Windows 8 and 8.1 Forums


Recovery Drive, what can be done with it - a discussion

  1. #1


    Posts : 1,121
    Windows 8.1 x64

    Recovery Drive, what can be done with it - a discussion


    I noticed there was a discussion concerning Recovery Drives and their capabilities and configuration. This discussion is for a UEFI systems, so please confine comments to the UEFI type install. I also have no experience with OEM systems and can only spectulate about how they might behave. Since the discussion was started in another thread, I will link to it.

    System Recovery

    Since I have been looking at this for a few days, I would like to share what I seem to have found.

    In this discussion, I have used two Recovery Flash Drives. One was a basic drive being used with a system where a Custom Refresh Image had been created. The other is a Recovery Flash Drive which was made and allowed to copy the contents of my homemade Recovery partition. The install.wim file I used was created using DISM and was a captured image of my OS partition. It would not be advisable to use the image made with recimg.exe, since it is a Refresh image and does not contain all the files from your OS partition. If you want to know what is in a Refresh image, check the help section for that utility.

    There seems to be some confusion in other forums, possibly caused by Microsoft's wording on one of their help sites that seems to imply making a CustomRefresh image will make the copy check box active during the Recovery Drive creation process. It does not, only the Recovery partition configured systems will get the check box, which seems to be what Theog is saying, but not certain since my system is not OEM and I do get the check box. as SIW2 does. The Refresh operation uses the image created on the hard drive or install media (OEM, possibly the Recovery partition).

    But lets start with a standard recovery drive which does not have the install.wim copied to it, What can you you do with it? If you have made a CustomRefresh.wim, a Refresh operation will use that image and you will not be asked for install media. If not, you will be asked for install media or OEM systems may use their image in their recovery partition.

    If you want to Reset the system with a Basic Recovery Flash Drive, it will ask for install media, since this basic drive would not have the image copied to it.

    If you run these operations with a Recovery Flash drive on which an install.wim has been copied by the recovery drive creation utility, you can Reset without being asked for install media.

    What surprised me was, when I used the Recovery drive with the copied image, I was able to restore to a clean hard drive. It does take a very long time to complete the process, possibly because of the file transfer speed of the Flash Drive. But the result is almost the same are restoring an image, except as noted below.

    There are two situations you may want to be aware of during these procedures. One is the Reset operation might re-partition your drive so as to change a larger Recovery Partition back to the small 300 MB partition, or close to it if you allow it to repartition the drive.

    Secondly, when you capture your image from the OS partition, there is a possibility a very large file might cause a Split image to contain a file larger than 4 GB, which could not be copied to a Fat32 Flash drive. I had one CustomRefresh.wim which did exactly that and ended up with a 5 GB section. It might be good to split your captured image yourself to make sure that would not be a problem.

    I only wish to start a discussion, not give the impression everything I mention is completely correct. Any comments or amendments would be welcome.

      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  2. #2


    Posts : 5,360
    7/8/ubuntu/Linux Deepin


    Having a registered osimage is the key. Oem partitions will have already done that.

    If you have a look at my post registering an osimage makes it available on the create recovery drive program.

    If you don't have an install.wim , you can trick it into using a customrefresh image you made. That will be limited to just doing refresh, though.

    @Saltgrass,

    Did you capture your image after sysprepping? Did you capture it from another os, or winpe?
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  3. #3


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


    1) I have never made a Custom Refresh Image.
    I have stayed with System Imaging ( Windows, Paragon 12 & SSR Desktop Edition)

    2) Windows 8 Pre-Install, using Windows USB Recovery Drive with copy Recovery Partition, you can use a USB2 drive.

    3) (Testing today) Windows 8 Pre-Install update to 8.1, using Windows USB Recovery Drive with copy Recovery Partition, you can not use a USB2 drive.
    Need to go out get a USB3 Drive for testing.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  4. #4


    Posts : 5,360
    7/8/ubuntu/Linux Deepin


    That is odd. I don't have usb 3.0 capability on my machine. I can create a recovery drive just fine from 8.1. I didn't start from an 8.0 pre install , but not sure why that would make any difference.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  5. #5


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


    Hi Si

    I can make the Repair only USB drive, with USB2, tried with 4gb, 8gb,16gb & 32gb drive.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  6. #6


    Posts : 1,121
    Windows 8.1 x64


    Quote Originally Posted by SIW2 View Post
    @Saltgrass,

    Did you capture your image after sysprepping? Did you capture it from another os, or winpe?
    I captured the image after booting to a Recovery Drive, or other install media and used DISM. I know what Sysprep is, but my image is not going to be use to install other systems.

