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    Emergency repair disks for Windows: Part 1




    TOP STORY

    Emergency repair disks for Windows: Part 1


    By Fred Langa

    When your PC won't boot from its hard drive, you might be dead in the water — unless you've created a bootable emergency repair disk or drive. Repair disks don't simply get PCs started; they also include tools that might fix what's wrong with the system. And creating a repair disk takes just minutes.

    The full text of this column is posted at windowssecrets.com/top-story/emergency-repair-disks-for-windows-part-1 (paid content, opens in a new window/tab).

    Columnists typically cannot reply to comments here, but do incorporate the best tips into future columns.
    Last edited by Kathleen Atkins; 2014-04-09 at 20:15.

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    Using Hirems 15.2 - WinXP & Ghost32.exe

    Quote Originally Posted by Kathleen Atkins View Post



    TOP STORY

    Emergency repair disks for Windows: Part 1


    By Fred Langa

    When your PC won't boot from its hard drive, you might be dead in the water — unless you've created a bootable emergency repair disk or drive. Repair disks don't simply get PCs started; they also include tools that might fix what's wrong with the system. And creating a repair disk takes just minutes.

    The full text of this column is posted at windowssecrets.com/top-story/emergency-repair-disks-for-windows-part-1 (paid content, opens in a new window/tab).

    Columnists typically cannot reply to comments here, but do incorporate the best tips into future columns.
    Two weeks ago I bought my stepson a new Samsung laptop with Windows 8 installed. It did not come with any support disks, or a backup partition. I added Norton's ghost32.exe to the Hirems CD, and then backed up the licenced Windows 8.1 onto an external USB hard drive. Now, if disaster strikes, I can quickly restore his operating system. Ghost32.exe is old, but still works.

    Regards...George

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    We have a number of very similar windows 8.1 machines (some with same basic hardware, some with slight differences). Do I need to create separate Win8 'recovery drives' for each one or can I just make one which I could then use (if I needed it) on any of the machines?

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    A couple of points:

    My Windows 8 computer has a UEFI "BIOS".
    This has made it so secure that it is actually insecure in that you cannot easily repair things or recover from virus attacks.
    I believe the manufacturer has set it so that even if you set the "BIOS" to be able to boot from CDs and USB they will still not boot.
    As it is a security issue the manufacturers Help Desk say they cannot reveal anything about how the user is supposed to deal with restores via UEFI.
    I doubt if many of the repair CDs , USBs in your article will actually boot at all on UEFI BIOS's.

    On Windows 7 I used to make OS images that were easy to run and reinstall your system within half an hour.
    In Windows 8 I have no confidence that any of those restore methods will actually work should the time ever come.

    If I create a Windows 8.1 recovery flashdrive I hope that the UEFI BIOS will actually run it as the UEFI security will presumably look for a Windows signature.
    The flash drive needs to be 16GB to include the OEM original recovery partition. That partition is for Windows 8.0 so of limited use.
    Will Part 2 tell you if you can make /include a recovery "partition" for Windows 8.1?

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    Fred: Great article as usual, but it did not mention an oddity that I have encountered on several different computers, some using 32 bit and some 64 bit Windows 7. Specifically, the "rescue disk" utility allows me to make a disk, and then a second disk, but no more. I discovered this when I wanted to demo this utility to a friend; Windows would not made a third disk but instead gave me an error dialog box. I don't imagine that most of us would want to make more than one rescue disk, and surely two is enough, so this is not a major issue. I do wonder, though, if this "restriction" is a deliberate intention on the part of Microsoft, or a bug in the software.

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    Quote Originally Posted by georgeawarriner View Post
    Two weeks ago I bought my stepson a new Samsung laptop with Windows 8 installed. It did not come with any support disks, or a backup partition. I added Norton's ghost32.exe to the Hirems CD, and then backed up the licenced Windows 8.1 onto an external USB hard drive. Now, if disaster strikes, I can quickly restore his operating system. Ghost32.exe is old, but still works.

