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  1. #1
    Star Lounger MarkAtHome's Avatar
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    How does the Windows 7 DVD know that it started the PC?

    You reboot your PC and have it boot to the Windows 7 install DVD.

    Once the DVD is loaded, you can choose install or repair. In many cases, repair works.

    If you are an enterprise customer, you would be provided a copy of DART (Microsoft Diagnostics and Recovery Toolset). It looks just like a recovery disk (it does not install an OS), but adds an additional option which opens another window providing you with about another dozen tools, which can come in handy. Search Microsoft's site and I believe it is now publicly available, hovering around v7ß3.

    Neither of the above resolves my situation -- I cannot get to the Windows 7 desktop to run an in-place upgrade (now referred to as a repair installation).

    Anyway, if you choose install, you are prompted with Upgrade or Custom, where the former would retain all of your programs & their settings, only requiring you to redo any tweaks you might have made to the OS, and the latter will wipe out all those settings, requiring that you reinstall all your programs from scratch.


    With Windows 7 installed, if you choose Upgrade, you will be presented with text indicating that the PC started by booting the DVD and in order to run an upgrade (in my case, it would be an in-place upgrade), it has to be done from the Windows desktop (not verbatim).

    If you cannot get to the desktop you cannot directly do an in-place upgrade (now referred to as a repair installation), as was provided for in previous Windows incarnations (I have "worked with" Microsoft since DOS 1.0).

    Almost every mention of repair installation I see repeats, and is based upon, Microsoft's mantra that you cannot do an in-place upgrade if you booted first to the DVD -- ask any Microsoft tech, and you will hear that almost word for word from each of them.

    If Microsoft states that xyz are your only supported solutions and all three do not work, you can either accept that you are screwed, or delve deeper into what is possible, but not Microsoft supported.

    It is the latter solution that I am looking for. I have no interest in whether Microsoft supports the solution; my interest is in whether it resolves my problem.

    FWIW:

    I was using Paragon Partition Manager 11 to defrag the MFT and then compress the MFT. I saved the last of my drives (C & D) for last (making sure all the others were fine first), and that required a reboot, where Paragon's software did its thing, totally mangling my boot-up.

    I am running Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 64-bit, running at 4.140Mhz, 12G RAM, 5 internal HDDs and 7 external HDDs and all are fine ("chkdsk /b", along with the latest TestDisk, via various LiveCDs were used to determine that). Disconnecting (not just disabling) all drives except Drive-C had no positive effect.

    A writable Windows 7 SP1 DVD (downloaded and created from the Partner Portal's Action Pack) is being used.
    I have already had this to the Microsoft Professional Tech group who then escalated it to a Sr Engineer, after I documented all the steps I took on my own (both Windows and Linux-based). We are actively working on it, but I would love to have the solution before he does...

    So, thinking outside the box, how can you make the DVD believe that it did not start the PC?

  2. #2
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    Unfortunately, from what I've been able to find if you can't boot the system you can't do an in-place upgrade. If you don't have an image backup it seems your only recourse is a custom install.

    Joe

  3. #3
    Star Lounger MarkAtHome's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoeP517 View Post
    Unfortunately, from what I've been able to find if you can't boot the system you can't do an in-place upgrade. If you don't have an image backup it seems your only recourse is a custom install.

    Joe
    Thanks, Joe.

    But... if you want to play, you will have to remove all your mental restraints and think a bit harder than that, and learn to think outside Microsoft's box.

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    Back in the days of Windows NT badly fragmented MFTs were common. If the system can't read the MFT, it can't boot. We used to solve it on Citrix Metaframe servers by creating an NT boot disk on a floppy and booting up to the OS. I'm not sure if on Windows 7, a straight up boot disk can be created to run the copy of Windows on the hard drive. I don't see why not. Do you have access to another Windows 7 machine? I did a little searching and there are lots of tutorials on creating Win 7 boot disks but none specific to what we're talking about here.

