Using RBM after Window 10 has changed


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Ron Barker
Ron Barker
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Home Edition v71.31196 [UEFI]

Microsoft Fall update messed up my Windows 10 by, in particular, creating a second user account. I went to Microsoft support for assistance. After going through 5 Microsoft 'technicians' I ended up with 10 user accounts! During the process one of the 'techs', after me stating several times NO ROLLBACKS/RESETS attempted to fix the problem by rolling back my Windows 10. I would like to use the Recovery Boot Menu to restore my computer to the state it was in just prior to when I contacted Microsoft Help Desk. I am concerned that because one of the agents rolled back my Windows 10 the PE extracted will not match. Or does Reflect extract the PE from the backup Image? Many thanks. 


jphughan
jphughan
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The recovery boot menu uses the Rescue Media files cached on your hard drive at the time you try to boot that way. However, there is absolutely no requirement that the WinPE environment “match” the installed Windows version. WinPE is a completely independent OS environment that in this case just happens to store its files on the same partition as your main OS. For a variety of reasons, there are people who have WinPE environment versions that are newer or older than their Windows version. Therefore if you’re able to get the Reflect Rescue environment to boot by selecting that option in your boot menu, then you should be able to use it to restore your system even if your Windows installation is completely hosed. That said, you should always have “external” Rescue Media on a disc or flash drive because the boot menu option won’t be available in situations like a failed restore that leaves your drive in an unusable state, severe file system failure, or of course total drive failure where you need to restore onto an empty drive. If you don’t have external Rescue Media, I would strongly advise creating it and test booting it before you do anything else. It’s fine to use the boot menu option as your primary mechanism for convenience, but it should NEVER be your only mechanism. It’s fine to use external Rescue Media as a sole mechanism though, since it has no dependencies on your internal drive in order to boot properly.

As to your issue, if you didn’t want the additional user account, couldn’t you have simply deleted it? Or do you mean that it associated your own user account with a new profile folder?
Edited 29 May 2018 12:02 AM by jphughan
Ron Barker
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jphughan - 28 May 2018 11:43 PM
The recovery boot menu uses the Rescue Media files cached on your hard drive at the time you try to boot that way. However, there is absolutely no requirement that the WinPE environment “match” the installed Windows version. WinPE is a completely independent OS environment that in this case just happens to store its files on the same partition as your main OS. For a variety of reasons, there are people who have WinPE environment versions that are newer or older than their Windows version. Therefore if you’re able to get the Reflect Rescue environment to boot by selecting that option in your boot menu, then you should be able to use it to restore your system even if your Windows installation is completely hosed. That said, you should always have “external” Rescue Media on a disc or flash drive because the boot menu option won’t be available in situations like a failed restore that leaves your drive in an unusable state, severe file system failure, or of course total drive failure where you need to restore onto an empty drive. If you don’t have external Rescue Media, I would strongly advise creating it and test booting it before you do anything else. It’s fine to use the boot menu option as your primary mechanism for convenience, but it should NEVER be your only mechanism. It’s fine to use external Rescue Media as a sole mechanism though, since it has no dependencies on your internal drive in order to boot properly.

As to your issue, if you didn’t want the additional user account, couldn’t you have simply deleted it? Or do you mean that it associated your own user account with a new profile folder?

Many thanks, aptly named, Most Valuable Professional.  Re: "As to your issue, if you didn’t want the additional user account, couldn’t you have simply deleted it? Or do you mean that it associated your own user account with a new profile folder?"  Yes, my user name was Ron Barker and the update created a second user named Ron Barker.000.  My intention was to delete my old user name and change the name of the newly created user name back to the original user name.  However,  my old user profile contained a OneDrive folder which was impossible to delete.  I think the reason I (and Microsoft agents) could not delete the folder is because both profiles were using Windows Search.exe.  The reason I think that was the reason is because if I disabled Windows Search.exe in services then I could delete my old user profile, but as soon as Windows Search.exe was enabled the old profile was re-created along with OneDrive.  I think that both profiles were using the same Windows Search.exe.

Many thanks for you explanation re WinPE and Rescue Boot menu.  I do have a Rescue Disk.  I was just wanting the use the Rescue Boot Menu not only because of its convenience, but also I was not sure if I was understanding how to set the boot order on this fairly new laptop. It is not like what I was used to, with the moving the up and down boot order.  The order appears to be fixed with Fast Boot on top and CD Rom next.  Both of which are 'ticked'.  I was hoping that unticking Fast Boot would do the trick. I think that by default the secure boot was not activated.

