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Windows 7: Accidently ran SysPrep, need to restore Windows 7 desktop

24 Mar 2014   #1

windows 7 32
Accidently ran SysPrep, need to restore Windows 7 desktop


I ran SYSPREP utility by mistake (Enter System Out of box experience, Generalize enabled, Reboot option in shutdown options field), I never know this would cause this much impact.

After the boot up, the system shows with the message "system is preparing for first use" and Dialog box appears as asking computer name and username.

I tried to receover by going to BIOS (F1 or F12), but no luck.

Can you please guide me to get my system up and running. I am ok with reinstalling/fresh installation of windows but need to take back up of data in c:.

Any help would be highly appreciated.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Mar 2014   #2

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient


Hi Ramon, welcome to the Seven Forums.

Accidentally open the Sysprep dialog then also accidentally select the Generalize option which is disabled (not selected) by default, and then accidentally click OK to run Sysprep instead of clicking Cancel or simply closing the dialog. I do not know what to say .

But, seriously, nothing irreparable has happened. In fact the only thing that has happened is that the Generalize switch has removed all hardware related information and drivers as well as theme personalizations and customizations, replacing them with the same general non hardware specific drivers Windows uses when first time installed, and with Windows general theme. All your data is still there, as well as installed software, everything intact.

An OOBE (Out-Of-Box Experience) Mode also known as Welcome Mode is the first boot after Windows has been installed. OOBE boot assumes it is the first time ever your Windows PC has been booted up and that it has no user profiles, no computer name and so on. Although you run Sysprep on an existing system which causes an OOBE boot to be run and there in fact exists an user account (or several accounts), OOBE does not know this.

Simply do what OOBE wants you to do, give it a computer name and a username. For computer name you can use the same name you had earlier if you want to but you can also pick a new name.

For the username you cannot use any existing usernames. Using myself as an example: My Windows username is Kari. If I run sysprep which makes Windows to run an OOBE boot, Windows flags the user profile Kari as reserved and does not let me to use it on OOBE:
To work around this I simply create a dummy user here naming it Dummy, then when Windows finally shows the Welcome / Logon screen I select my old existing user account Kari to log in and first thing after entering the desktop, I go to Control Panel > Users and delete the user Dummy.

To put the above very short:
  • Name your PC as you wish
  • Use a temporary dummy user account naming it as you wish
  • When on Welcome / Logon screen, select your old user account to log in
  • Delete the temporary dummy user account
Notice that you also need to re-activate your Windows 7 so find your product key, and if you had enabled the built-in administrator account the Generalize switch has disabled it and you need to re-enable it if needed.

When finally on your desktop you'll find that all software and personal data is there, intact. However, all your personalizations and customizations are gone (theme, colors, sound scheme), Windows is using the default theme and wallpaper instead so you need to set your customized theme, wallpaper, sounds etc. again.

You might need to reinstall a few drivers (for example chipset, video, audio, USB3), check Device Manager for possibly missing drivers as the Generalize switch you used with Sysprep removed everything hardware specific. Windows 7 is pretty good in finding correct drivers so usually there's no need or very little need to reinstall drivers. Also check optional Windows Updates to see if WU offers some driver updates.

For a useful way to use Sysprep with Generalize switch, see this tutorial: Windows 7 Installation - Transfer to a New Computer. At the end of the tutorial you'll find an info box telling exactly what sysprepping with the generalize switch does to your Windows.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
26 Mar 2014   #3

windows 7 32

Hi Kari,

Thanks for the your reply and useful info. I was able to recover everything now.

Actually, I was trying to configure the TFS in my system but was not succesful due to SSID is not unique in my system. When I go through some forums, they suggested to make SSID unique by running SYSPREP utility, but didnt look at deep level of impact. Just got alarmed after seeing 'Setup windows', though it might overwrite everything since I dont have clarity on it. But now I got clear idea.

Thanks for your help.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

26 Mar 2014   #4

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient


You are welcome, good to know you got it sorted out.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Accidently ran SysPrep, need to restore Windows 7 desktop

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