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Windows 7 recovery from system image

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This'll probably end up being useful for future me, rather than really frustrated present me.

 

I set the office PCs up with Win7 on OCZ Vortex2 SSDs maybe four years ago now, figuring the flood damaged HDDs needed replacing and hey why not make the systems more responsive after boot while I was at it. Everything went pretty well, up until a few weeks ago. Not sure what exactly went wrong with the controller, but the SSD no longer likes to be written to: lucky to get 1 min into the desktop before it locks up, requires constant power drains to even get that far after reboots, etc. Familiar sounding issues for those drives, but not the typical suspects.

 

I've had it backing up once weekly to my computer across the network. Every 6 months if I remembered I'd do a full system image, otherwise just the incremental file backup.

 

I thought it would be relatively easy to restore from the system image across the network, but neither my win7 nor win8 boot flash drives would find them. I tried reinstalling win7 and doing it from winthin the desktop environment, but no dice. The VHDs mount fine, by the way - tested, copied data out, no dice. Tried extracting all files using the more normal backup/restore section of control panel, but it obviously wouldn't re-write system files and the registry.

 

Grabbed a trial version of Acronis 2014 and made some progress after a while - it recognises the vhd image files, but won't work with them without spitting out errors.

 

How are you normally meant to restore from an image in this kind of circumstance? I'm pretty much out of time between other tasks now, so I'm going to just reinstall and update win7 from scratch, and manually set office/mail back up, but assuming this happens again I'd really like to know how it's meant to work.

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Are you using the standard boot images or a rescue image? The standard images probably don't contain the relevant network drivers and the like, so you would need to load them during boot.

Also remember the drive with the backup images on it needs to be shared on the LAN.

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Standard boot image on the Win7 install media. I don't think the drivers are an issue - it asks for log-in details for the network share, and will accept/reject them based on whether I type in the right password.

 

Maybe also worth noting I also created two partitions on the replacement HDD, and copied the backup files to that in case I was lucky and it would let that work (50gb vhd of a 60gb SDD sitting on an 80GB partition at the end of the drive, with the first 100GB free to be used when restoring from images). Was also a no-go - refused to see the system images.

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So they were created with the windows backup & restore program > create system image?

 

I had to use this for the first time just a month or two ago and it worked flawlessly. Can't recall whether I did it with a local file or via network though. But it should be as simple as boot with the windows install cd/usb, choose the advanced options > restore from system image, select the image, and then let it do its thing.

 

If it's not working it could be a corrupt VHD, but if it can be read it makes me think it's something else. It also stores the files in folders based on PC name/date and then the file has some random number, so whether it needs that to match to the system it's restoring, i'm not sure.

 

Win7 pro and win8 can boot from a VHD file. Not sure of the details behind it, but might be worth looking into and see if that might help.

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I was considering trying the boot from VHD option, but a) I'd heard it could be unstable after a while, and b) Acronis decided that when I told it to remove a vhd (duplicated) from it's restore list, it should delete it across the network. Woops. Not sure how it'd go booting from the system VHD when the VHD the bootloader sat in is now missing.

 

Last few rounds of system update/restart, and then I'll just extract the profile data (documents, scans, etc) from the VHD and set office/mail back up by hand. At least it's now at a point I can RDP in to do this >.

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