Vista won’t restore (full PC backup)

I was attempting to setup a new Home Theatre PC (HTPC) with Vista Ultimate.  AT&T's U-verse is not available on my block so this is the next best thing.  The setup refused to continue with a "Windows is unable to find a system volume that meets its criteria for installation" error. Let me back up…

I originally had 2 drives in the system at first: 16GB (boot/system drive) and 160GB secondary. After using it for a few hours but before activation, I decided that the older 16GB was going to be too noisy.  Plus, I had a 500GB drive that I was going to install.  Since this was going to be a video recorder – I would need tons of disk space. I did a full backup to an external USB drive since the PC was already configured and patched like I wanted. I expected to do a full restore on the 160GB after removing the 16GB.  Make sure your drive you want to install to is the primary one on the bus.  I had only pulled the 16GB primary drive connections off and tried to install with the 160GB drive still as slave.  That helped but now I had a new problem.

I could see my full backup on my USB external drive but when I would try to restore, I would get a 'Element not Found' error.

I could pull the USB drive off and I could do a full install without getting the criteria/volume message but I didn't want to install just to boot and then do a restore.  I should be able to do it in one whack.

Element not found error indicates partition problems. Vista doesn't like the settings for the partitions -evidently 'active'.   Here is how to fix that:

When you boot your Vista DVD, choose repair my computer instead of install. Once it boots up, use the command prompt option to get an old fashioned DOS like box or command prompt.  You will need to use the diskpart command so type diskpart to start it.  You can type help anytime to get a list of your commands available but all you need is list, clean and select.  First list your disks:

list disk

You will get a list of the physical drives. The disk you are probably going to want to fix is disk 0 – if you only have one physical disk, that's all you should have listed. Next:

select disk 0

This command give disk 0 'focus' meaning all the following commands will be applied to it. Next:


Clean will reset your disk back to near factory fresh.  If you really want to erase the whole disk, use clean all which will write zeros to each and every sector on the disk. Next:

create partition primary size=25000

Create will setup a new partition (primary obviously) and set its size to 25000 MB.  If you leave off the size=25000, it will use the entire disk.

list partiton

List partion will show you the new configuration of disk 0



Exit twice to close your command prompt and now you can use the Full PC Restore option.

I probably could have used the active command to clear/set the bit properly but I figured I could change the size of the partition.  It was initially larger but the full restore gave me back a 16GB partion that I had to resize later.

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