Win 7 - saving info prior to OS re-install

Discussion in 'Technical Corner' started by Matthew, May 6, 2019.

  1. Matthew

    Matthew Touchdown! Greaser!

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    One of my PCs (Win 7) has been having more and more problems. However, I need to keep Win 7 alive for certain legacy things I have to support.

    I'm planning to replace the HDD and re-install Win 7. I will need to either re-install or backup/restore a lot of the applications and files I've installed over the years. Is there a quick and relatively thorough way to do that?
     
  2. John221us

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    You have some options. There is a built in tool to back up the user profiles (which contains my documents). If you need continued access to it, you can P2V (physical to virtual migration) and run it in a hyper-v instance on another computer. There is also a tool to do system state (full) backups. The profile backup will just contain your data.
     
  3. Matthew

    Matthew Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I'll be wanting to move things from the PC to a network drive, re-installing Win 7 on a new HDD, then moving things back.

    Basically, I want to backup and restore everything except system files. My IT guy said, "copy everything you want to save."
     
  4. Skyrys62

    Skyrys62 Pattern Altitude PoA Supporter

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    Something you may have already checked out, but wanted to throw it out there... you can run a lot of win7 programs in windows 10.
    Here's a quick link for some basic info. More available...
    https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/15078/windows-make-older-programs-compatible

    We even run an old 16 bit program on Windows 10, the only thing we had to do was use a 32 bit version of Windows 10 on that specific computer.

    But yes... back everything up ;)

    On my home computer I added a HDD, installed win7 and would boot to it only when needing to run a legacy program (not Win10 compatible at all) This helped with Win7 getting all boggled up from day to day operations, which is what typically leads to the dreaded reinstall.
    Plus the Win7 OS is/will be less secure, so if you want to do online transactions, etc., you'd be better off with that separation as well.
    Not really answering your question, but just passing the info along as a possible alternative.
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2019
  5. Matthew

    Matthew Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Windows Backup - looks like I can select what I want and whether or not to include a system image.

    I have 3 PCs for development - XP, 7, and 10. The old DOS development system is around the corner, I haven't turned it on in a couple years, but there's always a chance someone will call and I'll have to see if I can re-start it. I work on embedded industrial PCs controlling all sorts of different equipment, PLCs will do most jobs, but PCs can do what PLCs can't. Embedded versions of XP, 7, and 10 are OK for what I have to do.

    Some of the drivers and utilities for the embedded controllers I have to support will only operate on certain OS versions, and I have to be able to keep all these systems alive as long as we have any of them out in the field. I don't think there are any more DOS-based controllers out there, but maybe.
     
  6. Skyrys62

    Skyrys62 Pattern Altitude PoA Supporter

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    Be careful with Windows backup as your only backup. I've seen it go sideways more than once.
    If you can copy files to another drive or upload to cloud and verify they are functional, it might be a good idea. Then try the windows backup.
     
  7. Matthew

    Matthew Touchdown! Greaser!

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    We do keep full system backups, but I think there's a corrupted system file from a failed Windows upgrade that's causing the problem. I'm afraid that if I do a full re-store now, all I'll do is replace the bad file with itself. That's why the plan is to re-install a fresh copy of Win7.

    I'd do a couple different things. I want to avoid having to re-install development s/w or other drivers.

    I do have some redundancy, so this isn't the end of the world, but it's still a pain.
     
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  8. John221us

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    The tool to use for data is to use the Windows Easy Transfer from the Windows Start button -> All Programs -> Accessories -> System tools -> Windows Easy transfer
     
  9. Matthew

    Matthew Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I have that pulled up right now. I haven't used it before. Will it do an intermediate transfer? It looks like it's for "transfer from PC1 to PC2". What I want is "transfer from PC1 to 'some storage location', then transfer back to PC1."
     
  10. John221us

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    Yes, it saves it to another location (you specify). I often use USB flash drives.
     
  11. Matthew

    Matthew Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I'll start with that route. Thanks.
     
  12. bluesideup

    bluesideup Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Hi.
    More information of what you have installed, as applications, utilities... and where they are installed is needed but the statements below are a contradiction in terms, you need to make sure you have and you save your Drivers and likely the best thing is to create an Image of your old drive if you want to use everything from your old HDD after the reinstall. A new Win install needs all the Drivers, and you have to reinstall all your apps, sites... save your Registry and other files if you want a transparent install, or you want to use everything from your old PC.
     
