I have a custom built HTPC running Windows7 Home Premium 64 bit that I bought from a tin-pot PC building firm last year. It has 4 physical drives in it. The first is configured as a "basic disk" with a single C:\ drive partition on which windows 7 is installed. The other three are configured as a RAID1 "dynamic disk" that present themselves in Windows as a single logical drive (E:\) and that's where all my data lives.
Windows Media Centre has now stopped working properly and I've tried everything to fix it (Any ideas on this also appreciated, in case I can avoid a reinstall!... mcupdate.exe always crashes (with System.IO.FileNotFoundException): I can't update TV signal set-up or guide data
) so now I need to reinstall windows. I'm an IT professional and I've installed many prior versions of windows in the past, but never Windows 7 so I have a few questions I'd be very grateful for help with:
1) If I reinstall Windows 7 on my C:/ drive, will the E:\ drive be left unaffected and the fresh install of windows will still be able to see the E:\ drive and access all the data on it without any permissions issues?
2) The company that I bought the HTPC from neglected to give me a DVD with the Windows 7 installer (and prod key) on and they went out of business a few months ago, so I'm feeling a bit stuck. I've used a free tool to extract my Windows 7 product key from the registry, and borrowed a Windows 7 DVD from a friend. Will reinstalling from this DVD with the product key I've extracted work, or is the product key tied to the physical DVD (or does it just need to pass a checksum algorithm?) If I use my product key to reinstall, will I also be able to re"activate" Windows 7 or will it now think it's a dodgy copy? My current install says it's an OEM version (when I tried to get support from MS.com), but my friend's DVD is a full retail one - is that a problem too? What options do I have here? Can I, for example, create a copy of my friend's DVD and amend the prod-key in the poduct.ini file to be mine in the "HomePremium=" entry?
3) Before I attempt anything, I'm keen to do a full system backup. I've done this with the Windows 7 system image tool and have a 154 GB file that I've copied to an external USB hard drive, and I'm going to create a restore boot "disk" on a CD. However, If I need to do a restore, can the restore app read from a USB HD or not? I assume it can't read from the dynamic disk E:\ drive? Or can I just keep it on the C:\ drive, or will this get wiped completely when I reinstall windows, thus losing the image file?
Any/all help very gratefully received!