How to restore Vista Ghost Image (Ghost 8.0 or 8.2)

So, you've created a ghost image of your precious Vista install, secondary apps, and general system configuration.  Your system has failed (or you simply decided to free the bloat by reverting to your image) and now Vista won't boot!  What to do?

Well, this is the scenerio I ended up in this evening and despite finding "solutions" that claim to work in foresight, I found none that claim to work after the fact.  Turns out, getting this to work is relatively easy.  It appears to stem from the fact that Windows Vista does not solely use BOOTMGR like previous versions of Windows.  The steps I took to circumvent my non booting PC were as follows:

  • Restored my Vista Ghost Image (I use ghost32.exe version 8.0) to a new partition on my drive
  • Booted my PC from the Windows Vista CD and chose the repair option.  You'll notice that it probably wont find anything worthy of repair…. thats okay.
  • In this scenerio, the "Startup Repair" option is relatively worthless – so let's open a Command Line
  • The first thing we need to do is make sure the partition that contains your restore is set as active.  From the command line, run diskpart.  This is a partition maintenance application.  The commands that you'll need are "LIST", "SELECT", and "ACTIVE"
    • LIST and SELECT take an additional paramater of DISK, PARTITION, or VOLUME.  Select takes a second paramater of an integer value describing what to select.  As an example, if you type "LIST DISK" you'll get a numbered list of disks on your machine, to select the first one, type "SELECT DISK 0"  (Disks start with 0, partitions start with 1)
    • Basically, you'll want to find the actual partition that the restored Vista is located on and then flag it active.  If your vista install is in the first partition on the first disk, you might do this with the following commands:
      • LIST DISK
      • SELECT DISK 0
      • ACTIVE
    •  Once the proper partition is marked as active, type "exit" to quit diskpart
  • Now we need to make sure that the MBR is in tact and the BCD entries are all set.  To do this, do the following at the command prompt:
      • This option will scan your drive for valid windows installations and should prompt you to add any that are found to the BCD table.  Select Y or A for each one that is found to add these to the BCD.
  • Unfortunately, this isn't everything.  The last thing we need to do is restore BOOTMGR – which none of these steps has done to this point.  For this, we can run the "Startup Repair" option from the Vista Repair menu.  I did this after rebooting a second time into the Vista install disk, but this should not be necessary.  Close the command prompt, click the startup repair and then reboot when prompted….

After all of this, your ghosted image should be working without issue and without the need to be following many of the other preventative steps found on the web (most of which will not work with anything prior to ghost 2003).

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