What to do if Windows crashes irrecoverably and refuses to restore a backup or system image

It has happened to me and it probably has happened to most computer users who have been wise enough to make regular file backups or system images that create a restorable image of the entire computer system.

Windows fails to boot or goes wrong in some way that needs to be put right and so you boot up using your Windows system repair disc, but it can’t find any of your backups or system images on your external hard disk drive or flash drive, which now have big enough capacities to store them.

It is similar to the bad feeling of using System Restore that shows many restore points, which all refuse to restore for no apparent reason. If System Restore fails to recover Windows and you don’t have any backup or system image to restore, you might have to reinstall Windows, or use a PC-manufacturer’s recovery disc that sets the computer back to the state in which it was when it left the factory – of course, minus any software you installed and probably Windows Service Packs and hundreds of subsequent Windows updates. The same applies if your backups or system images won’t restore. I have spent as long as a few days on each of them restoring computers to their former state after an irrecoverable software failure, the owners of which had not created backups.

Most Windows computers are currently running Windows 7 SP1, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10, the latest versions of Windows – Home and Pro – which were released on July 29, 2015. Windows 8.0/8.1 and Windows 10 use the new UEFI BIOS that employs a feature called Secure Boot, which won’t allow the system to boot from an unrecognised CD/DVD disc or flash drive, which is the major cause of being unable to restore a backup by making use of a boot disc.

Read the following page on how to deal with a UEFI boot-disc problem.

How to recover a Windows 8.1/10 PC from the Secure Boot problems introduced by the replacement for the standard BIOS called the UEFI BIOS –


Boot discs are used by Windows to restore backups and system images from startup and run recovery tools, are provided by brand-name PC manufacturers to restore the system to its factory state, can be created by anti-malware scanners for use as rescue discs and are used by operating systems (Windows, Linux, OSX, etc.) as installation discs.

Windows 7.0 SP1, 8.1 and 10 provide good backup and restore software, but I find that in any version of Windows that it is more problematic than good third-party tools. I use the free version of Macrium Reflect that creates a recovery boot disc that is used to boot the system in order to restore backups and system images. It can also install a cut-down version of Windows and add it to and run it from the Windows boot menu, which avoids any boot-disc problems.

Macrium Reflect – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Draft:Macrium_Reflect

When it is running, Macrium Reflect gets around any boot problem by installing Windows PE, a cut-down version of Windows, which it adds to the Windows boot menu that is presented at startup. After the user uses its Restore option to choose which system image to restore, Macrium Reflect reboots and the user just has to allow the option called Macrium Reflect System Recovery, automatically selected on the boot menu, to go ahead. The Windows file system is restored before the system is rebooted again to run the restored system.

Here is the illustrated information on this in the Macrium Reflect Knowledgebase. This is a far more secure backup system offered by any version of Windows and therefore it is advisable to use it instead of or as well as using the Windows backup tool.

Restoring a System image from Windows –


About Eric 275 Articles
I am an experienced PC technician who has been the owner and sole writer of the PC Buyer Beware! website since 2004. I am learning all the time in this very dynamic, ever-changing field.