  13. Matthew

    Matthew Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Yeah, probably will have to do all that again. But I do need to know all the applications I do have installed so I can re-install them. Won't an image of the existing HDD just end up overwriting the new install with whatever is causing the current problems?
     
  14. Matthew

    Matthew Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Anyone used a product like PCMover?

    https://web.laplink.com/product/pcmover-professional/#tabs2

    These guys, and several other products, claim they can transfer applications, too. I know that some activation keys may or may not work once the transfer is done, so there will always be the possibility that re-installation may have to happen. I *think* these can transfer from a PC to a drive, then back to the same PC.

    If it saves even a couple hours, it might be worth a try.
     
  15. RJM62

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    Why bother backing up if you're replacing the HDD (hopefully with an SSD)? Just restore from the original HDD using a dongle or an external drive enclosure.

    If you want to be double extra sure, use something like Macrium Reflect to clone the entire existing drive to an external hard drive (just in case you have data stashed outside /Users/You). Then install the OS to the new drive, do all the updates, install your software, and restore the data from either the original drive or the clone.

    The reason I suggest a clone rather than an image is because it's easier to restore selected files from a clone. Images have to be extracted. Clones don't.

    Rich
     
  16. John221us

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    One thing to note is that Windows 7 is end of life on January 14, 2020. That means they will not be releasing any further security updates for that OS. You should seriously consider moving to Windows 10, if you are going to go through all this effort.
     
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  17. Matthew

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    I'm trying to avoid having to re-install my applications. Some of them are either hard to get original install disks anymore, and some are very particular versions that need to be built. It's time consuming, but not impossible, I'm trying to save time.

    If there's a corrupted file somewhere that's causing the intermittent problems, then maybe re-installing everything is the way to go vs cloning and ending up getting the same problem all over again.
     
  18. Matthew

    Matthew Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I know.

    The problem is that I have to support a lot of legacy software that have various versions of DOS, NT, XP, 7, and 10. Hardware differences and s/w differences from generation to generation means I need to have a specific system for each. As older systems fail, we do upgrade them to the latest versions.
     
  19. John221us

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    Virtualize it then, and make a copy (so you can revert if it gets infected). Just P2V the machine, install Win 10 and then run it as a Hyper-V instance. You will need a bit more RAM, probably.
     
  20. Matthew

    Matthew Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I'll check into that tomorrow. But I still want some way to avoid having to re-install all the applications I need - that may be a dream, though.
     
  21. John221us

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    If you P2V, it sucks over the whole machine (into a file). You won't need to reinstall anything. The downside is you get everything (good and bad). If your plan is to rebuild in order to get a fresh start (fix whatever the "more and more problems" is, then you will need to reinstall OS and the apps (in any scenario; hardware based, virtual based).
     
  22. RJM62

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    Have you tried running CHKDSK /f and SFC /SCANNOW ?

    Replacing a corrupt system file isn't too difficult. Diagnosing it is the hard part. Do you have any crash dumps you can analyze?

    In my experience, there are very few systems that can't be fixed. There are many that aren't worth the bother, but yours sounds like it may be.

    Rich
     
  23. IK04

    IK04 Line Up and Wait

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    Windows 10 has a built in Hypervisor that lets you create a VM image that you can either run on the local machine or on a network drive.

    I would concur with the advice to do a fresh Win 10 install and run your intact Win 7 in a virtual Machine.

    I run all my Windows (close to ten or so...) installs in a VM on Linux or a Win 10 Host. You can store the image and reload it if it breaks later!

    /.02
     
  24. Matthew

    Matthew Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Yes. I spent about 6 hrs going through all that on Monday. It didn’t show anything. Eventually I can get it to start last known good configuration. This is the third or fourth time in the last 3-4 months. Symptom is, power up, log on, get the “Welcome” message and that’s as far as it will get. The first time I tried the diagnostics, I saw some indication that led me to believe an update had failed yo complete properly. Since then, I haven’t seen any other sign of what’s going on.
     
  25. RJM62

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    Well... It's been a while since I did this kind of work, but I'd compare

    HKLM\System\Select\Current​

    with

    HKLM\System\Select\LastKnownGood​

    You can also compare

    HKLM\System\Select\Failed​

    to

    HKLM\System\Select\LastKnownGood.​

    The answers are probably in there, but they may be extremely tedious to find. Perhaps it's not worth the bother. But compared to what you'd have to do to reinstall, maybe it is.

    Rich
     
  26. RJM62

    RJM62 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The previous post refers to registry entries, by the way. I apologize if this is obvious, but I have no idea what your troubleshooting background is.

