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Jared Bass
Jared Bass

How to Troubleshoot and Repair Windows-based Computers with MSDaRT 8.0


Microsoft Diagnostics and Recovery Toolset (MSDaRT) 8.0: A Comprehensive Guide




Introduction




Have you ever encountered a situation where your Windows-based computer fails to start or has problems starting as expected? If so, you know how frustrating and time-consuming it can be to troubleshoot and repair the issue. You may have to use various tools and methods, such as booting from a recovery disk, running system restore, scanning for malware, or even reinstalling the operating system.




Microsoft Diagnostics And Recovery Toolset Msdart 8 0


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Fortunately, there is a better solution: Microsoft Diagnostics and Recovery Toolset (MSDaRT) 8.0. This is a powerful set of tools that extend the Windows Recovery Environment (WinRE) and help you diagnose and repair Windows-based computers that are unbootable or locked-out. By using MSDaRT 8.0, you can recover end-user computers that have become unusable, diagnose probable causes of issues, and quickly repair unbootable or locked-out computers. You can also restore important lost files and detect and remove malware, even when the computer is not online.


In this article, we will provide a comprehensive guide on MSDaRT 8.0, covering its features, benefits, requirements, deployment methods, and usage scenarios. We will also show you how to create and use a MSDaRT recovery image, which is a bootable media that contains the MSDaRT tools. By the end of this article, you will have a clear understanding of how MSDaRT 8.0 can help you troubleshoot and repair Windows-based computers in various situations.


What is MSDaRT 8.0?




MSDaRT 8.0 is a part of the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP), a dynamic solution available to Software Assurance customers that helps reduce software installation costs, enables delivery of applications as services, and helps manage and control enterprise desktop environments. MSDaRT 8.0 was released in November 2012 and supports Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 operating systems.


MSDaRT 8.0 is a set of tools that extend the Windows Recovery Environment (WinRE), which is a preinstalled component of Windows that provides access to various recovery options when the operating system fails to start or has problems starting as expected. WinRE includes tools such as Startup Repair, System Restore, System Image Recovery, Windows Memory Diagnostic, and Command Prompt.


MSDaRT 8.0 adds more tools to WinRE that help you diagnose and repair Windows-based computers that are unbootable or locked-out. These tools include:


  • Crash Analyzer: This tool helps you analyze memory dump files that are generated when Windows crashes (also known as blue screen errors). It helps you identify the device driver or application that caused the crash and provides suggestions for resolving the issue.



  • Registry Editor: This tool helps you view and modify the registry settings of an offline Windows system. You can use this tool to fix registry issues that prevent Windows from starting or functioning properly.



  • Locksmith: This tool helps you reset the password of any local account on an offline Windows system. You can use this tool to regain access to a computer that is locked-out due to a forgotten or expired password.



  • Explorer: This tool helps you browse the files and folders of an offline Windows system. You can use this tool to copy, move, delete, or rename files and folders, as well as recover important data from an unbootable computer.



  • Search: This tool helps you search for files on an offline Windows system by using various criteria, such as file name, file type, file size, date modified, or content. You can use this tool to locate specific files or data on an unbootable computer.



  • Disk Commander: This tool helps you repair damaged or corrupted disks or volumes on an offline Windows system. You can use this tool to restore the master boot record (MBR), partition table, boot sector, or file system of a disk or volume.



  • Disk Wipe: This tool helps you securely erase all data from a disk or volume on an offline Windows system. You can use this tool to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive data on a computer that is being decommissioned or recycled.



  • Disk Partition Manager: This tool helps you create, delete , or modify partitions on an offline Windows system. You can use this tool to manage the disk space and layout of a computer.



  • Computer Management: This tool helps you view and modify the system settings and properties of an offline Windows system. You can use this tool to manage the devices, services, users, groups, event logs, and performance of a computer.



  • TCP/IP Config: This tool helps you view and modify the network settings of an offline Windows system. You can use this tool to configure the IP address, subnet mask, default gateway, DNS servers, and proxy settings of a computer.



