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Last post Author Topic: Repairing Windows 7 from the recovery console  (Read 6909 times)

Vurbal

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Repairing Windows 7 from the recovery console
« on: March 03, 2014, 09:11:27 AM »
I'm trying to fix a laptop running Windows 7 for a friend. A few months ago she apparently got a job doing customer service work from home for a cruise line. They provided her with what sounds like some type of VM software to put on her computer. Before you ask I can't find where I wrote the company down so I'm waiting to hear back on that.

From that point on she couldn't get Windows to finish loading - at least that's her interpretation. In fact Windows itself does start but the only GUI element available is the mouse pointer. There's not desktop and in fact the window manager isn't even running. Just a black screen.

There are no restore points on the drive so that's out. Booting into safe mode, even safe mode with command prompt, gives the same results as a normal boot. It boots into repair mode but I can't get sfc to run. If I use /runnow it tells me there's a repair operation pending. If I use offline mode it shows the help like I used the wrong syntax which afaict isn't the case. Here's what I am using (running the repair environment from the Win7 DVD):

Code: Text [Select]
  1. sfc /offbootdir=d:\ offwindir=d:\windows

I have, of course, verified that d: is the correct drive letter for the boot drive.

Short or reinstalling Windows, what other options do I have? It's been a long time since I had to try repairing a Windows install from the recovery console and I'm hoping there's something obvious I'm forgetting.

Oh yeah, I should probably mention this is Ultimate Edition so Win7 Pro features are available on the off chance that makes a difference.

Edit: I just heard back from the laptop's owner. The software was related to training to work as a sales agent for Royal Caribbean. We're communicating via sms so this is a little slow and painful. It sounds like it was probably some third party software and not Royal Caribbean's but I'm still waiting for clarification on that.

Edit 2: It seems I was nearly right in the beginning. The software came from what appears to be a semi-scam company called Arise Virtual Solutions. They run a virtual call center for Royal Caribbean using work from home employees. The software was for training, but like I said from her description it sounded like some sort of virtual machine. Of course it's entirely possibly either she misunderstood what it did or they misrepresented it and it may be just some sort of VPN client.

In either case there's a good possibility it's some sort of virtual device driver.
I learned to say the pledge of allegiance
Before they beat me bloody down at the station
They haven't got a word out of me since
I got a billion years probation
- The MC5

Follow the path of the unsafe, independent thinker. Expose your ideas to the danger of controversy. Speak your mind and fear less the label of ''crackpot'' than the stigma of conformity.
- Thomas J. Watson, Sr

It's not rocket surgery.
- Me


I recommend reading through my Bio before responding to any of my posts. It could save both of us a lot of time and frustration.
« Last Edit: March 03, 2014, 09:34:31 AM by Vurbal »

40hz

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Re: Repairing Windows 7 from the recovery console
« Reply #1 on: March 03, 2014, 11:26:10 AM »
Ran into almost the exact same thing a few weeks ago with a client laptop. Turns out it was a rootkit (I forget which) that got installed.  After a couple of days screwing around looking for a ninja fix I finally said "sod it" pulled and did a prelim cleanup of the drive (which left it completely unbootable), booted from a Nix-based rescue CD, copied off and then rescanned the user's files with Kapersky, then reformatted the laptop and reinstalled Windows.

Life is too short to waste much time on this sort of thing.  8)

Stoic Joker

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Re: Repairing Windows 7 from the recovery console
« Reply #2 on: March 03, 2014, 11:31:39 AM »
While 40's scorched earth method - which I also use - works too, I already typed this so I'll post it anyway.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

When you get to the mouse only GUI, can you get task manager to run by pushing Ctrl + Shift + Esc? If you can du run new task and try loading either Explorer or cmd to get a shell to work with. I found it rather amazing the number of things that will cause Windows to forget that last - rather critical - give the user an interface to work with step.

If no TM can be had, boot to a Win7 disk of the correct bitness (edition/license is irrelevant for this) look for the easy to miss (I think it says) repair windows link on the bottom left of the install windows window. and get to a command prompt.

