Windows 8.1 – Repair Help

viki2000 used Ask the Experts™
The laptop is Sony Vaio SVF1521B4E.
I have repaired it by changing the original defective motherboard (i5-3337U) with a cheaper version (Pentium 987).
The laptop boots and works normally from an extern USB with Win 8.1 live OS.
The laptop is stuck when I boot from original SSD with Win8.1.
No matter what repairing method I have tried, it says cannot repair Win 8.1.
I do no want to install Win 8.1 from scratch, because I need some programs/settings from existing Win 8.1 installation.
I do not have a previous saved session to returns/recover from that point.
I would prefer a kind of install repair, but everything what I have tried it does not work, it says always is a failure and cannot repair Windows.
Maybe it has to something to do with some settings/drivers related with previous motherboard or the boot (GPT) partition or I do not know, but I would like to avoid clean re-install of the Windows.
What suggestions do you have?
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Adam LeinssSystems Administrator

Acronis True Image 2020 Advanced comes with a feature called Universal Restore that's a separate WinPE bootdisk.  It will allow you to inject drivers into the OS offline from WinPE (you don't need to restore or backup any image to use it).

Unfortunately, there doesn't appear to be a trial version, so you will have to find someone with a copy you can try or just purchase it outright.

One other note...use the WinPE version and not the Linux version, it seems to work a lot better, at least in my experience.
There are few things that I do not clearly understand.
In order to use use the method above, do I need a backup  (Backup of your system disk or Entire PC backup) as described here:
Does that mean a previously made backup? Because I do not have any.
Or will that backup be made during usage of the  Acronis Universal Restore?
Or using Acronis True image, let's say on USB stick with Win 8 live OS, then I can backup my original SSD even if it is not the primary active SSD/OS?
Something like here: ? ?

I need more clarification with that backup/recovery step, considering that I have never made up to now a backup.
Adam LeinssSystems Administrator

You don't need any backup or image, it's a utility designed to repair an OS that won't boot on new hardware.  The only way to get access to the Acronis Universal Restore boot CD is to purchase True Image 2020 Advanced.

I realize that the name Universal Restore is a bad name for this product as it really has nothing to do with restoring an image, it only fixes the OS.
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Did you try it before?
Reading on internet using as search key words "how to restore to dissimilar hardware" I see are other providers with similar promises, but they always speak about a backup made with their own software:

I am just wondering how come Acronis is different, from where it takes the needed info referred by others as backup?
It seems the MiniTool ShadowMaker has a Universal Restore tool and works also as Trial version, but I have never worked with it.
Adam LeinssSystems Administrator

Yes, I've used it before for Windows 7, but not Windows 8.1 and it worked.  They all work on the same principal: using DISM from WinPE to inject the drivers offline.  It looks like Minitool works the same as Acronis (run the fixer after a restore) and it looks like you can download a trial of Shadowmaker to test it out:

With MiniTool ShadowMaker, you can easily upgrade motherboard and CPU without reinstalling Windows 10/8/7. Now, download and install it on your PC for this work. You can share this freeware with your friends that need it.

I've only used Acronis to do this, however.
I will give it a try during the next days.
Adam LeinssSystems Administrator

Nice find on the Minitool Shadowmaker.  I was able to download and install the 30 day trial and make a WinPE disc with Universal Restore.  It appears to work exactly as the Acronis version does.  I do not have the equipment to test functionality, however.
Top Expert 2013

can you select the command prompt from the live OS?  then try repairing it with dism offline commands :
I must say this is ugly stuff.
1) I have tried MiniTool Universal Restore tool. I have made the USB bootable stick, I have started it, it found the Win 8.1, the software made the scanning and said after less than 3min that job was “Completed” and the only option was to reboot.
Unfortunately it did not solve the problem.
The laptop boots, says it has failure and needs automatic repair, make the diagnosis and goes in a loop without any solution. It is the same old story.
2) Then I have tried the Acronis Media Builder and I have made the USB stick with the Acronis Universal Restore. It took less than 1min to say that job is done, repairing Win 8.1.
Unfortunately it did not solve the problem.
It is the same bad result as with MiniTool.

