1.    19 Jan 2017 #1
    Join Date : Jan 2017
    Posts : 2
    Windows 10 Home

    What files to recover/restore before reinstall after disaster?


    Long story, short.... My computer wouldn't boot and my recovery attempt both failed and made the problem worse. I removed the boot drive and can access/retrieve almost anything I need in preparation for a fresh install of Win10. I have a few questions before I wipe the boot drive and start fresh.

    1) after booting my wife's laptop to Linux Mint I was able to copy the C:\ProgramData & C:\Users directories. Are there any other directories I should save in order to retrieve and the restore application settings and user data?

    2) My recovery attempts (including multiple attempts at chkdsk /r and Gibson's SpinRite) managed to leave the file system on the boot drive in a partially mangled state. I don't think there's any physical damage.

    The old boot drive currently had 3 partitions on it, boot, recovery and c:

    For best results should I:

    a) should I simply replace the 2TB drive and let the installation process do the partitioning and formatting?

    b) Use the old drive, reformat the three partitions to NTFS and let the installation process do rest

    c) Use the old drive, delete *all* the existing partitions and let the installation process handle everything else,​

    3) I originally install Win10 via the free upgrade to a Win7 Home SP1 install. If I do a fresh install now, will I have any trouble with activation? My research indicates no, but I wouldn't mind some reassurance.

    Thanks for taking the time to read all that and thanks for any guidance you can provide.

    Simeon
    Last edited by simeon; 19 Jan 2017 at 17:20.
      My ComputerSystem Spec
  2.    19 Jan 2017 #2
    Join Date : Jan 2015
    UK, Midlands
    Posts : 10,962
    Win 10 Pro (1703)

    Hi, your decision as to what you need to retrieve is something only you can decide.

    If you have a full current backup of all important data, you shouldn't need to worry about that. I don't know you you have.
    If not, you are in the unfortunate position of needing to rescue what data you can.
    In that case, the easiest/safest way to go would be to build your new system using a new disk, and retrieve data from your old one, assuming it isn't failing, at your leisure.

    Your personal data will be wherever you have placed it, from Windows default libraries (which personally I don't use) to anywhere else you may have stored it.

    Program settings and configuration data could be in a variety of places, including the registry and the program's installation folder.
    Normally I would only expect this to be important for a very limited number of programs, and you would need to know exactly how a particular program stored it to do anything useful.

    If you use an email client where emails, contacts, mail rules etc are kept on your PC, this is a particular case.
    Browser favourites would be another common one.

    Activation: yes, you should be able to install a new disk and reinstall Windows of the same edition, 32 bit or 64 bit, and have it activate.

    I'm puzzled by your reference to your PC, then copying things from your wife's.
    You may well run into all sorts of trouble if you copy the areas to which you refer en bloc from one PC to another. Pure data is fine; user and program settings are not unless you know exactly what you are doing and take due precautions.

    Clean install Win 10:
    Windows 10 - Clean Install

    Once you have your first running configuration, start using disk imaging (e.g. Macrium Reflect (free) + its boot medium and external storage for images which we strongly and repeatedly recommend, so you can use the images to recover relatively easily and quickly from disaster.
      My ComputerSystem Spec
  3.    19 Jan 2017 #3
    Join Date : Jan 2017
    Posts : 2
    Windows 10 Home
    Thread Starter

    Dalchina,

    Thank you very much for your quick and comprehensive reply.

    [QUOTE]
    If you have a full current backup of all important data, you shouldn't need to worry about that. I don't know you you have.
    .....
    In that case, the easiest/safest way to go would be to build your new system using a new disk, and retrieve data from your old one, assuming it isn't failing, at your leisure.
    [QUOTE]

    Unhappily, my disk "hygiene" is pretty poor. I have a Macrium system image, but it's over 3 months old.

    I installed the boot drive in an external drive enclosure and used my wife's Win10 laptop to try and copy essential files to a 2nd external drive. I have found in the past that windows security/file ownership issues makes that process almost impossible unless I attempt to use an admin login to reset ownership/access right to "All" for the many thousands of files in the \Users directory. It takes many, MANY hours to do so and doesn't always work. That's why I booted the laptop to Linux.... It doesn't give a fig about Windows file permissions and will copy anything off an NTFS disk.

    Program settings and configuration data could be in a variety of places, including the registry and the program's installation folder.
    Normally I would only expect this to be important for a very limited number of programs, and you would need to know exactly how a particular program stored it to do anything useful.
    I was aware of, but had forgotten about the registry. I was more interested in knowing if "standard" windows apps typically stored per app and per-user setting elsewhere in the file system, besides \ProgramData and \Users\<user>\AppData directories.

    For example, both Thunderbird and Firefox store user profiles (containing bookmark, passwords, mail etc) in AppData. The Comodo free firewall saves it's current set-up in \ProgramData. For each of the programs I'm worried about, I've been researching where they stash user and configuration data.

    I was planning to scrub the old boot drive so I asked about other file system locations to ensure I copied them to my external drive before hand.

    I'm puzzled by your reference to your PC, then copying things from your wife's.

    You may well run into all sorts of trouble if you copy the areas to which you refer en bloc from one PC to another. Pure data is fine; user and program settings are not unless you know exactly what you are doing and take due precautions.
    Again, thanks for the advice and concern. I never intended to copy \ProgramData or \Users\xxx\AppData en bloc from the old disk to the fresh installation. I plan reinstall each application and then carefully move just those files from the mentioned directories to the new installation to avoid major reconfiguration efforts.

    Simeon
      My ComputerSystem Spec

 


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