Windows Recovery Environment Planning – Part 1

One of the most exciting features of Windows 7 is the Windows Recovery Environment. The Windows RE is an extensible recovery platform based on Windows Presintallation Environment. Windows RE provides two main functionalities.

1. Automatic diagnosis and repair of boot problems using the Startup Repair tool.

2. A centralized platform for advanced recovery tools.

Big Picture Roll-out

Let’s take a step back a minute before we go any further. When considering a PC recovery solution as part of your business and technology strategy, I recommend incorporating a user data policy. In the corporate environment it is a very good idea to enforce a user data policy that dictates where user data should be stored. The goal of the user data policy is to prevent users from saving valuable data on the local machine. If the user keeps sole copy of data on the local disk, they take the risk of losing data. It’s recommended that any critical data should be backed up regularly, frequency based on criticality and business needs. It is the employee’s responsibility to comply with your corporate user data policy, which the business should mandate and enforce accordingly.

Below details an outline I used when developing my Windows RE recovery solution with MDT 2010 & SCCM 2007 SP2

Design/POC for PC Recovery Solution


1. OS Partition corrupted, missing boot files/drivers, not bootable, Bitlocker enabled.

2. Hard disk went bad – need networked or USB/HDD to backup data.

User Data Policy, Stored Locations, Recovery Methods

1. Agree/Set Data protection standard and user expectations

a. If user keeps sole copy of data on local disk, they take the risk of losing data.

b. Any critical data should have a backup copy on network drive, SharePoint, etc. and backed up regularly (frequency based on criticality and business needs)

c. User may choose to backup to USB disk if high-speed intranet access is not feasible (Biz travel, etc.). BitLocker go go should be considered.

2. Design/Implement PC Recovery method based on determined standard

a. WinRE for boot error, OS corrupted, user data intact.

i. Backup entire OS partition would almost double disk space requirement. May not be feasible, costly.

ii. Deploy a new Win7 on top of bad existing Win7 with USMT hardlink migration could be a good solution – save time, recovery data on disk, may miss user installed ad hoc apps but not critical.

b. Hard disk failure – need to send disk to recovery vendor if sole copy of data is on the disk. Won’t need this if data is copy/backed up on USB or network. User gets new OS disk or new PC.

OS/Apps Recovery

1. WinRE recovery for 2a

2. Ship loaded disk or replacement PC for 2b

That’s it for now. More on developing your own Windows RE solution for Windows 7 in future posts!


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