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Windows 7: Creating a Custom Recovery Partition

24 Oct 2014   #1
TheDeerDude

Windows 7 Home Premium (x64)
 
 
Creating a Custom Recovery Partition

Hello,
I have recently installed a fresh copy of Windows 7 on my Qosmio, installed all the drivers and necessary system utilities and programs that I wanted. Now, that took me a good few hours and quite a bit of effort. So, I thought of a way to prevent myself from having to do exactly the same thing in the future (I often have to completely wipe my laptop) I thought of creating a custom recovery partition. (Cause I'm lazy, aren't we all, more or less? )

So, just like on untouched laptops - you hit a key when it's booting, and you're given the option to restore it to factory condition (wipe the hard drive and restore the initial, first windows installation with all the unnecessary bloatware)

Would it be possible to do something like that? Create a system image, put it onto a hidden partition and leave it there until I need it, and then have an automated process that would restore wipe the current OS and restore the backup image. If so, how could I do that?

My current Windows installation is taking up about ~20GB total.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
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24 Oct 2014   #2
mjf

Windows 7x64 Home Premium SP1
 
 

You really need to be keeping some system images. You would normally store these on an external HDD. You can store them on a partition other than the operating system partition but if your main HDD fails you've lost your image.
Windows inbuilt system imaging
Backup Complete Computer - Create an Image Backup
But if you had to pick one very popular and more flexible imaging program then look at (free) Macrium Reflect.
Imaging with free Macrium
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Oct 2014   #3
LMiller7

Windows 7 Pro 64 bit
 
 

Duplicating the recovery facilities provided by an OEM is not practical.
A recovery partition is used because it is the best that can be done with a single drive but it is far from optimum. Keeping an image backup on an external drive is much better.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
.

25 Oct 2014   #4
TheDeerDude

Windows 7 Home Premium (x64)
 
 

@mjf:
That is a very good point. I do happen to have two hard drives in my laptop, but I might as well use my external one, it is least likely to fail.
I think I'll go with the second option, after doing some research I've noticed that people tend to have problems with Window's build in imaging feature.

@LMiller7:
Thankfully they do offer some sort of recovery facilities, better than nothing, right? As long as the drive doesn't fail. Ah, I really wish they'd just provide you with an OS installation disc and maybe one with drivers when you buy a new machine, like back in the days of early XP. Still, can't complain.

So, thank you both for pointing me towards the right solution (literally) and explaining why it isn't a good idea to do this the hard way, only for it to be not practical. I will go for the imaging option.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
25 Oct 2014   #5
Kaktussoft

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

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

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Viper13 View Post
@mjf:
That is a very good point. I do happen to have two hard drives in my laptop, but I might as well use my external one, it is least likely to fail.
I think I'll go with the second option, after doing some research I've noticed that people tend to have problems with Window's build in imaging feature.

@LMiller7:
Thankfully they do offer some sort of recovery facilities, better than nothing, right? As long as the drive doesn't fail. Ah, I really wish they'd just provide you with an OS installation disc and maybe one with drivers when you buy a new machine, like back in the days of early XP. Still, can't complain.

So, thank you both for pointing me towards the right solution (literally) and explaining why it isn't a good idea to do this the hard way, only for it to be not practical. I will go for the imaging option.
OS installation disc can be downloaded here: Windows 7 Direct Download Links, Official Disk Images from Digital River . Most drivers are installed automagically by win7 after install. Most computer manufactures have a special driver webpage for each laptop model. So downloading/installing drivers is very easy.

Use Macrium Reflect FREE or AOMEI Backupper (also free) for making backups. They are more flexible than win7's built-in backup tool. Be sure to make a Backup recovery DVD so you can be boot from that DVD and do the restore in case your system doesn't boot from harddrive anymore. Test at least once if you can boot from that DVD and can see the harddrive and backup media (so you know for sure they don't need extra drivers).
My System SpecsSystem Spec
25 Oct 2014   #6
LMiller7

Windows 7 Pro 64 bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Viper13 View Post
Thankfully they do offer some sort of recovery facilities, better than nothing, right? As long as the drive doesn't fail. Ah, I really wish they'd just provide you with an OS installation disc and maybe one with drivers when you buy a new machine, like back in the days of early XP. Still, can't complain.
Providing an installation disk is good for more advanced users, but not for those less knowledgeable (the majority). Manufacturers learned a long time ago that disks are often lost or thrown out with the packing. Providing two methods of restoring the system leads to confusion, which the manufacturer pays for in support calls. Even the best instructions don't help because hardly anybody reads them. Providing only a restore partition keeps things simple and with lower cost.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
26 Oct 2014   #7
TheDeerDude

Windows 7 Home Premium (x64)
 
 

@Kaktussoft:
I did happen to have a copy of Windows 7 on my bootable pendrive (Made with Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool) although thank you for providing me with a link to official installation discs. Might come in handy in the future.

I did use Macrium Reflect (the free version, yes, it offers more than I need anyway ) and it worked flawlessly. I did create a backup recovery USB flash drive and tested it, because I was asked to do so and out of curiosity. This seems to be the best solution.

@LMiller7:
You've got a point, and I agree with it, it'd be silly to waste money on providing installation discs for those (majority) who wouldn't find them useful.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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