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Windows 7 won't make a system image - bug & fix found


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I don't use Windows much but I just picked up a refurbished ThinkPad cheap and it came with Win 7 Pro on it. I decided to leave Windows on it and just shrink the partition to let me put on my usual OpenSuse Linux in the opened up space. All that worked as expected so I let Windows do the update thing and got 700 MB of updates and did the multiple reboots required to get them all in. That worked just fine too.


Then thinking I had hours into the Windows setup at this point I figured a system image was a good idea after reading about them here. Popped in a blank DVD and started one off. It failed with an odd error that sent me to the error logs to search for related errors, the related errors sent me various places none of which did me any good. I finally resorted to Google and after a multitude of searches I found the answer!


Apparently Windows 7 will sometimes refuse to make a system image if the C: drive isn't flagged as active. Going to Disk Management and flipping the C: to active was all that was needed, not even a reboot and the system image went off with no hitches.


Linux still boots the boot manager just fine and from it I can go to either operating system so it is an easy and permanent fix.




What got me started was that Newegg has a pile of nicely refurbished 32 bit Dell and HP 14 inch laptops on sale for $149 through this weekend. All with Win 7 so if you are looking at an older XP system it makes for a really easy upgrade. Just find some fast / free WiFi to suck down the updates and not burn up your phone data bytes.




They have a large selection of other refurbished laptops from $149 to $1495. I really like the Lenovo - Thinkpad line.







First rule of computer consulting:

Sell a customer a Linux computer and you'll eat for a day.

Sell a customer a Windows computer and you'll eat for a lifetime.

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I don't know what you were doing, maybe I'm misunderstanding.


Since I am sure you already know all this, but just in case another here tries to duplicate your efforts, and perhaps even if you skipped a step, then all the steps are here. I wondered because you made no mention of the repair disk. The repair disk, really a boot disk with a Windows environment and some utilities, is required to restore a system image made with the Windows program to "Create a system image."


If you go to the search bar in the start button then type in backup and restore then click on it you will have several options. Setup backup, "Create a System Image," and "Create a Windows Repair disk." I always use external drives for my images and never setup the backup, despite the fact that it will include an image every time. It takes forever to do the first Image but pretty quick after that. I hook up an external drive, and then start the "Create a system image" going it will first look for hard drives or media in the Optical drive. I use external hard drives for all my images as optical drive images really do take forever. Then at the end it will ask if you have made a Windows repair disk yet. Get a blank CD not DVD and pop it in the optical drive and click on create now or back on the menu if you exited the dialog at the end of making your image then click on "Create a repair disk.


Then make sure the Windows repair disk works by leaving it in the optical drive and restart. If it does not give the option to "Press any key to boot from CD/DVD" then you have to go into Setup/Bios and change the boot sequence so the optical drive comes after the USB drives, if offered as an option, then the Hard drive after both.


Once it boots from the CD which takes forever in todays fast response times, the first window asks for keyboard language and English should be there already so click next. The second screen is what throws folks off doing a restore. The second page has only two options. At the top selected by default is something or other for repairing options. But at the bottom the second option offers to restore from a previously made image. The external drive should still be plugged in when you booted via the CD so that it could be found in page three after you selected the bottom/second option. It is safe to go to the third page to be sure that the disk finds the external drive and the image you just made.

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I have no clue what you are talking about, maybe you misunderstood what I posted.


I simply opened the control panel, clicked backup, clicked system image, it found my DVD and I clicked next or whatever. Windows started to create the file used for the system image and stopped with the error message when the C: partition was not active but completed when it was active.


It is simple enough to duplicate what I did if you have a Win 7 system and see if it works or fails for you, make a system image to see if it works. Toggle the active bit for C: off in the partition table and activate another non-Windows partition. Try to make another system image and if your system is like mine it will fail. Toggle the active bit back on C: and try another system image and it will work.


My error messages:


The writer experienced a non-transient error. If the backup process is retried, the error is likely to reoccur.


A Volume Shadow Copy Service operation failed. Please check "VSS" and "SPP" application event logs for more information.


A shadow copy could not be created. Please check "VSS" and "SPP" application event logs for more information. Details: The writer experienced a non-transient error. If the backup process is retried, the error is likely to reoccur.


Shadow copy creation failed because of error reported by ASR Writer. More info: The requested system device cannot be found. (0x80073BC3).



These describe the error I was getting:









They do not mention the active partition issue but did discuss disk corruption that got me looking in the right area.



I found this tonight that is similar to what I found yesterday:



First rule of computer consulting:

Sell a customer a Linux computer and you'll eat for a day.

Sell a customer a Windows computer and you'll eat for a lifetime.

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FYI - Microsoft has removed the ability to make a System Repair disk in Win8.1 . You now have to use a 8 GB USB memory stick.

It is also harder to find but possible to make a system image in Win8.1.

You have to open Control Panel/Recovery then click on File History then down in the lower left hand corner you will see System Image Backup.

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