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[guide] Create a Bootable Windows 7/Vista Recovery ISO


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#1 andex

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Posted 03 January 2010 - 10:12 PM

This guide would have been shorter but it became a bit long due to more detailed elaboration to fit all type of user from beginner to advanced. So advanced users can simply skip many simple steps.I just joined things already known, I am sharing it to different forums to benefit more people. In this guide you can make a bootable recovery DVD without the need of any expensive backup software. We only need freewares to do this. And once the bootable backup is made, we can use it for any computer. It works on both Windows 7 and Vista.

First, any Windows Vista/7 ISO has Install.wim file in the source directory. If this Install.wim is mounted, it shows the actual directories of C drive that we see when windows is installed first. So in short, the thing to be done is to replace original install.win with the one made by windows backup then captured by GImageX. Below is the detail.
Requirements
- The host computer needs to have Windows backup and Restore (with system image creator)
- One of Power ISO, UltraISO, Magic ISO, 7Zip (free), WinRAR, etc
- GImageX 2.0 http://www.autoitscr...gex/gimagex.zip
- 4.7 GB or 8.5 GB DVD - size depends on the newly created ISO and a DVD writer (with double layer support if size of the ISO is bigger than 4.7 GB) Or
- USB drive - size depends on the newly created ISO (preferably 8GB or more)
- A Bootable USB – a tool to make USB bootable and to install Windows from USB.
http://www.deviantar...ishal_Gupta.zip
The microsoft Windows 7 ISO to USB tool didn't work for me maybe due to the size.

Phase One – Backup your system image with Windows backup and Restore
It is advised to make this backup when your PC has all the necessary softwares and drivers that you need and when the system is in a stable form. Clean up unnecessary files, move documents and any others files that are not need by your softwares of the system to free up space. If you have plan of installing the Recovery DVD on other systems, make sure you deleted all firefox history, bookmarks, etc and private files. You can recover them again using MozBackup. MozBackup - Backup tool for Firefox and Thunderbird
1. Go to Control Panel search for “Backup and Restore” or type it on start menu search
2. When the main page of Backup and Restore appears click on “create system image”
3. Select a drive location where the backup will be saved. Make sure “On one or more DVDs” and On network location” are unchecked. Then Click next.
4. In the next windows, make sure other drives are not selected. Make sure only the system image is checked which cannot be editable. Then click next.
5. Then click on “Start Backup”.
6. Once the backup is over, it asks you to create a system repair disk. For now cancel. But create another time. It is useful in case of booting problem.

Phase Two – Convert the system image file (VHD) into .WIM file
The system image you created in phase one is saved as VHD – Virtual Hard Disk Format with give us chance to mount as an additional partition. This VHD must be converted to .WIM file so that we can integrate the system backup in Windows 7/Vista DVD/ISO.
1. Start > Right-click on My Computer > Manage. Then from the left hand side menu Click on “Disk Management”
2. Now go to the top menu and Click on “Action” and click on “Attach VHD" then you will be promted to "specify the VHD location" so click on Browse, and locate the VHD that is created by Windows Backup and Restore the VHD file is found in X:\WindowsImageBackup\Your Name-PC\Backup YYYY-MM-DD hhmmss. (eg. F:\WindowsImageBackup\Andex-PC\Backup 2009-12-03 192205) Then once you select the VHD and click ok, the VHD will be mounted as a new partition. Observe the driver letter
3. Open GimageX 2.0 from any of the subfolders x86 or x64 depending on which edition of operating system you are recovering.
4. On the main GUI of GImageX for “source”, select the drive which the VHD was mounted to
5. For destination, Click browse and place it in a location where there is more free space. Under “File Name” on the browse window type “Install” without quotes and click on Save.
6. For compression choose Maximum (to save space)
7. For SKU Flag, choose any of the Windows Version you are backed up already.
8. For the description information, just customize it however you like
9. Once done, click the Create button at the bottom of the GimageX
10. GimageX starts converting the VHD file to WIM file (this process will take from few minuites to several minutes depending on the size of your backup).

