How to Restore your System with a Broken Windows 7 System Image
Step 1 - Check the Windows7 VHD
There were many reports where people did rely on Windows 7 images. But, when their system became inoperable and they wanted to recover with their Windows7 image, it did not work. The reasons are not always very clear and it really does not matter. The fact that one cannot recover the system is a dramatic event.
This tutorial will explain a procedure how one may still be able to use this broken image for recovery if the following conditions are given:
- The Windows 7 image is on an external drive or the drive can be externalized
- You have another working system (Windows 7, Vista, or XP) to which you can attach the external drive
- The VHD of the Windows7 image does still existThe approach is to reimage the Windows7 VHD and restore from that image.
We will use free Macrium for that operation. You will find a tutorial on how to operate free Macrium on this tutorial page.
For the recovery you need to burn the WinPE DVD which is explained in the Macrium tutorial. The recovery steps using the WinPE DVD are explained in this tutorial by Kado, which you find at this YouTube site
. Note that this tutorial has text but no sound.
In addition, we will use the Windows Disk Management. If you type Disk Management
into the Start/Search box and hit Enter, it should show up.
Attach the external disk on which the Windows7 image resides. The Windows7 image is in the root of that drive and the folder is called WindowsImageBackup
. Open that folder (you may be asked for authorization) and the subsequent folders until you see a page like this:
If you can see the VHD, as in the picture, then you are most likely in good shape. Step 2 - Attach the Windows 7 VHD
Go to Disk Management. In the top left next to the File
button click on the Action
button and then click on Attach VHD
. Then navigate to the Windows7 VHD as in Step 1, double click on the VHD, and click on OK
Now the VHD is attached (also called Mounted
). If you roll down in Disk Management, you should see it as one of your volumes. You can also see it in Computer where it should show like this:
Make sure you write down the drive letter (which is 'F' in my example) because you will need that letter later. Step 3 - Image the attached VHD
As a first step here, create a new folder on the same external disk where the Windows 7 image is. Call this folder Macrium Image
. If you have a second external drive attached to that system, you can create the Macrium Image
folder there. That will make the imaging step a bit faster.
Imaging an attached VHD is no different than imaging any other volume (partition or drive). Start Macrium and follow the steps explained in the Macrium imaging tutorial that is linked above. Just make sure you select the right volume (the letter you wrote down in Step 2) and that you select the Macrium Image
folder you just created.
Then click Finish
and the image will be taken. That can take 30 minutes or more depending on the size of the data in your VHD. Step 4 - Recover your system with the Macrium image
Attach the external disk to the system from where the Windows7 Image originally came. Boot that system from the DVD reader with the Macrium WinPE DVD. Follow the steps explained in Kados YouTube video which is linked above.
All you really need to do is to navigate to the Macrium image and drag it into the C: partition. The restoration of your system should be done in 30 minutes. After you close the WinPE window (after it told you that it was done), your system should reboot to the time when the Windows7 Image was taken. Final Words
I am pretty sure that this procedure can also be applied to VHDs of other imaging programs that do not cooperate during the recovery step. But up to now, I have only seen people having those problems with Windoes7 imaging - on this and other forums.