All kinds of errors with Windows 10 recovery media


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twgonder
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A recent MS Windows 1903 upgrade destroyed my system
After attempting a Reflect restore, all hell has broken loose. (another post on that)
Window 10 1803 17134
Reflect 7.2.4601
>>> Situation<<<
After the MS 1903 upgrade, I did a restore to a known C drive state from an image backup. 
Windows booted into the PE environment and did the restore.
There was a problem in that C was using Bitlocker and the restore wiped that out to an unencrypted drive
But then Windows wouldn't start because the user data on the D drive was still encrypted.
Three days spent trying to get the system back.
Many restores over and over again trying to figure out what was going wrong. (That was a nightmare, because the restore didn't completely overwrite the C drive, it just seemed to overlay onto the existing C drive data which caused all kinds of problems. I read the Macrium helps and although they talk about all kinds of restore strategies, they don't clearly address how to restore to a known state. Even following the YouTube tutorial didn't do a true from scratch restore.)
>>> Problem <<<
Many times I tried to boot into the Macrium Reflect System Recovery but a black screen error came up (in Spanish) No se pudo iniciar windows (can't start windows).  I don't know what could have mashed this since it worked at least once (the first time) to restore C (Windows partition)


Once I got a build done, but it still comes up with the above error screen on reboot
As a side note, the build took a long time, stuck for more than 10 minutes here at adding Wifi support.


Now if I try to use the Macrium Rescue Media Builder
Boot menu Wim Build
Failed to generate WinPE WIM:
Failed to create the staging area:
I tried looking at the log file, but it's a complete mystery. (since delete the Reflect sw, waiting to reinstall .)
I've tried to build the Rescue Media several times, several reboots, but always the same problem.


I see the part about Windows RE not found, but it's odd that it seemed to build the PE recovery environment the first time I did a restore of C, and I think I have recovered to a clean State of Reflect that existed before the 1903 Windows Upgrade. But a lot of crazy stuff has happened during the many restores, including the D drive getting hammered with lots of file errors being reported by Chkdsk (and why when Reflect has just done a restore? and Reflect partition checks ).
I'm trying to reinstall Reflect to see if the problem goes away, but I would like to know where this PE environment gets built and what might be causing this error. And of course the proper course of action to overcome the error. 
Along with a new install program for Reflect Home, I downloaded the pe10_1709x64.zip file from the Reflect Download Agent, but I don't see any instructions on how to use this file.
Thanks
(And sorry if I haven't got all the terminology for Reflect down yet and some things aren't clear because of that, the pictures speak the 1,000 words)
(And sorry the questions are sprinkled throughout the explanation.

jphughan
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A lot to unpack here, but I'll try to provide some background info and suggestions at least for the future even if some of this is too late for the current situation:

1. Reflect can restore onto a BitLocker volume while preserving the encryption, but only if the target partition is unlocked in the Windows PE environment beforehand.  If you build Rescue Media with the option to auto-unlock BitLocker volumes, the Rescue Media should do that automatically, or you can open Command Prompt in the Rescue environment and use the manage-bde utility to do that.  Otherwise, yes restoring a BitLocker partition will result in an unencrypted partition afterward.

2. I'm not sure why Windows would fail to boot just because you had BitLocker enabled on some other partition.  Did you install boot-critical applications or services onto your D drive?  If so, that might not be a great idea overall especially if you want to be able to exclude that partition from system recovery image restore operations, but you should still have been able to unlock your D partition by entering its password or Recovery Key.  The only thing you lose by not having BitLocker enabled on C is the ability to auto-unlock other partitions.  Windows only allows you to auto-unlock other BitLocker partitions when you already have the Windows partition protected by BitLocker, presumably because auto-unlock keys for those partitions are stored on the Windows partition.

3. When you tried to roll back your Windows 10 1903 upgrade, did you restore ONLY the C partition?  If so, that was probably a mistake.  The Windows 10 upgrade might have updated other partitions like your Windows Recovery partition and (if your system boots in UEFI mode) the EFI partition, in which case rolling back only the C partition might create a problem.  When you're restoring a disk that contains a Windows installation, you should really restore all partitions on that disk except for partitions you specifically know you want to omit from the restore operation for a specific reason, such as your D drive if that's a data partition.

