Backup EFI System Partition for Protection | 2 Free Ways
You never know when you will need the EFI system partition, for example, mistake deletion, so the best way is to backup EFI system partition ahead of time.
Content of this article:
Need to backup EFI system partition
EFI system partition (ESP) is a partition on the (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) UEFI-based computer, and this partition contains bootloader, device driver files.
When you start the computer, the UEFI firmware will load boot files saved on the ESP and then start the existing operating system. If the partition gets lost or the boot files are missing or corrupted, your computer will be unbootable.
Thus, it’s essential for you to backup EFI system partition. Once something unexpected happens, you can restore EFI system partition and make your computer work properly.
How to backup EFI system partition effectively
It's unbelievable that there is no way to backup EFI system partition directly. But you can choose to create system image with a system backup software, which will include all the system partition, including EFI system partition, system partition, etc. And it can be double-insurance for your system to avoid computer failure. Then, which backup software should you use?
As a matter of fact, Microsoft provides you with a built-in tool called Backup and Restore (Windows 7) to create a system image backup. It was introduced in Windows 7 and later inherited in Windows 8/10/11. But it's not maintained in Windows 10 and Windows 11, which increases the security risk of system backup. You need to manually backup system and the previous backup will be overwritten every time.
In view of this, it's suggested to backup EFI system partition with a worry-free backup software, AOMEI Backupper Standard, for example. It not only supports backing up Windows 10 system with daily, weekly, or monthly frequency, without human intervention. And it allows you to keep multiple backups if you schedule it. And I'll introduce them in detail, briefly in priority.
Way 1: Backup EFI system partition for Windows with AOMEI Backupper
Here you will use "System Backup" feature in AOMEI Backupper Standard to backup EFI system partition as well as system partition. And this process is automatic so as to greatly reduce human eror. At the same time, it offers you more useful features.
Before backing up EFI system partitin, please download this software and install it on your computer.
(PS: This software applies to Windows 11/10/8/7/XP/Vista. If you use a server computer, try AOMEI Backupper Server. $100 off for one server computer.)
Step 1. Launch AOMEI Backupper and click Backup > System Backup subsequently.
Step 2. Then, you will system partition and boot-related partition(s) are selected automatically. If your computer is UEFI-based, the EFI system partition will be selected by default. Click the second box to select a backup path, you can backup to external hard drive, USB drive, cloud drive like Google Drive, etc.
Step 3. To ensure all the data including the changed files on the system partition will be there, you need to set scheduled backup settings. Click "Schedule Backup" and select one or more settings. The default settings are daily incremental backup.
❤ If the backup time is during off-peak hours, please tick "Wake the computer to run scheduled tasks" to wake up your computer 2 minutes before the task starts.
❤ If your target drive is a USB drive, it's suggested to use the "USB plug in" feature. It will backup system to USB flash drive automatically when detected.
Step 4. Back to the main page and click Start Backup.
When this process finishes, you will get a complete system image containing the operating system, EFI system partition, installed programs, personal data etc. Then, it will create 6 incremental backups if you set a scheduled backup task.
However, this may result in backup disk full issue in the long run, thus it's suggested to enable Backup Scheme and delete backup file automatically. You have 3 options, By quantity, By time, By daily/weekly/monthly. You need to upgrade now (5% off for one computer) before using it.
And the incremental backup has a high requirement for recovery while differential backup is much easier. For differences between them, learn my previous article: Incremental or Differential Backup.
Besides, you still can enable email notification to confirm if the backup task is completed. Comment, split, compress the backup image, or select a backup mode, etc.
Anyway, if you have a system backup, you can easily restore system image from external hard drive at any time when the EFI system partition is lost or system crash.
If your Windows computer won't boot, you need to boot your computer with the bootable disk you created earlier. If you don't have a bootable USB/CD/DVD etc, you can create a recovery environment on your computer in advance. It will help you to boot your computer successfully and enter the software interface.
