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  1. #1
    Star Lounger
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    Do I need both Windows Recovery Environment partitions after 8.1 Upgrade?

    When my Windows 8 PC was brand new, the disk had EFI, WINRETOOLS, C, and PBR partitions. After I upgraded to Windows 8.1, I had another, unlabeled, Windows Recovery Environment (WRE) partition in between my C and PBR partitions. I subsequently deleted the PBR partition, because I have two "Recovery Drive" copies of it (a USB flashdrive and a set of DVDs.)

    I don't really want to use either "Recovery Drive" and go back to Windows 8, because I also updated all of my PC's drivers to 8.1. Everything took a lot of time and effort. If something goes wrong, I'm relying on recovering from a disk image I've saved to a USB hard drive. When I created the image, the routine said to was saving the EFI, C and Windows Recovery Environment partitions. No mention of the which WRE partition or partitions.

    My question is, why did I get another WRE partition when I upgraded to Windows 8.1, and do I actually need both WRE Partitions now that I'm on 8.1?
    Last edited by DJG; 2014-06-01 at 17:37.

  2. #2
    Super Moderator bbearren's Avatar
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    The WinRE is not like a drive image you can restore - it is a set of tools that will allow you to "recover" from boot problems, blue screens, etc. You only need one. You only need the one for Windows 8.1.
    Create a new drive image before making system changes, in case you need to start over!

    "Let them that don't want it have memories of not gettin' any." "Gratitude is riches and complaint is poverty and the worst I ever had was wonderful." Brother Dave Gardner "Experience is what you get when you're looking for something else." Sir Thomas Robert Deware. "The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem. Do you understand?" Captain Jack Sparrow.
    Unleash Windows

  3. #3
    Star Lounger
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    Apparently removing the original Windows 8 WinRE partition is not as simple as just deleting it. As a test, I renamed the partition from WINRETOOLS to WINRETOOLS8, and my PC failed to boot. Putting the name back to WINRETOOLS corrected the problem. I'm guessing when a Windows 8 system is upgraded to Windows 8.1, there is some kind of chain boot set up that first looks for the original WinRE partition and then looks for the new WinRE partition.

    I'm only loosing 500MB of disk space to the original WinRE. Unless someone can provide personal experience with this issue, I think the best strategy is to leave well enough alone.

  4. #4
    4 Star Lounger
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    Experimenting with the hard drive of my main system makes me nervous. It is possible to get it into an unrecoverable condition. If you have a recent drive image, then you should be able to restore it, but I'm always worried that the backup drive image will be corrupt, and the recovery program will just blow raspberries when you try to restore.

    I like to clone the drive to a scratch drive, and then disconnect the original drive from the computer, and hook up the clone drive in it's place. Then just try stuff, without worrying about whether or not something goes wrong.

    I'm not sure what Microsoft has done to the boot-up for Windows 8/8.1, I thought it was the same as Windows 7, but maybe not. There is a usually un-named partition that is required. Maybe your computer manufacturer named the un-named partition WINRETOOLS. Does Disk Management show the partition, and does it have a drive letter?

    You can probably change it around with the BCD editor.

  5. #5
    Star Lounger
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    If I had a desktop PC with a quick swap bay, I would definitely follow your suggestion to experiment with a scratch drive. Unfortunately, swapping drives is a lot more difficult with a laptop. My alternative was to first create a dual boot setup with Ubuntu Linux. If I mess something up on the Windows side, I can fix it from the Ubuntu side.

    Windows Disk Management shows incorrect and incomplete results. Not all partitions are shown and the percent usage is wrong. The GParted editor in Ubuntu shows all partitions, and I can even see the folders and files within a partition. That's how I learned that the boot process for Windows8/8.1 is significantly different from previous versions. Both the EFI partition and the WinRE partition are involved and, along with the UEFI firmware, replace the MBR that previously resided on the C partition. It's all part of trying to keep malware from imbedding itself in the boot sequence. A side benefit is the boot process is much quicker than with the older BIOS configuration.

    WinRE has existed since Vista. WinRE in Windows8/8.1 has an excellent GUI that allows you to Refresh, Reset, or Troubleshoot your PC before Windows loads. The simplest way to invoke WinRE is to hold down the Shift key while clicking on Restart. You can also use WinRE to alter the boot sequence, but my UEFI does not provide for permanently saving the altered sequence.

    I might be getting off the subject a bit, but I think the new boot process is relevant to the issue.

  6. #6
    Star Lounger
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    For those who might be interested in seeing my disk drive partition table, here is how it looks using the Linux GParted editor:

    Screenshot from 2014-06-03.png

    Partitions sda7 and sda8 are the main Linux OS and Linux RAM swap partitions, respectively. All of the other partitions are from Windows 8.1.

    And here is what Windows Disk Manager shows:

    Windows Disk Manager.png

    Note that one of the partitions is missing and all but C: are shown as 100% free space which is not the case.
    Last edited by DJG; 2014-06-05 at 23:44.

  7. The Following User Says Thank You to DJG For This Useful Post:

    rmonroe36 (2014-06-06)

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