4. It's true that the paid versions of Reflect default to performing "Rapid Delta Restore", which when circumstances permit can avoid writing out the entire partition from scratch.  That's a useful capability in situations where you might have a large partition and might only want to roll back to the previous day.  With RDR, Reflect can basically analyze the current state of the restore target, compare it against the backup you chose to restore, and essentially alter the destination partition such that it will match the state of the backup you selected.  That can reduce restore times from hours down to minutes on large partitions.  But if you want to disable that, click the Advanced Options item in the lower-left corner of the Restore wizard and disable RDR.  That said, I'd be surprised if RDR was responsible for any of these issues.  It's been around for quite a while and it's been proven time and time again, so I'd be curious what the "all kinds of problems" were that you suspected were caused by the "overlay" behavior rather than the full restore you were expecting.

5. As for the boot error in Spanish, it sounds like you only tried to use the boot menu recovery option.  If so, you should absolutely, positively create bootable "external" Rescue Media on a CD/DVD or a flash drive.  The boot menu recovery option is convenient when it's available, but it also relies on having Rescue Media files on (by default) your C partition -- which means that if there's ever a problem with your C partition, that recovery mechanism becomes unavailable.  For example, if you boot into the recovery boot menu option and try to restore your C drive, and the restore fails partway through, you won't be able to boot that way AGAIN to reattempt the restore.  By comparison, "external" Rescue Media has no dependencies on any data on your internal drives, so it will work even if your drive is completely destroyed or blank (as might be the case if you just replaced a failed drive with a fresh one).  So again, you ALWAYS want to have external Rescue Media and make sure you know how to tell your system to boot from it.  You can certainly use the boot menu option as your primary recovery mechanism for convenience, but it should NEVER be your ONLY mechanism.  However, "external" Rescue Media can safely be your only recovery mechanism if desired, because again it has no dependencies.

6. As for the WinRE build issues, again if you rolled back only your C partition and not your Recovery partition, that might have created problems there.  It's tough to say given how much has clearly already gone on at this point.  But even if the log file is a mystery to you, it would still be worth attaching as a text file for others to read.  It might not be a mystery to them, and it might help them help you.

In terms of a way forward, if you haven't already I would try restoring your ENTIRE DISK from a known good backup, or at least your entire disk minus only partitions you are absolutely certain you want to exclude.  That might get your system back to a normal working state.  And again, create external Rescue Media asap and then TEST it to make sure that you know how to boot your PC from that disc/flash drive and that it actually works.

Lastly, as a side note, it's generally preferable to post screenshots rather than photos.  I realize that isn't possible for the Windows Boot Manager error in Spanish, but for everything else, screenshots are faster to capture and post, MUCH easier for others to read, and also result in much smaller files as a small bonus.  If you weren't aware, Windows has had an application called Snipping Tool built in since Windows 7 that makes it very easy to capture screenshots of either the full screen, a specific application window, or any area of the display you select.  It's a very handy and easy-to-use little utility.

Edited 10 February 2020 4:00 PM by jphughan
twgonder
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jphughan - 10 February 2020 5:04 AM
A lot to unpack here, but I'll try to provide some background info and suggestions at least for the future even if some of this is too late for the current situation:

1. Reflect can restore onto a BitLocker volume while preserving the encryption, but only if the target partition is unlocked in the Windows PE environment beforehand.  If you build Rescue Media with the option to auto-unlock BitLocker volumes, the Rescue Media should do that automatically, or you can open Command Prompt in the Rescue environment and use the manage-bde utility to do that.  Otherwise, yes restoring a BitLocker partition will result in an unencrypted partition afterward.

2. I'm not sure why Windows would fail to boot just because you had BitLocker enabled on some other partition.  Did you install boot-critical applications or services onto your D drive?  If so, that might not be a great idea overall, but you should still have been able to unlock your D partition by entering its password or Recovery Key.  The only thing you lose by not having BitLocker enabled on C is the ability to auto-unlock other partitions.  Windows only allows you to auto-unlock other BitLocker partitions when you already have the Windows partition protected by BitLocker, presumably because auto-unlock keys for those partitions are stored on the Windows partition.

