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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

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%.​
CMD.jpg
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


 

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Last edited:

glennc

New Member
Member
Glenn,

No problem. :)

SFC will only repair Windows corrupted or modified system files if able, and nothing else (ex: user files or programs).

System Restore will restore Windows system files, system settings, programs, and registry back to how they were when the restore point was created. It does not affect user files.

I agree. A full System Image backup is the ultimate and best fix all solution. It will restore everything, including how the selected HDDs/SSDs were setup, in the system image back to how it was when the system image was created. You just have to keep an updated system image to not lose to much if you have to do a system image recovery inbetween creating updated images.

A refresh with a custom image could be useful if you wanted to restore Windows back to how it was when the refresh image was created without worrying about it affecting the HHDs/SSDs and accidently letting the wrong one get deleted like it could happen with a full system image recovery.

Hello Brink,
Thanks for helping me relate to the different terms and their uses and functions. What a wealth of knowledge! Currently running a 168 GB drive SATA, gutted from an old Acer. So you would save the recimage C:\RefeshImage and files to use with the refresh feature to clearly explained in your tutorial. That also will only use info from the last time. Always steadfast. Think I am going to try out your shutdown/restart etc: in the desktop pop-up. That is handy and takes a couple of steps out of W8 IMHO!
Cheers
Glenn
 

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Brink

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mvp
You're welcome Glenn. :)
 

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mrioux

New Member
Hi Brink,

I understand what you mean by the difference of "refresh image" and full backup. How do you do a full backup within windows 8?

You say to create a full system backup image of windows 8 is like windows 7 (Backup Complete Computer - Create an Image Backup - Windows 7 Forums) I do not see this feature anywhere other than the option of creating a backup of your "File History".

We are trying to use the windows recovery tool and when it comes to the part of finding an image, it can not find the image on the local computer.. What are your thoughts on this?
 

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Brink

Administrator
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mvp
Hello mrioux, and welcome to Eight Forums.

When you have the Control Panel (icons view) open, you would click on the Windows 7 File Recovery icon now instead, then you will be able to follow the tutorial in your post above and below to do a system image just like in Windows 7. :)

Backup Complete Computer - Create an Image Backup - Windows 7 Forums

However, the instructions in this tutorial on the first page also creates the system image that is then set to be used by "Refresh". "Refresh" doesn't use a separate system image created using the tutorial link above though.
 
Last edited:

My Computer

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    64-bit Windows 10
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    Intel i7-8700K OC'd to 5 GHz
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    6TB WD Black WD6001FZWX
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    Lumia 1520 phone

AllanP

Member
Member
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.
Pardon my cutting in here and I think I know the answer. I have been an Acronis True Image user for a long time. Would you say that with this new feature in Windows 8 that I no longer need Acronis?

Thanks, Allan
 

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    Home build

Brink

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mvp
Hello Allan, and welcome to Eight Forums.

I'd say use what you are comfortable and familiar with if you like and if it's been reliable for you.

If you like, you could use the feature in this tutorial as another layer of backup just to be extra safe.

It never hurts to have multiple backups. You never know when it may come in handy. :)
 

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    2 x Samsung Odyssey G7 27"
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    1TB Samsung 970 EVO Plus M.2,
    250GB Samsung 960 EVO M.2,
    6TB WD Black WD6001FZWX
    8TB WD MyCloudEX2Ultra NAS
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    HP Color LaserJet Pro MFP M477fdn,
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    Arris SB8200 cable modem,
    APC SMART-UPS RT 1000 XL - SURT1000XLI,
    Lumia 1520 phone

AllanP

Member
Member
Hello Allan, and welcome to Eight Forums.

I'd say use what you are comfortable and familiar with if you like and if it's been reliable for you.

If you like, you could use the feature in this tutorial as another layer of backup just to be extra safe.


It never hurts to have multiple backups. You never know when it may come in handy. :)

Excellent advise, thanks Brink:cool:
 

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Brink

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mvp
You're welcome. :)
 

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    64-bit Windows 10
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    Custom self built
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    Intel i7-8700K OC'd to 5 GHz
    Motherboard
    ASUS ROG Maximus XI Formula Z390
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    16 GB (8GBx2) G.SKILL TridentZ DDR4 3200 MHz
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    ASUS ROG-STRIX-GTX1080TI-O11G-GAMING
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    2 x Samsung Odyssey G7 27"
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    Arris SB8200 cable modem,
    APC SMART-UPS RT 1000 XL - SURT1000XLI,
    Lumia 1520 phone

Coke Robot

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So I have a few questions here. First is, do Windows Store apps stay on the image or do they need to be redownloaded? I would hate to have to redownload them as I've already a list of 100 or so apps I've downloaded so far, of which I have a few installed.