    Regards...George
    Hi George,

    Have you tested your Ghost backup by trying to restore it? The reason I ask is because I did the same as you (i.e. used Ghost32.exe from Ghost v11) when Windows 7 came out and found that, although Ghost32.exe created the backup with no apparent problems and the backup appeared to restore OK, my Samsung R7 laptop would not boot into Windows after the restore. It's a couple of years now and I can't remember the exact error message. All I remember is that I also tried with 2 HP laptops and the results were the same... not able to boot into Windows after an apparently successful restore. I have no idea whether this was because it was Win 7 instead of XP or because it was SATA disks instead of IDE.

    After trying many times (and failing) to carry out a 'disk to image' backup then 'image to disk' restore I gave up on Ghost. I now use the free utility Redo Backup running on a USB stick to backup my Win 7 (and Linux Mint) PC's and laptops to an external hard disk. Redo Backup doesn't have the granularity of Ghost (it has just 2 buttons - 'Backup' and 'Restore') and only does disk backups, not partitions, but... it works! (Clonezilla also worked but I wasn't too impressed by the interface... I just like simple.)

    Hope this helps... I would hate to think you rely on the Ghost backup only to find that it doesn't restore successfully when needed.

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    I make Win 7 repair discs when I first got my machine. Since then, lots of updates have come by. Would new repair discs reflect these updates?

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    Not to sound cavalier, but I'm not going to allow any one-click 'find it and fix it' program to make changes to my PC. These 'solutions' are often worse than the original problem.

    Instead, I have scheduled backups running in the background. If my PC fails due to a system software problem, I can be - and have been - back in business in minutes. If my PC fails due to malware - which has not happened so far - I will boot from my anti-malware programs' boot disks and let the software do its work.

    Disc imaging is a powerful technique. Maintaining a history of images almost guarantees that you'll be back to work in short order. Do corporate IT departments send their desktop techs out with a collection of discs containing hundreds of repair tools? No - because they don't have time to waste. Unless malware is the culprit, they are more likely to re-image the disc.

    And if you're savvy enough to keep your data on a separate partition, restoring an image won't affect your data.

    Diagnostic utilities certainly have value: It can be worthwhile to find out exactly why your computer went down, so you can avoid the problem in future. But when I need to get back to work in a hurry, I image first and ask questions later.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lounge Ranger View Post
    Not to sound cavalier, but I'm not going to allow any one-click 'find it and fix it' program to make changes to my PC. These 'solutions' are often worse than the original problem.
    Were any one-click solutions being discussed here?


    Quote Originally Posted by Lounge Ranger View Post
    Disc imaging is a powerful technique. Maintaining a history of images almost guarantees that you'll be back to work in short order.
    Fred said, "Even if you’ve diligently made system-image backups, you might still need an emergency disk at hand to restore the most recent image".


    Bruce

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lounge Ranger View Post
    Unless malware is the culprit, they are more likely to re-image the disc.
    If malware is the culprit, this is when they would reimage the disk. Otherwise, simpler repairs are often possible and take less time.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lounge Ranger View Post
    And if you're savvy enough to keep your data on a separate partition, restoring an image won't affect your data.
    If your disk becomes unbootable, your data partition is just as pwned as your system partition.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lounge Ranger View Post
    Diagnostic utilities certainly have value: It can be worthwhile to find out exactly why your computer went down, so you can avoid the problem in future. But when I need to get back to work in a hurry, I image first and ask questions later.
    For my Linux, due to the small footprint and quick performance of CloneZilla Live Raring (not that hard to get used to!) I agree. But Windows imaging and restoration take much longer. And I have had some restores fail to boot for any of a number of reasons.

    In answer to a couple of other posts:
    BTW, it is not UEFI which prevents successful USB Boot on Windows 8/8.1. It is Secure Boot, which is a BIOS or hardware setup. This is meant to prevent non-approved Operating Systems from being installed and booted. I have UEFI on Win 7 and had it on Win 8. Both could be set in the BIOS to boot from USB or CD. The trick is getting into the BIOS at all, as UEFI allows little or no time to hit F2 or whatever during startup.

    How Secure Boot is implemented may vary by manufacturer, just as whether you can burn DVDs from the Hidden Recovery Partition will vary. But the general practice in Windows 8/8.1 is by default not to allow disks to boot which are not Genuine Windows Disks.

