Windows 7 : Troubleshooting and Repairing Problems - System Image Recovery, Windows Memory Diagnostic

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1. System Image Recovery

System Image Recovery is the counterpart to the Create a System Image function in Windows 7 . After making an image backup of your system, System Image Recovery enables you to perform a “bare metal” restoration from the System Recovery Options menu.


When we say “bare metal,” we mean it. All your data, files, and programs installed since the drive was imaged—everything—ends up in the big bit bucket in the sky. Be sure you want to perform a complete system restore before you run the System Image Recovery. And be ready to kiss goodbye everything you placed on your drive after it was imaged.

You’ll rest better if you run the built-in Windows Backup and Restore utility (or a good third-party file backup program) regularly in addition to creating a system image. If you do, you can restore your data files after you run System Image Recovery and get back to work.

To restore your system from an image, start your system from the Windows 7 DVD. If you’re restoring from an external hard disk that contains your system image, ensure it is connected. (If you backed up to DVD, have the media ready.) In the initial screen, select the language, time and currency formats, and the keyboard-input method, and then click Next. In the next screen, click Repair Your Computer. In the System Recovery Options screen, select the Restore Your Computer Using a System Image that You Created Earlier option, and click Next.

The Select a System Image Backup screen appears, as shown in Figure 1. By default, the most current image backup is listed. To restore from this backup, click Next. To choose an earlier backup, select the Select a System Image option, click Next, and then select it from the list.

Figure 1. Preparing to restore the most recent system image.

The Choose Additional Restore Options screen appears. If you are installing to an unformatted hard disk or to a hard disk that is larger than your original, the Format and Repartition Disks check box shown in Figure 2 will be available. Select it and click Next to prepare your hard disk for use. When you’re ready to continue the restore operation, click Next to view a summary of the restoration settings. If no changes are necessary, click Finish. The restoration process starts immediately if you are restoring from a hard disk connected to the system. If you are restoring from CD, DVD, or other media, insert the media as requested.

Figure 2. Click the check box, if available, to repartition your hard disk to match the layout of the original backup.

When the restoration is finished, the system restarts normally. To get the system back to its most recent configuration, restore file backups made with the Windows 7 Backup and Restore utility or other backup software.


Do not restore to a hard disk that might still have salvageable data, even if your Windows installation no longer boots. Instead, buy a new hard disk or use one that does not contain any needed data, and use it as the restore target.

You can use programs such as Ontrack EasyRecovery DataRecovery on a working system to recover data from your crashed system hard disk, even if its file system is no longer functioning. However, the capability of any program to recover data depends upon the data areas not being overwritten. If you restore your backup over what’s left of your original installation, you wipe out at least some of the data that remains.

2. Windows Memory Diagnostic

If any recent version of Windows had a motto, it could very well be, “It’s the RAM, stupid!” All kidding aside, if your system’s memory is hosed, so is Windows. The Windows Memory Diagnostics Tool is designed to help you get help for a sick system.

The Windows Memory Diagnostics Tool can be run from the Administrative Tools window in the Control Panel , from the System Recovery Options menu, or from the Windows Boot Manager. If you run it from the Administrative Tools window, it is protected by UAC, and you can choose to restart your system immediately for testing or to schedule testing the next time you restart your system.

Regardless of how you start it, the Windows Memory Diagnostics Tool (see Figure 3) runs before the Windows 7 GUI starts.

Figure 3. The Windows Memory Diagnostics Tool performing a memory test.

To adjust the number of test passes (the default is two), to specify how thorough a test to perform, or to configure other options, press the F1 key to display the Options dialog box, shown in Figure 4. You can configure three items:

  • Test Mix— Basic (quick test, usually finished in about 5 minutes), Standard (adds tests to Basic), or Extended (adds tests to Standard)

  • Cache— Default (some test with cache on, some with cache off; doesn’t change settings), On (turns on memory cache for all tests), Off (disables memory cache for all tests)

  • Pass Count— 0–99 (select 0 for infinite test passes; press Esc to cancel)

Figure 4. The Windows Memory Diagnostics Tool – Options screen.

Press Tab to move between menu items, press F10 to apply changes, or press Esc to cancel any changes and begin running the tests. In the test progress screen, pressing Esc stops the tests and restarts the system.

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