Hope springs eternal, but upgrading my vintage 2012 Dell XPS 17” L702X Windows 7 Pro laptop to Windows 10 Pro seems futile.
Despite what the cheerfuly positive Windows 10 Upgrade assistant says, Windows 10 just will not work on it.
Dell says the same thing.
Last weekend I was feeling bored so I decided to give it another go. I figured they’ve had a few months to fix some of the bugs and maybe make a more stable release version. I had it mostly working at least one time in the past before rolling back to Windows 7.
As a precaution I first uninstalled all my AV/AM/AE programs in case any of them gave the installation process the blues.
Then I let it run. When I checked back the next morning (because the upgrade was still running overnight when I went to bed) it had “finished” and presented a BSOD type message amost illegibilly painted on the wigged out laptop display.
I booted from a Win 10 CD and tried to do both repairs and roll-backs but the loaded Windows 10 was having nothing of it and said it couldn’t. Seriously?
I had already been considering a “clean install” of Windows 10 based on my previous Windows 10 failure and thought that might present a better chance of getting a stable installation of Windows 10 on this laptop.
So I went through those paces too; How to do a Clean Install of Windows 10, the Easy Way via How-To Geek.
Only that just left me at a blinking cursor on a black screen when the Windows 10 installation was done. Seriously!
I did some cursory troubleshooting like taking the 2nd HDD out of the laptop but it didn’t make any difference. The primary drive is a SSD Samsung EVO 840 and maybe I need to change some options in BIOS. Don’t know and really don’t care.
At this point I had no Windows 7 and no Windows 10.
How to “roll back” now?
Fortunately I had taken out two insurance policies on just this kind of failure.
I used Disk2vhd to make a VHD “image” of my Windows 7 system’s primary HDD to an external USB HDD in case I needed to mount it and pull off any files after the Windows 10 upgrade had finished.
I also considered a plethora of Windows-based backup drive software options, but in the end just used OSFClone to simply and easily take an image of that same Win 7 primary HDD before turning the Windows 10 upgrader loose on it.
I also have a prepped and dead-useful Easy2Boot built USB stick that contains the OSFClone ISO image. So I had booted my Windows 7 system with Easy2Boot and selected the OSFCLone ISO I had copied there.
The whole configuration recognized my WD 2 TB external USB 3.0 HDD so I just wrote the IMG format file there.
So I had two “backup” images of my original system system drive.
Now how did I want to put them back?
In the end I decided to go simple.
I first booted with my custom WinPE boot USB stick and used DiskPart to rebuild the system’s primary HDD, “Clean” it, create a single primary partition, set it Active, assign it a drive letter, and then format it to NTFS.
Then, using my Easy2Boot USB stick I selected a pre-loaded ISO of Linux Mint (Cinnamon version) and booted my system with it.
I used the Ubuntu Disk Image Writer already integrated in the Mint OS build shell to browse to my IMG file on the external USB drive and simply selected my system’s primary HDD to write the image back to, after first confirming I was selecting the correct one with gParted.
Once the image had been applied I shut down the system, removed all the USB drives, and rebooted.
I was prepared to need to do some repairs to the MBR post image reapplication, however they weren’t needed.
- Use Bootrec.exe in the Windows RE to troubleshoot startup issues – Microsoft Support
- Fix the MBR – Guide for Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 8.1 – NeoSmart
Up came my Windows 7 system just like I had left it…as if that entire unfortunate series of Windows 10 upgrade events had never happened.
I liked this whole-drive based backup/restore method as both the imaging and restoration were light and simple and didn’t require any system-based software installations.
There is a free 30-day trial version but since the product is offered over in Germany, I’m not sure just how easy it would be to order and try the full version from here in the States. I would love to give it a shot.
I’ll do a follow up post with a bunch of Windows 10 rollback/restore information (for normal people) soon, but this method worked best for techie me.