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Windows 7: Complete System Restore from Windows Backup did not fix computer


06 Oct 2012   #1

Windows 7 Professional x64
 
 
Complete System Restore from Windows Backup did not fix computer

Hey all,

I have a Windows 7 Pro x64 box with a 128GB SSD and a 500GB HDD in it. Recently, I ran into some booting trouble with Windows. First, while my startups used to be lightening fast, thanks to the SSD, the time from POST to desktop became increasingly longer. The desktop wouldn't appear for minutes at a time, and I would have to wait at a black screen after the splash logo before I'd reach the desktop.

I ran Malwarebytes, AVG 2012 Internet Security, Spybot S&D, and Trojan Hunter on my installation, but nothing turned up. One day, the computer simply stopped booting to the desktop, and would simply hang at the black screen before login, with a mouse visible, but without any keystrokes being recognized, including the venerable CTRL-ALT-DEL.

I decided to run Startup Repair from a System Repair disc I had made awhile back. Startup Repair found some issues, but it reported that it repaired them, and I attempted to reboot again. No dice. I ran Startup Repair a few more times, but no other issues were found, and booting still didn't work.

At this point, I decided that restoring from the Windows Backup Image I had created in Windows Backup would work. I had made the backup before the slow startup issue began to appear, so I thought it was a working backup.

I connected my external drive that contained the backup, and ran the System Restore program from the WinRE disc. However, when I was presented with the option to format and erase the target disk (my SSD) I decided against it, because I didn't want more formatting to cause unnecessary writes to the SSD. The restore ran without a hitch, and I rebooted Windows.

But it still didn't work! I'm completely at a loss; the backup was a good copy as far as I know, and I hadn't tampered with either the backup or the drive it resided on at all, but it still did not fix my problem.

I have a couple of questions:

1.) Naturally, my first query is, does anyone have any advice as to how I may fix this issue, and get Windows booting again?

2.) Why didn't the Restore work properly? Was it because I didn't allow it to reformat the drive? If so, should I run it again, this time enabling that option?

3.) I have read on the 'net about the black screen hang issue, but does anyone have an idea what might have caused it? I haven't made any untoward modifications of my system, except for downloading and installing the latest Windows Updates and updating all my existing apps.

4.) Would an in-place repair install of Windows work? I do have the retail disc when I purchased my copy of Windows 7 Pro, so could I insert that, boot up from it, and do a repair install to fix any issues with the OS?

My System SpecsSystem Spec
.

06 Oct 2012   #2

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Win 7 Pro 64-bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Diogones View Post
I have a couple of questions:

1.) Naturally, my first query is, does anyone have any advice as to how I may fix this issue, and get Windows booting again?

2.) Why didn't the Restore work properly? Was it because I didn't allow it to reformat the drive? If so, should I run it again, this time enabling that option?

3.) I have read on the 'net about the black screen hang issue, but does anyone have an idea what might have caused it? I haven't made any untoward modifications of my system, except for downloading and installing the latest Windows Updates and updating all my existing apps.

4.) Would an in-place repair install of Windows work? I do have the retail disc when I purchased my copy of Windows 7 Pro, so could I insert that, boot up from it, and do a repair install to fix any issues with the OS?
My usual disclaimer: I'm not an expert at anything. From what you've indicated here's my best guess to your questions.

1. I'd suggest going through these troubleshooting tutorials that were prepared by one of the Forum experts. It may help to isolate a hardware problem.

Troubleshooting Windows 7 Failure to Boot

Troubleshooting Steps for Windows 7

2. It sounds like there might be a hardware problem (failing motherboard, failing hard drive, bad RAM, etc.) A system image only copies data from the hard drive. Restoring a good system image to a machine that has failing hardware won't fix the underlying hardware problem. Of course, that assumes the system image was good in the first place. Unfortunately, I think the only way to know for sure it's a good image is to try it.

3. The troubleshooting tutorials should help with the black screen. Again, hardware issues can also cause these problems.

4. A repair install is also data related. Since a system image didn't fix the problem I don't think a repair install would, either. I'd try to rule out hardware problems.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
08 Oct 2012   #3

Windows 7 Professional x64
 
 

Thanks for the prompt and helpful reply, marsminar! I followed your advice, and ran Memtest, but the results were negative, and I was able to boot up into a live Linux CD that I had, so I knew that the motherboard couldn't be bad. I ran a disk check on my two hard drives, and I found some interesting results. The SSD, with Windows installed on it, was just fine, flagged as active, bootable, all of that. The 500GB hard drive, on the other hand, was reporting some bad sectors. It also failed a self-check, and couldn't report on a "good" SMART status. I was also unable to access the hard drive via the file manager in Linux, as I was prompted with some disk access errors.

Now normally this wouldn't affect Windows' ability to boot up, because even though the storage drive has some issues, it's just that - a storage drive. My OS is on the SSD, which seems healthy enough, so what's the problem? When I set up my installation of Windows on the SSD, I moved all of my user folders to the 500GB drive, so that my files would reside in their proper directories on the roomier drive. Since that drive is going down, could it be possible that I cannot load Windows because it cannot access the appropriate user files? Every shell folder was copied, with the exception of the hidden folders (AppData et al.) and the Desktop folder.

Don't worry, it gets better.

I followed some of the suggestions in the excellent guides you linked - thanks for that - such as using Startup Repair 3 times, running sfc from the command line in the WinRE, and rebuilding the MBR, BCD, and boot sector. Holding my breath, I rebooted.

At first, it appeared as though I had the same problem: the OS appeared stuck on either the black screen or the Windows logo screen. But then, slowly, painfully, over a period of probably 20 to 30 minutes, Windows gradually moved from the logo screen to the black screen to the welcome screen, and eventually to the "loading your desktop screen." After being presented with a few more small dialog boxes in the upper left corner, indicating different services being loaded, I finally reached the desktop.