I can get WinPE to show as a choice when I reboot my computer.  I did not understand what is WinPE (still don't).  I think that is obvious from my question.  I am not too bad with computers to say that I am old enough to remember tuning the 'wireless' with knobs and there was no television.  I do remember getting our first television for the Coronation and the Cup Final in 1953.

Many thanks for taking the weight of my mind.

jphughan
jphughan
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You're very welcome!  Hopefully the original problem is solvable so that you can at some point upgrade to the new release of Windows though, since obviously being able to roll back safely only gets you back to where you were rather than allowing you to move forward.

In terms of booting and WinPE, that may be worth clearing up for your own understanding in case it's useful for troubleshooting later.  First, the up/down boot menu where you choose between Windows and the Reflect Rescue isn't related to your new laptop, nor is that boot menu a replacement for the one you're probably thinking of where you choose your boot device, e.g. hard drive, USB drive, etc.  What's going on behind the scenes is that there are actually two boot lists that run sequentially.  First, your system firmware evaluates its "device-level" boot list, which is the list that would contain options such as your hard drive, USB drive, etc.  If it chooses the hard drive, technically the entity that boots from there is called Windows Boot Manager.  That is technically a database (called the Boot Configuration Database, or BCD) that maintains its OWN list of any Windows-based environments that exist anywhere on the hard drive(s) installed in the system, entirely separate from the system's device-level boot list, which is now out of the picture after it decided to boot from the hard drive.  On most systems, the BCD only ever contains one entry for the installed Windows environment and therefore users never even see Windows Boot Manager, but the recovery boot menu option works by creating an additional entry.  Other scenarios where users can have multiple entries here would be those who dual boot Windows (i.e. having multiple Windows versions installed on a PC) and certain advanced scenarios where you can have multiple entries that allow booting the same Windows environment in different ways, e.g. without a hypervisor running.

As for WinPE, that stands for "Windows Preinstallation Environment".  It's essentially a stripped down version of Windows that was originally intended to offer enough hardware support and functionality to run Windows Setup and allow you to get "real" Windows installed, and for enterprises to run the custom installation environments they might create to facilitate automated system deployments.  It has since also been used as the basis for the Windows Recovery environment that contains some basic tools to help troubleshoot or recovery from an unbootable system, e.g. Command Prompt, System Restore, Windows System Image Restore, etc.  But since then, third parties like Macrium have found it useful as a foundation for their own bootable environments, because this "stripped down Windows" still has much of the functionality they need, e.g. support for USB devices, networking, BitLocker, etc., AND it supports the same drivers for these essential devices that "real" Windows does.  But best of all, it can run actual Windows applications as long as the application doesn't depend on any components that are only available in "real" Windows.  All of this makes life much easier for a company like Macrium that develops a Windows application and also needs to have a bootable recovery environment that can run their application and access hard drives, USB devices, network shares, etc.

And again, even when a bootable WinPE environment exists on the same hard drive that contains your Windows environment, as is the case with the recovery boot menu option, the files that each uses are completely separate.  The recovery boot menu environment files are under c:\boot\macrium\WAxxFiles\media, and the way it works is that when you enable that option, Reflect adds an entry to Windows Boot Manager that points to those other (quasi-)Windows files on your hard drive as the boot path, rather than the "real" Windows boot files -- which is why no matter how messed up your Windows environment is, as long as Windows Boot Manager is still intact and those files are still there, you can boot into it.  And once you're there, Reflect doesn't care at all what version of Windows is actually installed on the drive it's backing up or restoring.

Hopefully at least some of that was useful/interesting, and good luck with the user profile issue! Smile

Edited 29 May 2018 1:30 PM by jphughan
jphughan
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By the way, if you ever have trouble deleting something from within Windows, the Reflect Rescue environment is a great alternative.  If you look in the taskbar at the bottom, you'll see an icon to launch a file explorer application, at which point you can browse and manipulate data on your hard drive just as you can in Windows Explorer, but since you'll be running in a WinPE environment, you don't have to worry about other Windows applications stopping you from deleting things, or even worry about file permissions because WinPE runs under the SYSTEM account, which typically has full access to everything.

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