Windows Recovery (WinRE) in MDT Litetouch

Windows Recovery Environment (WinRE) is a recovery platform based (running on) WinPE. It can be very useful in the field for your help desk teams. If a customer has problems booting their Windows machine, they can boot into WinRE and perform some basic recovery options.

MDT supports WinRE in one of two scenarios:

1. You can integrate the WinRE toolset into your LiteTouchPE_???.WIM images. This allows a PC user to connect to the same sources as your MDT deployments to perform recovery options. Say you have a PXE server hosting LiteTouch files. Just add WinRE to your update process, and the WinRE option will appear at the start of LiteTouch.

WinRE

2. Additionally, you can add the LiteTouchPE_???.wim images onto each PC during deployment of new computers, into the WINRE partition on the local hard disk. That means if a PC ever has problems booting up, a user can go into the WinRE environment and attempt to recover their main OS without any extra tools. Simply add PREPAREWINRE = YES to your customsettings.ini file

This makes winre By adding in the property

WinRE Partition

WinRE should not be placed on the C:\ Drive partition. The whole purpose of WinRE is to provide an tool that can recover the primary operating system if something goes wrong. If we somehow corrupt the C:\ Drive, we want something available elsewhere that can assist us in repairing it.

Additionally, if we implement BitLocker (which I highly recommend), we can’t place recovery files on the encrypted share, it should go on an unencrypted share instead.

This is why Microsoft recommends creating several partitions for new computers:

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh824839.aspx
IC577711

Good news, is that MDT already follows the Microsoft recommended configuration for New Computers.

Note that this becomes harder when refreshing/upgrading PC’s from previous versions of Windows, since the WinRE Partition may not already exist. There are techniques we can apply, like shrinking the main partition to add another, but I’ll leave that for another day.

How to enable WinRE in MDT

WinRE is an optional component of WinPE, however Microsoft does *NOT* include the WinRE optional component in the ADK. So we have to load it from somewhere else, like the boot.wim file from a Windows 8.1 install disk.

MDT will automatically use the correct boot.wim file if you have loaded the *full* sources of Windows into the MDT console, just ensure that element of the control\settings.xml file is set to True.

There is one potential gotcha when importing the boot.wim files, you must ensure that the Boot.wim file matches *Exactly* the version number of the WInPE.wim file in the ADK. If you have the latest Windows 8.1 ADK, and the latest Windows 8.1 *UPDATE* OS installed in your MDT environment, that won’t work, because they are different versions. Note how the ADK is ServicePack 16384 and Windows 8.1 Update is verison 17031?

dism

We can fix this by adding the full sources for Windows 8.1 RTM (not update) to the MDT console. You don’t need to create a task sequence for it, it will just be used when generating the WInPE images.

You can see this in action when you update your deployment share (full update). Look to see what Windows PE WIM file source it’s using:

update

WinRE in action

What does WinRE look like in action?

Well I updated my deployment share and verified that WinRE was getting installed. I also enabled PrepareWinRE = YES in my deployment share.

When the OS was finished installing, I went to diskmgmt.msc and added a drive letter to the System partition to ensure that MDT copied down the WinRE.wim file.

diskmgmt

Then I attempted to force a recovery scenario. How do you do this?

While the machine is booting up, and before you login, force a “Reset”. The next time Windows boots up, it should fall back into recovery mode.

recovery

Next up, how to add a recovery image to your deployments.

Additional Notes:
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2952359

-k

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7 thoughts on “Windows Recovery (WinRE) in MDT Litetouch

  1. I’m running into a couple problems with this in MDT 2013 on UEFI devices. First, it wasnt working at all becuse my LiteTouch is 377 mb, but the Recovery partition is only 300 mb. I bumped that up to 1000 mb in ZTIDiskPart.wsf, and now it attempts to copy the wim, but somehow decides it should be copied to the EFI boot partition, not the recovery partition. Any idea what I’m doing wrong?

    • Remember, if you modify the default partition configuration in the MDT Console, then the single MDT Format and Partition task sequence won’t handle uEFI by default any more, you must convert to GPT.

      Instead, I would just modify the ZTIDIskPArt.wsf script, search for WINRE_DRIVE_SIZE, and change to 1024.

      • Thats exactly what I did.
        Const WINRE_DRIVE_SIZE = 1000
        ZTIDiskpart.log seems to run normally. ZTIWinRE.log also seems to run normally, and then copies WinRE to the System partition instead of the recovery partition.

