Windows 10 includes some troubleshooting tools that allow you remove a problematic Windows update, attempt to reset your PC (while keeping or wiping your files) if you run into more serious problems.
But if you need to completely reinstall Windows for some reason, you typically need to create installation media by preparing a USB flash drive or DVD. If you don’t have access to another PC, that step can be kind of hard to take if your problem is that your PC isn’t working in the first place!
Now it looks like Microsoft may have another solution — cloud downloads.
Some folks have noticed references to a “Cloud download” option in the restore/reinstall menus for recent Windows 10 Insider Preview builds.
This week Microsoft confirmed that some sort of cloud download functionality is on the way, but that it “isn’t available and working quiet yet.”
That statement was thrown in toward the end of a blog post announcing the release of Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 18950, which also includes improvements to the Snip & Sketch tool, Japanese language input, and various bug fixes.
Since this is a “20H1” build, it’s likely that Microsoft isn’t planning to make the cloud download feature available to the public until sometime early next year.
Apple, meanwhile, already offers a similar feature that lets you reinstall macOS even if you don’t have any installation media. You just need to hit Option-Command-R or Shift-Option-Command-R at startup to connect to the internet and download either the latest version of Apple’s operating system that’s available for your model of Mac, or the version that came with the computer.
Update: Twitter users Albacore (@thebookisclosed) found a way to test the feature, and shared an image of the Cloud download option. For now it seems to download a very old (August 16th, 2016) version of Windows 10 because the feature itself appears to be an old one that was never released, which Microsoft may now be reviving.
via The Verge and The Register
My second option is that I have setup windows to go on an external SSD and copied all my various computers’ drivers to it. Whenever I get into trouble, I can create a bootable usb while booting from the SSD and after reinstalling windows, I install the drivers by referencing the new installation to system32 in the SSD to get the drivers from it.
So Microsoft is hoping that Windows will get far enough along in the boot process to have working network/wifi drivers so you can perform a “cloud” re-install? I don’t think I would bet on that one. Better to have a backup flash drive. In the old days of large computer cases I kept CDs or DVDs of the OS and any required drivers inside the case of every PC I maintained. Never had to hear “I can’t find the discs” again. These days larger PCs have the flash drive in the case. Smaller PCs have the flash drive taped to it somewhere. For the laptops I keep a flash drive with a description of which laptop it belongs to taped to the flash drive.
With the size of a linux bootable OS, asked to essentially run a PXE boot across WAN via wifi, this isn’t so unreasonable to have on a second partition. With Windows’ heavy-handed boot manager I would be more surprised to have that working smoothly than Yet Another Bootable OS.
I don’t think that this should be your only backup, but if the system can’t boot into safe mode to do this it probably has some hardware issues.
This would probably be rather efficient because they wouldn’t have to keep a copy of every file on everyone’s system. To the extent they are Microsoft files they would just have to track what those files are, including the version. To the extent they are third party company files (e.g. Logitech) they would just have to keep one copy of each version from one user. So the “upload” process could be relatively little data transfer.
I used to do image backups with Clonezilla (before UEFI). I had a bootable partition on my portable USB drive with Clonezilla and the rest of the disk was for various windows images. In the old days I would have a partition for the OS and one for data.
These days with creating Windows 10 install usb drives being so easy, I don’t backup my Windows OS any more… I will just do a re-install.
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