3. When you tried to roll back your Windows 10 1903 upgrade, did you restore ONLY the C partition?  If so, that was probably a mistake.  The Windows 10 upgrade might have updated other partitions like your Windows Recovery partition and (if your system boots in UEFI mode) the EFI partition, in which case rolling back only the C partition might create a problem.  When you're restoring a disk that contains a Windows installation, you should really restore all partitions on that disk except for partitions you specifically know you want to omit from the restore operation for a specific reason, such as your D drive if that's a data partition.

4. It's true that the paid versions of Reflect default to performing "Rapid Delta Restore", which when circumstances permit can avoid writing out the entire partition from scratch.  That's a useful capability in situations where you might have a large partition and might only want to roll back to the previous day.  With RDR, Reflect can basically analyze the current state of the restore target, compare it against the backup you chose to restore, and essentially alter the destination partition such that it will match the state of the backup you selected.  That can reduce restore times from hours down to minutes on large partitions.  But if you want to disable that, click the Advanced Options item in the lower-left corner of the Restore wizard and disable RDR.  That said, I'd be surprised if RDR was responsible for any of these issues.  It's been around for quite a while and it's been proven time and time again, so I'd be curious what the "all kinds of problems" were that you suspected were caused by the "overlay" behavior rather than the full restore you were expecting.

5. As for the boot error in Spanish, it sounds like you only tried to use the boot menu recovery option.  If so, you should absolutely, positively create bootable "external" Rescue Media on a CD/DVD or a flash drive.  The boot menu recovery option is convenient when it's available, but it also relies on having Rescue Media files on (by default) your C partition -- which means that if there's ever a problem with your C partition, that recovery mechanism becomes unavailable.  For example, if you boot into the recovery boot menu option and try to restore your C drive, and the restore fails partway through, you won't be able to boot that way AGAIN to reattempt the restore.  By comparison, "external" Rescue Media has no dependencies on any data on your internal drives, so it will work even if your drive is completely destroyed or blank (as might be the case if you just replaced a failed drive with a fresh one).  So again, you ALWAYS want to have external Rescue Media and make sure you know how to tell your system to boot from it.  You can certainly use the boot menu option as your primary recovery mechanism for convenience, but it should NEVER be your ONLY mechanism.  However, "external" Rescue Media can safely be your only recovery mechanism if desired, because again it has no dependencies.

6. As for the WinRE build issues, again if you rolled back only your C partition and not your Recovery partition, that might have created problems there.  It's tough to say given how much has clearly already gone on at this point.  But even if the log file is a mystery to you, it would still be worth attaching as a text file for others to read.  It might not be a mystery to them, and it might help them help you.

In terms of a way forward, if you haven't already I would try restoring your ENTIRE DISK from a known good backup, or at least your entire disk minus only partitions you are absolutely certain you want to exclude.  That might get your system back to a normal working state.  And again, create external Rescue Media asap and then TEST it to make sure that you know how to boot your PC from that disc/flash drive and that it actually works.

Lastly, as a side note, it's generally preferable to post screenshots rather than photos.  I realize that isn't possible for the Windows Boot Manager error in Spanish, but for everything else, screenshots are faster to capture and post, MUCH easier for others to read, and also result in much smaller files as a small bonus.  If you weren't aware, Windows has had an application called Snipping Tool built in since Windows 7 that makes it very easy to capture screenshots of either the full screen, a specific application window, or any area of the display you select.  It's a very handy and easy-to-use little utility.

Oh crap, I posted a large reply here, and now I don't see it!
That was a lot of work for nothing.
Edited 10 February 2020 3:56 PM by twgonder
jphughan
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Did you click a Reply button only after writing your post?  The way it works is that if you click the Reply button that you see in somebody else's post, that pre-quotes their post in the box where you'd write your own reply.  Then you write your reply and click the Post Reply button underneath the post box

Edited 10 February 2020 3:57 PM by jphughan
twgonder
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jphughan - 10 February 2020 3:57 PM
Did you click a Reply button only after writing your post?  The way it works is that if you click the Reply button that you see in somebody else's post, that pre-quotes their post in the box where you'd write your own reply.  Then you write your reply and click the Post Reply button underneath the post box

I don't see a cancel button if you don't want to Post your reply. WTF?
I'm just testing here. Damn, they've even made their forum hell to work with.
Edited 10 February 2020 5:08 PM by twgonder
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jphughan - 10 February 2020 5:04 AM
A lot to unpack here, but I'll try to provide some background info and suggestions at least for the future even if some of this is too late for the current situation:

1. Reflect can restore onto a BitLocker volume while preserving the encryption, but only if the target partition is unlocked in the Windows PE environment beforehand.  If you build Rescue Media with the option to auto-unlock BitLocker volumes, the Rescue Media should do that automatically, or you can open Command Prompt in the Rescue environment and use the manage-bde utility to do that.  Otherwise, yes restoring a BitLocker partition will result in an unencrypted partition afterward.

