Windows

Restore failed systems with Windows XP ASR backup set

The ASR backup set utility is a big help when a PC is beyond repair. This Daily Drill Down explains what you should do before you have to use that ASR backup disk and goes through the procedure for performing an ASR restore.

Once you’ve created a special ASR backup set, you can rest assured you’ll be able to restore a Windows XP Professional PC in the event of a system failure. But don’t wait for a system failure to learn how to use the ASR backup set to restore the system to a bootable state. You’ll have to do some prep work to make sure that you can boot your system and initiate the ASR restore procedure.

I’ll discuss the preparation steps you should take to run the ASR restore procedure. I’ll then walk you step-by-step through the procedure of restoring your system to a bootable state with an ASR backup set.

The prep work
To launch the ASR recovery procedure, you’ll need some method of booting your system and accessing your CD-ROM drive. If your computer’s BIOS contains a setting that will allow you to configure the system to boot from a CD, you’re all set. You may want to experiment with the CD-ROM boot procedure to familiarize yourself with the way the procedure works and to uncover any potential problems before you find yourself in dire straits.

If your system doesn’t allow booting from the CD-ROM, you’ll need to create a set of Windows XP Setup Boot Disks. The Windows XP Setup Boot Disk set is specifically designed to let you boot up a system that can’t boot from the CD-ROM drive. The first disk in the set will automatically identify your CD-ROM drive and load the correct drivers to allow access to the Windows XP Professional CD. It will then launch Setup.

Unlike Windows NT Workstation, which came with a set of Setup disks, and Windows 2000 Professional, which included a utility on the CD for creating a set of Setup disks, Windows XP Professional doesn’t provide the Setup disks, nor does it provide a utility for creating them. Instead, you have to download a utility from the Microsoft Download Center site and then create the Setup disks.

If you’re using the English version of Windows XP Professional, you can download the Setup Boot Disk creation utility here. If you’re using another language version of Windows XP Professional, you can find more information on obtaining the appropriate language version of the Windows XP Professional Setup Boot Disk creation utility in the Knowledge Base article ”Obtaining Windows XP Setup Boot Disks (Q310994).”

Note
Windows XP Professional and Windows XP Home Edition have distinct Setup Boot Disk sets. Thus, you can’t use the Windows XP Home Edition Setup Boot Disks for a Windows XP Professional installation or vice versa.

Creating the Windows XP Professional Setup Boot Disks
Creating the Boot Disks is a straightforward procedure. To begin, you’ll need six high-density, 1.44-MB floppy disks. Locate the Setup Boot Disk creation utility’s executable file you just downloaded and launch it. The utility will first display a license agreement dialog box. After you click Yes to signify that you agree to the terms, a Command Prompt window will open and the utility will prompt you to type in the drive letter on which you’ll create the Windows XP Professional Setup Boot Disks. The utility will then begin the disk set creation process and prompt you to enter the six disks sequentially.

Note
If the catastrophic event you encountered damaged the original hard disk beyond repair and you need to replace it with a new one, it is imperative that the new hard disk be the same size or larger than the original hard disk. Otherwise, the ASR recovery procedure will terminate and display an error message once it realizes the new hard disk is smaller.

Getting started with recovery
To recover your Windows XP Professional system with an ASR backup set after a system failure, you’ll need to have the ASR floppy disk and the full system backup you created previously. You also must have the Windows XP Professional CD and the Windows XP Professional Setup Boot Disks (if you need them).

Keep in mind that because the Windows XP Activation procedure associates the Windows XP CD and its accompanying product key with the hardware in your computer, you must make sure that this is the exact CD that you originally used to install the operating system on this machine.

Booting the system
If you have a system that is capable of booting from a CD-ROM drive, you’ll insert the Windows XP Professional CD into the drive and then restart your system. If you’re booting from the Windows XP Professional Setup Boot Disks, you’ll insert the first disk in the set into the floppy disk drive and restart your system.

In both cases, Setup will immediately launch and you’ll see several screens. Be on the lookout for the Automated System Recovery screen described in the next section.

Launching the Automated System Recovery procedure
When you see a screen like the one shown in Figure A prompting you to launch the Automated System Recovery procedure, you must act decisively. This screen will disappear after a couple of seconds, and Setup will initiate a normal installation procedure. Once you see this screen, press [F2] immediately.

Figure A
The screen showing the prompt to launch the Automated System Recovery procedure will only remain on the monitor for a moment.


As soon as you press [F2], you’ll see the screen shown in Figure B, which prompts you to insert the Automated System Recovery disk that you made as a part of the ASR backup set. After you insert the disk and press any key, Setup will begin loading the necessary files for the recovery procedure.

Figure B
To begin the procedure, you’ll be prompted to insert the Automated System Recovery disk.


What happens next will differ depending on how you booted your system. If you booted from the Windows XP Professional CD, you can move on to the next section. If you booted from the Windows XP Professional Setup Boot Disks, you’ll be prompted to successively insert each of the remaining five disks in the set. You’ll then be prompted to reinsert the Automated System Recovery disk.

Re-creating the partition information
Once Setup finishes loading the files, it will prompt you to re-create the partition information on the hard disk, as shown in Figure C. As it does so, it will also reformat the hard disk in order to prepare it for a clean recovery procedure.

Figure C
As the first step in the ASR procedure, Setup will re-create the partitions on your hard disk.


After the partitioning and formatting procedures are complete, Setup will begin copying the files it needs for the Automated System Recovery procedure to the hard disk. Setup will then restart your system. When your system restarts, you’ll see the GUI portion of Setup, which will then go on to perform a minimal installation of the Windows XP Professional operating system that includes the Backup Utility.

You’ll see the welcome screen for the Automated System Recovery Wizard, as shown in Figure D. This screen will remain visible for 75 seconds before it automatically launches the Backup Utility in Restore mode. Of course, you can click the Next button at any time to launch the Backup Utility.

Figure D
This welcome screen will remain visible for 75 seconds before the Backup Utility launches and begins restoring your hard disk.


As soon as the Backup Utility launches, it will prompt you to insert your backup media. Once you do, the restore procedure will begin. After the restore operation is complete, the system will reboot and you’ll find everything exactly as it was when you created the backup set.

If all else fails, use the ASR backup set
System failure is a big problem with today's high-powered workstations. In the unfortunate event of a catastrophic system failure, you can restore your operating system to pristine condition with the ASR backup set. Before you use the ASR backup set to restore your system, you have some preliminary work to do. By following the steps described above, you will ensure a speedy recovery.

About

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

4 comments
Timeship24
Timeship24

What to do when an XP Vayo laptop has no floppy drive but only CD-Rom? Is there a bootable/recovery solution? I have the original XP Installation CDs and the original Vayo recovery CDs, but they can't find the drive, too. No luck reconfiguring it in BIOS (Intel Volume 0 RAID, as XP suggests upon failing to recognize the HDD). Vayo recovery CDs give me "Error 262" and I read on the net that many have the same problem! That special Vayo laptop (PCG-8V2L) is not even listed on Sony's tech website ;-( Help, anyone?

mjanous
mjanous

Unfortunately, my Windows XP Pro installation CD gave no warning it was going to reformat my hard disk. It just did.

davexnet
davexnet

You can buy a USB floppy for less that $15. May be a good investment for somebody in your position.