Technical Articles and Blog Content
A quick "best effort, bare minimum approach" since most developers may need to deal with this - at least for their home computers - and it is a huge waste of time for all of us.
Are you in acute need of recovering your system, or do you just want a system backup (for later)?
I will assume the first (second issue below the divider line):
Recovery Partition : There might be a recovery partition hidden on your disk which will do the task for you auto-magically when invoked right. Various ways to trigger such a recovery depending on the PC vendor.
You must backup all your files as the recovery will wipe everything out .
Best real-world advice, if you haven't done this before, would be to get on the phone with a computer-savvy friend to give you a quick start or a few heads-ups. They may accept payment in Tequila, Red-wine, iTunes gift cards etc... :-).
Maybe launch diskmgmt.msc to see what is on your disk. Check your PC vendor's web site for recovery instructions, or the retail store where you bought it.
Download ISO : I believe you can also download the official Windows ISO images from Microsoft upon entering a valid license key .
This download link is different for each region. Here is the generic one that should redirect you to your localized ISO version (in other words your language version of Windows): https://www.microsoft.com/software-download/windows7.
For the English version specifically: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows7.
On the issue of creating a bootable USB: https://stackoverflow.com/questions/49466983/how-to-boot-windows-7-activator-with-uefi/49471334#49471334 ( The Windows USB/DVD Download Tool ).
Then you simply reinstall Windows the regular way ( backup all your files ).
Here is some information on retrieving your license key . I like to use the VBScript option to retrieve the license key without any external software, but I haven't tested that particular script or the linked content in general. Looks OK though. So essentially your license key is either in firmware , on a sticker on the computer , or retrievable from the registry (or all of the above - perhaps).
Image Backup & Recovery
System Image : If what you want is just a backup image of your whole system (which should also be possible to recover as a working system provided your system isn't already broken), you could use those imaging tools such as Ghost (not sure if it is even available anymore - looks like there is a replacement suite ) and whatever new is on the block. I haven't done this kind of work in years - and shouldn't try to answer this question - if I had any sense :-) .
http://clonezilla.org/ (untested by me, mentioned here and there)
However, it seems formatting the USB key as FAT32 and extracting the ISO onto the FAT32 partition is good enough: Making a Windows 10 install USB. EFI apparently needs no special boot sectors just a FAT32 partition and the \efi\boot\boot[arch].efi loader (see link).
This matches Microsoft's own documenation on the subject: Install Windows from a USB Flash Drive. Quote: "...select the FAT32 file system to be able to boot either BIOS-based or UEFI-based PCs".
This is probably the same for Windows 7, but no guarantees. I would probably go for the The Windows USB/DVD Download Tool.
And cross-linking a similar answer I wrote yesterday (for reference and easy retrieval): How to Create an ISO Image from my Installed Windows.
Technology mind maps below. Other mind maps here.
- WiX Quick Start Link Collection
- Various ways to uninstall an MSI
- How can I find the product GUID of an installed MSI setup?
- About the tool WiX and also about the Complexity of Deployment
- What does deployment really entail? What do deployment specialists actually do?
- Windows Installer Transforms and about MSI anti-patterns
- Auto-GUIDs and settings file deployment
- How to deploy settings files successfully with MSI
- Flagging when to do re-copy of per user files
- Why is it a good idea to limit deployment of files to the user-profile or HKCU when using MSI?
- Application Launch Sequence
- Creating content folders per-user
- Make WIX installer place files in AppData
- Flagging changes done per machine for per user refresh
- Do not override the existing file when we install the .exe file
- Windows Installer Self-Repair - the scourge of society!
Links to various deployment tools vendors and some links to tool reviews.Deployment Tool Vendors:
- Quick Tool Overview
- Detailed Tool Comparison
- Current Technology Developments
- Multi Platform Installers