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    INSIDER TRICKS

    Rescue Windows with a bootable flash drive


    By Lincoln Spector

    Using Windows system rescue CDs isn't practical if your machine isn't equipped with an optical drive.

    Fortunately, a clever solution may be sitting on your desk: take a flash drive you have at hand, add some software, and create a custom, USB-based, bootable Windows recovery toolkit!

    The full text of this column is posted at WindowsSecrets.com/2010/07/08/06 (paid content, opens in a new window/tab).

    Columnists typically cannot reply to comments here, but do incorporate the best tips into future columns.

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    I just read Lincoln Spector's articles, in the newsleter, about Windows 7 repair disks. The ones you can create from "Create a system repair disk", not the Linux or BartPE disks. Are they specific to the system they are created on? What if you have multiple Win 7 systems? I have two 32 bit Pro retail and a 32 bit Home Premium oem and they all have different hardware. Do I need to have a repair disk for each machine?

    Another question: why is the file system on the flash drive set to fat32 in stead of ntfs?
    Bob
    Win 8.1 Pro - IE11, Office Pro 2013, Acronis TIH 2014
    Win 10 Pro preview 10162

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    BartPE most certainly does allow you to edit the registry on the C drive, been using it for years to remove Malware infections. You need to go into Plugins and check Registry Editer PE 0.9c.

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    None of my computers came with an OS CD - all of them were set up with a D: "Recovery: partition from which the OS may be reinstalled. Is there a way to create the BartPE or Linux or any other [but not Mac] boot disk from that partition?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Denton View Post
    I just read Lincoln Spector's articles, in the newsleter, about Windows 7 repair disks. The ones you can create from "Create a system repair disk", not the Linux or BartPE disks. Are they specific to the system they are created on? What if you have multiple Win 7 systems? I have two 32 bit Pro retail and a 32 bit Home Premium oem and they all have different hardware. Do I need to have a repair disk for each machine?

    Another question: why is the file system on the flash drive set to fat32 in stead of ntfs?
    Hi, Bob.

    First question: The system repair disc is not hardware specific. Create it on two different Win7 machines and you'll have two identical disks.

    2nd question: Honestly, I don't know. When researching this article, I found these instructions (or variations on them) in several sources. One thing they all agreed on was fat32. Anyway, it's generally recommended that you use FAT32 for external media where possible because of greater compatibility, although I wouldn't think that would be too much of a problem with a bootable drive. NTFS really doesn't offer any advantages in a situation like this.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeBVT View Post
    BartPE most certainly does allow you to edit the registry on the C drive, been using it for years to remove Malware infections. You need to go into Plugins and check Registry Editer PE 0.9c.
    Hi, Mike.

    Thanks for letting me know. I'll have to check that out. Now if I could just find a way to do XP system restore from a boot disk.

    Lincoln

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    Quote Originally Posted by Miriam Jacobson View Post
    None of my computers came with an OS CD - all of them were set up with a D: "Recovery: partition from which the OS may be reinstalled. Is there a way to create the BartPE from that partition?
    Hi, Miriam.

    Unfortunately, no. That's the real problem with BartPE. If you don't have a real XP CD, and most people don't, you can't create the disc. I know no legal workaround aside from buying a retail version of XP.

    Lincoln

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    Lounge VIP bobprimak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Miriam Jacobson View Post
    None of my computers came with an OS CD - all of them were set up with a D: "Recovery: partition from which the OS may be reinstalled. Is there a way to create the BartPE or Linux or any other [but not Mac] boot disk from that partition?
    Yes, Miriam, there is a way (at least for OEM Windows XP Pro). Read on.

    Miriam, I have built BartPE disks from PE Builder with only my OEM Windows installation from the same laptop on which the BartPE disk will be run. Just select the Windows Directory from your C:Windows drive as your Source for the System Files.The program warns you not to do that, but as long as the CD is being built for that one specific computer, the process goes through perfectly well, and the resulting CD is bootable.


    Lincoln (Lounge Member), you are just plain wrong. What I just outlined is perfectly legal, and it usually works, although not for all OEM Windows installations.

    Lincoln Spector, I still would stick with the external optical drive. Even if your system lacks an optical drive, an external CD/DVD drive is a cheap and effective add-on. And one which might pay for itself the first time you use it to run a System Rescue Disk. You would have to set your Boot Order in your BIOS to start from the external drive (usually USB) but that's the only tricky part.

    And, Lincoln Spector, thanks for the tip on making a Windows 7 Repair CD. I'll get on that one in the morning.
    -- Bob Primak --

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    Tried to create the Win7 System Repair disk on USB stick. The CD was created and worked just fine. Followed the instructions to a "T" to create the USB version, copying over all files from the repair CD. Yes, Windows Explorer was set to show all hidden files and system files. The system, a brand new HP laptop with Win7-64, will boot to the USB repair drive, but I never get the little menu box that appears when I boot from the CD. Instead I just get blank screen with the default Win7 wallpaper, and I get a life preserver icon in the top left corner and a Red X option to exit in the upper right corner. My only option is to close out of the repair screen with the red X. The life preserver appears to be non-functional. Any ideas what I may have missed or done wrong?

