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  1. #1
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    Restore System Image in Win 7

    Greetings All -

    I recently inherited a Dell Vostro 3300 Laptop, that to make a pretty long story short, I needed to take all the way back to the original factory condition. It took me two solid days of updates, just to get WIN 7 Pro fully current. Should something go awry in the future, I want to have something more recent to fall back on, as in images located on an external HD. To the point of this thread, I would like to delete the partition that contains the Dell factory image (I have exported it elsewhere should the unthinkable occur) and reclaim the HD space. I have a new image made with the free version of Macrium Reflect. In addition to a windows recovery disk, and Win 7 partition capabilities, I also have the free MinitTool Partition software. Looking at the disk management window in Win 7, it shows first the small Win system partition, then the hidden Dell recovery partition, then my Windows C drive. Again, I'd like to clear out the Dell partition and have just the system and Windows partitions. I'm unclear on how to proceed, however. I don't want to have to go back to day one again in case I mess something up. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.

    Casey H.

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    As long as you have a full system image via Macrium and have confirmed that you can boot from the Macrium recovery CD/USB and read the image backup, you are ready to go.

    You need to delete the Dell recovery partition and move the Windows C drive back into the spare space - do NOT touch the small Windows system partition, it is the boot info.
    MTPW will delete and move in one go for you, all you need is to be brave.

    cheers, Paul

  3. #3
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    Thanks Paul. Final question; do I delete the partition using something in Macrium or in Windows disk management?

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Casey H View Post
    Looking at the disk management window in Win 7, it shows first the small Win system partition, then the hidden Dell recovery partition, then my Windows C drive.
    Are you sure about that? Typical Dell partition layouts consisted of a small (less than 100 MB) DellUtility partition, followed by the Recovery partition ("System"), and finally the Windows partition ("Boot"). Eliminate the Recovery partition and the system won't boot.

    Regardless, you should first do a reality check: why do you really want to delete the Recovery partition? Dell's Recovery partition is typically 10GB and rarely more than 15GB. Is space really so tight that you need that room for Windows? How large is your hard disk? My general advice is that if space is so tight you need another 10GB, then you really need a bigger hard disk instead.

    If you just don't like the aesthetics of having it around, or if you say you're never going to use it anyway (though just imagine how much more difficult it would have been for you if the previous owner had said that), then okay, at least you're being honest. But don't pretend it's taking up too much space.

    Beware that Disk Management is deceptive because the bar graph is not to scale--that 10GB partition appears larger than it really is relative to the entire disk. That leaves people with the impression it's taking up more space than it really is. They mistakenly think they'll have gobs more space for Windows without it.

    If you do decide to delete the Recovery partition, do so with the understanding that it will take a bit of work for very little gain. Since Windows boots from the Recovery partition, you'll have to change the active partition, move the boot files from the Recovery partition to the Windows partition, then you'll have to repair the BCD or Windows won't boot. Once you delete the Recovery partition you'll have to slide the entire Windows partition forward, sector by sector, into the space vacated by the Recovery partition. Then you'll have to repair the BCD again because the partition has moved.

    It can be done and I'm not saying you'd be foolish to try, but understand what you're getting into. It's not a simple, 5-minute job.

  5. The Following User Says Thank You to dg1261 For This Useful Post:

    mrjimphelps (2015-10-27)

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    Thanks. I think you saved me from at least restoring a different backup. I thought the piece I was trying to get rid of was just the old Dell factory image. The size threw me. On my desktop, the system partition is very small, that's what I assumed the first partition on the laptop was. Is the reason the 2nd partition is so large is that it contains the factory image as well as the current system files. Hard drive is 500 gig. You're right--aesthetics as much as anything. Then again 17 gig is 17 gig.

  7. #6
    jwoods
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    Quote Originally Posted by Casey H View Post
    Thanks Paul. Final question; do I delete the partition using something in Macrium or in Windows disk management?
    When you restore a partition, it overwrites the existing partition on the drive.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Casey H View Post
    On my desktop, the system partition is very small, that's what I assumed the first partition on the laptop was. Is the reason the 2nd partition is so large is that it contains the factory image as well as the current system files.
    Is your desktop a different brand? Different OEMs use different strategies.

    A default Microsoft installation tends to create a small (100 MB or so) "System Reserved" partition separate from the main Windows partition. Some OEMs leave the SRP as is and create one or two additional, proprietary partitions for recovery purposes. Many HPs, for instance, have a small SRP, a HP Recovery partition, the Windows partition, and another small partition at the end for "HP Tools".

    In contrast, Dell combines their Recovery partition with the SRP, so one partition serves both purposes. And yes, it's size is largely dictated by the size of the factory.wim recovery image.

    If you do choose to delete the Recovery partition, you'll first want to repair the Windows partition so it doesn't require the Recovery partition to boot. Here's some further reading, if you're interested. Once you do that, the Recovery partition will no longer be required and you'll be free to move/delete/resize non-essential partitions.

    (If you decide to remove the Recovery partition, you might want to take the opportunity to remove the DellUtility partition, as well. DellUtility is a leftover artifact from the 98/XP era, and serves little purpose today. At 100 MB it's too small to normally let it bother you, but if you're going to be shifting the Windows partition anyway then it's no more trouble removing both DellUtility and Recovery at the same time.)

  9. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Casey H View Post
    Thanks Paul. Final question; do I delete the partition using something in Macrium or in Windows disk management?
    Use MTPW to do all the deleting and moving.

    cheers, Paul

  10. #9
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    Thanks guys. I'm not going to mess with it. Everything works great right now. My original plan before I lucked into the Dell recovery software and was able to restore the factory setup was to reformat and start with a newly purchased installation disk. That worried me because I was going to have to scrounge all of the drivers on my own. Reason being, as I inherited the laptop, Windows needed activation, and the product key inside the battery compartment didn't work. MS couldn't help me, and Dell said they could but for about 130 bucks. After restoring the factory setup, it took me two whole days to get all of the windows updates. It needed all of the big ones: SP 1, Explorer 11, about 300 all total I think. Everything is perfect right now and I'm not savvy enough to be comfortable with isolating the boot files. Thanks again everybody.
    Casey

  11. #10
    jwoods
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    Now would probably be a good time to do a full disk image.

    You might try the free version of Macrium Reflect...

    http://www.macrium.com/reflectfree.aspx

    I have used the paid Image for Windows from TeraByte Unlimited for several years, and have never had an image fail to restore.

    Whatever you choose, I would suggest doing a byte-for-byte verification. Takes longer, but helps to ensure the integrity of the image.
    Last edited by jwoods; 2015-10-28 at 01:14.

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