Repair NT systems in your enterprise remotely

Winternals Software targets Remote Recover at systems administrators who must repair remote systems quickly and at minimal cost. Remote Recover lets you access any drive across your network, including NTFS and FAT drives and drives that you haven't partitioned or formatted. You can even access systems on different subnets, so you can repair systems across your company's networked landscape.

Remote Recover consists of host and client components. The host software runs on a functional Windows NT 4.0 system, and you boot the client disk on the system in need of installation or repair. This network-ready boot disk runs continuously, waiting for a host to attach to it, so you don't need to have NT running on the client system before you use Remote Recover. After a host attaches to the remote client, Remote Recover displays the client's drives and partitions on the host. The host sees the client's drives as local, so you can run low-level utilities that operate at the sector level (e.g., Chkdsk, partitioning tools, virus scanners). In addition, Remote Recover lets you copy files between drives and even install an OS on the remote client.

Remote Recover can access any drive that supports the Interrupt 13 (INT 13) interface. To discover whether your drive supports INT 13, run Fdisk /status from a bootable DOS disk. If Fdisk can correctly read the drive, then Remote Recover can access it.

To build the client disk, you use Microsoft's network device interface specification 2 (NDIS2) network driver interface. You must have an NDIS2 network driver for the NIC that your clients use; otherwise, they can't connect to the Remote Recover system (i.e., NDIS3 network drivers don't work). You can find NDIS2 network drivers on the disk or CD-ROM that came with your NIC.

To evaluate Remote Recover, I used two networked systems—one system was the host and the other served as the remote client. Remote Recover comes in a zipped file, which I copied to the recover host and unzipped. I opened Remote Recover from the Start menu and chose the option to create a client disk. I inserted an MS-DOS bootable disk in my test system, and the system prompted me to insert an NT Server 4.0 CD-ROM and click through the menus until I reached the MSCLIENT directory. Next, the software prompted me to enter an IP address, subnet mask, and gateway address, which the client system uses to boot so that the host can locate the client. If you're using DHCP, ensure that the IP address you use for the client disk doesn't interfere with static addresses already in use.

I used the newly created boot disk to boot my remote client system, and I started Remote Recover on my recover host system. As Screen 1 shows, I mounted the single partition, then I opened PowerQuest's PartitionMagic on the host system. I selected the remote client drive, then created and formatted a 2GB partition. Working with the client's drive was easy: I added and deleted files, ran a virus scan, and backed up the drive's Registry and other crucial files. After I finished, I removed the client drives from the Remote Recover GUI on the host system.

When you copy an entire drive, you need to consider the partition you're trying to copy because you can't copy a partition on a system that is currently in use. To work around this limitation, you can install a drive in the host system that contains NT Server or NT Workstation, mount the drive with the client drive you're copying, and copy the host partition to the client. Alternatively, you can copy a partition from another client system and install it on a new disk. If you use either of these workarounds, you must use Microsoft's System Preparation (SysPrep) tool when you copy the partition (to ensure that the host and client SIDs and host names are different).

I highly recommend Remote Recover, and its price is a steal when you consider its numerous benefits. You can download an evaluation copy of Remote Recover from Winternals Software's Web site.

Remote Recover
Contact: Winternals Software * 800-408-8415
Web: http://www.winternals.com
Price: $299 per user license (administrative user)
System Requirements: Windows NT Server 4.0 or NT Workstation 4.0, MS-DOS 4.0 or later or Windows 9x boot disk, Network device interface specification 2 network driver, Interrupt 13 accessible IDE or SCSI hard disk