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How do you reinstall Windows 7 without losing data/programs?

How do you reinstall Windows 7 without losing data/programs? This was easy enough on every operating system from Win98 to WinXP. The issue I have is that I have cloned my hard drive from one laptop to another with dissimiliar hardware and low and behold it does not boot. Traditionally, in the past if the operating were say Windows 2000 or Windows XP you could basically throw the OS disk in and perform what was basically an in-place upgrade which would reload all the drivers for you and get you back booted with all your programs and data intact. Windows 7 does not seem to have this function. Boot from the CD and click Upgrade and it says you have to do that from a booting OS which I dont have. Click Custom and it warns you all data and programs will be wiped (although somewhere I read it will push all old stuff into the Windows.old directory (great - thanks Microsoft that really doesnt help much). Oh and the repair option, while shiny looking, doesnt help either. I ran through it a half dozen times. What happened to Recovery Console too? Did that vanish? I got into Advanced Tools on the CD and saw there was a command prompt and can see my old directory structure but you cant seem to run any of those cool old tools like FIXBOOT on FIXMBR. I assume those are hidden away in the auto repair now?.
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Gareth Gudger
Asked:
Gareth Gudger
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1 Solution
 
LeeTutorretiredCommented:
Unfortunately, you're right that you cannot do an in-place reinstall from booting to the DVD, as you could in XP; it has to be from a working system.  But Win7's Recovery Environment is much better than XP's old Recovery Console, because there are not all those access restrictions to directories other than Windows and its subdirectories and the root directory.  You can also run a System Restore from the Recovery Environment.  In the Command Prompt section you have the ability to run many more DOS commands, and even some GUI programs.   There are new syntaxes for the FIXBOOT and FIXMBR commands.  See these pages, which apply to Vista, but also to Win7:

http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/tutorials/tutorial142.html
Using System Restore from the Vista Windows Recovery Environment

http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/tutorials/tutorial147.html
How to use the Command Prompt in the Vista Windows Recovery Environment
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centervCommented:
Windows 7 - Repair Install
This will show you how to do a repair upgrade install to fix your currently installed Windows 7 and preserve your user accounts, data, programs, and system drivers.

http://www.sevenforums.com/tutorials/3413-repair-install.html 
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LeeTutorretiredCommented:
Yes, but did you READ STEP 1:

1. Start Windows 7, and log on to an administrator account.


You can only do a Repair Install by running the DVD from a working Windows 7 installation...
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koreansuperCommented:
normally when you are doing reinstall the machine, some of programs and data will loose. unless on your machine you have made 2 partition that allow you to put programs and data into other partition. may i know how do you clone your machine with windows 7? what type of software that you use?
when you made clone hardisk, do you use bootable disk to make clone?
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BitsBytesandMoreCommented:
diggisaur,
To reiterate what LeeTutor posted in his "Solution", you cannot do a Repair Install or In-Place Re-Install because you need to be able to boot into Windows 7. Since you cannot boot into Windows 7, the answer to your question is: YOU CANNOT!!
Sorry.....
Bits.
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senadCommented:
You can try and repair the system but I believe in the end that it will fail.
It will fail for the simple reason that Microsoft creates a bootloader on a
hidden partition where it collects all the info about your machine.
This bootloader loads before windows and now imagine it's surprise when it detects
different hardware.
So the time it will take you to completely reinstall the system and the programs is
nothing in comparison to the time you will need to spend in fruitless quest of trying
to do a dubious repair.
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nobusCommented:
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senadCommented:
nobus - we are not talking about the same partition.This one usually shows 9 mb Unallocated...
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centervCommented:
Ok, my bad. Did not fully read the question.
The best option you have is to clone the original drive and that means the whole drive including the boot
partition with a program such as Acronis True Image using a flavor that has the option to  do a bare
metal restore.

Before going there, check that whatever you used to clone also included the boot partition and you transferred same to new drive.
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Gareth GudgerAuthor Commented:
Thanks.
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BitsBytesandMoreCommented:
Centerv..... You are soooo RIGHT... I've recommended this many time using the Acronis Backup & Recovery 10 Universal Restore when you need to restore to systems with dissimilar hardware and because of the way the question was posted made me loose sight of what his final intention was......
diggisaur... the question is closed and it's to late to assign points but just for the record in case you or a future asker needs the info: It does work as recommended by centerv.
Bits....
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centervCommented:
Thanks Bits...
Cheers
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Gareth GudgerAuthor Commented:
Yea I've used Acronis and BESR as well. They work okay. Just unfortunate to see that Microsoft has removed this ability moreso and wanted to clarify. The only time the Acronis wouldn't work is in a DR situation and you have no backup. As a technician I've moved a hard drive to a new system for a client to save time and then reinstall the OS back over. 99.9% of people I deal with have no bare metal desktop backup.
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Gareth GudgerAuthor Commented:
To add, i was more hoping I was just missing something and the functionality was still there but you attacked it from a different approach.
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Gareth GudgerAuthor Commented:
I ran across this old question and I thought I'd update. My issue with the clone, done in Symantec BESR 2010, was that the restoration could not complete if the local admin account is disabled. Which it was. The local admin account being disabled is out of box design in Windows 7. Not great if your image has that account disabled by default. Hopefully that will change in SSR 2011. And especially not great if your original computer is kaput or a total loss and you can't enable that account and retake the backup image.

I resolved by running a password reset LiveCD. My LiveCD reset the password and also enabled the account. Restoration then completed successfully after reboot.

Further I have now learnt that FIXMBR and FIXBOOT, as well as other old useful Recovery Console commands, are now all rolled into BOOTREC, which can be initiated from the WRE Command Prompt.
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