Add a prompt to verify overwriting flash drives when creating Rescue Media


Add a prompt to verify overwriting flash drives when creating Rescue...
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dbminter
dbminter
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I've never done this, but I thought of a case that might happen with someone else.


I was thinking of adding a prompt to overwriting target flash drives when creating Rescue Media.  As it stands now, when you start the creation of the Rescue Media, flash drives are immediately overwritten.  What if someone put in the wrong media?  Or what if someone accidentally selected a USB HDD partition and that got overwritten?  So, I was thinking a prompt with the effect "Target media will completely erased.  Do you wish to continue?" might be desirable.


Now, one can argue it's not necessary.  One can just say, like I would do, just make sure you put in the right media before you begin.  For people who do do that, such a prompt is an unnecessary step the user must go through.

jphughan
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Flash drives aren't overwritten in their entirety.  The only files that get overwritten are files with the same name and in the same location as those that the Rescue Media wizard is trying to write.  I regularly insert flash drives that contain other data on them to update Rescue Media files and I've never had anything else overwritten.  I suppose if you had a flash drive that contained some other WinPE environment (Windows installation media or Windows Recovery drive), then you could end up overwriting those files with Reflect Rescue Media, but that seems a decidedly edge case.

Edited 8 January 2018 6:32 PM by jphughan
dbminter
dbminter
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Oh, yes, I should have realized that myself!  I have 4 flash drives for Rescue Media because I like redundancies.  All of these flash drives have redundant copies of various installers I downloaded, plus other things, like even a few Macrium images.  One of them is even my Playstation 3 media jumper, for shuttling audio and video files to and for PS3 firmware updates.  None of those files ever get overwritten.  Just any files Reflect would put on the media for itself and the bootable partition.


Sorry.  I didn't think that through very well before posting.


I guess one could make an argument for a prompt if the target flash drive/USB HDD has its own bootable partition.  That would be overwritten.

Edited 8 January 2018 6:45 PM by dbminter
jphughan
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(Edited significantly since original post)

USB hard drives (fixed disk class) aren't even presented as options for Rescue Media targets, I assume because some systems won't boot from them; Reflect requires a removable storage class device.  From there, Reflect only attempts to write to the first partition on a flash drive, and it only adds files to it rather than creating it from scratch.  It will also mark the partition active (bootable) if it wasn't already.  If the "BIOS/UEFI multi-boot" checkbox is checked, Reflect will only write to that first partition if it's FAT32 (or the device has no partitions at all); if some other partition type exists there, Reflect will throw an error that it can't create the required partition.  If that multi-boot checkbox is NOT checked, Reflect will also write to that first partition if it's NTFS.  But yes, if you had some other Windows-based bootable environment sitting right on the root of the disk, critical parts of it would be overwritten and replaced with Rescue Media files.  If you had a non-Windows based bootable environment that used a different boot sector, that too would likely be disrupted since the boot sector would need to be replaced with the version that looks for a file called "Bootmgr" on the root of the volume for Legacy BIOS booting.  That boot sector type is what's created by default for partitions created using Vista and later (maybe only after they're marked as active?  Not sure about that part.)

In my own case, I have a flash drive using the MBR layout with an NTFS partition (marked active) covering all but the last 1MB of capacity.  Then I have a tiny FAT16 partition there, on which resides a UEFI NTFS driver.  This configuration allows me to store large files on the main partition (especially since the latter partition isn't even visible on versions of Windows prior to Win10 1703) and still support booting both Legacy BIOS and UEFI systems.  A BIOS system would boot straight from the NTFS partition marked as active, and a UEFI system boots from that FAT16 partition, then loads that NTFS driver, at which point it will find and boot from whatever I've got on the NTFS partition.  On that NTFS partition I have a "Boot environments" folder, and in there I have subfolders for all files that I may ever want to boot -- various Windows version installers, their WinPE recovery environments, Reflect Rescue Media, and so on.  When I want to boot one of them, I just move the contents of the desired subfolder to the root, then move it back when I'm done.  I found that easier than trying to use a bootloader like Grub to point directly to the files where I normally keep them.  Anyway, when I want to update Rescue Media, I just have to uncheck the multi-boot checkbox so that it will allow writing to my NTFS partition, then move the new files that the wizard wrote to the root into my desired subfolder for safekeeping.  The only other catch to this setup is that since the UEFI NTFS driver is open source, Microsoft won't sign it, which means Secure Boot has to be disabled to UEFI boot my flash drive, but I can live with that.

Edited 8 January 2018 7:17 PM by jphughan
dbminter
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I disabled Secure Boot for some reason, too.  Because it wouldn't boot Legacy discs on my PC?  I came across a situation a while back where Macrium made an error in the Rescue Media creation and the resulting optical discs would only boot in Legacy mode.  I forget if I needed to disable Secure Boot for that reason.

jphughan
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Disc-based media can be booted in UEFI mode as long as it was mastered to include a UEFI boot loader rather than just a BIOS boot loader, and as long as the environment you're booting supports Secure Boot (WinPE 4.0 or later).  I can boot my WinPE 10-based Rescue Media ISOs in Hyper-V Gen 2 (UEFI) VMs that have Secure Boot enabled.

Edited 8 January 2018 7:15 PM by jphughan
dbminter
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Yeah, I'm thinking it was some kind of older utilities boot disc, maybe Hirem's Boot CD (?), that wouldn't boot until I turned off Secure Boot.  I forget what it was, but it was some disc that wouldn't boot, I think, until I disabled Secure Boot.  Or maybe I had to disable Secure Boot to enable Legacy boot in my BIOS on this older 2014 machine?  Again, I forget.  Smile

jphughan
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Secure Boot definitely has to be disabled to allow any kind of Legacy boot environment, so that was probably it. It would also have to be disabled for any UEFI bootloader that doesn’t support Secure Boot, such as most Linux bootloaders.
dbminter
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Ah, I think it was a recovery disc environment that ran in Linux.  Maybe GParted?  I am thinking GParted runs in Linux on its boot disc?

jphughan
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Yes, it would start a Linux environment.  Some newer Linux kernels now have their bootloaders signed by Microsoft so they can support Secure Boot, but that's a relatively new development.

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