So.. I've been dual booting for years.. and I thought I was taking the safe option by doing away with wierd partitioning and boot loaders and going for two seperate drives (one for Windows, another for Linux).
I used to have multiple WIndows installs but always on the same drive, so no risk of (much) wierdness.
I recently upgraded to Fedora 39 and started encountering "windows is repairing your whatever" when switching between Linux/Windows.. pretty wierd, but nothing I haven't seen once or twice before.. it usually sorts itself out, and it did.. until yesterday, when my Windows drive refused to startup with the dreaded blue BCD error screen.
I couldn't get into any kind of recovery outside of windows install media.. none of the recovery options worked.. even trying to rebuild the BCD from the recovery console failed in various ways.
I don't entirely blame Fedora 39 for this.. my bios boot options have been doing strange things lately.. I can't definitely blame Fedora because everything survived multiple reboots between OS's since the upgrade.
ANYWAY... I digress.. I figured my last option was to rely on Macrium backups. Now where's the blasted recovery USB?
Well.. you know the story.. nowhere to be found.. probably reused for some other purpose.
My first big dissapointment.. Macrium recovery boot ISO's are nowhere to be found.. Macrium don't offer them, neither do most company's offering related products.. the only
way to get a rescue image is to build
one.. that doesn't help me if I can't boot.
While I appreciate that the whole point of building the recovery is to ensure it includes all your favourite drivers, a minimal emergency ISO would get a lot of people out of a bind (I wuld think?).. I guess there are licensing concerns with the Windows based recovery environment?
Ok.. so.. what can I do.. How can I build a new recovery image..
Install Macrium on another machine, build the ISO from there? Sure!
That's a problem though, my other machine is an arm based Mac.. But I have Windows running via Parallels? Oh.. Macrium don't offer an ARM64 build.. fail.
So off I go to borrow my partners Macbook (and old Intel model that I'd passed along)..
1. Install VirtualBox
2. Install Windows 10
3. Install Macrium
4. Build a rescue ISO
5. Transfer the ISO to another machine that can actually write the ISO to a USB (VirtualBox on the x86 macbook didn't like that.. Parallels on the ARM based mac had worked a treat.. Coud've used some Mac based utility to do this step but I digress
Now.. we're getting somewhere!
Back to the PC with freshly minted rescue image in hand, the recovery environment sparks into life, Huzzah!
Wait, what's this?
Macrium opens up and.. lo and behold, it *knows* about my previous backup locations! How the heck?
I can only
assume that when I installed Macrium in VirtualBox it used my license key (which I gave it) to pull down metadata from Macrium servers about my backup regime
and conventiently built this information into the rescue media?
THAT IS AWESOME! (though I have to admit, a little creepy.. but who cares, this is fantastic!!)
Okay, now here's the part I really didn't expect..
Before I got for a full recovery (or even a partial recovery, figured to try restoring just the EFI).. there's a neat little option to attempt a boot repair!
I didn't hold much hope for this.. every avenue I tried to do this myself had failed.. and the absolute mess of ways in which it can fail are widely documented (and not widely understood) on our cherished interwebs.
Here's goes nothing..
And... we're off. Suddenly i'm booting straight back into my Windows box as if nothing at all had happened. Who needs backups?! (I jest, everyone needs backups! Please test them
So long story short.. Macrium saves the day once again.
I just wish it was easier to pull down a minimal baseline recovery image on the off chance I can't find my own personally built image again.. what a journey!