2. I'm not sure why Windows would fail to boot just because you had BitLocker enabled on some other partition.  Did you install boot-critical applications or services onto your D drive?  If so, that might not be a great idea overall especially if you want to be able to exclude that partition from system recovery image restore operations, but you should still have been able to unlock your D partition by entering its password or Recovery Key.  The only thing you lose by not having BitLocker enabled on C is the ability to auto-unlock other partitions.  Windows only allows you to auto-unlock other BitLocker partitions when you already have the Windows partition protected by BitLocker, presumably because auto-unlock keys for those partitions are stored on the Windows partition.

3. When you tried to roll back your Windows 10 1903 upgrade, did you restore ONLY the C partition?  If so, that was probably a mistake.  The Windows 10 upgrade might have updated other partitions like your Windows Recovery partition and (if your system boots in UEFI mode) the EFI partition, in which case rolling back only the C partition might create a problem.  When you're restoring a disk that contains a Windows installation, you should really restore all partitions on that disk except for partitions you specifically know you want to omit from the restore operation for a specific reason, such as your D drive if that's a data partition.

4. It's true that the paid versions of Reflect default to performing "Rapid Delta Restore", which when circumstances permit can avoid writing out the entire partition from scratch.  That's a useful capability in situations where you might have a large partition and might only want to roll back to the previous day.  With RDR, Reflect can basically analyze the current state of the restore target, compare it against the backup you chose to restore, and essentially alter the destination partition such that it will match the state of the backup you selected.  That can reduce restore times from hours down to minutes on large partitions.  But if you want to disable that, click the Advanced Options item in the lower-left corner of the Restore wizard and disable RDR.  That said, I'd be surprised if RDR was responsible for any of these issues.  It's been around for quite a while and it's been proven time and time again, so I'd be curious what the "all kinds of problems" were that you suspected were caused by the "overlay" behavior rather than the full restore you were expecting.

5. As for the boot error in Spanish, it sounds like you only tried to use the boot menu recovery option.  If so, you should absolutely, positively create bootable "external" Rescue Media on a CD/DVD or a flash drive.  The boot menu recovery option is convenient when it's available, but it also relies on having Rescue Media files on (by default) your C partition -- which means that if there's ever a problem with your C partition, that recovery mechanism becomes unavailable.  For example, if you boot into the recovery boot menu option and try to restore your C drive, and the restore fails partway through, you won't be able to boot that way AGAIN to reattempt the restore.  By comparison, "external" Rescue Media has no dependencies on any data on your internal drives, so it will work even if your drive is completely destroyed or blank (as might be the case if you just replaced a failed drive with a fresh one).  So again, you ALWAYS want to have external Rescue Media and make sure you know how to tell your system to boot from it.  You can certainly use the boot menu option as your primary recovery mechanism for convenience, but it should NEVER be your ONLY mechanism.  However, "external" Rescue Media can safely be your only recovery mechanism if desired, because again it has no dependencies.

6. As for the WinRE build issues, again if you rolled back only your C partition and not your Recovery partition, that might have created problems there.  It's tough to say given how much has clearly already gone on at this point.  But even if the log file is a mystery to you, it would still be worth attaching as a text file for others to read.  It might not be a mystery to them, and it might help them help you.

In terms of a way forward, if you haven't already I would try restoring your ENTIRE DISK from a known good backup, or at least your entire disk minus only partitions you are absolutely certain you want to exclude.  That might get your system back to a normal working state.  And again, create external Rescue Media asap and then TEST it to make sure that you know how to boot your PC from that disc/flash drive and that it actually works.

