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Windows 7: easy recovery essentials free alternitive that can run in LivePE

28 Sep 2013   #11


Thanks Mahmoud. We have greatly benefitted from EasyBCD here since before Win7 was even released and have long helped establish it as a consumer multi-boot Best Practice with Windows and Linux. I was only referring to paid boot CD's not taking precedence over the Win7 disk and System Repair Disk for repairs to the OS.

Since you're finally here (we mainly hear about you from our teacher SIW2) may I ask that you look at the Easy "Change Boot Drive" function described in Wolfgang's tutorial Bootmgr - Move to C:\ with EasyBCD which is often linked here but doesn't quite do the job that Startup Repair - Run up to 3 Separate Times does after confirming the Active partition.

The problem is that WinRE's link is not rewritten to System Recovery Options as it will eventually be with 3 Startup Repairs. It's for this reason we've stuck with the cumbersome 3x regimen for years here to do the job most completely. Maybe your engineers can close that gap in the "Change Boot Drive" function since moving the boot files while leaving a consumer's onboard WInRE out cannot really be a Best Practice.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
28 Sep 2013   #12
Computer Guru


Hey Greg, thanks for the kind words.

Yeah, looking back I'm not even sure how it happened, but I went from being a regular on so many different forums (I think I had another account here once) to barely having time to post on our own. SIW2's awesome - in fact, all of you you guys are awesome, especially with some of the guides posted here that I've pointed people to over the years (hey, someone point me to the page where I can make a donation and become a sevenforums supporter?)

Anyway, to answer your question: I never actually knew about the "run startup repair 3 times for it to work" thing until either Terry60 or SIW2 pointed it out to me. I had previously always thought startup repair kept going until it went through its entire list. That's actually the inspiration behind EasyRE not trying to determine whether or not your system currently boots and, if not, what part of it is broken; instead it simply configures everything correctly from scratch. (Making the desired partition active then using EasyRE has been verified to correctly set up the system with the new boot device in a single pass).

In my experience, Startup Repair has severe deficiencies when it comes to incorrectly set (or not set) active partition indicators. I've never been able to figure out exactly when SR is willing to change the active partition vs returning a cryptic message. (For example, when bcdedit/bootrec/bootsect cryptically complain about "invalid device" or "requested system device not found" or "device not accessible" it's usually because there is no active partition on the device Windows has identified as being the physical boot drive, or that partition is either corrupted or non-NTFS/FAT32).

Can you point me to a thread where EasyBCD's "Change Boot Device" didn't do the whole job? The error messages when attempting to load Windows from the "new" boot partition should be useful indicators as to what went wrong.

I just reviewed the source code, and EasyBCD should first update the partition's bootsector, mark that partition as active in the MBR of the physical disk it's on, deploy the boot files to the selected partition, and then copy over the current BCD configuration.

The two things that jump out at me: EasyBCD used to use diskpart to make the partition active, but a while back we stopped and now use our own bootgrabber.exe (ships with EasyBCD) to do so instead - perhaps that is malfunctioning (which would result in the active flag not being set on the selected partition). The other thing is that if your current BCD configuration uses non-absolute qualifiers for partitions (i.e. instead of saying "Windows Vista" is on the disk with a) UUID, or b) file it says something like "the partition you booted from" or "the partition marked as active") these could actually end up being invalid (now that a) the partition you booted from has changed, and b) there is possibly a new active partition on this disk).

EasyBCD always adds entries using partition UUIDs, EasyRE recreates entries using a binary-patched extension to the BCD file to search for a partition identifier. However, I've seen PCs ship from OEMs with relative partition identifiers used (normally, "boot") - that could explain if after using the "Change Boot Drive" feature BOOTMGR is correctly loaded from the newly-selected partition but fails to load the OS. I also suspect there is one version of Windows or one method of installing Windows that results in the use of a relative partition identifier in the BCD.

The error/boot sequence after a failed EasyBCD "change boot drive" would clarify which of these situations you've been seeing (or tell us if it's something else).

(If it's not inappropriate for me to offer: any sevenforums old-timers wanting to take EasyRE for a free spin, just send an email to easyre at neosmart dot net)

Quick Update:

It just occurred to me that an easy way to work around the latter issue would be to use the BCD Deployment EasyBCD feature instead of "Change Boot Drive," then go to the "Add New Entries" page and manually re-add the Windows entries you need. That way, you'll have a properly deployed BCD + hopefully correctly-configured entries to get you into Windows.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
28 Sep 2013   #13

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Vista x64 / 7 X64

Hi Mahmoud,

I haven't tried any of your Easyre discs yet, system restore feature looks useful.

Easy Recovery Essentials for Windows - YouTube
My System SpecsSystem Spec

29 Sep 2013   #14
Computer Guru


Yes, we're working on reverse engineering the "new" system restore format that is based on volume shadow copy (VSS) snapshots. (Windows XP was the last OS to store System Restore snapshots as flat files in/on the filesystem)

In the meantime, the current system restore feature uses a combination of other heuristics to find changes to the system between dated boots (as cross-referenced with the system log) to try and create its own database of "snapshots" to restore to.

It's actually proved helpful as sometimes these "system restore points" will work when either there are no "normal" System Restore points to restore to, System Restore is unable to restore to a selected point, or restoring to a selected System Restore point still exhibits the same problem.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
01 Oct 2013   #15

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Vista x64 / 7 X64

Just gave it a quick run. Easy gui for beginners, including a/v as well is a neat idea. I expect many will find it useful.

we're working on reverse engineering the "new" system restore format that is based on volume shadow copy (VSS) snapshots
I have an idea. I will email you.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
01 Oct 2013   #16


Si, how does that work differently than System Restore on Win7 installer or Repair CD?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
01 Oct 2013   #17

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Vista x64 / 7 X64

I can't explain it any better than Mahmoud did. He may be able to use both methods - they're working on it.

If you are using one of my winpe builds, you can use nt6repair program to show you the shadows, and get anything out you like. You can even reinstall the entire os from them. You must have shadow copies to be able to use that feature, of course.

easy recovery essentials free alternitive that can run in LivePE-nt6rep.jpg

My System SpecsSystem Spec
01 Oct 2013   #18
Computer Guru


I never saw your NT6Repair tool before, SIW2. It looks very useful, will come in handy for easier access to shadow copy info.

Listing and then gaining access to the contents of shadow copies from within a Linux environment is a bit tricker, but we've been making some decent headway. I must confess, I haven't done very thorough research on the actual contents of the VSS snapshots Windows takes for System Restore (and if it's the same for Windows Vista through 8 or if there are (subtle) differences), but I'm betting that's going to be less strenuous of a task than getting the core VSS functionality going on top of NTFS-3G.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 Nov 2013   #19

Windows 7 Pro 64bit

Just a note for the OP and others .. I've used the NeoSmart product and it works. I wrestled with a "NTLDR not found" issue for several hours before finally throwing in the towel. I bought EasyRE and was back in business in about 10 minutes.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
16 Apr 2014   #20

8.1 ent

Because of tonehammer I bought EasyRE but it changed nothing: win 7 restarts all the time after Mainboard Change. If I try the disk in an other PC (with a Mainboard like the original was) erverything works fine without using EasyRE.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 easy recovery essentials free alternitive that can run in LivePE

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