Second is, this method creates an install.wim file. Can that be swapped out with the original install.wim that would be in an installation .iso? I think this would be yes. Be VERY handy to be able to create an updated install.wim file on the fly in a VM and use that new image to install Windows 8 on a laptop, or preferably through a deployment tool as so I can do a hard drive to hard drive transfer and install of Windows 8 on an external laptop drive, plop it back into the laptop and just activate Windows and Office and a couple of other things.

And lastly, I'm curious. If I make an image with Windows 8 Enterprise RTM Trial, download the .iso for Windows 8 Pro, and swap out the install.wim files, would it basically install Windows 8 Pro but with the settings and programs and apps within the image? I feel iffy about this.
 

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Brink

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mvp
Hello Andy,

Answers inline. :)


So I have a few questions here. First is, do Windows Store apps stay on the image or do they need to be redownloaded? I would hate to have to redownload them as I've already a list of 100 or so apps I've downloaded so far, of which I have a few installed.

This does and preserves the same as a normal refresh of Windows 8, but instead of using the default image (installation media) it will use the CustomRefresh.wim that this part will include your desktop apps and system files as they were when the CustomRefresh.wim image was created.

In short, your Store apps will be safe and included as part of the normal refresh process. :)

Second is, this method creates an install.wim file. Can that be swapped out with the original install.wim that would be in an installation .iso? I think this would be yes. Be VERY handy to be able to create an updated install.wim file on the fly in a VM and use that new image to install Windows 8 on a laptop, or preferably through a deployment tool as so I can do a hard drive to hard drive transfer and install of Windows 8 on an external laptop drive, plop it back into the laptop and just activate Windows and Office and a couple of other things.

Interesting theory, but never tried it. It would be interesting to see how that tests out. Please let us know if you give it a play.

And lastly, I'm curious. If I make an image with Windows 8 Enterprise RTM Trial, download the .iso for Windows 8 Pro, and swap out the install.wim files, would it basically install Windows 8 Pro but with the settings and programs and apps within the image? I feel iffy about this.

I would think this would not work at all.​
 

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    ASUS ROG Maximus XI Formula Z390
    Memory
    16 GB (8GBx2) G.SKILL TridentZ DDR4 3200 MHz
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    2 x Samsung Odyssey G7 27"
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mikiep

New Member
Member
recimg doesn't work for me. I keep looking for the solution with no luck. Other posts on web forums show many others have the exact same problem.

Microsoft Windows [Version 6.2.9200]
(c) 2012 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
C:\WINDOWS\system32>mkdir C:\RefreshImage
C:\WINDOWS\system32>recimg -CreateImage C:\RefreshImage
Source OS location: C:
Recovery image path: C:\RefreshImage\CustomRefresh.wim
Creating recovery image. Press [ESC] to cancel.
Initializing
100%
Creating snapshot
27%
The recovery image cannot be written.
Error Code - 0x80042411

C:\WINDOWS\system32>
 

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    lenovo

Brink

Administrator
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mvp
Hello Mikiep,

I can't find anything on that error code either that has been solved.

As a test, you might enabe the built-in Administrator account, sign in to it, have nothing else running, and try this again to see how it does.
 

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    16 GB (8GBx2) G.SKILL TridentZ DDR4 3200 MHz
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    ASUS ROG-STRIX-GTX1080TI-O11G-GAMING
    Sound Card
    Integrated Digital Audio (S/PDIF)
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    2 x Samsung Odyssey G7 27"
    Screen Resolution
    2560x1440
    Hard Drives
    1TB Samsung 970 EVO Plus M.2,
    250GB Samsung 960 EVO M.2,
    6TB WD Black WD6001FZWX
    8TB WD MyCloudEX2Ultra NAS
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    OCZ Series Gold OCZZ1000M 1000W
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    Corsair Hydro H115i
    Keyboard
    Logitech wireless K800
    Mouse
    Logitech MX Master 3
    Internet Speed
    1 Gb/s Download and 35 Mb/s Upload
    Browser
    Internet Explorer 11
    Antivirus
    Malwarebyte Anti-Malware Premium
    Other Info
    Logitech Z625 speaker system,
    Logitech BRIO 4K Pro webcam,
    HP Color LaserJet Pro MFP M477fdn,
    Linksys EA9500 router,
    Arris SB8200 cable modem,
    APC SMART-UPS RT 1000 XL - SURT1000XLI,
    Lumia 1520 phone

mikiep

New Member
Member
Thanks for the idea! I didn't think of that.. but unfortunately still same

Microsoft Windows [Version 6.2.9200]
(c) 2012 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
C:\WINDOWS\system32>mkdir C:\RefreshImage
A subdirectory or file C:\RefreshImage already exists.
C:\WINDOWS\system32>recimg -CreateImage C:\RefreshImage
Source OS location: C:
Recovery image path: C:\RefreshImage\CustomRefresh.wim
Creating recovery image. Press [ESC] to cancel.
Initializing
100%
Creating snapshot
27%
The recovery image cannot be written.
Error Code - 0x80042411

C:\WINDOWS\system32>

Error VSS event id 8193

Volume Shadow Copy Service error: Unexpected error calling routine IVssAsrWriterBackup::GetAsrMetadata. hr = 0x80042411, A critical volume selected for backup exists on a disk which cannot be backed up by ASR.

