Improved Recovery Options in Windows 7

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.


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