Windows 8 and 8.1 Forums


Recovery Drive - All About the (Hidden) Problem

  1. #1


    Posts : 1
    Win 8 64-bit preinstalled

    Recovery Drive - All About the (Hidden) Problem


    Oi!, Y'All!


    I have put together everything I know about the --Serious Recovery-Drive Creation Issue-- based on what I have found all over this and other Win 8 sites. YOU MAY HAVE A PROBLEM THAT YOU DON'T YET REALIZE: your "Win 8 Recovery Drive" may only be a Repair Utility that will **not** help you if you have a serious hard drive problem. Yet, some have made TRUE Recovery Drives (that can reinstall Win 8, from scratch). Issue is involved; details are below.


    ** This ONLY AFFECTS those who have Win 8 PRE-INSTALLED (on a new PC/Notebook).**


    I hope the stuff below helps everyone. Hopefully, someone in the community either *has* or *will be able to develop* a solution for us all, and perhaps based on the info below. Yeah, it is WORDY; but this is in order to achieve 3 goals:


    (a) be soup-to-nuts thorough on the issue,
    (b) while being very clear about each aspect (at least to those who *read*, not *skim*), and
    (c) getting us all on the "same page" about it.


    If you have "a solution" or corrections/updates/additions, please post.


    Two fast comments: (1) A process for finding a "sharable" solution is outlined in paragraph #7; (2) Some folk have found a way to create the "right" Recovery Drive, but drive-creation failed. Paragraph #8 offers some suggestive remedies.


    1. *Only One Shot to Create a Recovery Disc/Drive* (--RD--) from the Win 8 on your --HD-- (hard drive) - Win 8 records on the HD your first attempt to do this and will not allow a second attempt. So, you need to get it right the first time.


    2. At Least TWO Types of RDs Are Possible - the Superior One that you want and the Inferior One that you are LIKELY to Get. So: If your first time through to create an RD you produce the Inferior One, that's it: you are SOL (Shaftedly Out of Luck) :-)


    3a. Superior RD: a *True-Reinstall* (--TR--) drive [needs to be created on a 16+GB thumb drive, DVDs have too little memory];
    3b. Inferior RD: a *Repair-if-Possible* (--RIP--) disc or drive [needs to be created on storage media with 256-512 MB memory].


    4. Fast Key Difference between TR and RIP: You use either TR or RIP if your PC/notebook becomes *unusable*: will not boot on start up, or boots but does not show Start Screen, or shows Start Screen but is "frozen" (screen-cursor frozen or keyboard input not accepted).


    If your PC becomes unusable *only due to* some file corruption affecting the Win 8 Operating System (--OS--) files or any drivers that it utilizes, the RIP will help restore. If however your *HD is physically damaged* - damaged drive sectors or totally damaged with HD replacement needed - then (most likely) only a TR will help you.


    **Bottom Line 1**: A TR will help you in all circumstances (assuming your PC motherboard is okay, if HD was damaged due to mechanical or electrical "trauma"). An RIP only helps in limited circumstances.


    **Bottom Line 2** - BIG PROBLEM: OEM Tech Support (e.g., HP, Asus, Sony, etc.) either do not know how to produce the TR - at least reliablly - or they have some paranoia regarding "Win 8 Licensing violations" and refuse to explain. Either way, users of *preinstalled Win 8* generally are shown how to make an RIP (believing they are getting the TR this way!!) or - if they are savvy (like you), and press for instructions for the TR rather than the RIP drive, are told, 'No can do' - but this is false.


    5a. How RIP Works:
    (a) Your Win 8 HD installation (if your Win 8 came preinstalled) contains a *hidden* Recovery Partition. This includes all Win 8 OS files, in a compressed format. This is what your RIP will access, if used.
    (b) The RIP is a *bootable drive*: attach it to your PC/notebook and start up your machine pressing some sequence of keys [e.g., F2, F8, F11, or Ctrl-C, depending on manufacturer], and you will be able to operate your PC *for repair purposes*.
    (c) After boot up, RIP will present you with options screens on your monitor/display. Basically, it will (i) analyze what is "wrong" (find all damaged and/or missing OS files), then (ii) *extract and uncompress from the Recovery Partition [on your HD]* intact versions of those files. These will (iii) then be installed on the "System" portion of your HD (the C: drive), where they were damaged/missing, with (iv) a final check that everything now seems okay after file replacement.
    (d) At this point, you should be able to reboot, your normal way, and have a working PC as before.


