In experimenting with a full system recovery recently on my Microsoft Surface Pro 3, I’ve been trying various methods to get from a current bad system state to a current good one. But while a recovery from a system image produces a complete restore of the system at the time of its capture, refreshing that system to roughly the same point in time still falls a wee bit short of what I would call a full and complete recovery. “What’s missing?” you ask. “Mostly passwords, keys, and other security related information” is the answer. Let me provide a detailed list of what I’ve noticed so far in working with a recent custom refresh on my SP3, created using RecImgManager, an excellent bit of free software from SlimWare Utilities that permits users to capture the current system image and use it for a system refresh.
RecImgMgr captures current system snapshots that work with the built-in system refresh capability in Windows 8 and newer versions.
The List of Missing Items and Elements
1. All Wi-Fi authentication information must be re-supplied, after you identify your chosen wi-fi network(s)
2. Had to repair the 8GadgetPack install (also typical when upgrading Windows 8 or 10 versions)
3. Any applications missing from the Refresh image must be re-installed; because MS Office Click-to-Run runtime was deleted following its initial installation, this meant that I had to revert to a standard installation for MS Office Professional 2013 on my test machine simply because the Click-to-Run installer was no longer present on the SP3 when the refresh snapshot was made. Because I couldn’t repair the C2R install, I had to uninstall it, then (re)install from an MS Office 2013 ISO file from MSDN.
Close, But Not Exactly the Same as Restoring a System Image
When you restore a system image (either from the File History’s “System Image Backup” option at lower left in its application window, or from a third-party backup program such as Acronis True Image or Auslogics File Recovery Pro) you don’t have to worry about most of the various items in the preceding list (though an application missing from the snapshot wouldn’t be present, of course, the C2R installer would probably have remained available). Be aware that there are some differences between a system refresh and an image reversion, and you won’t suffer any unpleasant surprises as a consequence.