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Terabyte 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 1.25aLast revised/verified: 2014-03-13. It is the one I chose to use myself after
experimenting with many of them.
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 Chrome.
Bare Metal adds a number of features over Boot-It NG, the most important being:
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 (Master Boot Record), EMBR (Extended Master Boot Record) and GPT (Globally unique identifier Partition Table) 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 handle Vista.
I chose it after experimenting with many to use myself both for partition and boot
It is pedestrian, but solid. I find it fairly easy to understand what it is up to.
It has a free . You get to prove to yourself it works before you spend any money, though you will of course spend
Works with DOS/W3.1/OS2/W95/W98/Me/NT/W2K/XP/W2003/Vista/W2008/W7-32/W7-64/W8-32/W8-64/Linux
You create a boot CD (Compact Disk) 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) (still daunting).
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 expert.
It will not format NTFS partitions. You have to do in it W2K/XP/W2003/Vista/W2008/W7-32/W7-64/W8-32/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 conflicts.
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 simplicity.
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 BIOS and 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 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 me traumatised.
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 scheme.
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) logic.
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 logic.
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 me:
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 afford that.
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
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 screen.
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.
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
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 absorb it.
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 writing, so 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
Here is a recipe for changing the sizes of all your partitions. These instructions presume you have only one OS
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 slide.
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 partition.
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 up.
Slide the second partition just after the first partition.
If you want to grow the second partition in the extended partition, resize it up.
Slide the third partition just after the second partition.
If you want to grow the third partition in the extended partition, resize it up.
Slide the last partition just after the second last partition.
If you want to grow the last partition in the extended partition, resize it up.
Optionally resize the extended partition to put the free space outside just after the extended
Run ChkDskX:/F on all your
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 Microsoft’s BCDEdit.