    5b. How TR Works:
    (a) The TR is also a bootable drive. **Unlike the RIP**, it also contains a copy of ALL FILES in the Recovery Partition. It also contains "Disk Management" utilities - e.g., for formating/reformatting an HD (hard drive).
    (b) TR may, like the RIP, first try to repair the damaged Win 8 configuration on your HD, or give you the option to do so.
    (c) Assuming that this is *not possible* - meaning, that the TR cannot find the Recovery Partition on your HD - it will REINSTALL all Win 8 files, from the copy of them on the TR itself. [Recall: the Recovery Partition on your original HD installation has/had all Win 8 files, and the TR has its own copy of the Recovery Partition.]
    (d) To do this, it will then have to FORMAT your HD as a first step. [Note: If your HD was partially damaged (damaged sectors) but is "reusable", this HD will be REFORMATTED. If your original HD was damaged beyond use and you replaced it with a new *bare* HD, the new HD will be formatted.]
    (e) Once done, the TR will then do *TWO* installations of the Win 8 files on your HD: (i) it will create the System image on drive C:, and (ii) it will also *recreate* a (hidden) Recovery Partition. [At this point, your HD would look like the HD that shipped with your "preinstalled-Win 8" machine.] Reboot your machine normally, and you are good to again.


    6. Getting and Not Getting to a TR (True-Reinstall) Drive:
    (a) From what I am gathering from different Win 8 users' posts across the Win-8-Forumsphere, depending on the **exact** steps ("path") you take to reach *some* Win 8 Options Menu that lets you "Create Recovery Drive", you will either end up with an RIP (more likely) or a TR (much less likely) drive.
    (b) Apparently, different "paths" (different combinations of navigation clicks and clicks on earlier options choices) lead to DIFFERENT Win 8 Options Menus for the "Create Recovery Drive" (--CRD-) - *similar*, with identical-looking CRD button, but different.
    (c) When you click on the CRD button, a Win 8 script runs that starts up the process of creating a recovery drive for you. Unfortunately, the *different* Win 8 Options Menus (each showin same/similar CRD button) run DIFFERENT scripts.
    (d) If you get lucky, the script that runs is one that will produce a TR drive for you. If not, you get the RIP-drive producing script and end up with an RIP.
    (e) Sadly, the odds are stacked towards RIP: the "most likely to be taken paths" are ones, it seems, that lead to a Win 8 Options Menu whose CRD option button runs an RIP-producing script.


    7. WHAT WE NEED:
    (a) If those who **have succeeded** in producing a TR - you'll know because your drive will have *11+ GB* of file data on it, NOT the *256-512 MB* of an RIP drive - can tell us *absolute precisely* (their entire navigation, every single click they used) how they reached the options menu that allowed them to produce their TR drive, that would be a *huge* help: THAT is the path we should take to get a True-Reinstall (TR) drive mad. [Remember: This is important because Microsoft does not give us a second chance.]
    (b) If someone *believes* he/she knows how to do this - 'I am a Geek Squad swami and have done this dozens of times' - then it would be great if this person would do so again on some machine that they are "breaking in"/"optimizing" while SOMEONE ELSE records, absolutely correctly, every last key stroke and click that they make: *this* will give us their PATH to the TR-producing script.


    8. TR Production "Gotchas" - Drive-Creation Fail:
    It seems that, by hook and by crook, some folks actually got to the right Win 8 Options Menus and BEGAN producing a TR drive, only to have it fail. Frustration! No one knows exactly why, but here are some "clues" and/or "scuttlebutt" that I have picked up about what might be going wrong:


    (a) *Don't Save Power*: Some with this problem [e.g., Notebook users] have stated that they first gotten into and set one of the Power-Saving options in "Power Management". They suspected that even though the Recovery Drive was being created - requiring access to and use of the HD - the HD "hibernated" and drive creation went into a permanent hang.
    MORAL: First make your TR drive, and only then adjust Power Setting.