  • Hotfix Uninstall: This tool helps you uninstall Windows updates or hotfixes that are installed on an offline Windows system. You can use this tool to remove updates or hotfixes that cause problems or conflicts with other software or hardware.



  • Solution Wizard: This tool helps you diagnose and resolve common issues that prevent Windows from starting or functioning properly. You can use this tool to run automated tests and apply recommended solutions for various scenarios.



  • Standalone System Sweeper: This tool helps you scan and remove malware from an offline Windows system. You can use this tool to detect and eliminate viruses, spyware, rootkits, and other malicious software that infect a computer.



  • SFC Scan: This tool helps you scan and repair corrupted or missing system files on an offline Windows system. You can use this tool to restore the integrity and functionality of the Windows operating system.



As you can see, MSDaRT 8.0 provides a comprehensive set of tools that help you troubleshoot and repair Windows-based computers in various situations. By using MSDaRT 8.0, you can save time and money, improve productivity and security, and reduce downtime and data loss.


What are the benefits of MSDaRT 8.0?




MSDaRT 8.0 offers many benefits for IT professionals, administrators, and end-users who need to diagnose and repair Windows-based computers that are unbootable or locked-out. Some of the main benefits are:


  • Easy to use: MSDaRT 8.0 is designed to be easy to use for both novice and experienced users. The tools are accessible from a graphical user interface (GUI) that is similar to the Windows desktop environment. The tools are also organized into categories based on their functions, such as recovery, security, networking, etc. The tools also provide clear instructions, options, and feedback for each operation.



  • Flexible to deploy: MSDaRT 8.0 can be deployed in various ways depending on your needs and preferences. You can create a MSDaRT recovery image that is a bootable media (such as a CD/DVD or a USB flash drive) that contains the MSDaRT tools. You can also create a MSDaRT recovery partition that is a hidden partition on the hard disk that contains the MSDaRT tools. You can also integrate MSDaRT 8.0 with Windows Deployment Services (WDS) or System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) to deploy MSDaRT recovery images over the network.



  • Powerful to perform: MSDaRT 8.0 provides a powerful set of tools that help you perform various tasks on an offline Windows system. You can diagnose the root cause of issues, repair damaged or corrupted components, recover important data, remove malware, reset passwords, manage disk partitions, uninstall updates, and more. You can also customize the MSDaRT recovery image by adding your own scripts, drivers, or applications.



With these benefits, MSDaRT 8.0 can help you improve your efficiency and effectiveness in troubleshooting and repairing Windows-based computers.


What are the requirements for MSDaRT 8.0?




To use MSDaRT 8.0, you need to meet some requirements for both the source computer and the target computer.


The source computer is the computer where you create the MSDaRT recovery image. The source computer must have:


  • A supported operating system: Windows 8 Enterprise (x86 or x64), Windows Server 2012 (x64), or Windows PE 4.0 (x86 or x64).



  • A supported processor: 1 GHz or faster for x86 processors; 1.4 GHz or faster for x64 processors.



  • A supported memory: 1 GB RAM for x86 processors; 2 GB RAM for x64 processors.



  • A supported disk space: At least 500 MB of free disk space.



  • A supported optical drive: A CD/DVD burner if you want to create a MSDaRT recovery image on a CD/DVD.



  • A supported removable media: A USB flash drive with at least 256 MB of capacity if you want to create a MSDaRT recovery image on a USB flash drive.



  • A supported network connection: A network adapter and a network cable if you want to deploy MSDaRT recovery images over the network.



  • A supported software: The Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) 2012 R2, which includes the MSDaRT 8.0 installation files.



The target computer is the computer where you use the MSDaRT recovery image to troubleshoot and repair the offline Windows system. The target computer must have:


  • A supported operating system: Windows 8 or Windows Server 2012.



  • A supported processor: Any processor that can run the operating system.



  • A supported memory: Any memory that can run the operating system.



