How to restore Windows 7 after installing the Windows 8 Developer, Consumer or Release Preview
Upgrading to Windows 8 – You have two methods: 1) Installing Windows 8 by booting from the Windows 8 Preview Build installation disc (ScreenShots) and performing a "Custom"/Clean install. 2) Booting to Windows 7 and inserting the Windows 8 Preview Build disc and when prompted run the setup.exe file (Screen Shots).
Method 2 is not a supported path for “Upgrading” !. This is because during the upgrade from 7 to 8, Windows 8 actually moves (removes) each of your application’s folders and files from the Windows 7 C:\Program Files and C:\Program Files (x86) folders and installs them in the equivalent Windows 8 folders, therefore leaving nothing in the Windows 8 “Windows.old” to recover.
You have two recovery documentation choices: 1) Text only version, use this link to print a hard copy of the instructions. 2) Text with supporting screenshots link, provides the additional visual aid needed to make the recovery process as easy as possible.
The steps used to restore Windows 7 are in part partially based on Microsoft’s Knowledge Base article kb971760. “How to restore a Windows 7-based computer to a previous Windows installation by using the Windows.old folder”.
Concept: The basic concept is relatively simple.
1) Copy the Windows.old from the Windows 8 partition to an external USB drive (or second internal hard drive). Copy the files located in the documents folder to the USB drive.
Note: If the Windows.old folder does not exist, you cannot follow the steps in this article to restore Windows 7 to your computer.
2) Reinstall Windows 7 using a technique know as a “Keyless Install”.
3) Copy the Windows.old folder back to the root (C:\) of your freshly installed version of Windows 7.
Note: The amount of free space on the Windows 7 partition (after installing Windows 7) must be large enough to hold the “Windows.old” folder when you copy it from the USB drive back to the Windows partition.
4) Using your Windows 7 installation DVD, boot and open a command prompt to replace the current Windows 7 folders with the equivalent folders contained inside the Windows.old folder.
5) Create a new user account and copy your documents from the USB drive to the new account.
What you will need:
1) The Windows.old folder located in your Windows 8 partition.
2) An external USB drive (preferred) or a second internal hard drive.
3) Your original Windows 7 installation DVD or your System Repair Disc (if you created one).
4) EASEUS Todo Backup - A free Image and file backup utility that is able to copy the Windows.old folder from your Windows 8 partition to your USB drive (in the form of an image file) without choking on file and folder permissions. Retains original file permissions within the Windows.old folder. http://www.todo-backup.com/products/home/free-backup-software.htm
Note: October 4th, 2012
The original article was created for users who had installed the “Preview” build of Windows 8, at which time Todo Backup version 3 was available. Since that time new builds of Windows 8 and Todo Backup have been released. Currently Todo Backup is at version 5 and Windows 8 has been released to manufacturing (RTM) and the RTM/Retail version will be available as of October 26th, 2012.
The results of Recovering Windows 7 after installing the Windows 8 “Release Preview” using EaseUS Todo Backup version 5 were entirely successful.
(May 7th, 2012)
After weeks of testing this proceedure for recovering Windows 7 after installing the "Comsumer Preview", I must report that what worked reliably for recovering the "Developer Preview" using the steps listed below, does not work consistantly for the "Consumer Preview". Something has changed, most likely with the Windows.old file but I'm unable to pinpoint what changed resulting in a failure to restore Windows 7 most of the time.
You are free to try this proceedure but please follow the steps that including creating that all important Windows 8 backup before you start. Should the recovery process fail you can always restore your Windows 8 backup and try again.
Step by Step guide onhow to restore Windows 7 after installing the Windows 8 Developer, Consumer or Release Preview: (October 4th, 2012) Notes: 1) You may find it easier to follow the steps if you print this article first. 2) As mentioned earlier you need a third party Image Backup software utility and the associated “Emergency” recovery CD, since my computer supports Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7 I choose to use EASEUS Todo Backup Home (its free).
3) The Todo Backup screen shots were from an earlier version of Todo and may not be entirely similar to the current version, but the underlying concept of creating a backup is the same.
Install Todo Backup Home and create a bootable emergency disk: 1) Install Todo Backup in Windows 8. 2) Launch Todo Backup and select the ‘Tools’ tab. 3) Select the ‘Bootable media builder’ option located in the upper left of the ‘Tools’ menu options. 4) The default media option is to ‘Create bootable disk’ with the CD/DVD drive selected. 5) Click the ‘Proceed’ button to create the CD. Insert a blank CD when prompted and click ‘OK’.
After the CD has been created, verify you can boot from the CD (Warning: Your BIOS must be set so that the CD/DVD is the first bootable device, followed by your hard or SSD drive). Be patient as the recovery environment takes a while to load.
Creating a Image Backup of Windows 8 partition to your USB drive: This Image Backup is the first major step that must be performed prior to recovering your personal installation of Windows 7. This backup will be used in the recovery process and will also serve as a means of recovering Windows 8 should you have the need.
1) Launch Todo Backup and select the ‘Backup’ tab, click on the ‘Disk and Partition backup’ option.
2) Leave the ‘Tasks/Plan name:’ unchanged and enter a brief ‘Description’ of the backup (Example: Windows 8 Backup), no other changes / options need be selected, click the ‘Next’ button.
Click on the 'Next' button.
3) In the ‘Select source disk or partition to backup’ window, place checkmarks in the System, Reserved’ and (C:) Windows 8 partition. You should also see the USB drive, which should not be selected/checked, click on the ‘Next’ button.
Click on the 'Next' button.
4) Select backup destination: Insure your USB drive letter is selected and highlighted. Place a checkmark in the ‘Check backup image integrity after backup’ option. No other changes need to be made.
5) Click ‘Next’ to proceed to the ‘Backup schedule settings’. Select ‘Now’ if it is not already selected. Click on the ‘Next’ button.
Click on the 'Next' button.
6) Review the contents of the ‘Backup information’ window. Click on the ‘Proceed’ button to start the backup.
Click on the ‘Proceed’ button to start the backup.
7) The ‘Backup progress’ window will be displayed.
8) Time to completion will vary depending on how much drive space is used by Windows, applications and data files. On completion of the backup you should see the following in the progress window.
9) Click ‘Finish’ and ‘X’ (upper right corner) and click ‘Yes’ to exit Todo Backup. 10) Open Windows Explorer and check for the presence of the backup file you created.