    (b) *Use (Thumb) Drive with at Least 16-32 GB*:
    (i) Some claim that the TR requires 11 GB of memory, but TR production died - at about the 2-hour point - when using thumb or other drives of less than 16 GB. Possibly, the TR creation script actually uses the *target* drive (the media on which the TR will be created) for "scratch work" and needs "scratch space" on it, beyond the 11 GB of file content. (There are other possibilities, but no point going into them.)
    (ii) *Some claim that ~20 GB of memory are needed* - hence, a 32 GB thumb drive is needed, if thumb drive is the media you will be using. Why the discrepancy, 11 GB versus 20+ GB? This could be that ***different vendors create a different Recovery Partition***. Some Recovery Partitions have *nothing but (compressed) Win 8 files*. Others, are also storing the OEM vendor's (HP, Samsung, Asus, Sony, etc.) Utilities and/or Bloatware (freebie games, trial-offer software) on the Recovery Partition of the PC's HD. Therefore, some TRs will require more memory to create.
    MORAL: A 32 GB drive should be absolutely sufficient. Do check with your OEM Tech Support (if the agent you get knows what he/she is talking about) how much memory you will really need, OR, find someone who has successfully created a TR and ask what size thumb drive they have it on.


      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  2. #2


    Posts : 5,139
    Win8.1Pro - Finally!!!


    Pardon my disagreement, but AFAIK, the only manufacturer that limits you to one copy of the Recovery Media is HP. All others (that I am familiar with) will allow you to make unlimited copies using their software - if they have such software.

    HP, Toshiba, and Dell have their own software.
    Asus and Lenovo don't have it.
    I believe that Samsung doesn't have it either.
    I'm uncertain about Acer/Gateway/eMachines and Sony.

    BUT, the Microsoft creation software (located at C:\Windows\System32\recoverydrive.exe) will allow you to make unlimited copies of that version of the recovery drive - even if using an HP computer. I'm pretty sure that you can still use this on HP systems - but don't have one handy to test it on.

    I've recently started some research into this issue, and there's not a whole bunch of info available on the use of the recovery drive. I hope to post something comprehensive about this in the near future. For now, I've found that you can't use the recovery drive to recover to a new hard drive if the new hard drive is smaller than the original hard drive (there are ways around this - they involve use of the DISM and DISKPART utilities).

    If you clone a hard drive to a smaller hard drive (such as replacing an OEM hard drive with an SSD), the recovery drive may not be able to be made. I just fixed this on a system at work by using the 3 DISM commands from this topic: DISM - Fixing Component Store Corruption in Windows 8

    Finally, I'm testing (as I type this) if you can restore from a smaller hard drive to a larger hard drive. I'll post back when I'm done.

    EDIT: the OS did not reinstall on a larger drive. I did not try DISM/DISKPART, nor did I try to make it a GPT disk/partition/format the new hard drive. The new hard drive was a fresh out of the box Western Digital 320 gB SATA drive.
    Last edited by usasma; 24 Feb 2014 at 11:18.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  3. #3


    Posts : 5,592
    ME, XP,Vista,Win7,Win8,Win8.1


    Quote Originally Posted by usasma
    EDIT: the OS did not reinstall on a larger drive. I did not try DISM/DISKPART, nor did I try to make it a GPT disk/partition/format the new hard drive. The new hard drive was a fresh out of the box Western Digital 320 gB SATA drive.
    To reinstall to a clean HDD/SSD, yoiu would need to use the OEM manufacturer's Recovery DVD's or USB drive version, not the MS Windows version.

    For example:

    Click image for larger version
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  4. #4


    Central IL
    Posts : 3,468
    Linux Mint 17.2


    usasma, there is actually a way around the limitation that HP implements for stopping a person from making multiple copies of the restore discs. See Create More Than One Set Of Recovery CD On HP Laptop Computer
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  5. #5


    Posts : 5,139
    Win8.1Pro - Finally!!!


    theog - Unfortunately, some OEM's don't include recovery tools (Asus, Samsung, and Lenovo spring to mind). The system that sparked my postings was an Asus G750J - and Asus stopped offering recovery solutions with Win7.

