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Refresh Windows 8 - Create and Use Custom Recovery Image

  1. #1
    Refresh Windows 8 - Create and Use Custom Recovery Image

    Refresh Windows 8 - Create and Use Custom Recovery Image
    How to Create a Custom Recovery Image to Use to Refresh Windows 8 and 8.1
    Published by Brink is offline
    04 Jan 2012
    Default Refresh Windows 8 - Create and Use Custom Recovery Image

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    Brink's Avatar
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    Join Date: Jul 2009
    Posts: 21,939

    How to Create a Custom Recovery Image to Use to Refresh Windows 8 and 8.1

    information   Information
    This tutorial will show you how to create and register a custom recovery image to use instead of default when you refresh your Windows 8, Windows RT, Windows 8.1, and Windows 8.1 RT PC.

    You must be logged in as an administrator to be able to do this tutorial.

    Quoted from Microsoft:

    Refreshing your PC to a state you define, including desktop apps

    We know that many of you like to first configure your PC just the way you like it, by installing favorite desktop apps or removing apps that came with the PC, and then create an image of the hard drive before you start using the PC. This way, when you need to start over, you can just restore the image and you won’t have to reinstall the apps from scratch.

    With this in mind, we’ve made it possible for you to establish your own baseline image via a command-line tool (recimg.exe). So when you get a Windows 8 PC, you will be able to do the following:

    • Go through the Windows first-run experience to configure basic settings.
    • Install your favorite desktop apps (or uninstall things you don’t want).
    • Configure the machine exactly as you would like it.
    • Use recimg.exe to capture and set your custom image of the system.


    After you’ve created the custom image, whenever you refresh your PC, not only will you be able to keep your personal data, settings, and Metro style apps, but you can restore all the desktop apps in your custom image as well. And if you buy a PC that already comes with a recovery image on a hidden partition, you’ll be able to use the tool to switch from using the hidden partition to instead use the custom image you’ve created.
    Note   Note
    The recimg.exe command line tool lets you configure a custom recovery image for Windows 8 to use when you refresh your PC. When you create a custom recovery image, it will include the desktop apps you've installed and the Windows system files in their current state. Saved recovery images do not include your documents, personal settings, user profiles, or modern apps from the Store because that information will automatically be included by default at the time you refresh your PC. This way when you refresh your PC with the saved custom recovery image, it will save and include your current documents, personal settings, user profiles, and modern apps.

    When you create a custom recovery image, recimg will store it in the specified directory, and set it as the active recovery image. If a custom recovery image is set as the active recovery image, Windows will use it when you refresh your PC. You can use the /setcurrent and /deregister options to select which recovery image Windows 8 will use. All recovery images have the filename CustomRefresh.wim. If no CustomRefresh.wim file is found in the active recovery image directory, Windows will fall back to the default image (or to installation media) when you refresh your PC.

    Note that you cannot reset your PC using a custom recovery image. Custom recovery images can only be used to refresh your PC.






    STEP ONE
    To Create and Register a Custom Recovery Image

    1. After you have finished seting up Windows 8 how you like it, open a elevated command prompt.

    2. In the elevated command prompt, copy and paste the command below, and press Enter. (see screenshot below step 3)

    NOTE: If you like, you can subsititute the C drive letter in the command below for the drive letter of the location that you would like to keep the CustomRefresh.wim recovery image file at instead.

    recimg -CreateImage C:\RefreshImage

    Tip   Tip
    If needed, you can press the ESC key at anytime to cancel creating this custom refresh image.



    3. When finished, this new custom recovery image of your current Windows 8 setup will now be set (registered) as the current active recovery image used whenever you refresh Windows 8 next in STEP TWO below.

    NOTE: It may take a bit to finish creating your custom recovery image. At the Writing image line the progress stays at 1% for a bit and then increases slowly until finished at 100%.

    Click image for larger version


    Tip   Tip
    You can create multiple or new recovery images every so often to have an updated version handy if you should need to refresh your PC with.

    Whenever you create a new recovery image, the new image will be used instead by default afterwards since it will be the latest registered (set) active recovery image.

    Note   Note
    To unregister this custom recovery image for refresh to have Windows 8 go back to using it's default refresh, see: How to Deregister the Current Custom Recovery Image to Refresh Windows 8

    To set a previosly created CustomRefresh.wim recovery image file to be used by refresh, see: How to Set a Custom Recovery Image as Active to Use to Refresh Windows 8









    STEP TWO
    To Refresh Windows 8 with the Custom Recovery Image

    1.
    If you have not already, you must have already previously created and registered a custom recovery image using STEP ONE first to use to do the refresh with.

    2. You can now use either option in the tutorial below to refresh Windows 8 like you would normally do so, but your custom system image will now be used to refresh Windows 8 with instead.