Phase Three – Integrating WIM file into Windows 7/Vista ISO file and Burn the ISO into DVD or USB
1. Go to your windows 7/Vista ISO folder and Copy it from the original location and Paste it into another location preferably where there is more free space. Doing this is important because the ISO will be edited and keeping original ISO is a wise option.
2. Open the ISO with PowerISO or similar software.
Inside the ISO, there will be a sources folder, so just remove the install.wim file and drag the install.wim file that you made with GImageX into the sources folder. (In other words, you are just replacing the install.wim file that's on the original ISO, with the one that you made.)
3. Finally, save it as an ISO and check the size of the ISO, and use a DVD that has bigger size than the ISO.
4. Insert black DVD and Burn the ISO using Windows Disc Image Burner (as there might be compatibility issue with other burners).
5. For USB Installation - make sure the size of the USB is big enough – and follow the instruction to create a bootable USB using the utility here. First install the utility and follow the instruction on help in left side of the GUI. This application is odd but simple to use. To know it has finished one step, check if the application can be moved. Often when it is performing a process, it locks itself and user cannot click anything. To stop the application without finishing its process, use task manager and end its process.

Phase Four – Recovering Windows
The Recovery has no single difference from a clean windows installation. The major difference is the outcome. All your software and setting will be recovered at the end of Windows installation process. The time taken is almost the same as Clean and new Windows installation. Activating Windows might be needed unless you are using a pre-activated Windows.
Most importantly, the recovery DVD can be used for other systems too. The drivers will be installed at first start. It might be necessary to uninstall driver software of the original PC and changing user name and PC name. I have successfully installed Windows 7 Professional on Acer, Dell and Toshiba Notebook using the created Recovery DVD of an HP Notebook.

Important Note
This note doesn't concern Windows Vista/7 OEM users but it is concerned with those with retail versions. If you are making the recovery ISO from Retail versions, you will be asked to immidately activate Windows once you start the system. Preactivating is also another option which is a bit complicated.

Note: for better understanding of your ISO size;
The size of my C partition before the backup 19 GB.
My Windows 7 Professional backup size (VHD) - 12.2 GB ;
The created Install.wim file size 5.2 GB,
The ISO file after replacing the original Install.wim - 5.8 GB.
So using this info, you can estimate the size of your final ISO.

Any suggestion, question, comment, and rejection is welcomed.

The PDF format of the tutorial
Attached File  How_Creat_Your_own_Windows_7_or_Vista_Recovery_iso.pdf   85.38KB   841 downloads
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#2 andex

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Posted 04 January 2010 - 04:02 AM

It is also possible to install Windows 7/Vista without burning the ISO into DVD or USB :) . Especially for testing, it is good to use EasyCD to boot from ISO or copy everything from the ISO to unbootable partition (not logical partition), and make it bootable using EasyBCD (latest version 2.0 build 76).
It is also discussed here recently at Boot Land.
http://www.boot-land...showtopic=10108 EasyBCD is a free software but it requires registration to the forum to download beta builds. FORUM RULES

#3 Formula84

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 06:08 PM

This is a really neat solution but i currently use a image create with Ghost after syspreping my setup workstation. This idea is neat but my concern would be with installing on lets say multiple computers in the same domain. Would this cause issues because the image that this was created from is not syspreped? Or does this not need to be done because of the methods used... total noob to this idea thanks for the post and your help.

#4 putapunk

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 06:51 PM

Thanks for this.

Since HP puts their recovery partition on their laptops, is there a way to only image the C partition? I'm not seeing that option but thought someone might know a trick or maybe I'm missing something obvious.

Win7 Home Premium

#5 andex

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 07:18 PM

Thanks for this.

Since HP puts their recovery partition on their laptops, is there a way to only image the C partition? I'm not seeing that option but thought someone might know a trick or maybe I'm missing something obvious.