Way 2: Perform Windows backup EFI system partition with Backup and Restore
Here you will use Backup and Restore (Windows 7) to perform Windows backup EFI system partition. Please follow the steps below carefully.
Step 1. Type Backup and Restore in the search box and select it from the start menu list.
Note: The entrance of this software may be a little difference in different system.
❤ For Windows 8/10, please type backup settings and then select Go to Backup and Restore (Windows 7) in the next window.
❤ For Windows 11, go to Control Panel and select Backup and Restore (Windows 7) under the System and Security link.
Step 2. Click Create a system image.
Step 3. Specify where you want to save the backup and click Next.
Step 4. Then, you will see the backed up items, including (C:)(System) and EFI System Partition. Confirm the backup settings and click Start Backup to move on.
In general, this process will take dozens of minutes, which depends on how much data this partition has and the writting and reading speed of both disk.
Tips on backup failed:
Some users report that EFI system partition backup error during the backup process.
1. Windows Backup failed to get an exclusive lock on the EFI system partition (ESP).
That means the files saved on ESP are occupied by another program. In this case, you need to disable security software, which protects the system files. If that does not work, you still can perform a clean boot.
2. There was a failure in preparing the backup image of one of the volumes in the backup set (0x807800C5).
In general, this error will come with additional information. When you create an EFI system backup, you may receive the specified backup disk cannot be found. This is because of the previous backup files. You just need to find and delete the WindowsImageBackup folder. If you want to save the previous backup, you can move it to a different location.
You can try methods mentioned in the each backup failed error. Also, sometimes, you need to repair EFI bootloader. Below are the detailed steps:
Step 1. Boot your computer from installation media. If you don't have, you could create a recovery disk and then boot from it.
Step 2. In the Windows Setup window, click "Repair your computer". Then, select "Troubleshoot" > "Advanced Options" > "Command Prompt" in order.
Step 3. Type "diskpart" and hit "Enter" to open this command tool.
Step 4. Type the following commands to find the EFI system partition and verify if it's using FA32 file system. Then, set a drive letter for it.
- sel disk 0 (If there is one more disk, you need to type "list disk" to find the disk containing EFI system partition first.)
- list vol
- sel vol n (n refers to the number of the EFI system partition)
- assign letter=m (You can change m to any drive letter you want.)
Step 5. Type the following commands to repair boot record and hit "Enter".
- cd /d m:\EFI\Microsoft\Boot\
- bootrec /FixBoot
Step 6. Type "ren BCD BCD.old" to backup the old BCD file.
Step 7. Type "bcdboot c:\Windows /l en-us /s [boot letter]: All" to recreate EFI system partition. (The boot letter] is the drive letter of disk you are booting from. )
You ask I answer: About EFI system partition
Q: Is EFI and UEFI the same?
They are not exactly the same. UEFI is a new BIOS firmware interface and most UEFI systems still upport booting computer from Legacy BIOS. While for EFI, it's a partition used to store UEFI boot files.
Q: Does EFI partition have to be first?
There is no such restriction. But the first partition is indeed a good place, because it is unlikely to be affected by any repartion operation, such as, resize system partition.
Q: Is it safe to delete EFI System Partition?
The answer is NOT, EFI system partition contains boot files required to start Windows. If you delete it, your computer will fail to boot. Also, it will fail to generate an EFI partition and cause boot issues when you migrate OS.
Wrapping things up
It’s essential for you to backup EFI system partition that contains the boot files of your computer. If not, when this partition is deleted by mistake or lost, your computer will be unbootable. Anyway, you need a free backup software.
Both Windows built-in tool as well as a third-party backup software like AOMEI Backupper can help you backup EFI system partition and does not cost you a cent. But the built-in tool is error-prone, you may receive error like backup failed EFI system partition. Thus, if you want an easier way, AOMEI Backupper will be your choice.
It's one of the most useful backup software, believe me, just download it to have a try! Simple, strong compatibility, and feature-rich.