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Windows 7: Partial system Image access on external hard drive

28 Dec 2011   #1

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit
Partial System Image File Access or Restore VHD to Partion

Ok massive tale of woe here. I was using my computer last week, when it shut down unexpectedly. I couldn't get it too boot back up properly, and when I tried to access system recovery and startup repair I couldn't use them either. I worked out that I had an unmountable boot volume problem. I fixed it by reseting the computer back to factory default and planned to load back my last system image once I could get into Windows. Unfortunately I didn't realise that my last system image wasn't complete and I don't have any earlier ones. This basically means that Windows doesn't recognise is as a full image and I can't restore it. I have a vhd file that is a copy of my C drive and another partial vhd of the boot partition. I need to get some files of my C drive vhd file but when I mount it in Windows 7 it just says that it is a RAW drive and I can't access it. I've tried mounting it in Parted Magic to no avail. Does anyone know any way I can either access the image or just restore the whole think to where my C drive is now? I've already tried to recover lost files but that just left me with over 10,000 misplaced files what I would have to traverse through trying to find what I need. I'm at my wits end, can someone please help me!

My System SpecsSystem Spec

28 Dec 2011   #2


A long shot:

I assume that for a valid system image, it needs to be in the original folder (WindowsImageBackup) on the ORIGINAL drive it was on AND the associated shadow storage entry ("vssadmin list shadows" command) must be around.

Here's what you could try. Save the C: vhd somewhere safe. If you have a working version/image of Windows, take another system image (reserved/boot partition and C). Do a TAKEOWN of the WindowsImageBackup file and delete the larger of the 2 .vhd files (in \Backup YYYY-MM-DD HHMMSS folder) which will be your C partition image. Then copy your older C .vhd file into that same \Backup directory.

This is probably unlikely to work as there may be stuff in those xml files or the \Catalog folder that won't let things be missing or switched. Or something within the Shadow entry information that is used to double-check that all the pieces are there. But it's worth a shot.

I've never tried mounting a .vhd via Disk Management, but they're supposed to mount just fine from what I've read.

It looks like the GUID-thingy in the .vhd file name is the same for a drive every time a system image is taken.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
28 Dec 2011   #3

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit

Thanks for that, I hadn't considered making a second image and faking my C: drive partition. I'll give it a shot and get back to you.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

23 Jan 2012   #4

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit

Hi again, sorry this took so long but I've been without internet for a while. I tried what you said and at first it looked like it was going to work, I deleted the C: image file from the system image that I did and replaced it with the older one that I need reloaded. I went into the system image recovery from a system disc, selected repartition and format drives, and tried to run the restore. It ran fine but when i booted the system back up, it was the same thing that was taken in the second backup. So it restored all the files and everything without the .vhd file somehow. I tried mucking about with the BackupSpecs XML document but that didn't help anything. Any more ideas. Do you think I have to change something else that may list what files go where.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Jan 2012   #5

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Vista x64 / 7 X64

I assume you tried mounting the vhd with disk management ?

If that doesn't work - you can try mounting it with this
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Jan 2012   #6

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit

Hiya, yeah I tried all that, It mounts as a RAW disk and I can't access any of the files on there
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Jan 2012   #7

Windows 7x64 Home Premium SP1

You're onto the new options SIW2 - thanks.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Jan 2012   #8

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Vista x64 / 7 X64


MJ ,

I have been using that for a few years.

It was originally only in Chinese.

It is very powerful and somewhat eccentric.

I would recommend people stay away from it - unless they know exactly what they are doing.

That is why I posted the second link which explains how to use the mount function - recommend the op doesn't touch anything else.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Jan 2012   #9

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit

BRILLIANT!!! That lets me get at my files, thank you so much. Now I can just copy paste them. GREAT!!!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Jan 2012   #10

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit 7601 Multiprocessor Free Service Pack 1

If you have been able to mount the image whs has a tutorial on how you may be able to restore the image using Free Macrium (link in my sig). System Image - Recover a Broken Windows 7 System Image
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Partial system Image access on external hard drive

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