Win7 Home Premium

In case the HP Recovery partition is also included as system image in Windows backup, what you can do is to take a back up of the two on a partition that is enough to carry the two images (VHDs) and then, by first attaching and identifying the HP Recovery partition VHD, you can then delete the unwanted one.

Or, another simple way is, you can use a utility called Disk2VHD which can convert any disk into Virtual Hard disk file formate (VHD). You can find everything here. http://technet.micro...s/ee656415.aspx

#6 Formula84

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 09:44 PM

@ OP do you have any ideas about my post above with regards to system generalization?

In case the HP Recovery partition is also included as system image in Windows backup, what you can do is to take a back up of the two on a partition that is enough to carry the two images (VHDs) and then, by first attaching and identifying the HP Recovery partition VHD, you can then delete the unwanted one.

Or, another simple way is, you can use a utility called Disk2VHD which can convert any disk into Virtual Hard disk file formate (VHD). You can find everything here. http://technet.micro...s/ee656415.aspx



#7 andex

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 10:41 PM

@ OP do you have any ideas about my post above with regards to system generalization?

Dear Formula, I almost missed your post. I though it is an old post. Thank you for the reminder.
About your question:
When you install Windows using this method, there will be exactly same systems. However, the hardware difference of the systems also make network settings to be reset. Because, when Windows Starts for the first time, Windows installs all the drivers one by one and obviously as this installation is hardware independent, there will be no hardware settings coming from the source PC. However, there is one exception to this. If the systems are same model then the backup installed doesn't need to install drivers, so no hardware setting will be changed. However, you can always change the settings to each systems after installation is over.

#8 Formula84

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 11:49 PM

Thanks for the reply, I guess i could just run the sysprep after the backup is installed.

Wonder if when in audit mode (ctrl+shift+f3) when you first setup Win 7 and it prompts for user creation, this is how i prep my box for sysprep, in audit mode i can install all needed drivers, udpates, and software then sysprep I wonder If I could somehow use backup in audit mode and capture it in its current state? I guess the only way to find out is to test, thanks.

#9 andex

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Posted 22 January 2010 - 05:36 AM

Thanks for the reply, I guess i could just run the sysprep after the backup is installed.

Wonder if when in audit mode (ctrl+shift+f3) when you first setup Win 7 and it prompts for user creation, this is how i prep my box for sysprep, in audit mode i can install all needed drivers, udpates, and software then sysprep I wonder If I could somehow use backup in audit mode and capture it in its current state? I guess the only way to find out is to test, thanks.

I haven't tried it so I cannot say much in this :ranting2: but this might give you some more idea.
http://social.techne...68-f4a22185ca1f
I would be glad if you come back and share your experiences.
Good luck :whistling:

#10 Duderino

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Posted 30 May 2010 - 06:59 PM

Requirements
- The host computer needs to have Windows backup and Restore (with system image creator)
- One of Power ISO, UltraISO, Magic ISO, 7Zip (free), WinRAR, etc
- GImageX 2.0 http://www.autoitscr...gex/gimagex.zip
- Windows 7/Vista ISO file
- 4.7 GB or 8.5 GB DVD - size depends on the newly created ISO and a DVD writer (with double layer support if size of the ISO is bigger than 4.7 GB) Or
- USB drive - size depends on the newly created ISO (preferably 8GB or more)
- A Bootable USB – a tool to make USB bootable and to install Windows from USB.
http://www.askvg.com...ver-2008-and-7/
The microsoft Windows 7 ISO to USB tool didn't work for me maybe due to the size.


I'm a bit confused since the requirements do not mention which Windows this applies to or needs to be done from and I'm not familiar with Windows backup and Restore (with system image creator).

Can this be done from Windows XP?

If this needs to be done from a Windows 7 installation perhaps it would be a good idea to mention it in your initial post.

Regards.

#11 steve6375

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Posted 30 May 2010 - 09:42 PM

Interesting idea to use the VHD from Complete PC Backup to make a wim file, but this is not available on all SKUs of Win7/Vista is it? i.e. not on Home or XP.

