An image that could be reinstalled on top of a clean Windows 10


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WGR
WGR
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For Windows 10 operating system, generate an image that could be overlaid on a clean install of Windows 10.

Would this even be possible?

This way, when the system gets bogged down, you could do a clean install and then reload all of the program applications and data without having to install each one individually, without having to locate the software download and the password to reactivate it.
Froggie
Froggie
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AFAIK, that option doesn't exist in any imaging software (It sounds nice but tough to do... just think of all the possible dependencies required by applications).
jphughan
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The only application I'm aware of that can do this is Time Machine over in the Apple world, and I suspect it's only capable of doing some of the things it does because Apple is in the unique position of having total control of both the OS and the hardware that it will run on.  Microsoft has this with their Surface lineup, but they obviously have to support a much larger ecosystem.  But Time Machine can capture full system backups, while also offering a migration-oriented restore mode where Time Machine preserves the newer OS already installed on your newer system along with any newer applications, and simply restores any other applications plus your user profile data and preferences.

One option some users employ is to get Windows set up with all of their applications and then capture that image to keep long-term as a "baseline", so that if as you say their system gets bogged down, they can just restore that.  Of course by that point, chances are that many of your applications and drivers will be out of date -- as will your Windows 10 version these days -- so you'll still have a bit of work ahead of you to get back to current.  But if you have a complex application environment, it might still save time.  In my case, I've gotten to the point where I can rebuild my entire system from scratch in 3-4 hours, so restoring an old image and having to update everything would take about as long as just starting from scratch with the latest versions of everything in the first place.  But of course that's not true of everyone.

But sadly I don't think what you're wishing for would be feasible.  Part of the problem is just how Windows handles applications and their data in general. The registry alone would be a challenge to migrate in the way you describe.  Maybe if Microsoft put a bunch of "plumbing" into Windows to allow this, but even then you'd have the baggage of legacy applications.  I think Microsoft would just prefer that you go all-in on storing all of your data and settings in the cloud and use only applications purchased from the Microsoft Store. Tongue

Edited 18 May 2020 11:49 PM by jphughan
WGR
WGR
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Thank you for your replies and shedding some light on what the difficulties might be. But since this is a site where one can wish, you may as well wish big, even if it goes nowhere. Possibly, in the not-too-distant future, AI might help find a solution . When you think of what Macrium does right now, a hugely complex piece of software that reliably does its job, it was only a wish some years ago and it has evolved to where it is now. But not by wishing.

I also wish that I was as organized as Jphughan to be able to rebuild a system in 3 to 4 hours.
uit
uit
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WGR - 18 May 2020 10:41 PM
For Windows 10 operating system, generate an image that could be overlaid on a clean install of Windows 10.

Would this even be possible?

This way, when the system gets bogged down, you could do a clean install and then reload all of the program applications and data without having to install each one individually, without having to locate the software download and the password to reactivate it.

Here's exactly what your want, and you can roll your machine back in time and forward too!
HorizonDataSys RollBack Rx Professional
https://horizondatasys.com/rollback-rx-time-machine/rollback-rx-professional/

BTW, while a Free version is available, I do NOT recommend depending on it permanently because it's no longer updated or supported, while the licensed version continues to be improved and, significantly, includes important data reliability fixes.

One other tip, consider creating a Data partition and putting often changing data on that partition instead of the C drive, so you can mess with the C drive with near impunity and back it up faster too.

Some people will create yet another Data partition for less frequently changing data, like voluminous photos, music and program install files.  All this helps make a daily backup easier, faster and less complicated which makes restoring all the easier.

Finally, if experimenting with lots of programs and settings is leading to your PC becoming messy and slowing down, consider using the Windows 10 Sandbox feature or Macrium viBoot to run a copy of your physical machine - virtually.  This way, you can experiment all you want without affecting your physical machine!

Enjoy!

Edited 31 May 2020 8:21 PM by uit
Froggie
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First of all, that's not what the OP was looking for... he wanted to clean install Windows and "merge" (not re-install) all his current apps & settings from his "flakey" image on to the clean image.  Rollback RX is a snapshot application... it doesn't even protect your disks against hardware failures of the Rollback protected disks, much less apply apps & settings from a bad point in time back to a good point in time.

Reflect can do exactly what Rollback RX can do... albeit a tad slower.  And REFLECT can protect against failed disk hardware as its images are not saved on protected partitions.  With Rollback, all its "snapshot's" are embedded into the very same partition it is protecting... when you lose that partition/volume, you lose everything (all your snapshots).

Unless the OP is looking for a "time machine" that is a little faster than REFLECT, I'm not sure your solution even applies to the OP's problem.

WGR
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Hi UIT,

Thank you for the info.  It looks very interesting, but I have too many "urgent" items on my plate right now and I wish I had more time for experimenting.  I'm finding that keeping up with the latest technologies gives a lie to the mythical productivity gains you shall reap.:crying

WGR
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Froggie,

You have perfectly captured my intended wish.  Thank you for paraphrasing and clarifying.

Virginia McGovern
Virginia McGovern
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This is a good idea. The only way it would be even remotely possible is by backing up the program’s entries in the various folders & all the registry entries. Then it would just restore these.
Probably not that easy though. :-)
Patrick O'Keefe
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Virginia McGovern - 26 June 2020 6:51 PM
This is a good idea. The only way it would be even remotely possible is by backing up the program’s entries in the various folders & all the registry entries. Then it would just restore these.
Probably not that easy though. :-)

I think it would be an absolute nightmare to determine which programs, AppData, ProgData, data files, and registry items to restore.  There is no way MR could tell which programs were bloatware as opposed to mission-critical software.  (There's no way another human being could make that determination.)  And there's no way MR could determine which AppData, ProgData, and miscellaneous files are associated with those mission-critical programs.  (Some applications have been know to put critical configuration data in users' Documents folders, of all places. Smile )

For this kind of process to work, there would have to be an inventory - maintained by the user - of all programs, data files, and registry entries associated with those programs, to be restored.  Software vendors don't always publish the names and locations of all data files, and many don't even mention registry entries.

GO

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