Rescue Your Data Using VistaPE - Page 2

By Ronald Pacchiano
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6.    Press the “Source” button at the top of the screen to go to the “Paths” screen. Here you need to tell the program where to find the Windows Vista Installation DVD files. In our example that was C:VISTADVD. If you opted to use WAIK, the location will be C:Program FilesWindows AIK. The other options, Target directory and ISO file can keep the default settings. Click the blue PLAY button at the top right to start compiling the VistaPE application. This part will take a little while to complete. Be patient and watch for errors. That way if it fails, you might be able to isolate the problem and correct it later.

7.    After the program finishes compiling it will take you back to the WinBuilder Path screen. Click on the “Script” button. In the left column expand the Finalize folder, and click on Create ISO/CD/USB. On the right side of the screen where it says “Please select the root directory of your USB device,” click on the folder and browse to your USB flash drive. With the drive selected, click the “Make USB Boot Device” button.

8.    At this point, the HP USB format tool should pop up. Select your USB drive from the list and click the Start button to format it. Remember to use either NTFS or FAT32 only. NOTE: you might get an error saying the HP format tool cannot be found. If the USB Flash drive is already formatted, don’t worry about it. Just click OK and move on to the next step.

9.    At this point a DOS window will show the files being transferred to your USB Flash drive. When finished, the GRUB4DOS utility should pop up. Use this to make your USB Flash drive bootable. Simply click the Disk button under “Device Name” and use the drop down to select your USB Flash drive. Verify that the size or volume label is correct. Once selected, just click “Install.” If it worked, you’ll see a DOS box with the message “The MBR/BS has been successfully installed. Press <ENTER> to continue…” Now click “Quit” to close the GRUB4DOS utility.

Congratulations! You have successfully created a bootable USB flash drive configured with VistaPE.

Before using VistaPE, remember to configure the USB device as the first bootable device in the system BIOS.  After that, just insert the USB Flash drive into the system and boot it up. Select VistaPE from the menu to load the program. Boot times for the VistaPE vary from system to system, ranging from about two to five minutes depending on your hardware.

You could also burn VistaPE to a CD. After the program was compiled in Step 5, it created an image file at C:WINBUILDERISOVISTAPE-CORE.ISO. Just burn this ISO file to a CD and then use it to boot your system and start VistaPE. The advantage of using the USB flash drive is that it gives you a convenient location for file transfers.

You’ll use CubicExplorer to transfer your files. This program functions very much like Windows Explorer and you access it from an icon on the VistaPE desktop. The recommended VistaPE configuration we used doesn’t include many extra applications. It does however include the Opera web browser, Total Commander FTP client and various disk management and decryption tools. You’ll find instructions online for how to add your own applications to the build.

The best resource for finding out the latest information about VistaPE or finding help to resolve issues that you discover during your builds can be found here.  Google/Web searches can also help at resolve problems that arise. Remember, in all likelihood you’re not the first person to experience a specific problem, so don’t be afraid to search for a solution or ask questions.

Troubleshooting Advice

If the build fails, try deleting all files in the C:WINBUILDER folder, except for WINBUILDER.EXE and start again. Problems with the downloaded scripts seem to be a big part of the problem. The most consistent problems I encountered were “FLTMGR.SYS not found” or “The archive was created with a different version of ZLBArchive” or my favorite, “Windows cannot find C:WINBUILDERPROJECTSTOOLSWIMUTILWIMUTIL.EXE”.

I can’t explain exactly why this happens, but my feeling is that some scripts seem to have been optimized or built using different versions of the WinBuilder application. If you’re not using the proper version when you try to compile it, the build will fail. So if you’re having problems, experiment with the various versions available. You’ll find then here.

The inconsistency in compiling this application can be extremely frustrating and make you just want to quit, but don’t give up. Do your research. Don’t be afraid to experiment and sooner or later you’ll get it. While this process can be problematic, it is also a an invaluable tool in recovering your data should Windows ever become corrupted and unbootable. To me that assurance is worth a bit of aggravation. Good luck!!

Ronald Pacchiano is a contributing writer for SmallBusinessComputing.com.

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This article was originally published on July 14, 2009
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