    If that doesn't pan out, the only way to break out of the box is to break the box, and in this case that would mean re-writing the code. Its conceivable that someone has already done this, (in the manner of OSes like the Black Edition), but no one here is going to recommend using pirated software, or hacking license protected code.

    As far as defragging and compressing the MFT, I'll just state that doing this is something that should only be done if you are trying to resolve a problem. Since XP/2003 server, fragmentation and corruption of the MFT is pretty much non-existent. Defragging the MFT on Windows 7 is a solution looking for a problem.

    I wish you the best. Its an interesting problem. Let us know if you find a solution.
    Chuck

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    Super Moderator bbearren's Avatar
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    For what it's worth, the DVD knows that it has booted the PC because it first creates a ramdrive, gives it drive letter X: and boots from drive X:. Windows boots from drive C: (Actually, the DVD doesn't know, but Windows does)

    TestDisk might be of some service if you haven't already tried it.
    Create a fresh drive image before making system changes, in case you need to start over!

    "The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem. Savvy?"—Captain Jack Sparrow "When you're troubleshooting, start with the simple and proceed to the complex."—M.O. Johns "Experience is what you get when you're looking for something else."—Sir Thomas Robert Deware.
    Unleash Windows

  6. #6
    Star Lounger MarkAtHome's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doc Brown View Post
    Back in the days of Windows NT badly fragmented MFTs were common. If the system can't read the MFT, it can't boot. We used to solve it on Citrix Metaframe servers by creating an NT boot disk on a floppy and booting up to the OS. I'm not sure if on Windows 7, a straight up boot disk can be created to run the copy of Windows on the hard drive. I don't see why not. Do you have access to another Windows 7 machine? I did a little searching and there are lots of tutorials on creating Win 7 boot disks but none specific to what we're talking about here.

    If that doesn't pan out, the only way to break out of the box is to break the box, and in this case that would mean re-writing the code. Its conceivable that someone has already done this, (in the manner of OSes like the Black Edition), but no one here is going to recommend using pirated software, or hacking license protected code.

    As far as defragging and compressing the MFT, I'll just state that doing this is something that should only be done if you are trying to resolve a problem. Since XP/2003 server, fragmentation and corruption of the MFT is pretty much non-existent. Defragging the MFT on Windows 7 is a solution looking for a problem.

    I wish you the best. Its an interesting problem. Let us know if you find a solution.
    Hi Doc -- I was not intentionally looking to work with the MFT, but tripped over it while looking for a solution to wipe a 3T drive.

    When I got up... I found myself in Paragon Software's Partition Manager Pro 11, looking around and noted the two MFT options, whose status line, when hovered over, indicated that it was a good idea and would improve NTFS performance. So...

    I do have an open case initially created by a tech from Microsoft's Professional tech team, who quickly escalated it, after I documented all that I had already done on my own, to a Sr. Engineer.

    I did mention your NT boot disk experience, but he indicated that it would not work with Windows 7. If I were a developer, I would look at that as a challenge!!

    We'll see. Thanks for your input.

  7. #7
    Star Lounger MarkAtHome's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bbearren View Post
    For what it's worth, the DVD knows that it has booted the PC because it first creates a ramdrive, gives it drive letter X: and boots from drive X:. Windows boots from drive C: (Actually, the DVD doesn't know, but Windows does)
    Hi bbearren -- it appears that there is more to it than that, but Iwas thinking along those lines at one point, too.

    After booting the DVD and going to the command prompt, I started redirecting the results from issuing the SET command to my system boot drive and created three batch files from those results.

    I edited the batch files so that they would issue the SET commands with values gotten from the ram and dvd drives. The last batch file was edited to reflect the environment had the system booted from the system boot drive. I ran the last batch file and tried to launch setup.exe from any/all locations found on either the RAM or DVD drive, but that did not work. I was hoping that the environment was being used to determine what started the system.

