How to replace default Windows 7/Server 2008 R2 Recovery Environment in Diagnostic and Recovery Toolset

Posted by Netanel Ben-Shushan on February 12 2010, 2:04 PM. Posted in Windows Server 2008, Desktop Optimization Pack, Windows 7.



This guide describes how to replace the default Windows Recovery Environment (RE) with a Diagnostic and Recovery Toolset version 6.5 (new version of Winternals ERD Commander).



Microsoft has been developed a new version of ERD Commander from Winternals, which Microsoft acquired while ago; Named Diagnostic and Recovery Toolset, or DaRT for short.

In order to replace Windows RE boot image with DaRT you'll need to use account with administrative privileges (member of the local Administrators group at least).

It's recommended to replace the default Windows RE within DaRT for getting wide local troubleshooting toolset such as LockSmith for passwords reset, restoration utility, etc.

In order to perform the replacement follows these steps:


Preparing the field…

1. Open Windows Explorer, click with Alt and choose Folder Options from the Tools menu.

2. Choose Show hidden files, folders and drives and deselect Hide protected operating system files (Recommended) and Hide extensions for known file types.




3. Then click OK.

4. Open C:\ Drive, right-click Recovery folder. Choose Properties from the menu.

5. Select Security tab, and click on Edit.

6. On the new windows, click on Add and find you user account, then click on OK.

7. Assign Allow: Full Control permissions for the specific account and click on OK.




Now, as you can see the C:\Recovery folder is accessible to your user account.




At C:\Recovery\<UID> you'll find the Winre.wim image file. This is the Windows RE image that have been loaded every time you're choosing to repair your computer from the F8 startup menu.




Creating ERD Commander ISO Image

1. Install DaRT 6.5 from Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack 2009 R2 (available to customers with active Software Assurance license) on your computer or on computer with DVD burner.




2. Open ERD Commander Boot Media Wizard from the Windows menu and follow these steps to create ERD ISO image:

2.1. On the welcome screen click Next.




2.2. Insert and navigate to Windows 7/Server 2008 R2 media and click Next.




2.3. On the Preparing files screen click on Next.




2.4. Select or exclude the tools that will be included in your ERD image and click on Next.




2.5. Locate the Windows Debugging tools and click on Next.




2.6. Choose if you want to update your ERD's system sweeper and click on Next.




2.7. If you want to add additional drivers, click on Add. Then click on Next.




2.8. On the Additional Files click on Next.




Note: You can add useful applications and files to your ERD ISO image such as disk imaging utility, corporate antivirus, etc.


2.9. To create the ISO image click on Next.




2.10. If you want to burn the ISO into a media set the wizard to your media burner. Click on Next to proceed.




2.11. Click on Finish.




3. On the ISO navigate to the Sources directory; inside X:\Sources (when X: is the CD driver letter) you'll find boot.wim image.

4. Copy boot.wim into C:\Recovery\<UID>\ and change the file name to Winre.wim.

Note: It's recommended to rename the original Winre.wim file name to Winre.wim.old or delete it from the C:\Recovery directory.


Next time you'll restart your computer and choose Repair your computer you'll notice that DaRT has been added to the Windows RE menu (and there's also network support at the start of Windows RE).




Note: My personal recommendation is to deploy Windows 7/Server 2008 R2 with a built-in DaRT recovery environment support.

Note that you will need an active Software Assurance (SA) license to each OS that deployed with DaRT.


This guide described how to create ERD ISO image by using Diagnostic and Recovery Toolset and then replacing the default Windows RE boot image with DaRT boot image on Windows 7 & Server 2008 R2.

About the author

Netanel Ben-Shushan is an IT Consultant & Trainer from Israel, who works mainly with Microsoft, networking and information security systems. He's the creator of, a personal website in Hebrew with technical guides and articles. Beside he's website, Netanel is also writing a Hebrew weblog at Microsoft Israel's blogging community.