Windows 10: System Image and Boot Manager

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  1. Posts : 2,422
    Ubuntu14.04x64 MintMate17x64 Win10Prox64
       21 Nov 2017 #11

    i created a system image. windows can't find it when i tried to load it. i've done 3 things since i created the image. i marked the systemimagebackup folder as hidden. i moved it to another folder. i shrank the size of the drive the image was created from and extended the drive size where the image was stored. i did some reading and found out you can't have the image in another folder it has to be in the root directory. i moved it back to the root directory and un-hidden the systemimagebackup folder. windows still can't detect the system image. i never renamed anything. did i wreck my system image by marking it as hidden or resizing my drive?
    To answer your question, the answer is yes. For security reason, the built in Windows Backup is picky about the location on the HD where you create the backup and save in log file somewhere and read back the info to determine the location.

    Can you salvage the backup image ?. The answer is also yes. However, it' a PITA to reconstruct the disk layout and you might have to rebuild the Boot Manager in order to boot. In the backup folder, you will find multiple files with .VHDX extension, each file is a copy of virtual disk partition for each partition such as System Reserved, C partition, Recovery partition, you would have to mount each as a virtual HD partition and copy to a physical HD so it's not worth spending time unless you have personal data file that you want to restore.

    With third party software. It is a lot more flexible:
    1. backup image with only a single file, you can move to another folder/disk
    2. Selectively restore missing file(s) that you accidentally deleted by mounting the image,
    3. Selectively restore a single partition such as Boot partition in case you cannot boot into Windows.
    4. Restore C drive if Windows is infected by Virus.
    5. etc....

    In addition, you actually don't have to install it. Just ask people in the forum to give you a free copy of a Rescue disk ISO (~250 MB) that you can build and boot from a USB/DVD and perform Backup/Restore from it.

    There are reasons why people want to make a backup copy after a fresh install of Windows:
    1. Start fresh without going thru the pain of re-installing drivers, activation, customization etc...
    2. Isolate problem and determine if a third party software that would not run in current Windows whether due to conflict with other software that already installed or caused by Windows.
    3. Install evaluation software without affecting your current working Windows. Remember, evaluation software put things in the registry that is impossible to remove.
    4. Use the same copy to restore to another PC without fresh install. In which case, Windows will re-install the drivers.
    5. Sell your PC without any personal data left over. etc....
      My ComputerSystem Spec

  2.    21 Nov 2017 #12

    sounds like it will be more time consuming trying to salvage my image than it would be to just reinstall windows when the time comes. lesson learned. appreciate the information guys.

    will any of these third party programs detect and restore my existing image?
      My ComputerSystem Spec

  3.    21 Nov 2017 #13

    misterdean said: View Post
    i have no interest in monthly backups. i'm not making images to backup data. i use them to quickly restore my computer to day 1 without having to go through the install/update/driver/programs/settings process.
    You obviously do not understand - it is not data we are talking about. It is the system backup INCLUDING installed programs.

    Why would you revert to day 1, when down the line you have had system updates, defender updates etc.

    Regulars here will tell you to keep data in a separate partition - you do not need to back that up in a system image, only the C drive and hidden partitions.

    You can use all sorts of tools to backup data e.g. file history backup, filesync, or even just manually using file explorer.

    If you always revert your system to day 1, it does not include new programs installed since then, cumulative updates etc. You are creating work for yourself by reverting to day 1.
      My ComputerSystem Spec

  4.    21 Nov 2017 #14

    i understand what you are talking about. it's you that does not understand what i want. i don't want installed programs and the remnants of all the garbage that goes on and off of my computer backed up. i only want a fresh OS, programs i will always need, and my personal settings backed up. i want everything else to go away when i load an image. the way i use images is to purge my system of bloating viruses and system errors.
      My ComputerSystem Spec


  5. Posts : 7,033
    10 Home x64 (1803) (10 Pro on 2nd pc)
       21 Nov 2017 #15

    misterdean said: View Post
    ...i created a system image. windows can't find it when i tried to load it. i've done 3 things since i created the image. i marked the systemimagebackup folder as hidden. i moved it to another folder. i shrank the size of the drive the image was created from and extended the drive size where the image was stored. i did some reading and found out you can't have the image in another folder it has to be in the root directory. i moved it back to the root directory and un-hidden the systemimagebackup folder. windows still can't detect the system image. i never renamed anything. did i wreck my system image by marking it as hidden or resizing my drive?
    NavyLCDR said: View Post
    @Bree....where are you?
    In a different time zone from you, I'm afraid :)


    From @misterdean's description we can tell that the system image is held in a second partition on the same drive - effectively to be used as a personalized 'factory reset' image.

    ...i did some reading and found out you can't have the image in another folder it has to be in the root directory...
    Correct.

