Friday, 28 February 2014

Add Microsoft ERD Commander and MSDart Windows Recovery ISOs to Easy2Boot

Microsoft Diagnostics and Recovery Toolset (Microsoft DaRT) allows you diagnose and repair a Windows system that has problems starting or has other issues.

Using Easy2Boot you can even boot directly from an MSDaRT 5.0 XP PE based ISO and repair a SATA Windows XP hard disk even though the MSDaRT ISO does not contain any AHCI mass storage drivers!

You can also boot via UEFI too (see below for details).

DaRT is not available from Microsoft as an .iso file. Instead, you use a program that creates an ISO file, which is based on Windows Recovery Environment (WinRE) and a set of tools that DaRT provides. This boot media starts the Windows RE, from which you can start ERD Commander. ERD Commander provides a launch platform for the DaRT tools.

Typically, you use something like the ERD Commander Boot Media Wizard to create the ERD Commander ISO (although this can vary depending on the version you are trying to create). It is easiest to create the ISO on the same type of OS that it was designed for (e.g. you cannot create a Dart 5.0 ISO using a 64-bit Win7 system).

DaRT 8.1 supports Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2.
DaRT 8.0 supports Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012.
DaRT 7.0 supports Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2.
DaRT 6.5 supports Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2.
DaRT 6.0 supports Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008.

.isomemF01 or .isomemwinv
DaRT 5.0 supports Windows 2000, Windows XP, and Windows Server 2003.
ERD Commander 2005 supports Windows NT 4.0 (Service Pack 4 or later required), Windows 2000, Windows XP and Windows Server 2003. There is also an ERD Commander 2007.

Tip: If you download an .msi file which won't run under Win x64, try extracting the .ISO file from it using 7zip.

If your ISO is based on Vista, Win7 or Win8 PE (DaRT6 and above), then simply rename the .ISO file to .isope01 and copy it to a suitable folder (e.g. \_ISO\MAINMENU). You can also add a .txt file if you want to define the menu entry text and help text.

XP-based ISOs

If you have an XP-based ERD/MSDaRT ISO (DaRT5 or ERD Commander 2005), try using the file extension .isomemF01 or .isomemwinv.

To determine which E2B file extension works best, rename the .ISO files to .ISOask, and then you will be able to choose from a variety of different methods (see below).

For XP-based Recovery PE ISOs, you can also try using one of the .mnu files. In E2B \_ISO\docs\Sample menu files - there are three .mnu files you can try:
  1. ERD5_FIRA.mnu    - this uses FiraDisk
  2. ERD2005.mnu         - this uses WinVBlock to load the ISO
  3. ERD5_DPMS.mnu   - this uses FiraDisk+WinVBlock+DPMS (recommended)
Typically, #1 or #2 will work for most systems. However, if you try to boot an XP PE ISO which does not contain AHCI mass storage drivers, once the Windows Recovery OS has booted, it will not be able to see your internal hard disks or may even BSOD.

To overcome this, use E2B+DPMS which has lots of internal mass storage drivers and use the ERD5_DPMS.mnu file (read the instructions inside it) . This mimics the same process as if you were booting from an XP Install ISO file and it will try to identify and load the correct mass-storage driver for the system. This will allow you to boot from an ERD v5 ISO on a SATA/RAID Windows XP 32-bit system and then repair it.

I would recommend that you use the ERD5_DPMS.mnu for any XP-based Recovery ISOs. You can modify the .mnu file as required.

# Use for MSDaRT 5 XP-based ISOs (use DPMS2 version of Easy2Boot for AHCI drivers)
# Make new empty folder, e.g. \_ISO\MAINMENU\MSDART5
# Copy this .mnu file and the single ERD or PE ISO file to the empty folder (one .iso file per folder)

title XP MSDart ERD (DPMS)\n If DPMS is not installed\n Remember to select an AHCI driver\n AND the FiraDisk driver (using F6).
pause --wait=3 Press ENTER 3 times to boot...

Note that Easy2Boot+DPMS only contains Windows XP 32-bit mass storage drivers (which may or may not work for Windows 2003). If your DaRT is XP 64-bit based, then DPMS will not work. You can still use F6 to load the FiraDisk 64-bit driver for IDE systems (note: the ISO file name must contain the characters '64' so that E2B will not automatically use 32-bit DPMS drivers).

UEFI booting

You can add any number of MSDaRT (or other) images to an E2B drive and boot from each image in both MBR\CSM mode and UEFI mode (if the image supports UEFI booting - so not XP or Vista 32-bit!). The process is as follows:

1. Run MakePartImage.cmd to make a FAT32 partition image file from your DaRT ISO (or from a working MSDaRT USB Flash drive if you have already made one). It is easiest to just drag-and-drop the ISO onto the Windows MPI_FAT32 Desktop shortcut.
2. Copy the .imgPTN file to your E2B USB drive (ensure it has the .imgPTN file extension or try .imgPTNLBAa for better 'bootability')
3. Run WinContig to make sure the file is contiguous (e.g. \Make_this_drive_contiguous.cmd)

For more details visit the site and look for MakePartImage.