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I have never recovered from a recovery disk but in the last 5 years or so must have lost about as many machines due to 'unrecoverable boot errors' as a result of applying an update. These are complex Windows 10 workstations and next time this happens, I want to try the recovery disk option they tout in their otherwise useless recovery blue-screen dialogs.

I am thinking that these must be of recent updates at least, so I have inserted 16Gb USBs into each machine and manually set off the recovery creation. Now, I want to automate and schedule that process.

  • What are my options for CLI commands to recreate the disk?
  • Is my thinking even correct? Does this make sense?
  • Is imaging the system disk the only reliable option?

The goal is to recover a machine, not to reload the OS - and I am not sure if this is possible. Complicating the above is the fact that the boot drives are high speed NVME 256SSD's fuzed (enmotus or StoreMI tech) with regular SATA SSD's of 512Gb in size, yielding a drive that is about 675Gb and for intents as fast as NVMe. The issue that twice, after a Windows update and on reboot, I get a blue screen after reboot and the system refuses to come up. Enmotus tech fuzes the drives at the EFI level by injecting a loader which is also injected into the windows recovery partition. This is the reasoning behind creating recovery disks and updating them on a regular basis. To be clear, I imagine that winRE will be uploading any enMotus related configuration to the recovery flash drive - this in unproven - but is a mute point unless I can be creating the recovery on a regular basis.

Hence the question, can I create recovery media using the CLI (so I can automate it and forget it). It is the first question to be answered before digging deeper into my line of thinking.

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  • Any Windows 10 installation media can be used as a recovery disk. It has the same environment (WinRE) as a Windows Recovery Disk and/or partition. – Ramhound Feb 19 '19 at 18:35
  • But surely this would differ depending on update, if I trashed 1809, would WinRE for 1807 work? – Inquisitor Shm Feb 19 '19 at 18:59
  • The tools contained within WinRE don't change that often. – Ramhound Feb 19 '19 at 19:31
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Making a duplicate of the original installation media by cloning is the ideal solution. Let's take the common instance of a Windows 10 installer on a bootable USB flash drive (let's call that 'thumb drive "S" for source').

Now, Windows does not have a tool to replicate, or 'clone' the installation flash drive, either from a Command Line or from a GUI. You could use other tools dd for Windows, or Win32DiskImager, but here I explain how to do it with GUI Open Source apps of proven and broad utility, Rufus and Clonezilla.

These steps require three USB ports to attach USB thumb drives; you can use a USB port splitter if your PC chassis does not have three USB ports.

0) Plug the Windows installer flash drive in your PC and use File Explorer to determine its size.

1) Obtain a blank USB flash drive of the same size (GiB or GB, makes no matter, whichever you use) as the original installer. Let's call this 'thumb drive "T" for Target.

2) Also obtain a 2GB or larger USB flash drive ('thumb drive "B")'.

3) Download Rufus, an Open Source freeware app. I prefer the Portable version which requires no installation.

4) Download the Clonezilla ISO file.

5) Launch Rufus, and install Clonezilla on thumb drive "B" for Boot.

6) Once completed, restart your PC. When the Power On Self Test ('POST') completes, repeatedly tap the Boot Order key and select booting from 'thumb drive "B" for Boot'. Your Boot Order Key will vary; Intel desktops and NUCs use F10, Intel Servers and Gigabyte use F12, Supermicro uses F11, and older Lenovo and IBM ThinkPads have a special blue key, whereas later Lenovos use Enter.

Once you're rebooted into Clonezilla, insert the original installer or 'source' ('thumb drive "S"') and note where it appears; sdc is most common.

Then, where you know for sure where the "S" thumb drive is, attach the new blank flash drive, 'thumb drive "T" for target'. Confirm you know where it is; probably sdd.

Use the menu driven Rufus app to replicate to contents of the Source to the Target. When complete, shut the PC down, remove the "B" and "S" flash drives, and reboot, selecting to boot with the "T" target flash drive. If it yields the same startup result as the "S" source Windows installer, you've make your Recovery Drive.

Put it in a locked file cabinet in a disused lavatory in the bottom of a coal mine, guarded by the Artist's Rifles, and hang a sign on the lavatory door stating 'Beware of the Leopard.' You're done, an' Bob's yer uncle.

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  • OK - so WinRE does not do what I thought. All of these machines have high speed NVME drives and slower SATA SSDs, and then they are fuzed together into a single volume with enMotus software (or AMD StoreMI). So, I am unsure how drive images will help me here, each drive is at at least 675gb as well. So, some testing is called for. But, since you explained it so nicely, and you know Bob - my uncle, I am checking yours off as the correct your answer. – Inquisitor Shm Feb 19 '19 at 21:14
  • You do not image any of the NVMe or SATA SSDs, and you don't image that fuzed volume. You use Rufus to make a USB flash drive which boots into Clonezilla, then use Clonezilla to image from the original Windows Installer USB flash drive onto the new flash drive "T for Target". Slack rules! – K7AAY Feb 19 '19 at 21:19
  • Yes I understood that. But, thats too basic. I can image any of my flash drives etc. What I want is a sure-fire way to recover a down system. These are all in my lab, I have 5 machines overall, all involved in development, continuous integration, POCs and Kubernettes stuff. When I lose one, I lose a couple of days of setup. Its that I want to protect, not the Windows install images themselves. – Inquisitor Shm Feb 20 '19 at 0:01
  • Then please click edit and overhaul your question to clearly and unambiguously so state. We shall endeavour to provide one or more answers. – K7AAY Feb 20 '19 at 0:06

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