Windows Recovery partitions - removing them - disk imaging questions


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maw62
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Windows 10 has created 2 recovery partitions whilst upgrading (an older upgrade and a recent one).
My Samsung SSD now has a C-drive, 2 recovery partitions (just a couple of 100MB's each) and a protected area.
Upgrading from build 1703 to build 1709 has been failing all the time. Have been busy with it for about two days now.
Tried many scenarios - in fact I can't think of any other one. Uninstalling AV software, DISM, chkdsk, cleanboot, whatever,
they all failed.
Now there is something peculiar: in a setup error log file, it is mentioned D:\Windows ... etc.  - instead of C:\
And no space to extract cab files (C: is 335GB) and all the other drives have really sufficient free space.
This leads me to believe there is something with disk numbering or so and maybe(??) one of the recovery partitions are seen as D:
instead of the actual D drive with 600GB free space.

Now, if at all possible, if(!), I would like to give a try to delete the recovery partitions using a partition manager from USB.
Maybe it isn't possible, I don't know.

But before proceeding... as for diskimaging, right now I create a diskimage of the -entire-  disk, including the recovery partitions.
Q: How am I to proceed when running a disk image, whilst considering the removal of the recovery partitions?
Just drive C: ?
I could create a disk image C-drive only and a 2nd one including the recovery partitions.
What happens if the recovery partitions are gone and I restore the 2nd disk image (including the recovery partitions)?
Will they be restored then?

Thanks!


jphughan
jphughan
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Can you post a screenshot of your disk layout as shown by Reflect under the "Create a backup" tab?  You can use the Snipping Tool included in Windows for taking the screenshot.  But basically, if you have a Recovery partition of 300-450MB as your first partition on disk and also have another larger one after your C drive, the latter is the one that Windows is actually using.  You can confirm this by opening an elevated Command Prompt and typing "reagentc /info" to see which partition is actively being used.  If that's the case, in general yes you can restore your system while omitting the first Recovery partition from the restore entirely, but just this weekend I encountered a system where the original Recovery partition was still used as the boot partition (since the C drive had BitLocker enabled) and the newer Recovery partition was used for the actual Windows Recovery Environment functionality.  In that case, a restore that omitted the first one might still have worked with a "Fix Boot Problems" run afterward, but I'm not sure since I didn't test it.  Anyhow, definitely capture a single image of your entire disk upfront just to be safe.

In terms of just deleting the Recovery partitions in place, you can do that with diskpart using the "delete partition override" command, but you might end up freeing up space in a location that doesn't allow it to be repurposed if you do it that way.

maw62
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Many thanks for the above.

I just noticed that, after repeated attempts over the last days, there is even another (small) partition added...
As for this 'reagentc /info' - a shortcoming on my part but I never heard about it. FWIW find a screenshot below - have no idea what it means  though  :-)
Hopefully this will cast some light on the issue
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jphughan
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I'm not surprised the Windows 10 upgrade is failing, because this is a very strange disk layout.  Your C drive is the first partition on disk, the EFI partition is placed after the OS partition, and you don't have an MSR partition -- none of which is supposed to happen.  And I'm not even sure what Partition 2 is -- possibly an old Recovery partition that was emptied in favor of the new one later on the disk.  Lastly, Reagentc is showing that the Windows Recovery Environment isn't even enabled.

If you feel up to it, I would do the following to get yourself sorted:
1. Capture a full disk image backup before moving forward.
2. Still in the Rescue environment, launch Command Prompt and open diskpart, then enter "list disk" and "select disk X" to select your OS disk.
3. Enter the following diskpart commands to wipe your disk and set up a proper partition layout. The commands below omit some normal steps because I'm taking into account that you'll be restoring onto these partitions anyway, but you may still want to copy this to a text file so you can copy/paste it within Rescue:
clean
convert gpt
create partition efi size=100
create partition msr size=16
create partition primary
shrink minimum=500
create partition primary
set id="de94bba4-06d1-4d40-a16a-bfd50179d6ac"
gpt attributes=0x8000000000000001

4. Close Command Prompt, then click the "Refresh" link in Reflect.  Your SSD should now show a proper disk layout, albeit with completely unformatted partitions.  At this point you're going to perform a per-partition restore from your image, rather than restoring the entire disk the image has it.  So choose to restore your image, then in the Source/Destination wizard, drag and drop the source partitions onto the destination partitions as follows:
- Source Partition 3 (100MB FAT32) to Destination Partition 1
- Source Partition 1 (Windows) to Destination Partition 3 (largest partition on destination)
- Source Partition 4 (Recovery) to Destination Partition 4 (last partition on destination)
- Skip Source Partition 2 entirely, and leave Destination Partition 2 as-is

5. If the system doesn't boot after the restore (reasonably likely after rearranging key partitions like this), go back to Rescue and run "Fix Boot Problems".  If it boots at that point, you should be able to run the Windows 10 upgrade, and part of that will involve updating and re-enabling your Recovery partition, so after the upgrade completes, "reagentc /info" should return showing as Enabled.

Edited 1 January 2018 3:13 PM by jphughan
maw62
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Many, many thanks for your elaborate reply. This is truly appreciated.
Please do note that it was Windows that made a mess of this all. When I started out with a new pc, a year back, there was 1 partition and 1 protected area.
The initial upgrade (November last year) created a recovery partition and since then Windows, when trying to upgrade, created more.






DISKPART> clean
Virtual Disk Service error:
Clean is not allowed on the disk containing the current boot,
system, pagefile, crashdump or hibernation volume.
DISKPART>

What am doing wrong?

Thanks.
maw62
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What is meant with 'Rescue Environment'?
jphughan
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You have to run those Diskpart commands from the Rescue environment.  You can't wipe the disk you're currently running on. Smile  (Actually, you probably can in the case of the boot menu recovery option, since that loads entirely into RAM, but if even that fails, boot from actual Rescue Media, i.e. a DVD or flash drive.)

Edited 1 January 2018 4:17 PM by jphughan
jphughan
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The Rescue environment is your Reflect Rescue Media, i.e. the environment you would boot into if you wanted to restore a backup onto an unbootable system or an empty hard drive.

maw62
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Ah right - of course... ahum.
Gonna try it tomorrow - getting back on this.
Thanks so far.

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Edited 2 January 2018 7:12 AM by maw62
maw62
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So, right now I arrived at the part of "Clean" 
After entering clean, nothing seems to happen - meaning to say, it stands there, no HDD activity, nothing, for some 10 minutes or so.
What I did : saved your instructions to a .txt file
copied it to c:\windows\system32
then within the Rescue Mode (launched Macrium from USB) I launched Macrium Explorer (left hand bottom corner)
moved over to the above folder and double clicked the .txt file
So I would then be able to copy paste the 'ID'  and attributes. 

Am writing this using a tablet and the image has been taken using my tablet (poor light conditions here)

What am I doing wrong?

thanks

p.s. I understand 'clean'  may take a long time, but I assume some HDD activity should show?
although... maybe 'clean'  (only) won't take so much time, compared to 'clean all'  (?)
=

Edited 2 January 2018 7:11 AM by maw62
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