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Windows 7: Attached VHD shows no files

04 Jan 2014   #31


Ok, thank you sir.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Jan 2014   #32

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient


OK, here we go. You are most definitely not going to like this. However, don't shoot the messenger .

As far as I can see this, you have really screwed your image backup. First things I noticed looking at your screenshots were that you have manually renamed the system image file, and that it's somehow corrupted as it's showing a general blank Windows icon instead of the default vhd icon.

All could be well if you could find the original WidowsImageBackup folder with everything it contained when created, every single file and folder. If you can find the folder intact in original condition, the tutorial told in post #2 will most probably save your a**. If not, it's over and you need to reinstall everything and say good bye to your personal stuff which was on that system image.

As each issue, each thread can help other geeks in the future, I will give here a fast and simple Windows Imaging crash course for both you and future readers of this thread. Following the tutorial I have mentioned several times in this thread with this additional information, you will not have problems using Windows native imaging. Although many geeks tell you never to use it, I have never had any issues in recovering Windows systems with help of native Windows Backup & Restore, native Windows system images.

First, never (I mean never ever!) change, rename or delete anything inside the WindowsImageBackup folder. Once again: Never!

For the below screenshots I created a simple Windows 7 Pro virtual machine with two partitions on one disk (vhd): Windows on a 24 GB C:, and a secondary 16 GB partition E: for backup. After the installation finished, I created a system image containing both C: and the system reserved partition.

When ready, the drive E: contains the image folder WindowsImageBackup, in its first sub level only one folder which Windows Imaging automatically gives the same name than the computer whose image it contains.

The next sub level contains a Media ID file and three folders, the backup folder itself, a catalog folder for backup catalogs which Windows needs, and a metadata folder for important metadata:
Attached VHD shows no files-2014-01-05_01h11_35.png
Opening the backup folder you can see that this extremely simple and small example image backup already contains several xml files with various information needed in order to restore the image, backup specs in an xml file and finally one vhd for each drive included in this backup, in this example case one vhd for the system reserved partition and the second for the drive C:
Attached VHD shows no files-2014-01-05_01h12_21.png
Checking the properties of the drive C: vhd file shows it is in this example case 10.5 GB, the size of a Windows 7 Pro x86 installation on a Hyper-V virtual machine:
Attached VHD shows no files-2014-01-05_01h13_46.png
However, if we attach this vhd to Windows using Disk Management, Windows "sees" it exactly as big as the original drive C: is:

Attached VHD shows no files-2014-01-05_01h15_44.png

In other words, the actual real physical size of the image vhd is irrelevant; for Windows it's exactly as big as the original system where the image was created.

OK? Let's restore the system using this image. We boot the PC using Windows install media or a recovery disk. I'm using the install media, so I select Repair your computer instead of Install now:
Attached VHD shows no files-2014-01-05_01h37_40.png
Selecting Restore your computer:
Attached VHD shows no files-2014-01-05_01h39_15.png
And as I have not tampered with the image (WindowsImageBackup folder and its contents), I'm ready to go:
Attached VHD shows no files-2014-01-05_01h40_04.png
That's about it. System can be restored using this image.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Jan 2014   #33


Thanks Kari for the detailed explanation. I will keep looking and see if I can somehow locate what you speak of regarding the original folder with all necessary files intact. I am fortunate enough to have the majority of my data on a data backup file from which I can pull off of. I was really hoping to get the laptop back to as much of it's old self as I could including all programs and software, mainly which is windows 2010 office pro. I will keep tinkering with it and let you know if I have any miracles occur.

Thanks again for your time and efforts.

My System SpecsSystem Spec

04 Jan 2014   #34

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient


To put everything said earlier very short: A Windows Image Backup is not a single vhd file. Instead it is a complex set of files and folders stored in a root level folder called WindowsImageBackup. For a system restore to work, this folder must be intact, exactly as Windows Backup created it.

Good luck!

My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 Jan 2014   #35


Hi Kari,

I have basically thrown in the towel at this point. For some reason the image that was created appears to be imcomplete as I think you pointed out. Not sure how this happened, perhaps because it was created over my network on the desktop, no clue. Luckily I did have a fairly recent backup of all my data so I was able to recoup the majority of files, etc... Main thing I lost was programs, etc...

I've learned to always do backups on an external from now on and never to mess with the folder. Thanks for your help.

- Pierce
My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 Jan 2014   #36

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient


Sorry to hear your image waas not working.

Browsing the Internet, even our forums, you'll find a general consensus being that the native Windows Imaging tool is not reliable and not widely liked. However, as I have mentioned before, I have never had any issues in using Windows Imaging for creating system images and restoring them.

The two key things, which I hope you'll remember in the future, are:
  1. The image folder hierarchy (folder WindowsImageBackup and its contents) must stay intact, everything in it as at the moment of creation. The folder WindowsImageBackup itself can be moved, copied and renamed as long as everything it contains stays intact
  2. When restoring, the main folder of the image you want to restore must be located on the root of a drive which is directly connected to the PC you want to restore or can be accessed over the network, and named WindowsImageBackup
An example:
You create a system image of PC1 on external drive X:. When finished, you'll find the main image folder on X:\WindowsImageBackup. You need the drive X: for something else, so you move the folder to desktop of another PC (PC2), renaming the folder as Image_From_PC1 and wipe the external drive empty.

Now you want to restore said image. You copy it from PC2 back to external drive, renaming it back to its original name WindowsImageBackup. You connect this external drive to PC1, reboot with recovery CD or original install media. Now you can restore this image.

Come back if you have any issues.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 Jan 2014   #37


Ok, thank you for the advice. I am bookmarking this page for future reference if I should need it which hopefully I do not.

Thanks again,

My System SpecsSystem Spec

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