(either way you get there) Then use bcdedit /enum to see what the currently configured boot targets are. That way at least you'll know if you're fighting with the correct native OS, or a .vhd virtual OS that is part of a borked dual boot configuration attempt.

Once you're sure you have the correct target the boot repair tools (part of the CD's recovery stuff) should be able to stop whatever update is preventing the shell from loading.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Note: Method above assumes of course that the machine in question has not been taken over by pure evil and turned into one of Satan's puppy eating zombie whores. :D

Vurbal

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Re: Repairing Windows 7 from the recovery console
« Reply #3 on: March 03, 2014, 12:24:56 PM »
Actually I'm not sure what I was thinking when I wrote that. It's not even getting to the login screen so obviously the task manager won't be available.  :redface:  I guess I'm just so used to working on people's old XP machines with auto-login I don't think about it.

That's a good point about the possibility of a weird/broken vhd configuration. I just booted with a UBCD to back it up to my server before doing anything else and Acronis listed an odd Fat16 partition at the end of the disk. I think maybe I'll cancel the backup for now and investigate a little further first.
I learned to say the pledge of allegiance
Before they beat me bloody down at the station
They haven't got a word out of me since
I got a billion years probation
- The MC5

Follow the path of the unsafe, independent thinker. Expose your ideas to the danger of controversy. Speak your mind and fear less the label of ''crackpot'' than the stigma of conformity.
- Thomas J. Watson, Sr

It's not rocket surgery.
- Me


I recommend reading through my Bio before responding to any of my posts. It could save both of us a lot of time and frustration.

Vurbal

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Re: Repairing Windows 7 from the recovery console
« Reply #4 on: March 03, 2014, 01:13:06 PM »
It looks like the hidden partition is just Dell Recovery crap. The boot settings look fine. There's no virtual disk or anything else odd. Just the RE and system partitions.

I didn't notice the last bit of your post before. Are you talking about the Startup Repair option? If so I've already tried that and it couldn't find any problems.

From what she told me she's not even really concerned about anything but pulling her data off the computer so if I can't come up with anything else promising I may try to do a windows repair (upgrade) install after the backup finishes. Hopefully it works better in Win7 than the old repair windows option did back in the day.
I learned to say the pledge of allegiance
Before they beat me bloody down at the station
They haven't got a word out of me since
I got a billion years probation
- The MC5

Follow the path of the unsafe, independent thinker. Expose your ideas to the danger of controversy. Speak your mind and fear less the label of ''crackpot'' than the stigma of conformity.
- Thomas J. Watson, Sr

It's not rocket surgery.
- Me


I recommend reading through my Bio before responding to any of my posts. It could save both of us a lot of time and frustration.

40hz

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Re: Repairing Windows 7 from the recovery console
« Reply #5 on: March 03, 2014, 01:16:55 PM »
I already typed this so I'll post it anyway.

In my case, I was able to identify the actual boot target and navigate to the correct boot repair tools. Even with that none of the repair attempts successfully concluded. It would go away for an hour or so, then come back with the helpful news that the repair could not be successfully completed and ask if I wanted to reboot...

In my case, I think killing the rootkit took some important stuff along with it. Repairing partition tables and MBR didn't help. System said successful and all ok. But same deal on reboot. Nada.

samara.jpg
No joy I'm afraid.

Interestingly, the hidden factory recovery partition was completely trashed. I could see it. But the OEM recovery manager (Sony VAIO) reported it was invalid and couldn't be used. Don't know if the malware did something to it, or possibly Kapersky nuked something on it. But if so, it didn't indicate doing anything to it in the log therefor scratch Kapersky as a possible culprit.

So in this case it was less "scorched earth" and more like "last resort." Especially since the client hadn't made a recovery disk set and I had to order media from Sony. (Which is always great fun. Not.) Normally I won't bill a good client for a basic OS reinstall/recovery as long as they have a working disk set. In this case, I charged them one hour at my full hourly rate.

