Windows 7, 8 Image Backup and Restore manipulations.

    General discussion

  • Thanks to Windows 8.1, the long deprived image restore function of a Windows 7 Home Premium computer from a network drive, has now become feasible.


    The Recovery Pen Drive created in Windows 8.1, actually also works in the Windows 7 Home Premium computer. The Recovery Pen Drive not only allows you to restore a previously created system image stored on a local drive, but also allows access to image stored on a network computer – a facility which is otherwise not available in the Windows 7 Home Premium native recovery environment.

    Even if you do not own a Windows 8.1 computer, you can create your personal Recovery Pen Drive from any computer running Windows 8.1 with due permission from the administrator. There are also the added advantages of having a dedicated pen drive for this purpose, in that it is not only a more reliable form of storage than a CD/DVD recovery disc, but also a more handy and versatile tool being common to all Windows 7 and 8 computers.

    To boot from this recovery pen drive, you need to change the BIOS setting in your Window 7 computer, and (i) Enable USB storage device as a boot device and (ii) change the boot sequence, with the USB device boot priority set above the computer hard disk drives.

    To do this, you need to Plug-in your Pen Drive into the Windows 7 computer during runtime, shut down the system, boot the computer and press the appropriate key to access the BIOS setup menu.


    In Windows 7 Home Premium, you cannot create a system image directly on a network computer.  You have to create the image in one of the local drives of the Windows 7 computer and then copy the same to a network computer.

    Only one system image per computer can be kept at the windows designated root backup location "WindowsImageBackup" in any particular drive. The system image is identified by the computer-name folder within WindowsImageBackup.

    You must manually delete any pre-existing image of the same system, before copying a new image of that system by the Computer-Name folder.

    If the target network drive does not contain a "WindowsImageBackup" folder, then the entire "WindowsImageBackup" folder in the Window 7 local backup must be copied into the network drive.

    However there is a difference between manually copying an image as opposed to creating an image backup. Irrespective of the backup location (local/network), if a new backup is created over a pre-existing backup of the same computer, the computer-name folder will be re-written with the latest image file, retaining the older backup differentials in Shadow copies.

    There is a workaround to retain discrete backups of a computer, bypassing the windows default mechanism of replacing the older backup. This is by manually renaming the Computer-name folder within WindowsImageBackup before creating a new backup of the same computer. For example, to retain the discrete backup of PC1 created earlier, we rename the PC1 backup folder name as PC1_BKP1. The new backup of PC1 will then be created afresh in a folder name PC1 within WindowsImageBackup.

    Never rename the "WindowsImageBackup" root folder ! Windows will then be unable to locate the backups, in the recovery environment.


    The Windows 7 Image Restore Process with the Recovery Pen Drive is "exactly" the same as the Windows 8.1 Image Restore Process. In any case, the restore process has many subtle options (not apparently evident !) which should be carefully chosen from the series of screens during the Restore operation. DO NOT ATTEMPT THE NEW RECOVERY FEATURES OF WINDOWS 8 - REFRESH PC AND RESET PC IN WINDOWS 7.

    In the restore environment, the only way to identify the target computer image, is by the Computer Name. The "recommended" default image will be latest image in your Local drive. You need to choose the other available option "Select a system image..." to access an image on a network computer. You must have the security credentials to reach the network drive having sharing enabled to allow access.

    During restore, multiple images of a particular computer differing by Date and time may be shown available for restore. It is always advisable to choose the latest image for a particular computer, as restoration of an older image carries the overhead of re-constructing it from the latest image using the shadow copies.

    However if you did retain discrete backups at different point in times, by renaming the Computer-name folder as explained in the preceding section, you will also find them listed for restore. By our example, the available system images will be shown by computer-names as PC1, PC1_BKP1 etc, followed by the backup date. You can choose any of those images for restore.


    Sushovon Sinha

    Sunday, November 10, 2013 7:33 AM