You could make a wim file by booting to WinPE instead. For instance, boot from the Win7/Vista recovery DVD and press SHIFT-F10 to get a winpe console. Insert a USB flash drive with ImageX or GImageX on it and use this to capture the C: HDD image. You could even sysprep it first before you boot from the DVD.

This would also work with XP systems, except you would have to run bootsect /nt52 C: after applying the XP image.

#12 Aisurya

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Posted 21 August 2010 - 08:59 AM

Aisurya kumar puhan
e-mail : kunu4vegas@gmail.com


Dear Andex ,

I have "Dell inspiron 15 R , Windows 7 preinstalled" . I created the system image .

I want to make it bootable DVD format , which will be easy for me to reinstall another time.

According to your post i completed all system image and system repair .
The image i kept in my hard drive .
In the " Backup " folder of "WindowsImageBackup" i found 2 VHD files .

I complted Phase 1 and 2 successfully.

In phase 3 as u said :- " Go to your windows 7/Vista ISO folder and Copy it from the original location and Paste it into another location preferably where there is more free space. Doing this is important because the ISO will be edited and keeping original ISO is a wise option. " But i did not find any windows 7/Vista ISO folder , so i stopped here .

Please help me out what to do , am stuck in the middle of ocean ...

Thanks your post really helps me out......

#13 anewerauser

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Posted 14 October 2010 - 06:20 PM

Aisurya kumar puhan

I complted Phase 1 and 2 successfully.

In phase 3 as u said :- " Go to your windows 7/Vista ISO folder and Copy it from the original location and Paste it into another location preferably where there is more free space. Doing this is important because the ISO will be edited and keeping original ISO is a wise option. " But i did not find any windows 7/Vista ISO folder , so i stopped here .

Please help me out what to do , am stuck in the middle of ocean ...

Thanks your post really helps me out......


ANDEX means that you have to copy your original Win7 ISO File to an additional new location as a precaution in case you damaged or corrupted the one copy you will edit and work on.Therefore if you edit it incorrectly and the original ISO file was corrupted ,you can find the other one which will be in another safe place.The original ISO will be about 4GB,while the newly resulted iso file after editing will be about 5 or 6 GB or more,according to your installed applications size.


I hope you understand what I said.
Greetings.

Anewerauser

Edited by anewerauser, 14 October 2010 - 06:28 PM.


#14 steve6375

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Posted 15 October 2010 - 07:03 AM

In the list of requirements at the top is 'Windows 7 iso' - so you need to obtain this from somewhere first.

#15 andex

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Posted 15 October 2010 - 08:57 PM

I'm a bit confused since the requirements do not mention which Windows this applies to or needs to be done from and I'm not familiar with Windows backup and Restore (with system image creator).

Can this be done from Windows XP?

If this needs to be done from a Windows 7 installation perhaps it would be a good idea to mention it in your initial post.

Regards.

I have mentioned it on the title itself and also on the last line of the first paragraph. :D This only works in Windows Vista and Windows 7 as far as my knowledge is concerned.

You could make a wim file by booting to WinPE instead. For instance, boot from the Win7/Vista recovery DVD and press SHIFT-F10 to get a winpe console. Insert a USB flash drive with ImageX or GImageX on it and use this to capture the C: HDD image. You could even sysprep it first before you boot from the DVD.

This would also work with XP systems, except you would have to run bootsect /nt52 C: after applying the XP image.

I never tried it with WinPE. It looks shorter process.But how is it possible to do the same for XP image that can be inserted in XP ISO? I would be glad to know if that is possible.

Aisurya kumar puhan
e-mail : kunu4vegas@gmail.com


Dear Andex ,

I have "Dell inspiron 15 R , Windows 7 preinstalled" . I created the system image .

I want to make it bootable DVD format , which will be easy for me to reinstall another time.

According to your post i completed all system image and system repair .
The image i kept in my hard drive .
In the " Backup " folder of "WindowsImageBackup" i found 2 VHD files .

