Saturday, April 30, 2016

Call Me Burned but Recovered: Windows 10 Upgrade Failure

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.

Screenshot from 2016-04-24_2016-04-30_15-41-48

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.

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.

I later found this application Drive Snapshot that looked like a great alternative as it is portable, says it is compatible with all Windows RAID types, and dead tiny/light.

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.


--Claus Valca


Ian Duffy said...

I ran into a similar issue with an older MBR-based windows 7 install. Unfortunately Windows 10 won't boot on MBR-formatted disks and you'll need to convert them to GPT partitions since Windows 10 relies on EFI boot partitions. I used the instructions here and it worked out fine for me. I had to create a new partition for the EFI bootloaders at the beginning of the drive but after all was said and done, Windows 10 finally installed properly.

Claus said...

@ Ian Duffy - Thank you for the tip. I'll check out the video. I should be able to do it using Microsoft's DiskPart as well if I want to try another clean-install.


Now that I think about it I seem to recall my brother had a similar issue upgrading his Dell Alienware system.

Turned out that it had a video driver issue and was actually sitting at the login screen but didn't display it correctly.

Hang on...give me a second to dig up that GSD blog posting...

Here it is from my earlier post:

"My little brother decided to pull the trigger and upgrade his Windows 7 Alienware system to Windows 10 last week. Overall it went well but he did encounter a persistent “black screen” issue during the upgrade process.

"Here you go for the issue background and solution.
Alienware x51 Black screen with cursor while installing Windows 10 - Page 2 - Windows 10 Forums
Solved Fix for windows 10 booting to a black screen - Windows 10 Forums The lock screen in Windows 10 Technical Preview Build 10061 might appear as a black screen with a mouse cursor - Microsoft Support KB 3055415
Windows 10 Black Screen +cursor after log in ,Ctrl+alt+delete(task manager) solution wont work - Windows Central Forums
Windows 10 Forums - great resource for general Windows 10 research

"Side note: What’s interesting to me about this particular issue is that it seems to be related to situations where you have an on-board Intel graphics controller plus a graphics card. Windows (falsely) detects a phantom monitor connected and pipes the “primary display” that direction so you can’t see it. I’ve seen a similar behavior on a new Dell Latitude system running on a Dell Dock unit kicking out extended video output via a DVI-type connection. When the system goes to sleep, or screen-locks, you get the black screen with no (apparent) way to get back onto the system other than a hard-reboot. I don’t have that issue when I run the extended display via a VGA connection.  This is going to be the trick I try next time I set up a system in that configuration.

"Possibly related: Windows 8 Pro Upgrade: Black Screen Troubleshooter - Borns IT and Windows Blog (Google Translated)"

Also... Black screen with cursor - Windows 10 Forums

Geeze Louise...I'll feel silly if this is what it was.

(sighs heavily...)

Thanks anonymous for jogging my memory and your suggestion. I'll do more research on Windows 10 drive formatting and setup preferences.


--Claus V.