    This link shows how to do it with the Microsoft recovery drive on a Lenovo: Methodology to create Recovery Media and reload a Lenovo Think system with Microsoft Windows 8 preload

    broe23 - Thanks for the info broe23! I'd clean forgotten about that.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  6. #6


    Posts : 1,121
    Windows 8.1 x64


    Quote Originally Posted by usasma View Post
    Finally, I'm testing (as I type this) if you can restore from a smaller hard drive to a larger hard drive. I'll post back when I'm done.

    EDIT: the OS did not reinstall on a larger drive. I did not try DISM/DISKPART, nor did I try to make it a GPT disk/partition/format the new hard drive. The new hard drive was a fresh out of the box Western Digital 320 GB SATA drive.
    usasma, could you check your recovery drive and see if the following files, or a name close to these, is in your sources directory.

    $PBR_Diskpart.txt
    $PBR_ResetConfig.xml

    I have restored a system from a Recovery Drive with the Recovery partition copied to it. I see no reason why you can't restore to a different size drive, as long as the partitions created by the Diskpart.txt procedure are large enough to hold the data plus additional space for housekeeping type operations.

    I do not run an OEM system, but have a system where I have created an image of my current install and placed it in a Recovery Partition, so it acts like an OEM system.

    Whether a specific OEM system will or will not recover from a Windows 8 type recovery drive, might depend on how the OEM set up the images in the recovery partition. I have no experience, but they may have a .wim setup that requires special commands to apply it back to the drive.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  7. #7


    Posts : 5,592
    ME, XP,Vista,Win7,Win8,Win8.1


    Quote Originally Posted by usasma View Post
    theog - Unfortunately, some OEM's don't include recovery tools (Asus, Samsung, and Lenovo spring to mind). The system that sparked my postings was an Asus G750J - and Asus stopped offering recovery solutions with Win7.

    This link shows how to do it with the Microsoft recovery drive on a Lenovo: Methodology to create Recovery Media and reload a Lenovo Think system with Microsoft Windows 8 preload
    usasma
    For ASUS.
    The ASUS hot key Recovery is F9.

    ASUS now have a recovery .app

    Create Factory Restore Disc?


    Quote Originally Posted by awindowsdummy
    Update: I e-mailed ASUS support and they gave me a Windows program to do it. Thanks!

    To make ASUS Recovery disk download BACKTRACKER. (For Windows 8)

    http://www.asus.com/supportonly/ASUS...rt_Download_36

    Quote Originally Posted by ASUS
    Using the Support DVD to restore system recovery.

    About the Support DVD :
    The Support DVD includes an image of the operating system, installed on your system at the factory.
    or

    You can order the Microsoft official OEM Recovery disks from the ASUS OEM manufacturer's website.
    Essentio Recovery Software
    Notebook Recovery Software

    https://serviceshop.asus.com/




    For Lenovo & the MS Windows Recovery drive, needs the the Recovery Partition to be in-place. With all neded partitions & Windows install to C:.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  8. #8


    Posts : 5,139
    Win8.1Pro - Finally!!!


    Saltgrass - sorry, but we had to give the system to the customer - so I don't have the recovery drive to look at. With the next one that we setup, I'll check those files and see.

    theog - thanks for the link to the Backtracker. I intend to use it in the future, but am still worried about all the Asus systems out there that use the Microsoft Recovery Drive as their only Restore/Reset/Refresh option.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  9. #9


    Posts : 5,592
    ME, XP,Vista,Win7,Win8,Win8.1


    Quote Originally Posted by usasma View Post

    theog - thanks for the link to the Backtracker. I intend to use it in the future, but am still worried about all the Asus systems out there that use the Microsoft Recovery Drive as their only Restore/Reset/Refresh option.
    usasma Do not worry, as all OEM manufacturers’ Windows 8 Recovery Partitions are made unusable by updating to Windows 8.1 from the store. As the Windows 8.1 Repair tools (Restore/Reset/Refresh option) will not use a Windows 8 install.wim.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

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