I complted Phase 1 and 2 successfully.

In phase 3 as u said :- " Go to your windows 7/Vista ISO folder and Copy it from the original location and Paste it into another location preferably where there is more free space. Doing this is important because the ISO will be edited and keeping original ISO is a wise option. " But i did not find any windows 7/Vista ISO folder , so i stopped here .

Please help me out what to do , am stuck in the middle of ocean ...

Thanks your post really helps me out......

As Anewerauser and steve6375 said, first you need to have Windows 7 ISO.

#16 Nuno Brito

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Posted 15 October 2010 - 09:04 PM

Good tutorial Andex. Albeit it was made available back in January, I only had a chance of reading it right now and will nevertheless take the opportunity to announce it on our weekend newsletter.

As suggestion, why not making a pdf version also available for people to download? If reading from the screen might seem daunting then it is always possible to print and write off with a pencil each step of the instruction.

Keep up the good work!

:D

#17 andex

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Posted 15 October 2010 - 09:33 PM

Good tutorial Andex. Albeit it was made available back in January, I only had a chance of reading it right now and will nevertheless take the opportunity to announce it on our weekend newsletter.

As suggestion, why not making a pdf version also available for people to download? If reading from the screen might seem daunting then it is always possible to print and write off with a pencil each step of the instruction.

Keep up the good work!

:D

Thank you Nuno. I have prepared the pdf version of the guide but where should I upload it?

#18 Nuno Brito

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Posted 15 October 2010 - 10:10 PM

I've promoted you to the "Tutorial writer" group and now you're allowed to upload files onto your topics. Just edit the first topic on this discussion and upload your PDF available there. (the box to upload appears when you're editing the topic)

On Boot Land, only 6 people hold this status. Congratulations.

:D

#19 andex

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Posted 16 October 2010 - 03:41 AM

I've promoted you to the "Tutorial writer" group and now you're allowed to upload files onto your topics. Just edit the first topic on this discussion and upload your PDF available there. (the box to upload appears when you're editing the topic)

On Boot Land, only 6 people hold this status. Congratulations.

:cheers:

:cheers: Thank you very much for the promotion Nuno. :D I have uploaded the PDF format.
:)

#20 Aisurya

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Posted 16 October 2010 - 04:25 AM

I have mentioned it on the title itself and also on the last line of the first paragraph. :D This only works in Windows Vista and Windows 7 as far as my knowledge is concerned.


I never tried it with WinPE. It looks shorter process.But how is it possible to do the same for XP image that can be inserted in XP ISO? I would be glad to know if that is possible.


As Anewerauser and steve6375 said, first you need to have Windows 7 ISO.


Thanks where do i get the win7 iso...

#21 ScarySpons

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Posted 16 October 2010 - 01:47 PM

Links not working... ?
or is it only my problem... :D

#22 steve6375

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Posted 16 October 2010 - 02:18 PM

Thanks where do i get the win7 iso...

http://techpp.com/20...download-links/

try the bottom links as the first few don't work.

#23 alvinwong

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Posted 16 October 2010 - 04:05 PM

I think that just backing up the full partition is already enough to do recovery, i.e. using Ghost. It is because when we do a reinstall of Windows, it often means that too many softwares are installed and make Windows slower than before, or some system files are messed up. I'd reinstall necessary programs after a full reinstall instead of recovering an old image, because:
  • Programs are often updated and we always need to install a new version.
  • Some programs you found to be useless need to be uninstalled after a recovery.
I believe by this way, I can get a cleaner Windows.

The only thing to do (usually) is to backup something like fonts. I don't need to backup other things as my user profiles were set to another partition (via symbolic link) so no backing up is needed.

#24 pehera

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Posted 16 October 2010 - 04:56 PM

Check this
http://forums.mydigi...y-solution-FREE!

#25 Rui Paz

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Posted 16 October 2010 - 05:11 PM

Hi Andex,

Tanks for this tutorial but you should fix the links on the first post.

___
Rui Paz




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