Lastly, as a side note, it's generally preferable to post screenshots rather than photos.  I realize that isn't possible for the Windows Boot Manager error in Spanish, but for everything else, screenshots are faster to capture and post, MUCH easier for others to read, and also result in much smaller files as a small bonus.  If you weren't aware, Windows has had an application called Snipping Tool built in since Windows 7 that makes it very easy to capture screenshots of either the full screen, a specific application window, or any area of the display you select.  It's a very handy and easy-to-use little utility.

Dang! I really don't want to go through all that again. And it was so nicely organized. Oh well....quick and dirty:
All this bad stuff happened on a Lenovo ideapad 330S running Windows 10 1803.

1. I wrote the original post on another computer that was working, so I had to use the photos. I need to learn the Snipping Tool.
2. I just found how to enable Bitlocker options in the Rescue Media Builder . If you use a USB Recovery Media, will it only work on that computer or any with Bitlocker?
3. I also just saw the Choose Base WIM options. When I first installed Reflect, maybe two years ago, I had to download a "PE build environment", it was quite large. If it is still on this machine, it might be old. I did download a new one, it was a big zip file without instructions of how to "install" it? I do see different options in the Windows File Image File Toolset, but I have no idea where they came from or if I need to replace them with newer ones like the Reflect Package Download tool gave me in the pe10_1709x64.zip file. For fun, I built a USB Recovery Media using the Windows PE 10 (WADK) option, and it ran quickly. If I remember correctly, when I first built my recovery media back when, a huge file had to be downloaded, taking maybe an hour. This PE data couldn't bee in the Reflect standard installer that is only 100 MB. Where did it come from? How can I know it is current?
4. Years ago, when viruses were taking down my machines on a daily basis, I resorted to placing user data on the D drive (Windows on the C). I put it all there, not just some of the folders like documents, music, etc. that Microsoft has available in the relocate option of properties location. This had advantages in that I could restore the Windows drive with Ghost in less than 15 minutes and the users wouldn't lose their days work.
5. The 1903 really hosed my system that had been working fine. Lots of apps wouldn't run, error messages were popping up from windows and the wifi and microphone stopped working. At that point I decided to just restore C like I had done for years with other backup methods. That restore was started in Windows Reflect and ran automatically. It didn't give any prompts about what kind of restore ro run, options or that Bitlocker was involved.
6. The problem was that my user data was on D, which was Bitlocker encrypted. The restore (or 1903 upgrade)  hosed my Admin account on C, the menu button wouldn't work and reflect wouldn't start.
7. I went to the USB Recovery Media I had created long before, and it worked to recover the C and D drives, but I lost two days work on D (maybe the 1903 upgrade kept the scheduled backup from running?).
8. After the restore, my Admin account was still hosed and lots of strange errors kept popping up. I chased these problems around and around, did more restores and still had problems. This took all weekend.
9. I don't think the RDR is as reliable as we would hope for restoring to a "known good State". Nowhere in the tutorials and basic Reflect documentation did I see anything about how the RDR might leave malicious and malformed files intact, which I´m assuming was the problem. No where did a prompt in Reflect restore advise how to get a TRUE COPY restored. I wasted a lot of time restoring to a defective partition over and over again. Also, I don't recall the original restore from the Windows restore which then ran automatically in PE advise that it was going to restore without Bitlocker.
10. Seeing that Windows updates can happen without notifying the user, can take many hours to download and install, and that backups are scheduled for after the system might decide to reboot for the upgrade, I still think it's a good strategy to plan to restore just the C drive (Windows) and not keep restoring user data from days previously every time Microsoft decides to "upgrade (hose)" a system as part of a "restore set". Is there any documentation that shows best practices or methods for doing this reliably (as backups and restores are meant to do)?
11. I have a partition at the end of the drive called WINRE_DRV. Is that from where the Recovery Media gets its file to create the PE (if I'm using the right terminology)? Where does Macrium save the Windows PE for Reflect? Does the Rescue Media Volume tab under advanced options allow this to be saved in another partition in case C gets hosed?
12. Will removing the Remove Boot Menu just remove the boot menu or the Recovery PE too?
13. When I booted from my Recovery USB (that was no small task too) certain things didn't work like manage-bde (not a command), and when I tried to look at the Microsoft generated Bitlocker recovery file, I could only see the first line of text and not the long key further down in the txt file. My touchpad wouldn't work which made navigating the Reflect application a nightmare.




