Props to the Windows Team

I’ll go on record with this comment: Wow… that actually just worked.

Retiring my last Vista box didn’t go as smoothly as I thought it did. Windows 7 installed fine: every device I had in the thing was auto-supported… the machine was built in 2007 with all brand name parts, but even so… there’s usually a rogue driver that’s required on a repave. No, the reason I was up until 2:30 this morning was caused by something completely non-OS related…

One single password.

On my home PC I’m a bit anal about backups. I do two different types of backups, to two different external hard drives from two different manufacturers. On one drive, I do a full system backup which I see as a bookmark: if I screw up something in a bad way, I can snap back to this point in time and go from there. On the other drive, I copy all of my data. From this drive I have the ability to get my data if I rebuild my box. I’ve been doing this for a few years now and it’s served me well.

In going from Vista 32-bit to Window 7 64-bit, a rebuild-of-the-box was required. I backed up a full system image just in case and took a fresh copy of my data before blowing away the internal hard drive and installing Windows 7. As I said, the install went perfectly. I spent the next four hours restoring my data files, cleaing up stuff as I went – honestly, who needs the firmware for a Linksys router from 1999? The last thing I installed was an aging version of Microsoft Money.

And that’s where I had an oops… Money was asking me for a password. Uh. That file isn’t supposed to be password protected. Wait… that’s right, I did put one on there. And it was so uber-secure that I forgot what the hell it was.

This is where the Wow comes in.

Rather than rebuilding the box a second time, I took a snapshot of Windows 7 and created a System Restore disc. I then grabbed my Vista install disc and booted to that. It found the Windows 7 partition and told me that it couldn’t restore to that. This actually makes sense to me, so I formatted the drive and let Vista install. Before Windows Update could kick in, I rebooted to the install disc, selected Repair, and restored my Vista image. Took an hour but it went flawlessly. Started Money: since that opened the file, I removed the password and nicked a fresh copy of the file. Booted to the Windows 7 install disc, formatted, installed, restored the Windows 7 image… and it just worked. In the span of two and a half hours I flipped from a current state in Windows 7 to an archived state in Vista and back to the original state of Windows 7.

Certainly, it beat the hell out of reinstalling again and it’s good to know that restoring an OS system image is a cake walk.

2 thoughts on “Props to the Windows Team”

  1. Usually? No, because you’d be installing an image of the same OS over the [same] existing OS. If I had a backup image of Windows 7 and something happened to some files that made me want to restore the backup image, then I would have just had to boot off the restore disc – the restore process would have found my instance of 7 and installed the disc image over it. Same is true of Vista backups for people running Vista.

    In my case, I had to restore Vista because I had Windows 7 already installed: you can’t use a Vista restore disc to restore a Vista image on a HDD that has a *different* OS installed to it. By the same token, I couldn’t do the same thing with Windows 7 because the OS on the drive was Vista at the time. Not really a normal backup/restore scenario…

    That said, if you want an imaging system to span across OS’s (i.e. switching between XP, Vista, and 7) then I would get something like Ghost or a Virtual Machine solution.

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