Show me some consideration - or show me a check. ;)
 8)

Stoic Joker

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Re: Repairing Windows 7 from the recovery console
« Reply #6 on: March 03, 2014, 01:36:15 PM »
...Then it's starting to sound more and more like a rootkit. Repairing the install won't necessarily remove the bugg ... So it's best to go with the kill it with fire approach. Run the Kaspersky offline scan of at least the boot sector and recovery partition, then format and reinstall, or do the factory recovery.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Damn he's quick today...(round 2)

I already typed this so I'll post it anyway.

In my case, I was able to identify the actual boot target and navigate to the correct boot repair tools. Even with that none of the repair attempts successfully concluded. It would go away for an hour or so, then come back with the helpful news that the repair could not be successfully completed and ask if I wanted to reboot...

In my case, I think killing the rootkit took some important stuff along with it. Repairing partition tables and MBR didn't help. System said successful and all ok. But same deal on reboot. Nada.
 (see attachment in previous post)No joy I'm afraid.

Interestingly, the hidden factory recovery partition was completely trashed. I could see it. But the OEM recovery manager (Sony VAIO) reported it was invalid and couldn't be used. Don't know if the malware did something to it, or possibly Kapersky nuked something on it. But if so, it didn't indicate doing anything to it in the log therefor scratch Kapersky as a possible culprit.

So in this case it was less "scorched earth" and more like "last resort." Especially since the client hadn't made a recovery disk set and I had to order media from Sony. (Which is always great fun. Not.) Normally I won't bill a good client for a basic OS reinstall/recovery as long as they have a working disk set. In this case, I charged them one hour at my full hourly rate.

Show me some consideration - or show me a check. ;)
 8)

I hear ya. Did something much like that to a machine just last week that got hit by CyberLocker. Domain user account/UAC enabled ... Still killed it deader than hell.

Kaspersky said the machine was fine...but it wasn't.

I managed to finally kill the thing with these:
http://www.adlice.co...ller/RogueKiller.exe
http://www.adlice.co...r/RogueKillerX64.exe - For reference only, machines are 32-bit

From: http://www.techsuppo...val-help-305963.html
GMER Rootkit Scanner: http://www2.gmer.net/gmer.zip


Seriously freaky in memory kernel patch GMER finally spotlighted so that the SFC could notice that the kernel was not himself... but it took both the above to get the coffin nailed shut. They had good backups - Yay me - so I got the user files and main db of the Sunday night backups (accounting works weekends).

How the hell the little MF got past Kaspersky ofline I don't know ... but it did it 3 times.

40hz

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Re: Repairing Windows 7 from the recovery console
« Reply #7 on: March 03, 2014, 01:51:15 PM »
@Stoic - thx for that set of links. Wasn't familiar with RogueKiller. (There are so many tools out there.) :Thmbsup:

Addenda: It was a TDSS variant she got hit with BTW. Not in the catalog as named so somebody must have done a riff on it. But the essentials were still all TDSS.

Vurbal

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Re: Repairing Windows 7 from the recovery console
« Reply #8 on: March 03, 2014, 04:48:24 PM »
Just about the most annoying experience I ever had repairing a computer was when I had to fix a mess Best Buy made. A few months after this woman took it to Best Buy she got some malware and I ended up deciding to reinstall Windows. When Best Buy fixed it for her they had wiped the hard drive and used a Toshiba image to restore it. Then they told her she didn't have to worry about the Gateway restore disc because it had a recovery partition.

Of course, being a Toshiba OEM install, it refused to restore when it couldn't find a Toshiba laptop. She just wanted it fixed and didn't want to screw around with Best Buy and for some reason she had a Vista upgrade disc that wasn't installed on another computer and I had a stack of XP Pro OEM discs I got free and was selling cheap. Of course it also had a SATA hard drive so I ended up slipstreaming the driver into the XP install disc before installing.
I learned to say the pledge of allegiance
Before they beat me bloody down at the station
They haven't got a word out of me since
I got a billion years probation
- The MC5

Follow the path of the unsafe, independent thinker. Expose your ideas to the danger of controversy. Speak your mind and fear less the label of ''crackpot'' than the stigma of conformity.
- Thomas J. Watson, Sr

It's not rocket surgery.
- Me


I recommend reading through my Bio before responding to any of my posts. It could save both of us a lot of time and frustration.