    Secure Boot can be turned off.
    Last edited by bobprimak; 2014-04-10 at 10:34.
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    Question My Win7 machines emergency repair USB

    Quote Originally Posted by Kathleen Atkins View Post



    TOP STORY

    Emergency repair disks for Windows: Part 1


    By Fred Langa

    When your PC won't boot from its hard drive, you might be dead in the water — unless you've created a bootable emergency repair disk or drive. Repair disks don't simply get PCs started; they also include tools that might fix what's wrong with the system. And creating a repair disk takes just minutes.

    The full text of this column is posted at windowssecrets.com/top-story/emergency-repair-disks-for-windows-part-1 (paid content, opens in a new window/tab).

    Columnists typically cannot reply to comments here, but do incorporate the best tips into future columns.
    My Win 7 machine allowed me to create emergency repair "disks" on USB. The article doesn't include that option. Will USB work or do I need to create disks?

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    Quote Originally Posted by BruceR View Post



    Fred said, "Even if you’ve diligently made system-image backups, you might still need an emergency disk at hand to restore the most recent image".


    Bruce
    If you're familiar with disc imaging programs you know that an integral part of the software is the boot disc or USB flash drive that you need to create in order to re-image a system partition. The boot disc/drive doesn't otherwise offer to repair your system. (Of course, I don't know every imaging program out there.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by bobprimak View Post
    If malware is the culprit, this is when they would reimage the disk. Otherwise, simpler repairs are often possible and take less time.

    If your disk becomes unbootable, your data partition is just as pwned as your system partition.
    Not if you store your data on a separate physical drive, as I (and many others) do. And certainly not if your data is backed up elsewhere.

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    "If malware is the culprit, this is when they would reimage the disk. Otherwise, simpler repairs are often possible and take less time."

    Not in my experience, although YMMV. If a PC in a network has been compromised by malware, it's probably spread throughout the network by the time the user makes the call. IT will want to analyze that computer to see what they're dealing with (again, this is only my experience.) Re-imaging the infected machine won't help IT identify or eradicate the virus that is running rampant through their network.

    Believe me, I've tried the repair disc method. Couldn't get enough of 'em, and the more repair utilities the better. It takes time to figure out which repair to try, run the diagnostics, cross your fingers and hope it works, otherwise on to something else, and all the while taking the risk that you'll only make things worse and end up having to do a wipe and re-install.

    Now, unless I'm very sure I know what needs to be fixed and I have the proper tool at hand and I'm sure I know how to use it - which is often not the case - I sit back and enjoy a nice cup of Darjeeling while Macrium Reflect makes my troubles go away.

    If, on the other hand, you're someone who enjoys all the technical details - and what's wrong with that? - and you've got the time to spend, a good repair disc with lots of utilities is the way to go.

  16. #15
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    i wish

    my pc has NO cdroms. at least that is what msconfig says.
    i know i had cdroms. i still have cdroms. they still work.
    but no repair disk is going to tell windows that they exist.

    while repair disks are a good thing to have and may solve most problems.
    a full pc fixit kit is going to need a lot more than a bootable disk.

    i lost the cdroms according to windows when a failed install deleted something.
    my bad it asked if i really wanted to do it and i trusted the install program.
    dont remember what it deleted but the cdroms are gone from windows belief system
    the usb ports are gone too. and the monitor was stuck at low rez.

    now if there were a fixit kit that backed up all the key information then perhaps i could type it in and edit the registry or something to make the cdroms come to life to use a repair disk.

    please add a final chapter to this article that includes a list of ALL the other info you may need and how to make it easily available for use in case of a failure.


    Quote Originally Posted by Kathleen Atkins View Post



    TOP STORY

    Emergency repair disks for Windows: Part 1


    By Fred Langa

    When your PC won't boot from its hard drive, you might be dead in the water — unless you've created a bootable emergency repair disk or drive. Repair disks don't simply get PCs started; they also include tools that might fix what's wrong with the system. And creating a repair disk takes just minutes.

    The full text of this column is posted at windowssecrets.com/top-story/emergency-repair-disks-for-windows-part-1 (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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