    Quote Originally Posted by bbearren View Post
    TestDisk might be of some service if you haven't already tried it.
    I became very familiar with that tool, using it from various Linux LiveCDs. It was very useful in deep scanning all my 12 drives, finding that they were just dandy, but did discover that all my internal drives were flagged "boot" when I ran GParted. Correcting that did not resolve the problem.

    So, all my drives are just fine, I can access any/all files/folders on any of those drives, but cannot get into the Windows desktop.

    The registry is fine. I copied all my backup files (system, software, sam, etc.) to %systemroot%\system32\config and that did not resolve the boot up issue. There are unknown, at this time, corrupted files used during bootup that SFC did not uncover.

  8. #8
    Star Lounger MarkAtHome's Avatar
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    Another idea crossed my (now very post-it noted, cluttered) desk that worked for a similar situation in regards to Windows Server 2008 R2 that might work for me.

    What if I were to boot the Windows 7 DVD, have it do an install/custom with no HDD formatting, etc., let it proceed until the first copying routine is done, then abort (reset PC, if required).

    Then boot the Windows Recovery Disk or DART7 and have it repair the Windows 7 installation.

    Might that work, and if it does, would it not get me to the Windows 7 desktop were I can then do a version to version repair installation the way Microsoft wants it done?

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    You mentioned that your running Windows 7 SP1. Before you do an upgrade you must uninstall the SP1.
    Dale May

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    Mark,
    Hello... I'm having trouble following you ... Is the problem that you can't boot into Any of your OS's? You have mentioned C: and D:, and have many HD's? Once or twice when i have "toasted" my OS's ( because of scrambled BCD or MTF) i was able to boot into one of them by entering BIOS and selecting one of my other HD's from the Que. ...Once "UP" i could then select a Image to do the repair. Have you any Images ? Regards Fred
    PlainFred

    None are so hopelessly enslaved as those who falsely believe they are free (J. W. Von Goethe)

  11. #11
    Star Lounger MarkAtHome's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dmay View Post
    You mentioned that your running Windows 7 SP1. Before you do an upgrade you must uninstall the SP1.
    I hear what you are saying, and you would be correct if I did not have an up-to-date retail version of Windows 7 DVD with SP1, so I need not go backwards in version number.

  12. #12
    Star Lounger MarkAtHome's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Just Plain Fred View Post
    Mark,
    Hello... I'm having trouble following you ... Is the problem that you can't boot into Any of your OS's? You have mentioned C: and D:, and have many HD's? Once or twice when i have "toasted" my OS's ( because of scrambled BCD or MTF) i was able to boot into one of them by entering BIOS and selecting one of my other HD's from the Que. ...Once "UP" i could then select a Image to do the repair. Have you any Images ? Regards Fred
    Hi Fred -- I treat my Drive-C and Drive-D as if they were connected at the hip, since some of what might be booted resides on Drive-D. I am not multi-booting. I apologize if I was unclear.

    Since I was working with MFTs, I kept those two drive for last, making sure that no damage occurred to the other drives (I have five internal and seven external), before proceeding with drives C & D.

    I have copies (not images) of both drives, as well as intact registry hives backed up from the day before the crash. All drives have been thoroughly deep scanned by TestDisk and I have also done a chkdsk /b on all drives (took quite awhile). They are all in good condition.

    The Microsoft ticket has remained open and tomorrow we will attempt to deal with install.wim directly.

  13. #13
    Super Moderator CLiNT's Avatar
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    I'm kind-of curious to see if you can resolve this too...
    ...But I think in the end you'll have to format and reinstall.

    Messing with the MFT without an image to restore from is kind of reckless.

  14. #14
    Star Lounger MarkAtHome's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CLiNT View Post
    I'm kind-of curious to see if you can resolve this too...
    ...But I think in the end you'll have to format and reinstall.

    Messing with the MFT without an image to restore from is kind of reckless.
    I certainly agree with you that not having an image was a bad idea, but what is done is done.

    We are now looking into seeing if we cannot work with install.wim directly.

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