    Wayne

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    Super Moderator CLiNT's Avatar
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    I built a BartPE disk a few years back from an old Dell OEM Windows XP Pro disk for which I still have use for
    on my XP Pro laptop, and other peoples XP installations that have gone South.
    The computer is long gone, but the BartPE disk is still very usefull to have around.
    DRIVE IMAGING
    Invest a little time and energy in a well thought out BACKUP regimen and you will have minimal down time, and headache.

    Build your own system; get everything you want and nothing you don't.
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    Lounge VIP bobprimak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lincoln View Post
    Hi, Bob.

    First question: The system repair disc is not hardware specific. Create it on two different Win7 machines and you'll have two identical disks.

    2nd question: Honestly, I don't know. When researching this article, I found these instructions (or variations on them) in several sources. One thing they all agreed on was fat32. Anyway, it's generally recommended that you use FAT32 for external media where possible because of greater compatibility, although I wouldn't think that would be too much of a problem with a bootable drive. NTFS really doesn't offer any advantages in a situation like this.
    The real reason for using FAT-32 is that Flash Drives are always formatted in FAT-32. They don't come any other way. That is why you need to use FAT-32 end to end.

    PE Builder pops out a warning that using OEM Windows as the source for System and Driver files may produce a Rescue Disk which will not work on some computers. Your results may depend on how "modified" your computer's OEM Windows is, compared to "pure" Windows. Laptops from Dell and Sony (Vaio) tend to be the most modified, while my old WinBook or my new Toshiba Satellite (or a Gateway or e-Machines) should be fairly standard. As with all things which are done at variance with the recommended procedures, your mileage may vary. But little is at risk, except one CD and a bit of your time.

    Since Windows 7 allows you to create your own Repair Disk, why not just use that tool and not fool around with BartPE? Vista does not have this tool, so there you would have to use BartPE or something like it. And my Toshiba laptop (64-bit Windows 7) did allow me to burn a set of five or six Recovery DVDs, one of which says "Repair and Recovery". So I think I'm set in any event. Not to mention Acronis True Image and Disk Director, both of which can be run from stand-alone CDs You can never have too many sockets in the old wrench box!

    And Windows 7 64-bit is in fact quite sensitive to any OEM modifications. Also, PE Builder is based on 32-bit Windows, and may not copy all of the necessary system files for 64-bit Windows 7. One other thing I noticed is that my Windows 7 (64-bit) actually has two active partitions. One says "System" and is relatively small, while the main partition is "C:Windows". I wonder, is this small "System" partition needed to boot 64-bit Windows 7? If so, that may be the problem right there.
    -- Bob Primak --

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    I do need some help. Do not want to startup LINUX or WinXP. Using the Windows Home Server I want to be able to use the back-up restore CD on my diskless Asus EEEPc. I tried to get the ISO of the restore CD on a USB stick, but cannot find the correct procedure... My PC starts when I make a MSDOS startup (Win98 files), but I cannot get the ISO to work.
    Any tips?
    André
    It would be nice if computers were designed to HELP users, not to frustrate users...

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    A "new" version of the RegEdit PE program came out on May 3, 2007, Version v1.0a. It is much better than the previous.
    Here is the web link: http://regeditpe.sourceforge.net/

    A Registry Restore Wizard also exists - but it is NOT a full restore, only the 5 registry hives are restored (and the old ones saved), not any of the associated programs.

    I tried to locate the site where the plugin originally came from: http://viceroy.web1000.com/regreswiz.htm but I do not it exists any longer. I checked with the WayBack Machine - the site hasn't changed since August 2008. The plugin is included with UBCD4WIN, a package that can be considered a Bart's PE FollowOn, since Bart's PE hasn't been updated in many years.

    I do not know what the policy is on attachments. The plugin is small, only 20KB compressed. If it is permitted, I can upload it.

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    Heads Up!

    I went to the Pendrivelinux Universal USB Installer download page & found a big green arrow pointing to a download button. When I clicked on this download button, thinking this was the link to the installer, it directed me to www.searchale.com, which turns out to be a download page for SearchAle toolbar. However, a little further down the Pendrivelinux page, the true link to the installer was found. The big green arrow turned out to be a Google ad. The only indication that it was a Google ad was if you hovered your mouse pointer over a small encircled "i" in the bottom right corner of the ad it then read "Ads by Google". This is very misleading & you would end up with an unwanted toolbar. Who wants another toolbar?

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