    That's it,
    Shawn



  2. #1


    Manchester CT
    Posts : 693
    Windows 8.1 Pro 64 bit GA


    I thought the purpose of a REFRESH is clean out the Windows folders, clean out the registry, and reset all of the Windows settings to their default. If everything is still intact but just an earlier build, then anything you have stored in your user folder is GONE (music, videos, etc). Is that right? The regular REFRESH keeps all this stuff intact.

      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  3. #2


    Posts : 21,939
    64-bit Windows 10


    Hello John,

    Doing a refesh with a custom refresh image is basically like doing a system image recovery from a created system image, but for only Windows 8. The custom refresh will refresh Windows 8 to how everything was when you created the refresh image.

    This is good for say to create a custom refresh image of a clean install of Windows 8 with everything setup how you like to be able to use to refresh with instead of the default refresh.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  4. #3


    Germany/Florida
    Posts : 4,515
    Vista and Win7


    Interesting. It sounds like a hybrid between restoring from an image and a system restore from a shadow. The good part is that the user files stay intact.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec


  5. #4


    Manchester CT
    Posts : 693
    Windows 8.1 Pro 64 bit GA


    Thanks Brink. I have used stored images in the past but if I recall, it basically wipes the hard drive completely and then installs only what was stored in the image (kinda like cloning the drive, storing it away, and then using the cloned drive image to overwrite the boot drive). Am I wrong in this? I should Google images I think, heh.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  6. #5


    Posts : 21,939
    64-bit Windows 10


    Yes and no, but a custom refresh only affects Windows 8 and it's drive letter, and nothing else.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  7. #6


    Manchester CT
    Posts : 693
    Windows 8.1 Pro 64 bit GA


    Thanks Brink, here is what I got Goggling (1st hit too_) .

    The answer is that with a custom image REFRESH, your personal data IS KEPT along with the Metro apps AND Desktop apps/programs you installed before the image is made.

    Refresh and reset your PC - Building Windows 8 - Site Home - MSDN Blogs

    Quote from article:
    Refreshing your PC to a state you define, including desktop apps

    We know that many of you like to first configure your PC just the way you like it, by installing favorite desktop apps or removing apps that came with the PC, and then create an image of the hard drive before you start using the PC. This way, when you need to start over, you can just restore the image and you won’t have to reinstall the apps from scratch.
    With this in mind, we’ve made it possible for you to establish your own baseline image via a command-line tool (recimg.exe). So when you get a Windows 8 PC, you will be able to do the following:

    1. Go through the Windows first-run experience to configure basic settings.
    2. Install your favorite desktop apps (or uninstall things you don’t want).
    3. Configure the machine exactly as you would like it.
    4. Use recimg.exe to capture and set your custom image of the system.

    After you’ve created the custom image, whenever you refresh your PC, not only will you be able to keep your personal data, settings, and Metro style apps, but you can restore all the desktop apps in your custom image as well. And if you buy a PC that already comes with a recovery image on a hidden partition, you’ll be able to use the tool to switch from using the hidden partition to instead use the custom image you’ve created.
    If you’d like to try this out now, a preview version of this tool is included in the Windows 8 Developer Preview. You can try it out by typing the following in a command prompt window running as administrator:
    mkdir C:\RefreshImage
    recimg -CreateImage C:\RefreshImage
    This creates the image under C:\RefreshImage and will register it to be used when you refresh your PC. Again, this is a very early version of the tool, so we know it’s not perfect yet. Rest assured that we’re working hard to get it ready for primetime.

    End Quote
    Last edited by johnpombrio; 05 Mar 2012 at 21:03.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  8. #7


    Posts : 679
    Windows 7 Pro x 2/Windows 10 Home/10 Pro/Windows 10 TP


    Brink I just tested your tutorial and it works. The command prompt window output dialogue has changed since the Developer Preview and it took about 35 mins to create the refresh image. Note: At the "Writing image" line the progress stays at 0% for the first 5 mins or so then increases slowly.

    Click image for larger version

    I used the How to Refresh Windows 8 at Boot option to refresh windows.

    As advertised Windows Consumer Preview was restored with all programs and files intact with the exception of both IE 9 and Firefox which were reset to default configuration having to import saved bookmarks and restore extensions. The task bar properties were also reset to default with no previously pinned shortcuts.

    Name:  Refresh third.png
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    Last edited by IownAmoneyPit; 05 Mar 2012 at 22:01. Reason: Resize images & attempt at better quality
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  9. #8


    Posts : 21,939
    64-bit Windows 10


    Thank you for the update mate. Well, so much for all of your settings being kept and restored. Maybe in the next release.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  10. #9


    Posts : 679
    Windows 7 Pro x 2/Windows 10 Home/10 Pro/Windows 10 TP


    Quote Originally Posted by Brink View Post
    Thank you for the update mate. Well, so much for all of your settings being kept and restored. Maybe in the next release.
    Still a lot easier than installing from scratch as all installed programs and files still work unlike the days of Vista or XP using a repair install which was a nightmare determining which ones still worked when you clicked on it's icon.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

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