Roland Stoller
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twgonder, I sometimes write my reply into notepad, then copyNpaste into a discussion board reply box.

"Take care of thy backups and thy restores shall take care of thee."  Ben Franklin revisited.

twgonder
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I thought I would try putting the Recovery PE on the G drive on my Disk0 Partition 1.
So I changed the Advanced option Rescue Media Volume to G.

It copied some Boot to Boot and then paused for a long time.
I tried to build





Changed back to C in case there was something wrong in choosing G
Now the build is grayed out.


Now what?

Note: I had lots of error messages like these before reinstalling Reflect when after my restore. But after the reinstall I did get some Revocery medias built before these errors started happening.



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I don't really want to keep exchanging walls of text here, and at this point from your most recent post it's not even clear what your current state is and therefore what you're trying to achieve in the near term (if anything), as opposed to what things you just sharing about your experience and what things you want to know about Reflect.  So once again I'll provide some information where I can, but I don't want to keep this up, at least not to this degree.  It takes quite a bit of time to write posts like my previous one and the one below, and also to read yours.

If you have BitLocker support enabled when you build Rescue Media, you can use it on any PC, but auto-unlock will only work for the volumes that were unlocked when you created Rescue Media on the specific PC where you created it, because obviously Reflect won't have auto-unlock files for BitLocker volumes on other PCs that it's never seen before.  In that case, you'd have to use manage-bde to unlock the volumes by supplying the password or Recovery Key.  I do this even on my own PC because I decided I don't want my Rescue Media to store an auto-unlock key at all.  I'd prefer that it didn't store sensitive info, and I'm fine with the extra effort that this entails.

You don't have to install a PE environment for Rescue Media Builder to use it.  It just downloads the necessary content from Microsoft and caches it so that it can use those files as the "foundation" for Rescue Media.  Or if you download the zip file using the Reflect download agent and have it sitting in the same folder as the Reflect installer when you run the latter, then Reflect will import it during the installation.  Otherwise Rescue Media Builder will prompt you to download it the first time you try to build using one of those base WIMs.  But starting with Reflect 7.2 there's an option to use WinRE instead, which relies on pulling the necessary files from your Windows Recovery partition.  That saves you having to download a larger WinPE environment, and it has some other perks (e.g. it's the only way to build Rescue Media that has WiFi support), but it also has its drawbacks in my opinion.  For example, using WinRE means that you'll always build Rescue Media from the same Windows kernel as your main OS, since Windows updates the Recovery partition whenever you install a feature release -- but that in turn means that if there's a bug in that new release, that might break your Rescue Media.  And even within a given kernel release, WinRE gets customized per-system even before Rescue Media Builder touches it.  For example, my system's WinRE environment is bloated by several hundred MB by my Synaptics touchpad drivers that include some high-resolution video animations to demonstrate gestures -- and that type of per-system customization can introduce problems too because you're no longer feeding Reflect a consistent, known foundation.  That's why I personally use WinPE 10 as my Base WIM, which as of this writing means Reflect will download WinPE 10 1709 from Microsoft.  That does NOT get customized per-system, and it's a release that Macrium tested.  I don't need WiFi support on my Rescue Media and don't mind having to download and cache that WinPE 10 1709 file set.

I too keep my data on a separate D drive, although I chose not to redirect the actual Windows user profile folders over there for various reasons.  I just mostly ignore those profile folders and have my own setup on D.  That way Windows has no formal dependencies of any kind on my D drive for user profile loading or anything else.  Since it sounds like you DID redirect the profile folders over to D, then if D was still locked at the time Windows started, that may well have been why you had profile issues.

As for RDR, if you feel that it's a weak point, I would recommend working with Macrium Support, but given the number of things going on with your system and the number of variables involved, I think it would be very premature to jump to that conclusion.  That seems especially true since it doesn't even sound like you ever tested a non-RDR restore to see whether the end result of that restore was any different, which would seem to be the first and obvious test to perform if you suspect RDR, before you go casting aspersions on it.  But I will say that RDR has existed since Reflect V6 arrived a few years back and has been enabled by default.  I don't think Macrium would have done the latter if they weren't confident in it, and even if they had been wrong, that choice of having it enabled by default should have resulted in lots of reports of bad restores from Macrium customers since then, and that hasn't been the case.  The reason you haven't seen anything in documentation about RDR leaving malicious files intact is because it doesn't do that.  The end result on the restore destination after an RDR-enabled restore is the same as if you had performed as a conventional restore.  The only difference is in the means used in order to get there and the time saved.