    System image backup is very temperamental and the slightest changes can break it, the most common failure being not able to recognise a restorable image. The image is saved to a sub-folder with the name of the PC which is in the WindowsImageBackup folder at the root of the drive. Moving or renaming either of these folders can break the restore's ability to find the image. Those (and the 'hidden' attribute) are changes that can easily be undone to make the image available again. It's probably the resizing of the drives that has broken the ability to find the image for restore. That may be difficult/impossible to put back exactly as it was before.

    The system image itself isn't damaged, it's the information around it that no longer matches the system it's for. There are typically at least two and usually three partition images in the system image, one for each of the SYSTEM, Recovery and C: drive partitions (maybe another if there is a UEFI partition). These are .vhdx files in the 'Backup yyyy-mm-dd hhmmss' folder within the <computername> subfolder. These can be mounted as virtual drives to recover the files they contain. Note that they have to be mounted with read/write access (which in itself may well also 'break' the image for restore purposes). If you want to try this, make a copy of the .vhdx file(s) and only mount the copies.

    The first thing I would do is get an external HDD and copy the WindowsImageBackup folder and all its contents to that before making any further changes, making sure you click 'yes' when you are told you need admin permission to move some of the files. Then I would make a second copy under a different name to use if you need to mount any images.

    I would also make a Recovery Drive USB (no need to include system files) as this has all the image recovery tools. You can boot from this USB to restore a system image, if you're very lucky you may even be able to see the original image (or it's copy on the ext. HDD).

    As I understand it, the system that's currently running is the same as the system image, but has been in use and more software has been installed. The more practical and less time consuming way to recreate a 'clean' system image may be to uninstall all unwanted software, thoroughly check for viruses, then clean up the settings to make it as close as possible to the original system image. Them make an image of that to an external drive.

    Once a useable image is available, look into using something more reliable in future, such as Macrium.
      My ComputersSystem Spec

  6.    21 Nov 2017 #16

    Bree said: View Post
    From @misterdean's description we can tell that the system image is held in a second partition on the same drive - effectively to be used as a personalized 'factory reset' image.
    bingo

    Bree said: View Post
    The more practical and less time consuming way to recreate a 'clean' system image may be to uninstall all unwanted software, thoroughly check for viruses, then clean up the settings to make it as close as possible to the original system image. Them make an image of that to an external drive.
    i have to disagree here. even after you uninstall something there will almost always be traces of it in other hidden folders through the entire c drive. some viruses can not be sniffed out or multiple antivirus programs will be needed. some windows errors consume more time to correct than it would take to reload a fresh image. it takes 5 minutes to load a system image and i know for sure it's clean and without conflicts. trying to resolve problems is always more time consuming than hitting the reset button.
      My ComputerSystem Spec


  7. Posts : 7,033
    10 Home x64 (1803) (10 Pro on 2nd pc)
       21 Nov 2017 #17

    misterdean said: View Post
    i have to disagree here. even after you uninstall something there will almost always be traces of it in other hidden folders through the entire c drive...
    I was only suggesting this as a last resort, one to try after banging you head against a brick wall trying to get restore to 'see' the original image.

    It may (just) be possible to manually recreate the original partitions by mounting the .vhdx files and extracting their contents. It may well also need bcdedit to make that a bootable drive. Theoretically it should be possible, but it's a major undertaking requiring in-depth knowledge. I wouldn't want to try, and certainly not on the original drive. I'd get a spare drive and try to do it on that.
      My ComputersSystem Spec

  •    21 Nov 2017 #18

    i'm not gonna bang my head against the wall. i'm walking away from it. after topgun responded i immediately recognized trying to salvage the image would be more time consuming than reinstalling windows.
      My ComputerSystem Spec


  • Posts : 7,033
    10 Home x64 (1803) (10 Pro on 2nd pc)
       21 Nov 2017 #19

    misterdean said: View Post
    i'm not gonna bang my head against the wall. i'm walking away from it. after topgun responded i immediately recognized trying to salvage the image would be more time consuming than reinstalling windows.
    I agree. It's the path of least resistance, and you'll be certain the new image is a clean install. Do look at Macrium (or similar) for future images. The MS System Image Backup is a deprecated feature now, and may be removed in future versions.

    Microsoft said:
    System Image Backup (SIB) Solution
    We recommend that users use full-disk backup solutions from other vendors.
    Features removed or Deprecated in Windows 10 Fall Creators Update
      My ComputersSystem Spec

  •    28 Nov 2017 #20

    "...Remember, evaluation software put things in the registry that is impossible to remove..." Well, not impossible, however, quite geeky. I've removed all traces via Revo Uninstaller Pro and Resplendence's Registrar Registry Manager -- only after I made two full images of "C" and two full images of "D" onto external media.
      My ComputerSystem Spec


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