Ultimate frustration with how Winclone appears to have led to data loss

Last week, I bought a 2015 11-inch MacBook Air to replace my 2012 MBA model. I used Migration over Thunderbolt during initial setup, so, of course, every part of the Mac side of things transferred perfectly. Both macs running 10.15.5 Catalina.

I want to pass the 2012 MBA on, so I needed to move my trusty, rarely-used Windows 10 Boot Camp partition. After some search, I came across Winclone and laid-down the $40 to purchase it. After forcing a CHKDSK, I made a WIM-based image of the Boot Camp partition and placed it in the meager remaining storage of the MBA.

I then went through the sysprep.exe process to ‘Generalize’ (which for some reason required uninstalling Twitter and 1Password from Windows), then Shutdown. As that was processing, I created a new ExFAT partition on the new MBA to become the space for Boot Camp. I then placed the new MBA in Target Disk Mode, and used Winclone on the 2012 to perform a volume-to-volume migration.
(Note that I have never knowingly used any method of sleeping/hibernating in Windows on this MBA, nor was there any mention of checking for this in twocanoes’ KB instructions for the process.)

After several hours, I was presented with a dialogue telling me that the migration was a failure due to the presence of a hibernation file on the original Boot Camp volume and that the $40 Winclone was unable to open the drive Read/Write to remove it. (“The Windows partition could not be mounted Read/Write to create the boot folder at the root of the Windows partition. Mount the Windows partition Read/Write, delete hiberfil.sys, and then try setting legacy bootable manually.”)

After a huge series of hoops jumped-through, I finally downloaded a trial of Paragon NTFS for Mac. Using it via another Mac, I was able to mount both MBAs in Target Disk Mode and remove the hibernation files from each.

I went back into Winclone and had it set the Legacy Boot method manually on the 2015 in Target Disk Mode. I booted the new Mac holding option. No Windows boot listed. Back again to Winclone and the 2015 in Target Disk Mode. After the necessary side trip into Recovery to disable SIP, I set it to EFI boot, and Windows subsequently appears as a boot choice. But, when I boot it, the display is off. I can hear Cortana in the background suggesting I click this or that… but I can’t see anything. The Screen Reader it offers is also no help.

So, I wipe the 2015’s Boot Camp partition, and start over with a volume-to-volume clone from the 2012, now sans hiberfil.sys. After several hours, the clone operation completes and I set the boot method to EFI. Again, Windows appears in the option boot. But, it still boots to a black screen with Cortana asking me what I want to do.

Frustrated, I try to boot the 2012 into Windows in Boot Camp. Guess what? Now it also boots to a black screen with Cortana asking me what I want to do. Dang.

Oh, but wait! I made that WIM image of the original, fully-functional Boot Camp volume! I’m not going to lose my data!!

So, I launch Winclone again. I restore my WIM-based image file to the local Boot Camp volume. But, oh!, there’s yet another random problem with the app, the image, or the process! My restore won’t work. I’ve lost my trusty Windows Boot Camp, all of its data, all of the programs and documents saved on the drive, and spent $40 to accomplish this disaster.

Please tell me there’s a way out of this that results in a working, recovered Windows 10 Boot Camp with my stuff in it.

The 2012 MacBook could either boot via EFI or legacy depending on how Windows was installed. It sounds like the wrong mode was selected. Try switching to Legacy mode:



Hey Tim. It’s my understanding that the “Windows” boot option would not appear in the option-boot or in Startup Disk if the wrong boot mode were selected.

In any case, when I choose to boot via Boot Camp, the Windows 10 boot logo is displayed and the boot sound is played. Soon after, the MBA’s screen goes black.
This is the problem on the locally-restored WIM image on the 2012. It’s also the problem on the volume-to-volume migrated partition.

The Windows installation worked just fine before starting the Winclone process.
Are there some kind of drivers that can be installed from the Mac to the Windows partition to make it properly use the displays?

The status of the original image’s restore on the 2012 is unclear.
It sounds like running sysprep on the original modified the system
beyond the contents of its C: partition. Or perhaps something done by
the winclone restore back to itself.

I would not recommend running sysprep on any working source system’s
partition(s) for the exact reasons you’ve encountered. Consider doing it
only if you’re 100% sure you can recover the original configuration exactly
if needed (full drive or partitions backups) by methods known to work.
How do you know the restore of the original actually worked OK?

If all image versions restores still retain your data (and programs), then maybe you
can work with Windows’ install-repair feature or the Safe Mode feature to
get a working video driver (standard VGA) to boot will help. In safe mode,
you can remove any “bad” video driver and force VGA to be the normal
installed driver. After reboot normal is OK you can run bootcamp
setup or manually install the right Apple drivers.

Your screen issue is a mystery problem to me; I’ve only installed Windows
before under BC and standard PC installations several times in the past.
You can try forcing Safe Mode by interrupting (by power off) the
Windows running boot sequence 3 times in a row. I don’t know if that
works for a sysprep’d system, if that is what you have.
I used that technique to recover from display failures after installing
the wrong unsupported video driver for Windows 10 on my 2009.5 MBP.

Unless Tim or others can reveal the magic antidote to your problem, I think there
may be several inconvenient ways to recover eventually. PC virtualization
programs can boot/access a windows which fails to run natively. You can use
the WIM format images or its extracted files to recover your data after
you reinstall bootcamp Windows (7 perhaps) again from scratch.

Some experiments and methods will blow away your original partition’s data, if it’s not
already gone. I recommend to first restore your best Winclone image to native NTFS
files onto a new external (USB) drive; one you can then access from
any other Windows system to check its content being complete and chkdsk OK.
It’s also another natural backup of your data to read or copy or even re-clone from.
I needed to do this with my migration to 2019 16", and I never sysprep’d my
2009.5 17" MBP original Windows 10 so it still runs 100% as well as before.
Others have indicated it’s a BIG time saver to use SSD vs HDD drives.
I’ve only tried using external HDDs, which may have other advantages (for sectors).

Good luck.