Boy, was I in for a shocker!

The desktop looked nothing like mine, none of my files were there, and I couldn't access My Computer, the Control Panel, and other basic Windows apps. Fortunately, I was able to connect a thumb drive and take some screen shots, so I'll let you determine what they mean. Just right click on it and select "open image" or a similar option, and it will open the picture in a new browser tab.



The fact that the desktop claims that my copy of Windows 7 isn't genuine is absurd, and it is the first time I've ever seen that message after owning this computer for over two years.

I received a popup message from the notification error stating that "Failed to connect to a windows service Windows could not connect to the User Profile Service service. This problem prevents standard users from from logging on to the system."

I'm really at a loss now. I've never even heard of this before! Is this some sort of temporary account that Windows has created for me? And why can't I access my drives from My Computer?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
.


08 Oct 2012   #4

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Win 7 Pro 64-bit
 
 

I've heard that a corrupt operating system could generate a "not genuine" message because of the way system files might get scrambled. It's usually not a problem to get reactivated by telephone.

That popup message "Failed to connect to a windows service Windows could not connect to the User Profile Service service. This problem prevents standard users from from logging on to the system" is confusing to say the least. I've also heard that moving/changing libraries, files, folders, etc could have adverse consequences in the OS functioning properly.

Have you considered a Repair Install? I would guess (and I must emphasize this is just a guess) that a repair install if it fails would leave you no worse off than you are right now. But it might rebuild the OS.

Repair Install

In the alternative, it might be faster to simply wipe the SSD and reinstall Windows 7 to a pristine condition. This tutorial goes into some detail about how to optimize an SSD prior to reinstalling Windows 7.

SSD / HDD : Optimize for Windows Reinstallation
My System SpecsSystem Spec
08 Oct 2012   #5

Windows 7 Professional x64
 
 

I think you're right marsmimar: the OS has somehow been fundamentally damaged; it's the only explanation for this bizarre behavior. The only things I remember doing was running CCleaner and cleaning the registry, and installing updates for Windows via Windows Update. These are the only two actions I've done recently which could have damaged the installation.

It's funny, because I was able to run sfc inside this weird environment, and from the WinRE, and after the initial repair, it has reported no problems with any system files.

I'll probably boot into my live Linux, copy all my files off of both hard drives, and wipe 'em both clean and reformat. A clean install - while I'm loath to do, because of the extra writes to the SSD - is probably what I need to do. I wish I could have found a more direct, non-destructive solution, but from what I've found through searching my error message online, everyone else has taken the clean install method, so it may be the only way.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
08 Oct 2012   #6

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Win 7 Pro 64-bit
 
 

On a positive note, a clean install should very nicely put to rest any performance issues. And in the FWIW category, I personally believe that your SSD will be replaced by a larger capacity, faster SSD before it fails from too many writes. Advancing technology will do that.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
13 Nov 2012   #7

Windows 7 Professional x64
 
 

Great news marsmimar! The story has a happy ending after all!

I removed the 500GB from my computer, and hooked it up via drive dock to another Windows machine. Windows wouldn't mount the drive, claiming that it had to be formatted in order to work properly. Ignoring the message, I opened the free copy of MiniTool Partition Wizard, selected the 500GB drive, and selected the "Check File System" command. The command ran, and chkdsk was used on the drive. Low and behold, there were several bad sectors on the drive, and many I/O errors as chkdsk tried to fix them. Ultimately, it marked one bad sector as irrepairable, and the scan finished. Immediately, the drive was recognized as NTFS formatted by the Windows machine, and it mounted correctly in Windows Explorer.

I immediately copied all important data off of the drive, and I arranged for a replacement to be sent in from the vendor I purchased the drive from. But curiosity was calling...

Now that I'd "fixed" the drive so that it would mount, would it work in my own machine again with the SSD drive? I hooked up the 500GB, crossed my fingers, and punched the power button.

The system booted right into the desktop without a hitch, and I whooped with joy. Now, at last, I had found the issue to the problem! I knew that it had to be the 500GB drive for two reasons:

1.) The drive wouldn't mount correctly after I booted my machine up from a Live Linux CD. The SSD was totally fine, but the 500GB reported all sorts of errors from the Linux file manager, and I couldn't access it at all.

2.) The drive contained all my user data and user profile, including the all-important directories such as Desktop, Downloads, etc. Since the problem I was experiencing was a very slow boot up time, and the problem gradually increased, that is a warning sign for a potential hardware problem. Also, when I finally did boot up, I was in the "weird" user account setup, and not my own. This was because Windows couldn't load my user account, as the files were inaccessible on the damaged 500GB drive.

I think that just about sums it up. If anyone has any other insight into how the drive affected the bootup process besides the reasons I've just outlined, I'd love to hear it. I thought I'd post my own conclusions for instructive use.

Thanks again for your help marsmimar, and I'm marking the thread as solved!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
13 Nov 2012   #8

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Win 7 Pro 64-bit
 
 

Glad to hear you were able to solve the problem. That is great news!

Quote:
If anyone has any other insight into how the drive affected the bootup process besides the reasons I've just outlined, I'd love to hear it.
The only thing that comes to mind is maybe (and I stress maybe) some boot files that should have been on the SSD were mistakenly transfered, reassigned, rebuilt on the HDD. Here's a hypothetical for which I don't know the answer. Suppose, when you ran startup repair or SFC, the scans determined that all required boot/system files were available ... but some were on the HDD. Would those scans know the files were on the wrong drive? Or would the scans simply conclude the files were present and accounted for? Maybe someone with a lot more smarts than me will jump in with more information
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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 Complete System Restore from Windows Backup did not fix computer




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