Trying to recover gateway desktop without any recovery disk

bric17 Posts 2 Registration date Sunday September 15, 2013 Status Member Last seen September 15, 2013 - Sep 15, 2013 at 11:45 AM
 dadgervais - Nov 12, 2013 at 09:56 PM
I'm trying to restore my gateway desktop but I don't have my recovery discs. I have gotten to the boot menu and then once I'm there I've tried pressing HDD, but it brings me to another screen which tells me to insert system disk and press Enter which I don't have. Can someone please walk me through the boot menu so that I can recover my computer? Thank you!

3 responses

Up front disclaimer: I'm a Linux guy, not a windows expert! However, I've recovered a half dozen windows systems (Vista and Win7) in the last two years from nothing but the RECOVERY partition on a crashed system. This will not be a tutorial, but perhaps some of the windows experts can use these notes to write one.

It will help if you have another working system to do some of the work, but it is also possible to do it all on the broken system with something called a Linux Live-CD or DVD. I like Puppy, and Ubuntu, but Parted Magic or Knoppix can do the job as well.

You'll need to collect some tools.

1. A CD/DVD of Windows RE which matches the system you are trying to recover;
use VistaRE for Vista and Win7RE for Win7, 32-bit or 64-bit as required.

2. A copy of the Microsoft imagex.exe program (32-bit or 64-bit?). Put it on your RECOVERY partition.

3. A partition editing tool may also be necessary. Use the windows tools on the RE disc if you prefer, but I rather use any linux bootable CD that has the GParted utility.

All these tools are available (legally) for free, download from trusted sources only.

Step 0 -- Make an image copy of your RECOVERY partition onto another Hard Drive, then remove it from the system you are working on. If you make a mistake and corrupt your RECOVERY partition, you will regret skipping this step! If you make a mistake and DO have a backup copy, you just need to delete the corrupt partition and copy back the good one.

Step 1 -- Search the RECOVERY partition to see if it contains any WIM files.

On the Dell and eMachine computers I recovered I found a file called Factory.wim or Restore.wim which contained the Factory original image. This can be restored by booting into a windows RE (Recovery Environment) Disc, getting to a command prompt and executing:
imagex /apply Factory.wim 1 c: /verify
You might need to use the WinRE a few times to straighten out the MBR or BootRecord, but if WinRE recognizes your installed windows version you shold have little trouble getting it to boot into the restored windows system.

On the Gateway machine, things were a bit more involved. The necessary file was in the PRELOAD folder in four parts: base.wim, base2.wim, base3.wim and base4.wim. In this case, I reconstructed the full (preload) image by executing:
imagex /export /ref base*.wim /apply base.wim 1 system.wim
I then restored the system image to the C: partition by executing:
imagex /apply system.wim 1 c: /verify
Again, use WinRE to fix any MBR/BootRecord issues then boot into the new system. This time, I did not immediately get the finished product. The system booted into a WAIK system and proceeded through a long sequence of scripts to build the final system. If you get a popup window at the beginning asking for an ID, use the little button at the end of the text box and select the ID that shows up there. Allow the build process to complete all steps; do not cancel anything, grant permission to anything it asks. After a long time and a few reboots, you will finally enter a restored windows system.

Step 3 -- Once you are in your restored system (you will have entered your locale info and a user name/password, etc.) and your system seems to be working, Go to the program menu, find the program used by the manufacturer to restore a factory image, and use it to rebuild the system again. This step is as important as step Zero! The method(s) I describe above gets a working windows system but it may have omitted some subtle steps or obscure configurations which might lead to problems later. Use the Factory approved restore/recovery procedure as insurance.

Step 4 -- Now that you are in your restored system, remove trial-ware; junk-ware; install your preferred anti-virus; install (years of) windows updates; then enjoy!?! your new windows system.

Hope this helps someone out there. --dadgervais
p.s. Sorry, but I'm not hanging around to answer questions.