Creating customized recovery images for Win8

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.

This is the fourth installment in a series detailing Windows 8’s backup-and-recover system. The previous Top Stories include:

  • July 11, “Understanding Windows 8’s File History”
  • Aug. 15, “A ‘no-reformat reinstall’ for Windows 8,” which discusses Win8’s Refresh command
  • Sept. 12, “A clean-slate reinstall for Windows 8,” a description of Win8’s clean-slate tool, Reset.

Unfortunately, in its default application, Refresh has a major drawback. Although it doesn’t change your user files, native (Metro/Modern) Win8 apps, or applications you obtained via the Windows Store, Refresh does remove traditional Windows desktop apps that you installed from other websites or from optical media. (See the explanation on a Microsoft Windows 8 Support page.)

You can, however, avoid this Refresh limitation by creating and using a custom system image. It automatically rebuilds Win8 to the specific configuration you want — standard desktop apps included.

A custom system image still gives you the benefits of the default Refresh. Win8’s core files will be completely rebuilt, and your user accounts, data, passwords, and personal files will be left intact.

Best of all, it’s incredibly simple to make a custom system image. The only tool you need — recimg.exe — is already built into your copy of Windows 8!

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All Windows Secrets articles posted on 2013-10-10:

Fred Langa

About Fred Langa

Fred Langa is senior editor. His LangaList Newsletter merged with Windows Secrets on Nov. 16, 2006. Prior to that, Fred was editor of Byte Magazine (1987 to 1991) and editorial director of CMP Media (1991 to 1996), overseeing Windows Magazine and others.