  • A supported disk space: Any disk space that can run the operating system.



  • A supported optical drive: A CD/DVD drive if you want to boot from a MSDaRT recovery image on a CD/DVD.



  • A supported removable media: A USB port if you want to boot from a MSDaRT recovery image on a USB flash drive.



  • A supported network connection: A network adapter and a network cable if you want to boot from a MSDaRT recovery image over the network.



As you can see, the requirements for MSDaRT 8.0 are not very demanding and most modern computers can meet them easily.


How to deploy MSDaRT 8.0?




MSDaRT 8.0 can be deployed in various ways depending on your needs and preferences. The main methods are:


  • Creating and using a MSDaRT recovery image: This is the most common and recommended method of deploying MSDaRT 8.0. A MSDaRT recovery image is a bootable media (such as a CD/DVD or a USB flash drive) that contains the MSDaRT tools. You can create a MSDaRT recovery image by using the Microsoft DaRT Recovery Image Wizard, which is included in the MDOP 2012 R2 package. You can then use the MSDaRT recovery image to boot the target computer and access the MSDaRT tools.



  • Creating and using a MSDaRT recovery partition: This is an alternative method of deploying MSDaRT 8.0. A MSDaRT recovery partition is a hidden partition on the hard disk that contains the MSDaRT tools. You can create a MSDaRT recovery partition by using the Microsoft DaRT Recovery Partition Creator, which is also included in the MDOP 2012 R2 package. You can then use the MSDaRT recovery partition to boot the target computer and access the MSDaRT tools.



  • Integrating MSDaRT 8.0 with Windows Deployment Services (WDS) or System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM): This is an advanced method of deploying MSDaRT 8.0 over the network. WDS and SCCM are Microsoft technologies that help you deploy Windows operating systems and applications to multiple computers remotely . You can integrate MSDaRT 8.0 with WDS or SCCM by using the Microsoft DaRT Remote Connection Viewer, which is also included in the MDOP 2012 R2 package. You can then use WDS or SCCM to deploy MSDaRT recovery images to target computers over the network and access the MSDaRT tools remotely.



In this article, we will focus on the first method, which is creating and using a MSDaRT recovery image, as it is the simplest and most widely used method of deploying MSDaRT 8.0.


How to create a MSDaRT recovery image?




To create a MSDaRT recovery image, you need to follow these steps:


  • Download and install MDOP 2012 R2: You need to download and install MDOP 2012 R2 on your source computer, which must have one of the supported operating systems (Windows 8 Enterprise, Windows Server 2012, or Windows PE 4.0). You can download MDOP 2012 R2 from the Microsoft Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC) website, where you need to sign in with your Software Assurance account credentials. After downloading, you need to run the MDOP 2012 R2 setup file and follow the instructions to install it on your source computer.



  • Run the Microsoft DaRT Recovery Image Wizard: You need to run the Microsoft DaRT Recovery Image Wizard, which is a tool that helps you create a MSDaRT recovery image. You can find the Microsoft DaRT Recovery Image Wizard in the Start menu under Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack > Diagnostics and Recovery Toolset. After running the wizard, you need to follow the steps to create a MSDaRT recovery image. The steps are:



  • Select the Windows operating system version: You need to select the Windows operating system version that matches the target computer where you want to use the MSDaRT recovery image. You can choose between Windows 8 (x86) or Windows 8 (x64).



  • Select the Windows installation media: You need to select the Windows installation media that contains the files for the selected Windows operating system version. You can choose between a DVD drive, an ISO file, or a WIM file.



  • Select the MSDaRT tools: You need to select the MSDaRT tools that you want to include in the MSDaRT recovery image. You can choose from all or some of the tools listed above. You can also add your own scripts, drivers, or applications by using the Add Files option.



  • Select the output media type: You need to select the output media type that you want to use for the MSDaRT recovery image. You can choose between a CD/DVD or a USB flash drive. If you choose a CD/DVD, you need to insert a blank CD/DVD into your optical drive. If you choose a USB flash drive, you need to insert a USB flash drive with at least 256 MB of capacity into your USB port.