Stoic Joker

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Re: Repairing Windows 7 from the recovery console
« Reply #9 on: March 03, 2014, 05:28:26 PM »
The cleanest most true to vanilla OEM disks I've ever found were Dell's. I've used them on all brands and never had a problem with anything as long as the COA was still readable.

@40 - I forget which one of the two caught the kernel patch, but neither one takes a long time to run. and both can be run in safe mode with command prompt only.

40hz

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Re: Repairing Windows 7 from the recovery console
« Reply #10 on: March 03, 2014, 06:28:58 PM »
The cleanest most true to vanilla OEM disks I've ever found were Dell's. I've used them on all brands and never had a problem with anything as long as the COA was still readable.

+1. They (up to Win7 at least) do seem to work on most brands I've tried and (mostly) will install without issue if you have a valid product key to enter from a COA sticker.

The real hassle, however, is finding and getting all the drivers for the specific make and model of the PC or laptop. It's not always easy to find exactly what you need. It largely depends on how well the support section of the manufacturer's website is arranged. I'm also starting to run into situations where some drivers (older or model specific) either aren't available for download at all - or aren't without an e-mail request since the file isn't kept in the public download area. (This happens a lot with bug fix firmware for consumer-grade routers too!)

-------------------------------------------

People please...do us poor support techs a big favor and make a set of friggin' product and recovery disks for your machine? And if you haven't already, do it now? Pretty please? With sugar!
 ;)

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Re: Repairing Windows 7 from the recovery console
« Reply #11 on: March 04, 2014, 08:57:00 AM »
Hi, i have the same problem and i find some good advices here. Thanks

Vurbal

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Re: Repairing Windows 7 from the recovery console
« Reply #12 on: March 04, 2014, 03:28:29 PM »
Definitely agree on the Dell Windows discs. The polar opposite IME would have to be Sony. It's not necessarily that the basic Sony recovery media I've dealt with was notably worse than most OEMs in terms of being tied to their hardware. The bigger issue was all the additional work required to install all the extra software and drivers to make their proprietary hardware work. Of course that was compounded by the PITA process for getting replacement media 40hz alluded to.

In 2003 I got a Sony's multimedia computer via a home owner's insurance claim after a lightning strike killed my desktop. It was actually a lot nicer than the unit it was replacing because they had to find me something with a DVD burner, at and at least 512MB RAM, and a second 160GB hdd.

It came with something like 7 or 8 recovery CDs. There was the basic Windows restore disc, a 2 or 3 disc set of Sony applications, and either 1 or 2 more sets with third party software. The software on the extra discs was packaged for use with their proprietary restore program which ran in Windows but was designed only to initiate a full factory reset IIRC.

If you wanted to reinstall a particular component you had to find the correct disc and folder with the installer in it by trial and error. Neither the discs or the folders gave you any real indication of what software they contained and I don't believe the executables for their software had any kind of meaningful names either. Most of the contents of those discs could only be replaced if you ordered a full replacement set for something like $80 and waited at least 2 or 3 weeks for delivery.

I won't even get into the Hell I went through researching the proprietary TV Tuner and MPEG-2 capture card.
I learned to say the pledge of allegiance
Before they beat me bloody down at the station
They haven't got a word out of me since
I got a billion years probation
- The MC5

Follow the path of the unsafe, independent thinker. Expose your ideas to the danger of controversy. Speak your mind and fear less the label of ''crackpot'' than the stigma of conformity.
- Thomas J. Watson, Sr

It's not rocket surgery.
- Me


I recommend reading through my Bio before responding to any of my posts. It could save both of us a lot of time and frustration.

Vurbal

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Re: Repairing Windows 7 from the recovery console
« Reply #13 on: March 28, 2014, 08:23:48 PM »
Time for an update.

I ended up giving up on repairing Windows on this laptop. A friend brought a MS DART repair disc (well USB stick) over - it's good to have friends with academic licenses. I got as far as determining my initial hunch was correct. The last time Windows loaded correctly it was completing a VPN client install which followed installation of GoToMeeting and a VOIP client.

