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  1. #1
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    Creating customized recovery images for Win8




    TOP STORY

    Creating customized recovery images for Win8


    By Fred Langa

    Windows 8's easy-to-use and built-in backup, restore, and rebuild tools go far beyond those found in previous versions of Windows. When using Win8's Refresh option, the advanced Recimg tool can preserve your current Win8 setup — including desktop apps that Refresh would, by default, remove.

    The full text of this column is posted at windowssecrets.com/top-story/creating-customized-recovery-images-for-win8 (paid content, opens in a new window/tab).

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

  2. The Following User Says Thank You to Kathleen Atkins For This Useful Post:

    Helpfull1 (2013-10-11)

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    Something to be aware of that I ran into....before I loaded the 8.1 preview I made a custom recovery image of Win8. When I was ready to return to the plain Win8 setup, I could not restore from the custom image because it was from a different version of Windows. Ended up having to do a complete clean load to get back to Win8.

  4. #3
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    Can recimg be used to transfer a complete image to different hardware?

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    Dear Fred:
    Thanks for a great story, and a terrific introduction to those readers not familiar with the built-in Windows 8 recimg command. Please let me also recommend to your readers that they check out the FREE SlimImage utility known as "RecImg Manager." This native Windows 8 application puts a pretty face on the command line utility, and makes it easy to create refresh images that are date-stamped and associated with user-supplied labels or descriptions. I've found it to be an invaluable tool, and a nice improvement to an already great Windows utility. It's available for further inspection or download at www.recimg.com.
    I've been using it daily on two or more Windows 8 (and lately even an RTM Windows 8.1) PCs with great results and no real hiccups. The utility will allow you to pick and attempt to back up to a USB Flash drive, but it won't complete the backup process to such a target drive. That's because the underlying recimg CLI utility does not permit UFDs to serve as targets for so-called "refresh images."
    HTH, and thanks for your great work, as always.
    --Ed--

  6. #5
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    I am one of those who bought a Windows 7 Home Premium computer and then upgraded via the $14.95 special offer to Windows 8. I messed up my system and had to go back through installing Windows 7 and then use the upgrade program to install Windows 8. Many of the saving/recovery articles about Windows 8 files, etc. seem to assume that the individual has a copy of the original Windows 8 installation CD/DVD. Am I just out of luck or is there a way to get a valid copy of Windows 8 installation media?

  7. #6
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    Fred, I much enjoy and admire your columns. This one, however, seems of only academic interest if a reliable imaging program along the lines of MacriumReflect, TrueImage or others are available. Some, including MacriumReflect, have free editions. Incidentally, if it weren't for an add on Windows 8 start menu program that essentially provides a familiar and more logical Windows 7 style GUI I'd have dumped windows 8 the first week and reloaded Windows 7. With the start menu modification, though. even an old Luddite like me has to admit its a very stable and fast starting OS.

  8. #7
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    Fred: This is a great article I used it on two Win 8 machines. One is an older Dell that was 32 bit Win 7 with an MBR setup and I installed the low cost win 8 upgrade on it a while back. The second is a brand new Dell 660S that came with 64 bit Win 8 from the factory.

    I created custom images on each successfully. and I created windows emergency boot disks (CDs one is 64 bit the old one is 32 bit)

    The old 32 bit booted fine but could not find the image on a second Hard drive I have on the computer. It doesn't seem to see the drive at all (though the drive is just fine) Therefore it cannot find the Image.

    On the New 64 bit machine, believe it or not, I just cannot get the darn computer to boot from the CD. Even though the CD was built by a Win 8 utility. Tried the standard Dell F12 during boot, and F2, No good. It continuously goes straight to Win 8. I only want to try this to see if it can find the custom image. Insurance is no good if it doesn't work.

    I suspect that it is UFEI interfering with a boot from the Windows Emergency CD. Problem is: How to get it to work?

  9. #8
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    Dear Fred,

    I ran into a problem after a custom image restore in Windows 8. Th File explorer is not responsive after the restore. Don't any body has encounter this problem?

    Paul Cheuk.

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    Dear Fred,
    Thanks for writing about creating customized recovery images for Win8. For the absolutely most reliable recovery images, would an inert image made by an external application (such as BootIt® Bare Metal - Disk Imaging, http://www.terabyteunlimited.com/bootit-bare-metal.htm) be a wise choice?

  11. #10
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    Microsoft knows that Third party image creation and restoration apps are more popular than anything they've previously created.
    I myself have given MS created solutions a try throughout the years but have always found them to be too limited.

    The bottom line here is finding a product that works for you and at least has some degree of "staying power".

    Recimg is just Microsoft's latest tool and who knows how long or if they will continue to support it.
    Since it is largely a dos, or command line tool, I suspect it will see longer life than it's previous "backup and restore" imaging app.
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    Invest a little time and energy in a well thought out BACKUP regimen and you will have minimal down time, and headache.

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  12. #11
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    HUGE IMAGE SIZE WARNING

    I noted the first time I used recimg on a clean Win 8.1 install, I had a wim of around 5 GB. After installing a few apps and making a few minor other changes (I thought), I had a wim of 20+ GB. I was a bit shocked by the size increase, but I forged ahead and installed more of my "baseline" apps. I also started using "powercfg -h off" to turn off the hibernation file (hiberfil.sys) before running recimg.

    Only days later did I realize what had happened. I "moved" several of my default user folders to other locations. For the "downloads" folder, I pointed to my home server's "software" folder. I did not realize that Win 8 automatically sets up offline cache for any folders that are moved to network locations. So, my 18 GB offline cache (Windows default size for my 111 GB SSD) had filled up by attempting to cache my entire \\server\software folder locally!

    It turns out I needed to set a Registry key to tell Win 8 *not* to auto-cache network "shell folders" and then I had to add another key to "format" the offline cache folder to clear out the unwanted junk.

    A bit of a pain, but my wim files are back to being *much* smaller now. (Frankly, I think it's stupid that offline cache folder(s) should be part of an image. While I'm at it, images should not include pagefile/hiberfil/search indexes/ and most caches.)

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