Spare Tire ISO

Version 3

    How to Make a Simple Intel vPro Repair ISO (Spare Tire ISO)

    Scroll down for a step by step "How To Create and Initalize your own Spare Tire ISO" Video

     

    Background

    Microsoft describes how to create a floppy disk for use as a startup disk on Windows XP systems that fail to boot. An interesting feature of this startup disk is that is does NOT contain a complete operating system... just enough of the Windows XP files to boot the system, and then it relies on the remaining Windows XP files still on the PC's hard drive...sorta like that "compact spare tire" in your car's trunk...just enough to get you to the tire shop. In fact, in emergencies, the system could continue to be used in this mode, as long as it wasn't rebooted, i.e. suspend and hibernate are OK. The process can be seen in the picture below:

     

     

    Since the normal Windows XP system is booting, no special tools or techniques are required by the service technician to repair the problem, i.e. they can use their normal Windows remote repair tools such as Windows Remote Desktop, VNC or even just map to the C$ share on the system to replace the files stopping a system from booting. Use of the Windows XP startup files means there are no licensing issues for new repair tools or a requirement to learn how to use them.

     

    Creating a Floppy Disk for Startup

    Although Microsoft does explain how to create a floppy disk as a startup disk, some of the concepts may be confusing to people who have never done this before. To start, you will be using a REAL floppy disk meaning no usb/cd/dvd/virtualfloppy. For whatever reason, the formatting within the floppy disk is the only way that I know of to make the final product, the Repair ISO, actually work. Most computers do not even come with a floppy drive now in days so you probably will have to use an external A: drive to insert your floppy. A couple more notes on the actual Microsoft instructions:

    • Microsoft mentions to format the floppy disk and to do that all you simply have to do is go to my computer - > right click on the floppy drive -> format. Enter a disc label and make sure that “Quick Format”, “Enable Compression”, and “Create an MS-DOS Start Disk” are all unselected.

    • The three files Microsoft mentions should be in your C: drive, but are set to hidden (meaning they are invisible) by default. To unhide the files, go to start -> control panel (its easier if you switch to classic view) -> folder options -> view -> then make sure that “Display Content in System Folders” “Show Hidden Files and Folders” are check marked and that “Hide Protected Operating System Files” is unselected . Also, to make sure they are not “read-only” files, click the properties on each of the files and unselect the “read-only” box.

     

    Converting this technique for use by Intel vPro Technology

    One of the great features of Intel vPro technology is the ability to remotely repair an unbootable PC. To use this feature, convert the floppy disk image to an “ISO” for use by Intel vPro technology using a program called MagicISO

    • After you create the floppy per Microsoft’s instructions, perform a test boot from the floppy disk. Please note, I have only been successful in using a REAL floppy at this stage… not a USB stick made to act as a floppy.

     

    • Launch MagicISO to create the ISO file from the floppy

    o Select “Tools- Make Boot Image From Floppy Disk”

    o Pick a name for the output file (*.bif) – takes about 10 minutes to create

    o Select “File-New-Bootable CD/DVD Image”

    o Answer “Yes” to “Do you want to save a new image file?” (slight delay here)

    o Pick a name the output file (*.iso)

    o Select the “From bootable Image File” and browse to the .bif file you created

     

    • Create a CD to verify your ISO before using it with Intel vPro technology

    o Select “Tools-Burn CD/DVD with ISO” and browse to the iso file you just made

    o Select a CD writing speed and click “Burn it!”

    o Perform a test boot from the CD you created

     

    Using the iso image with Intel vPro technology

    • Copy the iso you created to your vPro console IDER share location

    • Reference that ISO when using the vPro IDER feature to perform a redirection reboot on the target PC

    • Check to see that the PC boots properly

    • Now make your PC unbootable by deleting a necessary boot file, e.g. C:\NTLDR, C:\NTDectect.com or editing C:\BOOT.INI to make it appear corrupted. These are “system” files that are “hidden”. Use Control Panel- Folders- View so that you can see them

    • Note that the PC will no longer boot… not to worry

    • Use your vPro console to redirect the boot to your ISO and note that Windows starts properly.

    You can now use your normal Windows Remote Control programs, e.g. VNC, Remote Desktop, or mapping to C$ to connect to the PC and copy the missing files back (they are still on the floppy you originally made). In normal operation, you could put the repair files on a network share accessible by the service technicians.

     

    Summary

    The technique desired herein only solves simple boot issues.

     

    How To Create and Initialize your own Spare Tire ISO