  • Create the MSDaRT recovery image: You need to click Create to start creating the MSDaRT recovery image. The wizard will copy the files from the Windows installation media and add the selected MSDaRT tools and files to create a bootable media that contains the MSDaRT recovery image. The process may take several minutes depending on your system configuration and output media type.



  • Verify and test the MSDaRT recovery image: After creating the MSDaRT recovery image, you need to verify and test it before using it on your target computer. You can verify the MSDaRT recovery image by checking its size and contents on your output media. You can test the MSDaRT recovery image by booting your source computer from it and accessing the MSDaRT tools.



By following these steps, you can create a MSDaRT recovery image that you can use to troubleshoot and repair your target computer.


How to use a MSDaRT recovery image?




To use a MSDaRT recovery image, you need to follow these steps:


  • Boot the target computer from the MSDaRT recovery image: You need to boot your target computer from the MSDaRT recovery image that you created on your source computer. You can do this by changing the boot order in your BIOS settings or by using a boot menu option. Depending on your output media type, you need to select CD/DVD, USB, or network as your first boot device.



  • Select your keyboard layout and language: After booting from the MSDaRT recovery image, you need to select your keyboard layout and language from a list of options. This will determine how you input and view text on your target computer.



  • Accept as a stop error), you can use the Crash Analyzer tool to analyze the memory dump file that is generated by the crash. The Crash Analyzer tool will help you identify the device driver or application that caused the crash and provide suggestions for resolving the issue. You can also use other MSDaRT tools, such as Registry Editor, Disk Commander, or SFC Scan, to fix the problem.



  • Resetting forgotten passwords: If you forget or lose the password of a local account on your target computer, you can use the Locksmith tool to reset the password. The Locksmith tool will help you select the local account and enter a new password. You can then use the new password to log on to your target computer.



  • Recovering important data: If your target computer is unbootable or inaccessible due to a disk failure, a virus infection, or a human error, you can use the Explorer or Search tools to browse and search for files and folders on your target computer. The Explorer and Search tools will help you copy, move, delete, or rename files and folders, as well as recover important data from your target computer.



  • Removing malware: If your target computer is infected by malware, such as viruses, spyware, rootkits, or other malicious software, you can use the Standalone System Sweeper tool to scan and remove malware from your target computer. The Standalone System Sweeper tool will help you update the malware definitions and perform a full or quick scan of your target computer. You can then review and remove the detected malware from your target computer.



  • Uninstalling problematic updates: If your target computer has problems starting or functioning properly after installing Windows updates or hotfixes, you can use the Hotfix Uninstall tool to uninstall the problematic updates or hotfixes from your target computer. The Hotfix Uninstall tool will help you select and remove the updates or hotfixes that cause problems or conflicts with other software or hardware.



These are some of the usage scenarios for MSDaRT 8.0, but there are many more situations where MSDaRT 8.0 can be useful and helpful.


Conclusion




In this article, we have provided a comprehensive guide on MSDaRT 8.0, covering its features, benefits, requirements, deployment methods, and usage scenarios. We have also shown you how to create and use a MSDaRT recovery image, which is a bootable media that contains the MSDaRT tools.


MSDaRT 8.0 is a powerful set of tools that extend the Windows Recovery Environment (WinRE) and help you diagnose and repair Windows-based computers that are unbootable or locked-out. By using MSDaRT 8.0, you can recover end-user computers that have become unusable, diagnose probable causes of issues, and quickly repair unbootable or locked-out computers. You can also restore important lost files and detect and remove malware, even when the computer is not online.


MSDaRT 8.0 is a part of the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP), a dynamic solution available to Software Assurance customers that helps reduce software installation costs, enables delivery of applications as services, and helps manage and control enterprise desktop environments. MSDaRT 8.0 was released in November 2012 and supports Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 operating systems.


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