Recovery & restore of Windows 8.1

  limyueshing 23:29 04 Apr 2015

I have an Alienware X51 R2 that came with Windows 8, that means if I use Alienrespawn to create my rescue USB, every time I reset it to factory state I will need to go through all the updates and re-download Windows 8.1

I am so done with this. In case my system crashes again, can anyone suggest me how I can create a bootable drive that restores my OS to my CURRENT state, or windows 8.1 not 8? I have a 16GB USB just for this purpose, plus a 1TB external hard drive.

  robin_x 02:09 05 Apr 2015

Make a 'System Image' of all partitions on the main HDD. Save to the external 1TB.

Macrium Reflect Free is widely considered as very good for this (actually I'd say the best)

Macrium also allows you to Create Rescue Media.

Actually a CD/DVD or an iso file to burn to USB Flash.

When you get a problem, you boot from Rescue Media and restore partitions from the Image file on the ext drive to the main drive partition slot.

Keep original Image and make additional ones regularly.

eg weekly, fortnightly etc.

When you get too many, just delete superseded ones.


There's also another app 'Easeus Todo Backup Free' which is perhaps a little more user-friendly.

It's much slower but does do Incremental and File and Folder Backups as well.

It needs it's own boot media too, which it will create, or it can put an entry in the Windows boot loader (Pre-OS)


Images can also be Mounted with these apps to allow Restore of just a few individual files or folders, if desired.

  Fruit Bat /\0/\ 10:57 05 Apr 2015

Agree entirely with robin-x

Macrium images done on a regular basis

I also use Freefilesync to do real time backup important files to the external drive.

  limyueshing 11:55 05 Apr 2015

Thx for ur suggestions!

Just want to clarify things here. If I use Macrium Reflect to create the rescue media and system image, I will need both to reinstall my Windows and it will restore it to my current state(ie Win8.1 and every single applications), correct? If correct, is there a way to create a single bootable USB that can boot and reinstall on its own? Just like my current one created with Alienrespawn, but reinstalls Win8.1 instead of Win8.

  robin_x 12:50 05 Apr 2015

Yes. Macrium gets you back to the exact state of when you created the Image. Files, apps, settings, hidden boot data. Everything.


You could try and create a W8 USB Recovery Drive and create a Custom Refresh Image on it but I'm not sure if it would work and keep the W8.1 Update. Also still requires some setting up after Refresh. Not all existing settings are retained.

I you wanted to make a proper W8.1 Recovery Drive you'd need a W8.1 License.

And a Refresh Image still isn't a proper Image.


Therefore a Macrium (or other) System Image is the way to go.

You could make a bootable USB Flash drive with the Macrium Rescue iso then save a Macrium Image to it as well as the 1TB (or just copy one Image over).

In any event, I'd imagine you'll need a much larger drive than 16GB.

Images are very large.

Use Rufus to make bootable Flash drive from iso

  limyueshing 14:22 05 Apr 2015

Macrium backup seems great, I will definitely use it.

However, I still like a USB all-in-one solution, so I've also searched in Microsoft's website(since I am a sucker for official things) about this problem and I found 2 very attractive solutions for me:

USB recover drive

Refresh Media

Does anyone know their differences?

  Fruit Bat /\0/\ 14:41 05 Apr 2015

USB recovery 3-6Gb = highly compressed windows image with no programs or data.

The image of My SSD with just windows 8.1 (71Gb) on is 25Gb

the image of my data and program drive (680Gb) 240Gb

So you can see that a normal image will be just over a third the size of the data on the drive to be imaged. Now you can see why it was suggested you delete out of date (superseded) images.

  limyueshing 00:11 06 Apr 2015

But does the USB recovery installs Win8.1 instead of Win8? This is my main concern.

Also, does the refresh media work as a restoring method? That is, given a copy of windows is already in the drive and I want to reinstall it.

  Fruit Bat /\0/\ 09:46 06 Apr 2015

The restore for an image means the machine is exactly as it was at the time the image was taken.

So if you imaged now and you currently have win 8.1 and all updates it would be exactly the same.

This saves having to install windows from new, find serial keys, drivers and reinstall all programs.

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