It was the first time I had gotten to play with one of those repair discs so at least that was kind of fun. I particularly liked the Autoruns management console. I was hoping the fix might be as simple as stopping the runonce entry for the VPN client but it didn't seem to make any difference. I ended up deciding to do a clean install and put a copy of the old one on a second partition. I kind of hate to do that but she had so much software installed I didn't want to think about finding half of what she might want.

However the plan has changed since then because that clearly would have been too simple. I offered to look at her husband's laptop which was telling him it didn't have a hard drive. I was pretty sure it didn't because he apparently lost his temper one time too many (in his defense it has Vista) and pounded the keyboard with his fist - directly over the drive. After looking up the computer's specs and realized they were almost identical to his wife's laptop I foolishly offered to move her hard drive to his computer and make one good computer.

Just the restore turned out to be more work than I anticipated due to Dell's decision to go with a WIM setup for factory restore and do away with their old Ghost-based system. I'm not complaining about that. It's the right way to go. Unfortunately it also means installing the retail Windows 7 upgrade wiped out their restore option from Windows' advanced boot menu. I could install from the Windows disc except, contrary to what the sticker on the sleeve says, there is no COA on the computer so apparently I'll have to get the key from the image on the restore partition. At least now I know that should be no problem.

Before I get started, though, I have a couple questions about the Win7 install I'm hoping somebody here can answer.

The first one is pretty simple. If I understand correctly, as long as Vista is already installed I should have no problems doing a clean install by booting into Windows setup because it checks for the previous version prior to the partitioning step. In theory I might be able to boot the Dell Vista install on the second (HP) laptop and do it from there but I'd rather avoid that. As similar as they are internally, I'd rather sidestep any potential issues completely. Does that sound right or am I making it harder than necessary?

The second question is the one I'm really concerned about. The Win7 upgrade has already been used on the Dell machine. How much of a pain is it likely to be to get Windows activated on the other laptop? I didn't have any problem on my computer when I replaced my motherboard with a different model that had a different, but similar, chipset. I'm not sure, off the top of my head, which components are relevant here but I'm guessing the HP unit is further away from the Dell than that.

If nothing else the HP has a lot more IO ports. The Dell has USB x3, SVGA, RJ-45, and a memory card reader. The HP has all that, with a different card reader of course, plus HDMI, eSATA, Firewire, an infrared sensor, and a dock port.
I learned to say the pledge of allegiance
Before they beat me bloody down at the station
They haven't got a word out of me since
I got a billion years probation
- The MC5

Follow the path of the unsafe, independent thinker. Expose your ideas to the danger of controversy. Speak your mind and fear less the label of ''crackpot'' than the stigma of conformity.
- Thomas J. Watson, Sr

It's not rocket surgery.
- Me


I recommend reading through my Bio before responding to any of my posts. It could save both of us a lot of time and frustration.

Shades

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Re: Repairing Windows 7 from the recovery console
« Reply #14 on: March 28, 2014, 09:16:07 PM »
Changes in the chipset will indeed trigger the Windows activation system. And it sounds like the HP is too different from the Dell. Luck of the draw there.

What is the problem of the HD in the HP? Does the hard disk not spin up or it does but isn't recognized?
If so you might want to take it out and check if the HD has standard SATA connectors. If that is also true, then I would carefully check the connectors on the HD itself.

At one point in time I could fix a HD with physically broken, but not completely snapped off SATA connector (the data part) by placing the drive in a an upright position and carefully reconnecting the data cable on the connector and gluing the cable to the drive. Gravity and glue keep the drive running till this day.

You said that the HP drive experienced physical stress from being hit, so there could be an off chance that only one or maybe both connectors are broken.