As for warning that the restore would run without BitLocker, Reflect does normally warn you if you're about to perform a restore that will result in the removal of BitLocker -- you can see that warning here -- although the fact that you were restoring your Windows partition might have been the wrinkle here.  That warning occurs when Reflect is about to restore a BitLockered partition onto an unencrypted or locked partition, as opposed to an unlocked partition.  The problem in this scenario was that when you "staged" the restore in Windows, your C partition was unlocked.  But apparently it was no longer unlocked in the WinPE environment you had to restart into.  Again, that might be fixable by rebuilding your Rescue Media (and therefore the cached file set that the boot menu recovery option uses) with the auto-unlock option enabled.  Or frankly I would consider just booting from external Rescue Media whenever you want to restore your Windows partition.  You have to reboot into a Rescue environment to perform the restore anyway, so I've never really seen the benefit of "staging" the restore within Windows personally.  Just stage it in the environment you'll be using for the actual restore anyway.

I don't know of any specific documentation for performing a system recovery restore, but that's because as I already said, when you're restoring a disk that contains an OS, typically you want to restore the entire disk with the possible exception of partitions that you are excluding for a very clear reason, NOT just restore the C partition and exclude all other partitions even if you're not sure what they are.  I agree that if you have a data-only partition that's not something you'd want to roll back every time you want to roll back your OS, and I myself have rolled back my OS while leaving my data partition intact -- but when I do that, I exclude ONLY that data partition from the restore.

I already touched on where WinRE gets its files from.  If the system has a Windows Recovery partition exists, it pulls from there.  If not, it pulls from a Recovery.wim file that would typically still exist in that situation, since that file gets moved from the C partition over to the Recovery partition during Windows installation if a suitable partition was created during installation, which Windows Setup will do automatically if you're installing onto an empty disk -- but some manual installation routines might choose not to create a WinRE partition.  If you want all the gory details on where the WinRE and WinPE files are stored, there's a handy diagram here.  But basically, the WinPE files, i.e. the ones downloaded directly from Microsoft prior to modification, are cached in Reflect's ProgramData folder on C.  As far as I know, that can't be customized, but those files can be and are redownloaded if ever required.  Then Reflect maintains a separate cache of actual Rescue Media files, including the fully built Rescue Media environment as well as any drivers that it needs to bake into those builds.  All of that is by default under C:\boot\macrium.  THAT location CAN be moved elsewhere if desired, and that too will be rebuilt automatically if ever required.

Removing the boot menu option just removes the entry from the Windows BCD.  It does not blow away the Rescue Media file set cache because that's used even if you want to create a Rescue Media flash drive, disc, or ISO file.  However, the boot menu option works by setting up a BCD entry that tells the system to boot from the actual files in the cached Rescue Media file set, so if you delete that cache, then you'll break the boot menu option even if you still have that in your boot menu.  But again, Reflect recreates or updates that as needed when you choose to generate Rescue Media.

I'm not sure why booting from your USB drive was "no small task".  Typically PCs have a key you can press during initial startup to access a one-time boot menu that will allow you to choose to boot from USB that one time, rather than having to muck around with the general boot order in the BIOS.  You might want to find out what that key is for your system if you didn't know that.  As for manage-bde not being available, it sounds like your Rescue Media wasn't built with the "Add BitLocker Support" option enabled.  Not sure what to tell you about your touchpad or what "Microsoft-generated BitLocker recovery file" you were looking at.

Edited 10 February 2020 5:55 PM by jphughan
jphughan
jphughan
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In response to your latest post that arrived while I was writing mine, once again you posted an image of a WIM build error message without posting a log file that can be accessed by simply clicking the link provided in the dialog box to view it. That makes diagnosis rather more difficult. You can also access that log even without the dialog box link by simply clicking the Log menu item in the Rescue Media Builder window.
Edited 10 February 2020 5:51 PM by jphughan
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