Operation:

PrepareForBackup event

Context:
Execution Context: ASR Writer
Execution Context: Writer
Writer Class Id: {be000cbe-11fe-4426-9c58-531aa6355fc4}
Writer Name: ASR Writer
Writer Instance ID: {eecd776d-7c2c-4dd0-a6c1-ae3c54b5eead}

Error-specific details:
ASR Writer: A critical volume selected for backup exists on a disk which cannot be backed up by ASR. (0x80042411)
~~~


Warning VSS event id 12290

Volume Shadow Copy Service warning: ASR writer Error 0x80042411. hr = 0x00000000, The operation completed successfully.

Operation:
PrepareForBackup event
Context:
Execution Context: ASR Writer
Execution Context: Writer
Writer Class Id: {be000cbe-11fe-4426-9c58-531aa6355fc4}
Writer Name: ASR Writer
Writer Instance ID: {eecd776d-7c2c-4dd0-a6c1-ae3c54b5eead}

Error-specific details:
ASR Writer: A critical volume selected for backup exists on a disk which cannot be backed up by ASR. (0x80042411)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I do see a windows server with the same error that was resolved with regsvr32 to the components [ 0xe000fed1 - A failure occurred querying the Writer status. | Symantec Connect Community ]
Anywhere to find a list of the components as used by win8 pro 64 ?

Thanks Again !
 

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Brink

Administrator
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mvp
Could you post a screenshot showing the full layout of your Disk Management (diskmgmt.msc) window to see if that may reveal anything?
 

My Computer

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  • OS
    64-bit Windows 10
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    System Manufacturer/Model
    Custom self built
    CPU
    Intel i7-8700K OC'd to 5 GHz
    Motherboard
    ASUS ROG Maximus XI Formula Z390
    Memory
    16 GB (8GBx2) G.SKILL TridentZ DDR4 3200 MHz
    Graphics Card(s)
    ASUS ROG-STRIX-GTX1080TI-O11G-GAMING
    Sound Card
    Integrated Digital Audio (S/PDIF)
    Monitor(s) Displays
    2 x Samsung Odyssey G7 27"
    Screen Resolution
    2560x1440
    Hard Drives
    1TB Samsung 970 EVO Plus M.2,
    250GB Samsung 960 EVO M.2,
    6TB WD Black WD6001FZWX
    8TB WD MyCloudEX2Ultra NAS
    PSU
    OCZ Series Gold OCZZ1000M 1000W
    Case
    Thermaltake Core P3
    Cooling
    Corsair Hydro H115i
    Keyboard
    Logitech wireless K800
    Mouse
    Logitech MX Master 3
    Internet Speed
    1 Gb/s Download and 35 Mb/s Upload
    Browser
    Internet Explorer 11
    Antivirus
    Malwarebyte Anti-Malware Premium
    Other Info
    Logitech Z625 speaker system,
    Logitech BRIO 4K Pro webcam,
    HP Color LaserJet Pro MFP M477fdn,
    Linksys EA9500 router,
    Arris SB8200 cable modem,
    APC SMART-UPS RT 1000 XL - SURT1000XLI,
    Lumia 1520 phone

Brink

Administrator
Administrator
mvp
As a test, try the tutorial using your D: drive letter in both commands instead.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    64-bit Windows 10
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    System Manufacturer/Model
    Custom self built
    CPU
    Intel i7-8700K OC'd to 5 GHz
    Motherboard
    ASUS ROG Maximus XI Formula Z390
    Memory
    16 GB (8GBx2) G.SKILL TridentZ DDR4 3200 MHz
    Graphics Card(s)
    ASUS ROG-STRIX-GTX1080TI-O11G-GAMING
    Sound Card
    Integrated Digital Audio (S/PDIF)
    Monitor(s) Displays
    2 x Samsung Odyssey G7 27"
    Screen Resolution
    2560x1440
    Hard Drives
    1TB Samsung 970 EVO Plus M.2,
    250GB Samsung 960 EVO M.2,
    6TB WD Black WD6001FZWX
    8TB WD MyCloudEX2Ultra NAS
    PSU
    OCZ Series Gold OCZZ1000M 1000W
    Case
    Thermaltake Core P3
    Cooling
    Corsair Hydro H115i
    Keyboard
    Logitech wireless K800
    Mouse
    Logitech MX Master 3
    Internet Speed
    1 Gb/s Download and 35 Mb/s Upload
    Browser
    Internet Explorer 11
    Antivirus
    Malwarebyte Anti-Malware Premium
    Other Info
    Logitech Z625 speaker system,
    Logitech BRIO 4K Pro webcam,
    HP Color LaserJet Pro MFP M477fdn,
    Linksys EA9500 router,
    Arris SB8200 cable modem,
    APC SMART-UPS RT 1000 XL - SURT1000XLI,
    Lumia 1520 phone

mikiep

New Member
Member
I've tried in the past to the D drive.. I just tried it again now logged in with the Administrator.
Still exact same.. thanks though.

Is there a user logoff ? other than restart in win8
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    win8.1
    Computer type
    Laptop
    System Manufacturer/Model
    lenovo

Brink

Administrator
Administrator
mvp

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    64-bit Windows 10
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    System Manufacturer/Model
    Custom self built
    CPU
    Intel i7-8700K OC'd to 5 GHz
    Motherboard
    ASUS ROG Maximus XI Formula Z390
    Memory
    16 GB (8GBx2) G.SKILL TridentZ DDR4 3200 MHz
    Graphics Card(s)
    ASUS ROG-STRIX-GTX1080TI-O11G-GAMING
    Sound Card
    Integrated Digital Audio (S/PDIF)
    Monitor(s) Displays
    2 x Samsung Odyssey G7 27"
    Screen Resolution
    2560x1440
    Hard Drives
    1TB Samsung 970 EVO Plus M.2,
    250GB Samsung 960 EVO M.2,
    6TB WD Black WD6001FZWX
    8TB WD MyCloudEX2Ultra NAS
    PSU
    OCZ Series Gold OCZZ1000M 1000W
    Case
    Thermaltake Core P3
    Cooling
    Corsair Hydro H115i
    Keyboard
    Logitech wireless K800
    Mouse
    Logitech MX Master 3
    Internet Speed
    1 Gb/s Download and 35 Mb/s Upload
    Browser
    Internet Explorer 11
    Antivirus
    Malwarebyte Anti-Malware Premium
    Other Info
    Logitech Z625 speaker system,
    Logitech BRIO 4K Pro webcam,
    HP Color LaserJet Pro MFP M477fdn,
    Linksys EA9500 router,
    Arris SB8200 cable modem,
    APC SMART-UPS RT 1000 XL - SURT1000XLI,
    Lumia 1520 phone

mikiep

New Member
Member
I've done refresh before and reinstalled completely.
Right now I'm doing a full format of the E drive. Will see if it can play to there after its done. slow_ but done now.. recimg still doesn't like me.

Interesting the first time I tried to stick a image into the fresh E, it said out of memory.. a quick look in Resource Monitor shows
In Use 2510,mb
StandBy 5620
Free 4mb usually free shows almost equal to standby when I peek into resource monitor.


