
If you were to test it today, it would frequently have read errors
correctable by the hardware ECC
Severity 4. I sector marked as bad by the OS.
If you were to test it today, you would not be able to read from it. It is so
badly damaged, that ECC logic cannot correct the problem.
Boot-It handles severity 0 bad and iffy sectors just fine. There is nothing
to do, other than copy empty bad-track tables. The problem is Boot-It treats the
bad sector tables as if they were ordinary relocatable data rather than treating
them as offsets to absolute sectors. This means after a slide, it marks severity
1 through 4 sectors as bad when they are good and fails to mark the real bad and
iffy sectors as bad. You have to retest chkdsk /f /r or
spinrite to find them. I consider this dangerous. You
should never put data in known iffy sectors, even temporarily. You should never
throw away your history of a sector behaving badly. It should never be given a
second chance to screw you. I asked the Boot-It people to correct this. They told
If you have any severity 1 through 4 sectors, you should just throw your
disk away and get a new one. It is a sign it is on its last legs. I can’t
That if Boot-It tries to copy something onto a severity 4 sector, the whole
copy will fail and roll back. They consider this safe, acceptable behaviour. I
don’t. You are stuck unable to finish your partitioning because their
program does not understand bad sector tables. If Boot-It properly handled bad
sectors, it would never attempt to copy data onto a known bad or iffy sector.
It would copy data around them.
Correcting this problem is a non-trivial task. Boot-It would need to
understand the way each OS maps bad sectors, maintain a global map of them,
and when it copies or slides partitions make adjustments to the file system to
avoid the bad sectors that appear at different offsets in the location after the
copy or slide. Currently, Boot-It does not need to get very involved with file
system format details. I can understand Terabyte’s reluctance, especially
given that Boot-It wants to remain OS-agnostic. However, I think they could at
least implement bad track preservation for Linux and Windows and throw up their
hands for the others. They don’t have to implement every possible wrinkle.
They could throw up their hands on the rare difficult cases.
You must key your company name and a unique key to activate the program. Make
sure you type the complete name as they echo it in your receipt, including any
(1). It won’t warn you if you make an error.
Make sure you select 32-bit colour or you may not be able to read the
Slides can take several hours. Don’t disturb your machine during that
time or you will have a completely scrambled disk that you must reformat and start
from scratch. Stay away from you desk so you won’t accidentally hit a power
cord or switch with your foot. Don’t do any partition work if you think a
power failure might be imminent.
Doing partition work often disturbs the drive letter assignments. Give your
partitions names that include their intended drive letter. Check and correct the
assignments in the control panel after any partition work. Then reboot.
Resizing crudely squishes your files together. You will want to do a
defrag afterwards to
properly position them.
You must decide when you first install Bare Metal whether you want more than 4
primary partitions (use EMBR s). If you have any doubt, say yes.
When you create a partition you must decide at that point if you want it
primary(bootable) or extended. You can’t change your mind later.
Include the optional drivers when you create your bootable
CD. You may need them
and not know it, e.g. SATA (Serial ATA)
CD driver, or you may
need them in future. There is plenty of room for them.
It insists on creating EMBR
s, even if you don’t break the 4 slot limit. This is normal.
Give your partitions temporary names by right clicking properties. It help you keep track of what you are doing.
The question it asks move data only? refers to the
fact it is rarely necessary to move the literal contents of empty space between
files. It always moves the full MFT (Master File Table)
and directory structure and hidden files.
To grow a partition, there must be free space after it. If the free space is
ahead of it, slide the partition into it, then grow it. It other partitions block
growth, they must be slid and resized out the way first.
You need a fair chunk of free space to work. When you are done, you can shift
the working free space just after some partition, then grow that partition to
You need to carefully map out your plan of attack in advance to avoid wasted
time-consuming shuffling. Print out a map on paper of the planned order of your
partitions and their sizes to guide you.
To back up to DVD (Digital Video Disc), select the partition and right click image. Then click the DVD
drive you want to back up to. Then right click its name on the right and right
click paste. The process is extremely slow compared
with OS disk to DVD
don’t panic. It is clever and does not back up empty clusters, or possibly
it compresses them down to almost nothing.
To restore from DVD, create a partition big enough to hold the data.
Click the DVD drive containing the backup and right click
image. It will ask you to put the last then the first
disk in place. Once that is complete, you can select the partition you want to
restore to and right click paste. The result is a
partition the size of the DVD
data, with some empty space following.
Here is a recipe for changing the sizes of all
your partitions. These instructions presume you have only one
installed. You will have to make minor adjustments if you have more than one. This
algorithm works with the physical partition order. Your drive letters may or may not
be in physical order.
Defrag all your partitions to make them easy to shrink and compact to
If you want to shrink your C: partition, resize it
down and slide the extended partition toward the start of the disk just after the
C: primary partition.
If you want to grow your C: partition, slide the
extended partition toward the end of the disk to make room. Resize your
C: partition up.
For each of your other partitions that you want to shrink, resize them down to
the desired size.
Grow your extended partition as large as possible.
Slide the last partition in the extended partition to the end of the extended
Slide the second last partition in the extended partition to the end of the
extended partition, just prior to the last partition.
Slide the third last partition in the extended partition to the end of the
extended partition, just prior to the second last partition.
Don’t slide the first partition in the extended partition to the end. It
should be at the start of the extended partition. If it is not, slide it to the
start of the extended partition.
If you want to grow the first partition in the extended partition, resize it
Slide the second partition just after the first partition.
If you want to grow the second partition in the extended partition, resize it
Slide the third partition just after the second partition.
If you want to grow the third partition in the extended partition, resize it
Slide the last partition just after the second last partition.
If you want to grow the last partition in the extended partition, resize it
Optionally resize the extended partition to put the free space outside just
after the extended partition.
Run ChkDskX:/F on all your partitions.
Defrag all your partitions again.
The Moving C: Problem
It is good idea
to avoid moving the start of the C: partition. If you do,
you might need to do a some repair work to get your machine going again. It can be
frightening, but it is not fatal.
Boot from the Windows install CD.
Boot from the Boot-It/Bare Metal CD.
Reinstall Boot-It/Bare Metal.
Use Control Panel ⇒ System and Security ⇒
Administrative Tools ⇒ Computer Management ⇒ Storage ⇒ Disk
Management ⇒ right click change drive letter and paths To put your
drive letter mapping back the way they used to be.
You might also be able to correct the problem more directly with