I will try what Nobus suggested with DSIM at command prompt.
I can go to command prompt when I boot Win 8.1 and gives errors, the troubleshooter, advanced option and command prompt.
But as I read on several links, it is not always very easy:
I will try it anyway, I have nothing to lose and no better options.
When I startup the laptop and it boots in Win 8.1, I can go through next screens:
I f I choose Command Prompt, then I see at cursor X:\windows\system32 and not C:\
That looks to me abnormal. What do you think?
I can go to C:\windows\system32, but why X:?
Adam LeinssSystems Administrator

If those two UR programs didn't fix the issue, I don't think anything will.  Do you have any other hardware you can plug the hard drive into to see if it will boot? Now that I think about it, did you try toggling between ATA and AHCI modes for the hard drive?  You might want to also toggle between UEFI and CSM (BIOS) modes to see if it will boot.

The only other thing I can think of is using something like a Disk2VHD to create the VHD (virtual hard drive) backup of the system, then try booting that VHD in HyperV.  The problem is DISK2VHD won't work in an offline OS, you would need to put the hard drive in an enclosure, connect it to another working system, run DISK2VHD, then take that VHD and bring it into HyperV and try to boot it.    That will allow you to save whatever settings you need from the OS.
Top Expert 2013

dism is not very easy; i have used it, and downloaded a .wim etc to make it work
then just copy the commands into the prompt window
I played/changed UEFI to Legacy and vice-versa most of the time, becasue some of the USB boot programs do not work well when UEFI is selected.
I can boot partiton software as EaseUs Partition Trial and see the SSD partitions or other live USB environments, but no success up to now.
I try a bit more and let you know the result.

DSIM - I have read about it, but I did not have the guts, or I ws to lazy, to try it yet. I consider it as the last option. I come back later with more info in case I try it out.
I have solved the problem.
I think is incredibly stupid, perhaps from my side.
I have tried all the possible screens offered by Win 8.1 troubleshooter, repair screen and nothing.
I started to think that has something o do with UEFI (GPT)/Legacy (MBR) or how I format the USB boot devices (NTFS or FAT32). But no.
In the screen Troubleshoot- Refresh your PC it asks you for Windows installation files and I did not have always with me a USB stick with Windows installation files. I have made several times but tried different options.
Anyway, I have tried it one more time.
And now it said that I do not have enough space on my disk, on my partition where Windows resides.
So, I have made again a Windows live USB OS on the stick to look and move some files to get more free space.
My SSD 500GB has basically 2 visible primary partitions NTFS, on C for Windows 100GB and tone D for files 365GB.
In total are 4 partitions, 1 FAT32 for GPT 350MB and one as recovery partition 450MB.
On C I had only 6GB free.
I moved on D files until I got over 30GB on C.
Then I made the USB stick (16GB FAT32) installation drive for Win8.1 using Rufus and Win8.1 ISO and at that boot screen with screen Troubleshoot- Refresh your PC it started to do the job.
Then was just reboot and Windows prepared the files and drivers properly and started up finally.
I do not know if the Universal Restore played a role in all these steps, but one thing I learned for sure: with Win 8.1 we must have at least 30GB free on C or wherever Windows installation files/folder resides and then Refresh your PC option at Troubleshooter start screen it might work.
I just suspect the root cause of the problem was related with low free space on C partition where Windows folder is.

Thank you for all your suggestions and for your time.
Thank you for all your suggestions and for your time.
Adam LeinssSystems Administrator

Nice job!  I forgot about the "Refresh my PC" option within WinRE.  I've used reset before for testing purposes, but never refresh.   I'm curious if it actually kept the Windows registry intact with all of the old program settings along with the programs themselves since the screenshots only mention saving personal files, not programs.
It did not saved the programs or configuration.
That is bad.
I need a kind of recovery or at least a software to scan somehow and see what programs were installed.
But probably I will ask a new question.
The Windows folder is 25GB now. Is that normal?
Adam LeinssSystems Administrator

Normal.  I checked my test VM with Windows 10 and the Windows folder is 16.2GB.  In terms of file recovery, I've used this before:  You will need another drive to restore the files to (you cannot restore back to the same drive).
I know Recuva.
In the past I have tested many recovery software and if I remember one of the bets was
That was some years ago. Now I see a plethora of them, and I just wonder which is the best nowadays.
Anyway here is the question that I have opened, we do not have to continue here:
Top Expert 2013

the best i know is GetDataBack :

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