Vurbal

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Re: Repairing Windows 7 from the recovery console
« Reply #15 on: March 29, 2014, 02:47:21 AM »
Just for reference, here are the basics for the 2 models. I couldn't find a service manual for the HP, or in fact much of anything concrete about the specific model. I'm 99.99% sure the hardware listed is correct after putting together the limited information from the product page with a sales brochure and review I located. If not

Dell Inspiron 1545
CPU: Pentium Dual-Core Mobile T4200 (Socket P)
RAM: 4GB
Chipset: Intel GM45 Express (GM45/ICH9-M)
Video: Chipset
Audio: Chipset
LAN: Marvell 88E80XX (probably)
WLAN: Dell (Atheros) Wireless 1515

HP dv5 1099nr
CPU: Core 2 Duo T5800 (Socket P)
RAM: 4GB
Chipset: Intel PM45 Express (GM45/ICH9-M)
Video: Nvidia 9600M GT
Audio: Chipset
LAN: Realtek 81xx
WLAN: Intel Wi-Fi Link 5100

I'm actually starting to think this should go pretty smoothly. I'm thinking the easiest route is probably to get Win7 installed on the Dell and then move the hard drive to the HP. I'm sure it will require me to reactivate but probably won't give me any problems. After thinking about it some more I seem to recall certain components on the Southbridge, the hard drive (or maybe just the system volume?), and the amount of RAM are the most important factors for reactivating Windows. I'm guessing the video and network controller changing drastically at the same time will trigger it, but I'm guessing I won't have to call Microsoft.

As for the HP hard drive, the damage is internal. When it spins up you can hear the distinctive clicking of a crashed head. Unfortunately, being a HP, it didn't come with restore media and he can't find the media he burned after he first bought it. Of course that was about 5 years ago so unless he used high quality discs and kept them in a carefully controlled environment there's probably a 50/50 chance they would work.

Oh, and on top of that it appears he really does put the computer on his lap most of the time based on how the Windows key is literally worn off the COA. The sticker is positioned on the right side, right about where the keys would be in his pocket when he's sitting down. Other than the remnants of a couple vertical lines at the end, the key is completely gone. Fortunately it seems like installing Win7 on the Dell is probably smarter anyway so it's no big deal.
I learned to say the pledge of allegiance
Before they beat me bloody down at the station
They haven't got a word out of me since
I got a billion years probation
- The MC5

Follow the path of the unsafe, independent thinker. Expose your ideas to the danger of controversy. Speak your mind and fear less the label of ''crackpot'' than the stigma of conformity.
- Thomas J. Watson, Sr

It's not rocket surgery.
- Me


I recommend reading through my Bio before responding to any of my posts. It could save both of us a lot of time and frustration.

4wd

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Re: Repairing Windows 7 from the recovery console
« Reply #16 on: March 29, 2014, 03:44:52 AM »
After thinking about it some more I seem to recall certain components on the Southbridge, the hard drive (or maybe just the system volume?), and the amount of RAM are the most important factors for reactivating Windows. I'm guessing the video and network controller changing drastically at the same time will trigger it, but I'm guessing I won't have to call Microsoft.

From How-Windows-7-hardware-upgrades-affect-licensing:

Quote
The actual algorithm that Microsoft uses is not disclosed, but we do know the weighting of components is as follows, from highest to lowest:

1. Motherboard (and CPU)
2. Hard drive
3. Network interface card (NIC)
4. Graphics card
5. RAM

A more in depth table is here: Managing Windows Licensing and Activation : Managing Volume License Activation (part 2) - Leveraging MAK activation, Comparing KMS and MAK activation

Referring to the table they have:
Quote
If the total weight of changed components reaches 25, then the computer must be reactivated.

Vurbal

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Re: Repairing Windows 7 from the recovery console
« Reply #17 on: March 29, 2014, 05:42:42 AM »
That's surprisingly reasonable. It seems most likely to affect people who move their OEM Windows to a different computer. Mostly it would be limited to replacing the hard drive and motherboard following a freak power event. Or, of course, a power user who's more likely to make major changes on that scale all at once. I'm also a little surprised that my instincts were pretty much spot on about which hardware to look at. I just missed the BIOS ID.