        ZTIDiskpart.log:
        10/22/2014 4:11:10 PM Console > DISKPART> ZTIDiskpart 0 (0x0000)
        10/22/2014 4:11:10 PM Console > Partition ### Type Size Offset ZTIDiskpart 0 (0x0000)
        10/22/2014 4:11:10 PM Console > ————- —————- ——- ——- ZTIDiskpart 0 (0x0000)
        10/22/2014 4:11:10 PM Console > Partition 1 Recovery 1000 MB 1024 KB ZTIDiskpart 0 (0x0000)
        10/22/2014 4:11:10 PM Console > Partition 2 System 499 MB 1001 MB ZTIDiskpart 0 (0x0000)
        10/22/2014 4:11:10 PM Console > Partition 3 Reserved 128 MB 1500 MB ZTIDiskpart 0 (0x0000)
        10/22/2014 4:11:10 PM Console > * Partition 4 Primary 38 GB 1628 MB ZTIDiskpart 0 (0x0000)
        10/22/2014 4:11:10 PM Console > DISKPART> ZTIDiskpart 0 (0x0000)
        10/22/2014 4:11:10 PM Console > Volume ### Ltr Label Fs Type Size Status Info ZTIDiskpart 0 (0x0000)
        10/22/2014 4:11:10 PM Console > ———- — ———– —– ———- ——- ——— ——– ZTIDiskpart 0 (0x0000)
        10/22/2014 4:11:10 PM Console > Volume 0 D DVD_ROM UDF DVD-ROM 420 MB Healthy ZTIDiskpart 0 (0x0000)
        10/22/2014 4:11:10 PM Console > Volume 2 U Windows RE NTFS Partition 1000 MB Healthy Hidden ZTIDiskpart 0 (0x0000)
        10/22/2014 4:11:10 PM Console > Volume 3 V SYSTEM FAT32 Partition 499 MB Healthy Hidden ZTIDiskpart 0 (0x0000)
        10/22/2014 4:11:10 PM Console > * Volume 4 C OSDisk NTFS Partition 38 GB Healthy ZTIDiskpart 0 (0x0000)

        ZTIWinRE.log
        10/22/2014 4:33:18 PM Ensure boot drive has a Drive Letter. ZTIWinRE 0 (0x0000)
        10/22/2014 4:33:18 PM Find the boot drive (if any) [False] [] [True] ZTIWinRE 0 (0x0000)
        10/22/2014 4:33:18 PM New ZTIDiskPartition : \\MININT-U5882P9\root\cimv2:Win32_DiskPartition.DeviceID=”Disk #0, Partition #1″ \\MININT-U5882P9\root\cimv2:Win32_LogicalDisk.DeviceID=”V:” ZTIWinRE 0 (0x0000)
        10/22/2014 4:33:18 PM New ZTIDisk : \\MININT-U5882P9\root\cimv2:Win32_DiskDrive.DeviceID=”\\\\.\\PHYSICALDRIVE0″ ZTIWinRE 0 (0x0000)
        10/22/2014 4:33:18 PM Found bootable drive [ V: ]: \\MININT-U5882P9\root\cimv2:Win32_LogicalDisk.DeviceID=”V:” ZTIWinRE 0 (0x0000)
        10/22/2014 4:33:18 PM Target file: V:\Recovery\WindowsRE\WinRE.wim ZTIWinRE 0 (0x0000)
        10/22/2014 4:33:18 PM FindFile: The file WinRE.wim could not be found in any standard locations. ZTIWinRE 0 (0x0000)
        10/22/2014 4:33:18 PM Copy File: \\d154tec007574A\Deployment01$\Boot\LiteTouchPE_x64.wim to V:\Recovery\WindowsRE\WinRE.wim ZTIWinRE 0 (0x0000)

        Microsoft says here that WinRE should be on the Recovery partition, not the system partition

        http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh825221(d=printer).aspx

        You state above that yours is on the System partition:
        “When the OS was finished installing, I went to diskmgmt.msc and added a drive letter to the System partition to ensure that MDT copied down the WinRE.wim file.”
        So should it be on System or Recovery? It seems MDT is putting it on the System partition by design?

        One more data point:
        Originally I had DONOTCREATEEXTRAPARTITION=yes set, because we only used 1 partition on our BIOS machines. It didnt affect the UEFI parttion scheme, but I removed it anyway. It changed the drive letter assignments during ZTIDiskpart, but in eiher case, I still got the WinRE.wim file on System, not Recovery.

  2. Hi Keith,

    Can you please elaborate on “Just add WinRE to your update process, and the WinRE option will appear at the start of LiteTouch.” I am unclear as to what exactly you mean by this?

    Also, in reference to “We can fix this by adding the full sources for Windows 8.1 RTM (not update) to the MDT console. You don’t need to create a task sequence for it, it will just be used when generating the WInPE images.” Couldn’t this cause potential problems using the older 8.1 boot.wim instead of the latest release when deploying that version of Windows8.1 with 8.1Update?

    Thanks,

    Prog01x

    • When you successfully add WinRE to your LiteTouch boot image, you will get a WinRE option at the welcome screen of MDT as shown in the picture above.

      As for versioning, that’s not how it works. You will *ALWAYS* load the RTM version of Windows 8.1 WinPE. MDT will never use a newer version of Windows 8.1 Update WinPE.

  3. Pingback: WinPE: Boot WIM’s Explained (The Practical) | David Segura

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