When a system failure occurs users can employ the following recovery tools:
- System Recovery Options
- Automated System Recovery (Windows XP Professional only)
- Factory Recovery Partition
System Recovery Options
The System Recovery Options are a set of tools that allow users to recover or restore an operating system when it has failed. The System Recovery Options are a part of the Windows Recovery Environment (WinRE). WinRE is a recovery platform based on the Windows Preinstallation Environment (PE). Windows PE is a basic operating system created to prepare a computer for Windows installation and help users troubleshoot operating system failures when no OS is available.
WinRE can be accessed by pressing and holding the F8 key when starting a computer. Once the Advanced Boot Options screen appears, highlight Repair your computer and press Enter to access the System Recovery Options. You can then use system recovery tools to repair errors that prevent system startup. The following tools are available in the System Recovery Options menu:
- Startup Repair – Scans the hard drive for problems and automatically fixes missing or corrupt system files that prevent Windows from starting
- System Restore – Uses restore points to restore Windows system files to an earlier point in time
- System Image Recovery - Creates a system image that replicates the system drive that Windows requires to operate
- Windows Memory Diagnostic – Examines computer memory to detect malfunctions and diagnose problems
- Command Prompt – Opens a command prompt window where the bootrec.exe tool can be used to repair and troubleshoot startup issues for Windows. The bootrec.exe utility can be used with the fixmbr command to repair the Master Boot Record or the fixboot command to write a new boot sector that is compatible with the OS. This command prompt replaces the Recovery Console from Windows XP.
If Repair your computer does not appear as an option, users can access the System Recovery Options in WinRE by booting the computer from installation media or a system repair disc. A system repair disc allows users to access the System Recovery Options in the same way that installation media would. Before a system repair disc can be used to boot a computer, it must be created.
To create a Windows 7 system repair disc, as shown in Figure 1, follow these steps:
Step 1. Select Start > Control Panel > Backup and Restore > Create a system repair disc.
Step 2. Insert a blank disc in the optical disc drive and click Create Disc.
Step 3. Test the disc by using it to boot the computer.
Step 4. After the System Recovery Options window is displayed, highlight the OS that needs to be restored and click Next. The following tools should be available:
- Startup Repair
- System Restore
- System Image Recovery
- Windows Memory Diagnostic
- Command Prompt
NOTE: When using a recovery disc, make sure that it uses the same architecture as the OS being recovered. For example, if the computer is running a 64-bit version of Windows 7, the recovery disc must use a 64-bit architecture.
System Image Recovery
The System Image Recovery utility, as shown in Figure 2, is a new recovery option that is included in all versions of Windows 7. It allows users to back up the contents of their hard drive, including personal files and settings, if an operating system needs to be restored.
To create a system image in Windows 7, follow these steps:
Step 1. Select Start > Control Panel > Backup and Restore > Create a system image.
Step 2. Select a location for the system image:
- On a hard disk - Stores the system image on an external hard drive.
- On one or more DVDs - Burns the system image to a DVD.
- On a network location - Stores the system image in a shared folder on a network.
Step 3. Click Next and confirm the selections. A system image is created and stored in the selected location.
Automated System Recovery in Windows XP Professional
You must create an Automated System Recovery (ASR) set to use for the recovery. The ASR Wizard, as shown in Figure 3, creates a backup of the system state, services, and OS components. It also creates a file containing information about your disks, the backup, and how to restore the backup.
Use the following path:
Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Backup > click the Advanced Mode link > Automated System Recovery Wizard
To restore your system, press F2 after booting the Windows XP installation disc. ASR reads the set and restores the disks needed to start the computer. After the basic disk information has been restored, ASR installs a basic version of Windows and begins restoring the backup created by the ASR Wizard.
Factory Recovery Partition
Some computers that have Windows 7 pre-installed from the factory contain a section of the disk that is inaccessible to the user. This partition, called a factory recovery partition, contains an image of the bootable partition created when the computer was built. You can use this partition to restore the computer to its original configuration.
Occasionally, the option to reach this partition is hidden, and you must use a special key or key combination when the computer is starting. Sometimes, the option to restore from the factory recovery partition is located in the BIOS. Contact the computer manufacturer to find out how to access the partition and restore the original configuration of the computer.