That does bring up another question though. Is the criteria the same the first time you activate after reinstalling? In other words is the threshold for the activation server the same or maybe lower, perhaps significantly so? I'm guessing the latter but obviously a guess is all it is. If WinXP and Win8 are any indication I would also expect the number of "new" activations for a given key to become a factor. I really haven't had to repeatedly activate a single Win7 or Vista license that I can remember.

If any or all of that is true, or simply barring evidence to the contrary, that would seem to be yet another argument in favor of installing and initially activating everything on the Dell so all the hardware matches perfectly.

Assuming SATA adapters are weighted the same as IDE, and I can't imagine why they wouldn't be, that seems to put me at 21 points moving from the Dell to the HP.

BIOS Identifier9
Processor (x2)6
MAC Address (x2)4
Display Adapter1
CD/DVD Drive1
Total21

The HDD serial won't change, SATA and audio adapters are provided by (theoretically) identical Southbridge chips. Just to be safe, both for the activation metric and driver installation, I'll probably have the basic motherboard and display drivers on a USB stick beforehand and turn off the network and audio adapters until I'm satisfied the system is stable. That brings the total down to 17 for the first boot.

And now another thought occurs to me. Does the count reset each time Windows checks or is it cumulative? And that's why I make myself so miserable working in IT. I'm an expert at asking questions and obsessive about finding answers for all of them, no matter how wasteful it ends up being.
I learned to say the pledge of allegiance
Before they beat me bloody down at the station
They haven't got a word out of me since
I got a billion years probation
- The MC5

Follow the path of the unsafe, independent thinker. Expose your ideas to the danger of controversy. Speak your mind and fear less the label of ''crackpot'' than the stigma of conformity.
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I recommend reading through my Bio before responding to any of my posts. It could save both of us a lot of time and frustration.

Stoic Joker

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Re: Repairing Windows 7 from the recovery console
« Reply #18 on: March 29, 2014, 09:00:14 AM »
OEM's Self activate based on the (oversimplified short explanation) default install key matching the BIOS ID. If you use the Dell disk to install on an HP, activation will initially fail because the above won't match. However if the HP has a legible COA, or you can recover the system hive and read the key from that. Then you can enter that key and the machine will activate just fine (assuming the editions match of course).

If you move the installed and activated (on a Dell) HDD to an HP (or anything else for that matter), it will blow the activation ... So that exorcise is a bit pointless (baring time and curiosity).

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Re: Repairing Windows 7 from the recovery console
« Reply #19 on: March 29, 2014, 12:19:06 PM »
OEM's Self activate based on the (oversimplified short explanation) default install key matching the BIOS ID. If you use the Dell disk to install on an HP, activation will initially fail because the above won't match. However if the HP has a legible COA, or you can recover the system hive and read the key from that. Then you can enter that key and the machine will activate just fine (assuming the editions match of course).

If you move the installed and activated (on a Dell) HDD to an HP (or anything else for that matter), it will blow the activation ... So that exorcise is a bit pointless (baring time and curiosity).

I'm actually not worried about the OEM part. As you say, that has to be installed on the Dell no matter what but that's just Vista.

What I was asking initially was verification for the instructions I found for using retail Win7 upgrade media to do a clean install afterwards. Basically it would go like this.

1. After Vista has been installed and activated I would boot from the Win7 upgrade media. The first thing it's going to do is check to see if there's a previous version of Windows installed and presumably activated as well for XP or Vista.

2. That information is saved for later and setup proceeds normally.

3. At the partitioning step I would select a custom install and blow away the existing partitions. Setup doesn't care if they're still there when installation starts. When the installer checks later it will rely on the verification from when the upgrade media booted.

4. If the initial verification succeeded, Windows setup already knows the upgrade is valid and there are no problems. If it failed the Windows install it would be configured incorrectly. Windows will still be installed but activation will fail.

As long as Vista was never never be booted on the second laptop, its activation should remain intact. The Win7 installer is only checking to make sure there's an existing version of Windows installed already and neither knows nor cares about the OEM restrictions. Since the Windows was installed to a completely clean hard drive it doesn't retain Vista's OEM restrictions.