    I am working on adjusting the way the partitions are set up, since there is no guidance from a previous install, they will be set up as directed. I might try using a Diskpart script to set the drive up ahead on time, but if you allow the system to repartition, it will wipe those partitions out.

    During the reset, two additional files were placed in the Recovery image. A diskpart script and an .xml configuration file that references the diskpart script. I have adjusted the Diskpart script partition sizes, and the .xml "MinSize" entry (whatever it does) and made a new Recovery Drive. It is Resetting currently so hopefully I will know if the Recovery Tools partition is the 450 MBs I am requesting it to be.

    I have now found out, if you allow it to repartition the drive/s, and you have a second drive, it will not allow the reset. I disconnected my second drive and the Reset continued.

    @Theog

    I used a USB 2.0 drive originally, but since it is so slow, I am using a USB 3.0 flash drive in a USB 3.0 port. Creating the Recovery drive was much faster, but the reset is still taking some time, if it even succeeds.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  7. #7


    Posts : 959
    Windows 8.1, 10


    This article doesn't answer your question, but I found it was quite useful background info on how Refresh and Reset work.
    Push-Button Reset Overview
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  8. #8


    Posts : 1,121
    Windows 8.1 x64


    Thanks DavidY, but it was never a question..just a discussion... I looked for a way to indicate that for the thread, but did not see one.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  9. #9


    Posts : 5,360
    7/8/ubuntu/Linux Deepin


    Yes, the xml thing is interesting. I just set up the same thing on win7. I can see the unattend.xml file on the root of the ramdrive. Contains the product key among other things, I expect that is so it extracts the correct image from the wim

    Code:
    <?xml version='1.0' encoding='utf-8'?>
    <unattend xmlns="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:unattend"><settings pass="windowsPE"><component name="Microsoft-Windows-Setup" processorArchitecture="amd64" publicKeyToken="31bf3856ad364e35" language="neutral" versionScope="nonSxS" xmlns:wcm="http://schemas.microsoft.com/WMIConfig/2002/State" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance"><ImageInstall><OSImage><InstallFrom><Path>f:\sources\Install.wim</Path></InstallFrom><InstallTo><DiskID>0</DiskID><PartitionID>1</PartitionID></InstallTo></OSImage></ImageInstall><UserData><AcceptEula>True</AcceptEula><ProductKey><key>XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX</key></ProductKey></UserData></component><component name="Microsoft-Windows-International-Core-WinPE" processorArchitecture="amd64" publicKeyToken="31bf3856ad364e35" language="neutral" versionScope="nonSxS" xmlns:wcm="http://schemas.microsoft.com/WMIConfig/2002/State" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance"><UILanguage>en-US</UILanguage></component></settings></unattend>
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  10. #10


    Posts : 1,121
    Windows 8.1 x64


    My reset has finished and I am pleased with the final result. I am not suggesting this process be used in lieu of a System Image, but it may be a fallback position for some folks. Knowing you can use a Recovery Drive to recreate your install on a new hard drive was information of which I had been unaware.

    I am attaching the Disk Management pictures of the system just after the first Reset, then after Resetting using the modified files added to the Recovery Partition from the first Reset. The .xml file may be an form of an answer file, but it is a very simple configuration file. You can see them in the listing below.

    Edit: I found a link to the .xml configuration file in the link DavidY provided. My file has the first three lines and then skips down to the <SystemDisk> entries

    ResetConfig XML Reference

    11/03/2013 06:52 PM <DIR> .
    <DIR> ..
    1,106 $PBR_Diskpart.txt
    523 $PBR_ResetConfig.xml
    2,146,596,500 install.swm
    2,147,330,074 install2.swm
    283,283,743 install3.swm
    5 File(s) 4,577,211,946 bytes
    2 Dir(s) 303,398,912 bytes free
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Reset Partitions.JPG   Reset Partitions_After.JPG  
    Last edited by Saltgrass; 05 Nov 2013 at 09:26.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

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Recovery Drive, what can be done with it - a discussion
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