Select a language to translate this page!
Powered by Microsoft® Translator
This week I had a chance to sit down with Brad McCabe, the product manager for DaRT (Diagnostics and Recovery Toolset). DaRT has been a favorite tool for many IT Pros, dating back to its days as part of Winternals Admin Pack. DaRT has continued to evolve since then but it’s still focused on helping IT Pros easily recover PCs that have become unstable, rapidly diagnose probable causes of issues, and quickly repair unbootable or locked out systems, all faster than the average time it takes to reimage the machine.
It has been announced that a major upgrade of DaRT will be coming out soon with many new features that IT Pros will love.
Stephen – Brad, thanks for taking time to chat with me. Let’s jump right in. Many IT Pros have been using DaRT for many years now. What’s new in DaRT 7 for them?
Brad: In the DaRT 7 release, we focused on two main pillars: deployment scenarios and remote recovery.
Let’s start with the remote recovery scenarios. Today, when a user has an issue that has put their PC in an unstable state, the IT Pro has to physically visit the user’s machine to either diagnose or reimage it. Both of these take time for the IT Pro to do during on-site visits, and they can be extremely difficult if the user is in a remote location. Our goal with DaRT has always been to make it faster to recover the PC than it is to reimage the PC. With remote recovery, we take another step towards that goal.
In many organizations, this manual visit to the user’s machine requires the help desk to send an IT Pro out to address the problem. With DaRT 7’s remote recovery features, the help desk can have the end user boot into DaRT and enable the remote connection. The help desk person can then perform this initial diagnostic work and either repair the problem right away for the user or, if he needs to escalate the issue to another team, he can provide this addition information to make the escalation team more effective.
Stephen – So how does this remote recovery work?
Brad – The first step after the user contacts the help desk is to have the user boot into DaRT. We introduce many new ways to deploy DaRT in the new version to make this easier to do and not require a CD or DVD, as it has in the past.
Once the end user has booted into DaRT, they go through a few simple screens to get to the DaRT menu. In DaRT 7 the IT Pro has the option to lock all of the DaRT tools except remote recovery from the end user. This new feature ensures that the user can’t boot into DaRT and attempt to “fix” the problem on his own. At the DaRT menu, the user simply chooses “Remote Recovery.”
The Remote Recovery screen will provide the user with a unique code along with some other data like IP address, which the user will provide the help desk to start the connection. By providing this unique code, the end user is giving his consent to the help desk to access his machine.
The help desk enters this information in the DaRT Remote Connection Viewer on their end, and we establish an RDP connection to the machine. Once this connection is established all of the DaRT tools will be unlocked for the IT Pro to use. At this point, the help desk has full access to all of the DaRT tools, as well as the WinRE tools, to resolve the user’s issue.
Stephen – Ok. So you mentioned new deployment scenarios. Can you tell us more about them?
Brad – Sure. One thing that we have heard from IT Pros is that the old model of using a CD or DVD to boot the machine into the recovery environment is challenging. The addition of remote recovery also made having to have a physical disk in the machine impracticable.
In DaRT 7 we fully support loading DaRT to a USB drive or key. Similar to the CD/DVD process, this requires you to physically install the USB in the machine and boot from it. However, it also provides IT Pros with the ability to put tools like Locksmith on a drive that they might want to make available in a remote boot scenario or to other staff like help desk personal. By installing these tools only on a physical USB drive, they restrict access to them and, instead of having to carry a large, fragile optical disk, they can install a small USB key.
Another option that we support in DaRT 7 is PXE, or network boot, of the DaRT image. This allows the IT group to put the DaRT images on a network server and have users press F11 (or the correct key in their organization) to boot from the DaRT image on the network server instead of their local hard drive. This is a great way to ensure that everyone always uses the latest DaRT image that you have posted and to enable end users to boot into DaRT so you can remotely recover their machines.
One of the most exciting deployment options with DaRT 7 is provisioning DaRT to the local user’s hard drive in place of the existing WinRE hidden partition. This means that when a user presses F8 to repair their PC, they have booth WinRE and DaRT tools. It also makes it very easy for the help desk to have the user press F8 at boot time to enable remote recovery.
Stephan – If IT Pros wanted to deploy DaRT to the local hard drive as part of their Windows 7 roll out, how would they go about doing that?
Brad – You could use any of your existing tools. We are doing some sessions at MMS this week as well as at the upcoming Tech Ed North America to show customers how simple it is to put DaRT into your current MDT or System Center OSD scripts and processes. By inserting them in there you can push DaRT to the user at the same time that you upgrade them to Windows 7.
Folks that aren’t able to catch the various sessions at these events can visit the Springboard site where we will be posting videos and whitepapers that show you how to do this.
Stephen – So if people are as excited as me about DaRT 7 is there anything they can do today to try it out?
Brad – The Beta for DaRT will be out in early April. Customer can sign up for that Beta today here. Larger customers wanting to deploy DaRT 7 now can email us at email@example.com to find out if they qualify to join the DaRT TAP program. The TAP program will allow them deep interaction with the product team and assistance in deploying and testing DaRT 7 in their production environment today.
IT Pros can learn more about MBAM (content coming soon) as well as DaRT, AGPM, AIS and the rest of the tools in MDOP in the MDOP Zone on the Springboard Series on TechNet.
So practically nothing new? RDP (3rd party) was available ages ago and PXE all so and USB boot (home made naturally). Anything else new other than this? Some partition or drivers or registry recovery,repair or something else?
Would be nice if all these tools that come with DaRT could be built into Windows, at least the premium business and Ultimate editions.
DaRT 6 was disappointing because it basically killed off more than half of the Winternals Admin Pak tools and crippled the rest of them for Vista. Hopefully DaRT 7 will restore all tools working for Windows 7. If Microsoft is not getting the message, let me be clear: the more tools, the better. Don't deprecate some of the tools like you did with DaRT 6. Get them all work with Windows 7.
This is great news. I can hardly wait to stick DaRT into my Windows Deployment server. No more wasted CDs!
This also means we can add any tools we like to the boot image. This will be really helpful and is a great enhancement to WinRe.
Well depicted step by step procedural writeup!!..