The clean install part I'm pretty confident in, having found pretty much identical instructions all over the web. However the question of whether Windows setup looks at OEM restrictions was never addressed. I found nothing suggesting Windows setup did look at it, but also nothing saying it didn't. Unless you're trying to do what I am now there's no reason to even consider the question.

I guess I'll know soon enough.
I learned to say the pledge of allegiance
Before they beat me bloody down at the station
They haven't got a word out of me since
I got a billion years probation
- The MC5

Follow the path of the unsafe, independent thinker. Expose your ideas to the danger of controversy. Speak your mind and fear less the label of ''crackpot'' than the stigma of conformity.
- Thomas J. Watson, Sr

It's not rocket surgery.
- Me


I recommend reading through my Bio before responding to any of my posts. It could save both of us a lot of time and frustration.

4wd

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Re: Repairing Windows 7 from the recovery console
« Reply #20 on: March 29, 2014, 05:51:21 PM »
If you remove the ei.cfg file from the Win7 Upgrade media, you'll be able to use it to clean install without having to install Vista first.

The key can be entered and activated after it's installed - I've done this frequently with my Win7 Upgrade media because I don't want to have to install XP first.

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Re: Repairing Windows 7 from the recovery console
« Reply #21 on: March 29, 2014, 08:30:34 PM »
Which is it? XP or Vista?  ;)  :P

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Re: Repairing Windows 7 from the recovery console
« Reply #22 on: March 29, 2014, 09:25:58 PM »
Vista for Vurbal, XP for me  ;)

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Re: Repairing Windows 7 from the recovery console
« Reply #23 on: April 02, 2014, 08:43:07 PM »
Thanks to everyone who offered their advice on this! I had to take a few days off thanks to a vicious cold but as of today the transfer is 100% complete. I ended up having to call in to Microsoft's automated activation number but I expected that.

I also decided to install EaseUS ToDo Backup free on it to provide something closer to an OEM restore experience just in case. Once I get some of the files I backed up a month ago copied to the second partition I can exorcise my office of its bargain laptop possession.

For anyone unfortunate enough to get stuck repairing a Dell with DataSafe (a truly ironic name) backup software, I do now have a few words of advice. The first word that comes to mind is run and that's only halfway joking.

It seems someone at Dell came up with the brilliant idea of integrating half assed backup software with the Windows deployment process. Actually that's not exactly right which is really the problem. Instead of launching their proprietary tools inside the deployment process, a successful restore required me to use their tool directly so it could select the correct (original) install image rather than the DataSafe backup which just looked like it was the original.

Also, since Dell decided to leave the recovery partition accessible from Windows, when the Win7 upgrade ran it used it as the boot partition and changed it from E: to C:. That, of course, isn't nearly as problematic as the fact the upgrade obviously had to also make it the active partition. On the good side I can now definitively say I haven't forgotten how to use diskpart.

The tl;dr version goes something like this. After booting with a Windows disc I started by making the correct (OS) partition active. Next I used imagex to manually apply what various Internet sources indicated was the factory image. In reality it ended up a backup from some point which at least got me to the point DataSafe was available from the Windows repair menu. When I booted the next time I let DataSafe do another restore which applied the actual factory image.

Now I just have to decide if I want to keep anything besides the memory from the Dell. I should probably scavenge a handful of screws from it. Those little bastards like to escape when you're taking them out or putting them in.
I learned to say the pledge of allegiance
Before they beat me bloody down at the station
They haven't got a word out of me since
I got a billion years probation
- The MC5

Follow the path of the unsafe, independent thinker. Expose your ideas to the danger of controversy. Speak your mind and fear less the label of ''crackpot'' than the stigma of conformity.
- Thomas J. Watson, Sr

It's not rocket surgery.
- Me


I recommend reading through my Bio before responding to any of my posts. It could save both of us a lot of time and frustration.

40hz

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Re: Repairing Windows 7 from the recovery console
« Reply #24 on: April 02, 2014, 09:00:01 PM »
Vista for Vurbal, XP for me  ;)

And none of the above for 40hz!  ;D

Sorry. I couldn't resist. (Although I probably should have. ;))