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Improved Recovery Options in Windows 7

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Since the release of Windows 2000 and XP, Microsoft included the limited Recovery Console which was used to diagnose and recover from serious errors which may be preventing Windows from booting successfully. The problem with Recovery Console (although it was very handy), was its complexity and use of the Command Line. Using it required remembering obscure commands and knowing how to apply them properly. If you were not careful, you could seriously cause further problems. Today we take a look at the improved Recovery Options Windows 7 provides. With the release of Windows Vista Microsoft introduced significant improvements to diagnosing problems that might occur with a Windows installation, called the Windows Recovery Environment (WinRE), it features a graphical user interface with a wealth of options for diagnosing and solving problems. These include:

  • Startup Repair – Automatically finds and fixes boot errors in the Windows Vista Startup Process (including corrupted Boot Configuration Data files).
  • System Restore – Utilizes the Volume Shadow Copy service to restore the computer to a previous state or restore point. 
  • System Image Recovery – Restores a Complete PC Backup disk image you created earlier.
  • Windows Memory Diagnostic Tool – Analyses the computer memory (RAM) for hardware memory problems.
  • Command Prompt – Gives full command-line access to the file system, volumes and files, unlike the Recovery Console, which was limited in operation.

Automatic Repair

In Windows 7 if the OS refuses to load properly, it will recommend to automatically load the Start-up Repair tool, which will scan your PC for issues (such as corrupt registry and system files or an invalid Boot Configuration Database).

Recovery Disk 

Built in utility just for creating a System Repair disc.

A few months ago, one of my Vista systems was in limbo, I resized its partition from within Windows XP using Acronis Disk Director. When I booted into Windows Vista, Windows Explorer refused to load with an error message popping up informing me that the file ‘rundll32′ was missing or the path to it cannot be found. I tried to repair this issue without having to resort to reinstalling Windows. Although the Windows Vista DVD provides a Start-up Repair utility it was not going to be of any help in this case. I was able to start the OS and reach the desktop, just that Windows refused to work properly by not loading Windows Explorer. To make matters worse, my optical disk drives are not working in the system and I could not repair by launching setup from a Vista image since it would be choosing to reinstall instead of booting into the System Recovery environment, and I am unable to boot from a recovery disc itself.

Recovery Environment Recovery Environment 2 Booting

Starting the Recovery Environment (click to enlarge)

Windows 7 automatically transforms current experiences like this in Vista by doing a number of things, automatically it installs Start-up Repair tool onto the operating system partition, so you’ll always have access to it, no more booting from a DVD necessary. To access the System Recovery Environment in Windows 7, simply boot your PC, just before the system loads the Windows operating system, hit the [F8] Function 8 key on your keyboard which will launch the Advanced Boot Options menu. There you will see a new option ‘Repair Your Computer’, select this option and hit ‘Enter’ on your keyboard.

System Recovery Environment 1 System Recovery Environment 2 System Recovery Environment 3

Logging on to your Windows Installation is required (click to enlarge)

Once this is done, Windows will load the necessary files to start the System Recovery process, the major difference here, you are doing this all without the need for your Windows DVD. For persons who might be using a Netbook which often does not include a built in optical drive or even an external one, the new Windows 7 Recovery options make scenarios like this less of a chore. In addition to these options, Windows 7 provides the option to create a ‘System Repair disc’ which you can use to boot your computer, it also contains all the System Recovery tools discussed earlier. To create your System Repair disc, click Start > All Programs > Maintenance > Create a System Repair Disc. Insert a blank DVD or CD and click the Create disc button.

Recov1 Recov2

Advanced Advanced 2 Advanced 3

Windows 7 even makes itself a cinch to reinstall (click to enlarge)

In addition to these options, Windows 7 includes advanced recovery options that can guide you through the ‘reinstallation of Windows’ and restoration of personal files and settings. This will require that you have an available Windows 7 installation disc or Recovery Image, which will assist with the reinstallation. You will have to restore your files from a backup, programs must also be reinstalled. Most OEM’s (Original Equipment Manufacturers) such as HP, Lenovo and Dell install a hard drive partition customized with additional tools such as a separate system recovery tool for restoring the computer back to its original state. Advanced Recovery also includes the option to backup files before starting this procedure. You can find the Advanced Recovery option in Control Panel > Action Center > Recovery > Advanced recovery methods.

The Windows Team has thought through the end to end experiences, Windows 7 provides a sophisticated level of ease use when it comes to maintaining your Windows PC and protecting your digital investments. If the need every arises, you know that Windows 7 has got you covered.

Resources

Windows RE Notes : Introducing Windows Recovery Environment (Windows RE)

Windows Recovery Environment Team Blog

12 Comments

  1. r4i

    December 30, 2009 at 7:48 pm

    Thanks for sharing useful information about windows 7 and it's really useful for every one who using Windows 7 operating system…

  2. r4i

    December 31, 2009 at 3:48 am

    Thanks for sharing useful information about windows 7 and it's really useful for every one who using Windows 7 operating system…

  3. best registry cleaner

    September 10, 2010 at 1:38 am

    In the event of a hard crash, we recommend running a repair – analogous to running fsck. If a slave crashes, another option is just to restart the slave from scratch.

  4. Buy Blank DVD

    October 14, 2010 at 5:23 am

    The instructions are clear and showing the step by step process makes this easy to understand. Thanks for sharing this.

  5. registrycleaner

    October 22, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    Windows 7 includes advanced recovery options that can guide you through the ‘reinstallation of Windows’ and restoration of personal files and settings.

  6. Brad Fallon

    December 22, 2010 at 9:51 am

    when using the advanced recovery option in windows 7(namely reinstall windows 7 ) does it require you to activate windows again ?i have had the same copy of windows 7 running since it was released (coming on 12 months now ) and its starting to become slightly sluggish..

    i am running windows 7 ultimate 32bit ….. or failing that is there a method of migrating your current activation data to a fresh installation of windows ( i used to do this with windows xp however i haven’t seen it done with windows 7 )

    any help will be much appreciated

    • Andre

      February 2, 2011 at 1:21 pm

      No it does not.

  7. Matin

    August 26, 2011 at 9:19 pm

    Hi.Iwant to recovery from my VAIO W7 system.How can i solve this warning:Prepare your Hard Drive VAIO Care requires a certain minimum amount of free space on your hard drive in order to create recovery discs.Free up at least 7.25 GB more space in order to continue.

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