Microsoft Backup, Using The System Recovery Wizard

Using System Recovery
to ensure a successful restoration

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, your system may crash hard enough that a simple recovery becomes impossible. This is often the case with an unexplainable hard drive failure, a virus that has rendered your system useless or just a piece of software gone haywire. Many times you are left with no alternative but to format (or replace) your hard drive and start from scratch. If you have been following along with our explanation on how to setup and use of Microsoft Backup, crashes such as those mentioned above don’t necessarily mean you will have to laboriously reinstall Windows 98 and all of your applications. With some backup strategy planning, you can use the new System Recovery utility to both reinstall Windows 98 and return your hard drive to its pre-crash state.

While some of this may look very technical, it really isn’t, just read through it in small parts until you can focus on the concept.

System Recovery consists of three parts:

PCRESTOR.BAT: After you format your hard drive, you restart this system to your Windows 98 startup disk and then run this PCRESTOR.BAT batch file. This batch file will perform several operations, but its main task is to start the Windows 98 Setup program with various switches and parameters.

MSBATCH.INF: This is an information file that specifies a number of settings and parameters used by Setup. In particular, this file tells Setup to run the System Recovery Wizard. When PCRESTOR.BAT starts Setup, it tells the program to then use the MSBATCH.INF file.

System Recovery Wizard: After Windows 98 is reinstalled, this Wizard loads automatically to take you through the rest of the recovery process, including restoring the files from your system backup.

Okay, we can see the question marks ???? floating in the air. How is Setup able to run the System Recovery Wizard automatically?

This is how it all works!

The answer to the question of starting the System Recovery Wizard automatically can be found in the MSBATCH.INF, where you will find the following settings:

[RegistrySettings] HKLM,%KEY_RUN%,BatchReg1,,"%11%\srw.exe" [Strings] KEY_RUN="SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run"

These settings modify the following Registry key:


This key is used to specify programs that run automatically at startup, and the MSBATCH.INF file adds the necessary program SRW.EXE (the System Recovery Wizard) to this key.

To use System Recovery successfully, you must assume your machine will crash one day and with that create the necessary strategy to recover successfully.

Specifically, you must follow these guidelines:

  • Create a Windows 98 startup disk.
  • Perform a full backup of the hard disk that contains the Windows system files.
  • Your main Windows 98 folder must be C:\WINDOWS.

How To Run System Recovery

System Recovery is a tool no one ever likes to use, but when you learn how to use it properly, it will reduce the level of stress normally associated with unexpected data loss and recovery. Using the System Recovery tool requires just a few steps and we are certain that you’ll be glad you took the time to understand and learn them:

  1. Boot your system using the Windows 98 Startup disk, and make sure that you enable CD-ROM support.
  2. Format your hard drive (Drive C) if you haven’t already done so.
  3. Insert your Windows 98 CD-ROM into the drive.
  4. Now create a directory (folder) named WIN98 on your hard disk and then copy the Windows 98 Setup files (all of the files in the WIN98 folder of your Windows 98 CD-ROM) into the new directory or folder.
  5. Next, while you Windows 98 CD-ROM is still in the drive, navigate to the folder named \TOOLS\SYSREC on that CD-ROM disk and copy PCRESTOR.BAT and MSBATCH.INF to the root (C:\) of your hard disk on which you created the WIN98 folder earlier.
  6. In the root (C:\) of your hard disk, run PCRESTOR.BAT and, once you’ve read the welcome message, press any key. At this point the Windows 98 Setup begins.

    Note: You run PCRESTORE.BAT at the MS-DOS prompt C:\> by typing PCRESTORE and touching the enter key.

  7. Once Setup has completed, the System Recovery Wizard will load. We made a registry entry earlier, remember?

    The initial dialog box provides an overview of the upcoming process, so click Next. System Recovery will now prompt you to enter your name (and company name if used).

  8. Enter your name and (optionally) your company name, and then click Next. System Recovery will now advise you that it is about to restore your system.
  9. Now insert the backup tape or access your alternate backup media that contains your full system backup.
  10. At the final Wizard dialog box, click Finish. System Recovery will now launch Microsoft Backup.
  11. Now you can use Micrsoft Backup to restore your files. Make sure though, that you choose to overwrite all files! When Microsoft Backup asks you if you want to restore the Registry and the hardware and software settings within the Registry, make sure you select Yes.
  12. When the restoration process has completed, Microsoft Backup will ask if you if you want to restart your system. Just click Yes and, when Windows 98 restarts, your system will have been completely recovered.

Tailoring System Recovery To Your Needs

Although the System Recovery tool is a handy utility to have, it is also quite “inflexible” on how it is to be used. As an example, it can only be used to reinstall Windows 98 into the C:\WINDOWS directory, (no alternative) and it will only permit an installation from a Win98 directory located on the hard disk where the system is to be restored. (Note: We have been able to do this though using a second hard drive, Drive “D”). Although the System Recovery tool would be a little more useful if it enabled you to overcome some of these limitations, it is an extermely handy tool for your computer toolbox. While Microsoft does not recommend nor support customized System Recovery procedures, it is possible to improve upon the basic procedures.

Don’t blame Microsoft though for this inflexibility, as reasons lay within the fact that most of its options are set in advance within the PCRESTOR.BAT and MSBATCH.INF files. Since these are just text files however, and since text files can be edited, obviously with a bit of caution and common sense, there are a few techniques you can try:

Reinstalling Windows into a different directory:

The installation directory is governed by the InstallDir setting within the [Setup] section of MSBATCH.INF. If you prefer to install Windows 98 on drive D, for example, you must modify this setting as follows:


Customizing the network logon:

If you computer is attached to a network, Setup will prompt you to log on to the network during the reinstall, but there’s a glitch here. System Recovery uses a generic user name of “System Recovery” and a generic workgroup name of “WORKGROUP,” which is also used as the logon domain. System Recovery also sets up a generic computer name of “Windows 98 User”.

You can customize all four values using the following settings in MSBATCH.INF (Note: These values assume a Microsoft Networking login):

       [NameAndOrg]  Name="System Recovery" 
   [Network]      ComputerName="Windows 98 User"       Workgroup="WORKGROUP" 
    [VREDIR]       LogonDomain="WORKGROUP" 

Now, to get around the issue of having to install from the hard drive and reinstall Windows from the CD-ROM:

The reason you must reinstall Windows from a hard drive is that PCRESTOR.BAT launches Setup from a WIN98 directory that’s in the same drive as PCRESTOR.BAT:

      cd\   cd win98       setup.exe c:\restore\msbatch.inf /is /id /iq /im /id /ie /IW 

To start Setup from another location, you must modify the first two lines. For example, if you want to run Setup from the Windows 98 CD-ROM in drive D, modify the first two lines as follows:

     d:    cd\win98        setup.exe c:\restore\msbatch.inf /is /id /iq /im /id /ie /IW 

We do hope you have enjoyed this segment of our Knowledge Center. If you feel that we have left something out, or could expound on a detail or two, please let us know by sending us an email.

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This page updated: 8/15/2000

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