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Windows 7: How to Rescue Windows 7 in the Event of SSD Failure

27 Jan 2012   #1
martinlest

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64-bit
 
 
How to Rescue Windows 7 in the Event of SSD Failure

My O/S (Win7 x64) is on an SSD and after my brother had his SSD fail recently, I thought I would post about recovery options (assuming that it is a hardware failure)..

I make fairly regular backups of my C Drive as a system image (via the Windows 7 option) - and also the registry via ERDNT. My question is this: if I created a new, empty Primary Partition on one of my SATA drives, in the event that the SSD failed and Windows could not find the C Drive currently on the SSD, would Windows allow me to change the empty SATA partition's drive letter to 'C' and restore the system image there? Or can anyone see that in practice there would be 'issues' with that? I clearly don't want to test this out for real when the current C Drive is operating normally - this is just a precautionary measure of course.

Not sure either at this stage how to restore the system image to a different partition yet, but I guess the information is out there (probably in Win7 Help too) ...

Any comments on this? Thanks,

Martin


My System SpecsSystem Spec
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27 Jan 2012   #2
wanchoo

Windows 7 Pro with SP1 32bit
 
 

I think it should after you have unplugged the defective SSD. But because I have never faced this situation I am not 100% sure.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
27 Jan 2012   #3
alphanumeric

Windows 10 Education 64 bit
 
 

The drive letters are only valid for the currently loaded OS. If you were to connect another drive with say Windows 7 on it you would likely notice that it becomes C: and what was C: changes to another drive letter. Also Windows 7 won't let you change the drive letter for the drive it is installed to and currently running from. If your currently installed OS is using C for its drive letter it won't let you change it or assign it to another drive. That shouldn't be a problem though. If you restore your image to the correct partition on the replacement hard drive and that partition is marked as the boot partition, one would think that Windows would boot up as C:. I would think that you would want to mirror your current disk structure. For me that would be System Reserved (Active Primary), Windows 7 (Boot), etc. I don't think you can just arbitrarily put it on any partition and expect it to work. I'm no expert on this and I may have gotten some of it wrong but thats the way I "think" it works.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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27 Jan 2012   #4
whs
Microsoft MVP

Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8
 
 

Yeah, there is room for improvement in your strategy;

1. Using Windows7 imaging is not such a good idea. When the time comes to restore, it can be very iffy and does not work in many cases. There are ways to recover from that (if the images are on an external drive and if you have another working system), but this recovery is very involved - see here.

2. I would recommend you use free Macrium for imaging. That is more robust and you have much better control. Free Paragon is another alternative if e.g. you prefer differential images. But that is a bit more complex.

3. Your copy on the HDD won't help you unless this is a full installation. And you cannot just rename a partition to be C. If you have an additional Win7 installation on the HDD partition, you need to change the BIOS boot sequence in order to boot from that and then this partition will assume the letter C automatically. And if the SSD goes belly up, that will only work if that partition has its own bootmgr and not a double boot where the bootmgr is on the SSD.

But that strategy may set you back by months because all the activity you did on your SSD will be lost. Frequent imaging is a much better option.

4. I assume you have a seperate data partition which you backup as needed. That can be imaged or synced. But you have to backup your data even more often than the system. The system can always be rebuilt - one way or another. But if you lose your data, that is more tragic.

And enable the restore points on your data partition. Then you can always recover things when you lose a file or folder. E.g. like this: ShadowExplorer - Recover Lost Files and Folders

5. SSDs are no more fragile than HDDs - just the opposite. The problem your brother had was bad luck. I have 6 SSDs and they all work well (knock on wood). The oldest one is over 3 years old.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
28 Jan 2012   #5
martinlest

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64-bit
 
 

Thanks very much for the replies.

I am downloading Macrium 5.0, as you suggest WHS. I will make an image of the C partition using that, once I have read and understood the instructions: I've downloaded the video too (though I can only hear it if I turn my PC volume to maximum!).

My current image, using Windows 7 imaging, is of the C partition and the 'System Reserved' space. I actually use the PC in question pretty much exclusively for MS Flight Simulator. On one SDD, divided into two partitions, I have the O/S in one partition and Flight Simulator X on the other. On a 2nd. SDD I have Flight Simulator 9. I back up/sync the entire FSX and FS9 root folders using XXCopy (in other words, yes, I do have a backup of my data files). I also have two SATA drives with other stuff, documents etc. - I use the 2nd. SATA disc as a backup for the 1st. In addition, I keep a copy of my C drive image on an external drive - so all in all I think I have all the backups I would need (and I have plenty of experience restoring the data on the PC - it's the O/S that 'worries' me). But of course all that would be in vain if the backup programme won't restore the O/S in the event of an SSD failure and Macrium seems to be reliable in that respect, from what I read at least.

Using Macrium, I guess your paragraph 3 no longer applies? I need to read up about how to recover the O/S partition using Macrium of course ..

But as you say, maybe (fingers crossed) I will have no problems with my SSDs and they will survive to a ripe old age!

Thanks again,

Martin
My System SpecsSystem Spec
28 Jan 2012   #6
whs
Microsoft MVP

Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8
 
 

Quote:
the C partition and the 'System Reserved' space
Note that Macrium does not image the small system partition automatically with C as Windows7 imaging does.

Therefore, before you start imaging with Macrium, I highly recommend to move your bootmgr from the small system partition to the C partition. It is very easy. Here is how. That will make your life a lot easier and you then can disregard the small system partition. No need to delete it though. It is too small to be useful for anything.

And I am sorry for the sound. Some people had the same problem - others did not.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
28 Jan 2012   #7
martinlest

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64-bit
 
 

Hi again. What would be the alternative to moving the bootmgr? Using Windows 7 to image just the system partition and using that in tandem with Macrium? As my system is working fine I am just envisaging the whole thing going awry by moving system files like this. Or is it really a risk-free operation via EasyBCD??

Martin
My System SpecsSystem Spec
28 Jan 2012   #8
whs
Microsoft MVP

Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8
 
 

Martin, just do it. I have done it half a dozen times. It is completely risk free and you are done in 1 minute. It will make your life a lot easier, believe me.

Btw: I assume your SSD is well aligned. Better check it: SSD Alignment
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 Jan 2012   #9
martinlest

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64-bit
 
 

Ok, I'll check.

Meanwhile I have created the bootable rescue discs (WindowsPE and Linux, as per your video) and the create a disc wizard showed both as successfully done. When I reboot with the discs in the DVD drive however, the former doesn't work (I do choose my DVD drive from the boot menu of course) and booting from the Linux CD simply opens a black screen with a command prompt at "Grub>" .. I have no idea what is happening there or what I am supposed to get. I can't see anywhere in the tutorials that says how I am supposed to use the rescue disc to help restore an image - I'd be grateful for some further indications. Is there a step-by-step guide somewhere I have missed to this?

Thanks again,

M
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 Jan 2012   #10
whs
Microsoft MVP

Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8
 
 

Hmm, that is really strange. That must be a 'local' problem because I have never heard anything alike. Try to create the WinPE as USB stick - 1 or 2GB is plenty. That is fast and works well too.
But you better check what could be wrong with your optical drive.
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 How to Rescue Windows 7 in the Event of SSD Failure




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