    Rich
     
  27. RJM62

    RJM62 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    And oh yeah... If you're going to start poking around in the Registry, definitely make a full system backup first.

    Rich
     
  28. RJM62

    RJM62 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I'd look for files in C:\Windows\Minidump or any files ending in .dmp while I was at it.

    Rich
     
  29. Matthew

    Matthew Touchdown! Greaser!

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    That will give me something to do tomorrow.

    Troubleshooting was described by Jerry Pournelle as "the relentless application of logic."
     
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  30. bluesideup

    bluesideup Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Hi.

    I would first try to see if you can fix your Drive, at least until you get all the info you need, the type of problem you describe is more likely due to a Hard / drive failure.

    Run Chkdsk from the Command screen, in Administrator level with the Chkdsk /F switch and see if it helps. You can also run it from the Safe and or DOS prompt.



    Save your Registry, and drivers.

    In Windows 7 all the drivers are in a few subfolders located in the system folder %SystemRoot%\System32\. Two standard protected subfolders are called “DriverStore” and “drivers”. Often there is also a third subfolder “DrvStore”. These folders can be copied to some external media for safekeeping.

    In addition, you should back up the folder %systemroot%\inf\. This folder contains the driver setup information files. This folder is sometimes overlooked but drivers cannot be installed without the information it contains.

    You can find what most of apps you have using CCleaner > Tools and get a list of your installed apps. for the future before you start. Basically it gives you a List of your Control Panel info.

    Make sure you have your Product key also.

    You need to Save you Browser Pass words and URLs also.

    I helped a buddy of mine a few months back to do it and it took us quite a while to get things back and running. In my case I have so many applications and Development tools that would take me months to get everything restored without re imaging.

    It is very likely that your best approach would be to do the same, as I said, the most likely problem is your hardware and I would not think it's some application that is causing the problem.
     
  31. Matthew

    Matthew Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I've done all the chkdsk, SFC, clean disk and other utilities included in Win 7. Only once did anything show up that indicated a problem.
     
  32. RJM62

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    It may be helpful to run the Registry Cleaner feature in CCleaner to scan the registry for invalid entries. I wouldn't actually let it try fixing the issues until after you back up the drive, but looking at what it finds may be helpful. It could be something like an entry for a missing .dll or something along those lines. I found it to be a very useful tool when used prudently (but occasionally a dangerous one when used haphazardly).

    Rich
     
  33. Matthew

    Matthew Touchdown! Greaser!

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    @RJM62

    Poking around today:
    HKLM\System\Select
    Current = 3
    Default = 3
    Failed = 2
    LastKnownGood = 4

    I'll look up what those settings do.

    The most recent .dmp file I found was timestamped AFTER I was able to get the PC to recover.

    The only thing in it of note was:
    DDVDataCollector.exe
    Exception code: 0xC0000417

    That's a Dell utility that runs automatically and came with the PC. Googling the exception code shows various references to "unknown software exception". It's one of those utiltities I didn't even know existed.

    I installed CClean and ran a scan on the registry. It found a lot of "Missing Shared DLL". But the files associated with them almost all corresponded to a set of libraries and utilities that are part of an SDK that I use. I don't think these are actually a problem even though they show on the CClean registry scan.

    --

    @John221us

    Right now I'm leaning towards installing Win7 onto my Win10 PC and running both on the same h/w. Then re-installing whatever I need onto the fresh Win7 and retiring the Win7 box. That way if it is h/w, it's gone. And if it's s/w, it's fresh.
     
  34. John221us

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    Matthew,
    A P2V migration is non-destructive. It will create a virtual machine (a few files) and leave the original computer intact. You could look at it as a form of backup (replicating it to a VM).
     
  35. Matthew

    Matthew Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I'm not familiar with the P2V migration process.

    After I move everything to another physical box (running Win10 with Win 7 using Hyper-V or Virtual Box), I won't need the Win7 PC anymore. Is that a reasonable plan?
     
  36. RJM62

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    Try disabling the Dell Data Vault Collector in both Startup and Services.

    Rich
     
  37. John221us

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    Yes, P2V (non-destructive process and will create a copy of the machine in a virtual format in another location). Verify everything is working correctly on the new instance, then rebuild old machine (as something else, if you like).
     
  38. John221us

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  39. Matthew

    Matthew Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Will do. The startup failures are so infrequent it might be another couple weeks to a month before it would be due to occur again.
     
  40. Skyrys62

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