~~~~~~~~~~~ Fixed it Did several things, too many to remember.. shrunk and expanded each partition about 10mb, moved active partition back and forth.. then the error changed its number .... the final thing was stop that dataram RamDisk.
Refresh was 35 minutes first time,, then a 45 min second time .. about 7gb CustomRefresh.wim from total of about 40gb (16gb total in page.swap.hiber)
 
Last edited:

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    win8.1
    Computer type
    Laptop
    System Manufacturer/Model
    lenovo

fafhrd

Active Member
Pro User
I followed the tutorial, and the Custom Recovery Image was created without any problems in about 4 hours - I had been worried how large the image would be, but it was only 9.5 GB from 70 GB used on the windows 8 drive, so I was amazed that it contained complete Pagefile, Swapfile and Hiberfile elements in the archive. I thought that .wim files filtered out such data. I look forward to the opportunity to use the image in anger (not really).
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 8.1 Pro with Media Center
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    System Manufacturer/Model
    HP COMPAQ Presario CQ57
    CPU
    AMD E- 300 APU with Radion HD Graphics 1.30GHz
    Motherboard
    inbuilt
    Memory
    4GB
    Graphics Card(s)
    ATI
    Sound Card
    High Definition Audio on-board
    Monitor(s) Displays
    notebook
    Screen Resolution
    1366x768
    Hard Drives
    Seagate ST9500325AS
    Google drive 15GB
    Skydrive 25GB
    BT Cloud
    PSU
    external 20v
    Case
    Laptop
    Cooling
    pretty good
    Keyboard
    inbuilt
    Mouse
    touchpad
    Internet Speed
    BT Infinity Unlimited - 80 up 20 down =70/16 really
    Browser
    Chrome Canary usually
    Antivirus
    Windows Defender and Malwarebytes
    Other Info
    no Start menu modifications
    Upgraded with no issues to 8.0 and to 8.1

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