DaRT 10 is part of the MDOP (Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack), a free collection of tools for Microsoft Software Assurance customers. MDOP is also available for evaluation to Visual Studio Enterprise (former MSDN) subscribers. DaRT 10 is a set of tools that allows IT support staff to diagnose and repair computers with start up issues, crashes or unexpected behavior. Using DaRT 10 you can find and repair conditions that make acomputer unusable or unresponsive, restore lost data, and remove malware. The best part is that computers do not have to be online to be diagnosed and repaired using DaRT 10.
DaRT 10 includes the following tools:
- Computer Management (system information, event logs, disk management, services, drivers etc.)
- Crash Analyzer (analyse crash dump files)
- Disk Commander (restore MBR / GPT header, recover lost volumes)
- Disk Wipe
- File Restore (recover lost files)
- File Search
- Hotfix Uninstall (uninstall updates causing issues)
- Locksmith (reset local account passwords, does not work with domain / Azure AD / MS accounts)
- Registry Editor
- System File Checker (SFC /SCANNOW)
- TCP/IP Config (manually configure network when PC can’t find one)
DaRT 10 requires the Windows Preinstallation Environment (WinPE) component from the Windows ADK to be installed, which in its turn requires the ADK Deployment tools. Install both on your technician machine from https://developer.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/hardware/windows-assessment-deployment-kit. Be sure to select the correct Windows version. Thus, for example, if you are working with version 1703 machines, you need ADK for version 1703:
To install DaRT 10 on a technician machine, download the MDOP ISO and mount it. Direct download link for VS Enterprise subscribers: https://my.visualstudio.com/Downloads?pid=1781
The installer in supported languages can be found in the respective language folders in W:\DaRT\DaRT 10\Installers folder (W: refers to the drive ID for a mounted ISO), each language folder contains separate installers for x86 and x64. For instance, the x64 installer for the US English DaRT 10 can be found in folder W:\DaRT\DaRT 10\Installers\en-us\x64. Run that installer.
Create DaRT 10 Recovery Image
Once it’s installed, you’ll find DaRT 10 in Start > Microsoft DaRT 10:
Mount a Windows ISO for your preferred Windows 10 version (boot.wim will be needed). Run the DaRT Recovery Image wizard. The wizard is self-explanatory:
Notice please: In Remote Connection, don’t forget to allow remote connections selecting Let Windows choose an open port number. You can also add a short message to be shown to users when they contact the Help Desk for assistance:
In the Advanced options you can forget adding drivers, both Windows 10 in general and DaRT 10 in particular are extremely good at finding the correct drivers by themselves. You might want to change the default scratch space size from 256 MB to 512 MB, just to be on the safe side, though:
Extremely important: Download the debugging tools (Windows Driver Kit WDK) from https://developer.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/hardware/windows-driver-kit, and include them in the recovery image:
Notice that installing the WDK makes it impossible to develop Windows UWP apps on the same machine.
When the WDK is installed, add (include) Debugging Tools in your DaRT 10 Recovery Image. You’ll find them in their respective x64 or x86 folders under C:\Program Files (x86)\Windows Kits\10\Debuggers:
That’s it. Finish the wizard and create the image and bootable recovery media (USB / CD / DVD).
How to use DaRT 10
You can now boot any Windows 10 PC from DaRT 10 recovery Media. After selecting a keyboard layout, select Troubleshoot:
… and select DaRT 10:
Done! You are ready to start analyzing:
Don’t hesitate to post your comments and questions!
Author: Kari Finn
A former Windows Insider MVP, Kari started in computing in the mid 80’s writing code for VAX / VMS systems. Since then, he’s worked in a variety of IT positions. He specializes in Windows image capture, customization, repair and deployment as well as Hyper-V virtualization. Kari is a proud Team Member at number #1 Windows site TenForums.com.