Win7 image restore

2014/03/28 by Lassi A. Liikkanen

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How Windows 7 image recovery really works

Since Windows 7, this Microsoft OS includes hard drive image backup and system recovery (through separate environment). However, the tool sucks big time because of undocumented features. This has caused numerous people on Internet to report failures with the re-image tool when trying to restore or move system to a different hard disk (see for good discussion)

How it works

When you create the backup image, you can select which partitions of the Windows system you want to include in the backup. E.g. I have a C: drive for OS and software, D: for documents (triple in size). You can create the image on an external hard drive which has to have as much as space available as used on the partitions you wish to include. This implies that you should not need any bigger target to restore the image.

But no. This is where the reasonable behavior ends.

I have found that in order to restore the image, the target of restoration must be able to hold partitions you had in the original installation, never mind is any data included in the backup or not, the target cannot be bigger than the original system.

Example: I had 256GB SSD with 64GB C: drive holding my apps and OS. The rest of the disk for D: and two tiny emergency Linux partitions, which I did not include in the external image (had no space at the time). Tried to restore this image to 128GB SSD. Not gonna happen. I got the notorious No disk that can be used for recovering the system disk can be found error. After experimenting with a 320GB replacement HDD I also run into a number of issues (including parameter incorrect 0x80070057), which where eventually settled by diskpart clean operation and a reboot. After this Windows recovered both C+D partitions (and two unused Linux partitions), the former with no data naturally.

I have no idea what will happen if you have multiple disks in one installation. You would expect that only one device must be recovered but given this stupid behavior, I wouldn't be to sure of that.

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Keywords: [computers] , [windows] Document's status: Old (Document dates explained)

This document created: 2014/03/28
Modified: 2014/03/28
Published: 2014/03/28

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