Include multiple rescue media builds on one USB


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Docfxit
Docfxit
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I have multiple PC's.  I'd like to know if there is a way to create one USB rescue media with the latest Reflect version and drivers/Wim from multiple PC's.
It's nice having the Reflect rescue media on a USB because the version changes so often.
It would be nice to be able to use one USB for many different PC's.
Sometimes it works for more than one PC and sometimes it doesn't.
I would like to be able to update a USB rescue media and during the update it would keep drivers from other PC's.
I would expect the rescue programs and files to be in the root of the USB like it is now and
The files/drivers unique to a PC be added to the USB by Computer name.
d:\PC#1
d:\PC#2
d:\PC#3
d:\boot
d:\Drivers
d:\efi
d:\sources
d:\remaining rescue files

If there is a way to do this today please let me know.
Thanks,
Docfxit

jphughan
jphughan
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Quite often a single Rescue Media build can be used on multiple PCs, but when it doesn't work, it's usually related to drivers or the version of WinPE that was used in the build.

If you just need more drivers, you can manually consolidate the contents of the Drivers folder from Rescue Media builds from multiple PCs onto one.  If you need to get those baked into the Boot.wim file, which is necessary for certain drivers, copy your consolidated Drivers folder to C:\Boot\Macrium\Drivers, then on that same PC, run through the Rescue Media wizard and click the Rebuild button at the end, which will update the WIM to include all of them.  However, if you need to store drivers intended for multiple WinPE versions, it would probably be easier to do what I'm going to suggest next:

For WinPE issues, some PCs have newer hardware that requires newer versions of WinPE, which is why I normally recommend WinPE 10 regardless of what version of Windows the PC runs.  WinPE 10 also works on lots of PCs that don't technically "need" it, but there are some older PCs that only boot older versions, and then there are oddities like some laptops being locked at 640x480 in Rescue only in certain versions of WinPE.  So it's certainly possible to have a combination of PCs where no single PE version works everywhere.  However, the WinPE version is locked up in that Boot.wim file, so if you wanted needed to store multiple Rescue Media builds on the same flash drive, it's actually easier to just store multiple builds of the entire set of Rescue Media files separately.  I do something like this on my own flash drive where I want to keep Rescue Media as well as installers for various versions of Windows.  I achieve that by having a folder on the root of my flash drive called "Bootable Environments", and inside that I have various folders, like:

Rescue Media
(You would have Rescue Media PC1, Rescue Media PC2, etc.)
Windows 7
Windows 10 1607
Windows 10 1709
Windows 10 Rescue Tools

Each of those folders contains everything that is normally on the root of a drive that would boot those environments.  Then when I actually want to boot one of those environments, I cut and paste everything from the desired subfolder onto the root of the drive, thereby making the drive bootable for that environment, and then when I'm done, I cut and paste everything from the root (except the Bootable Environments folder, of course) back to the correct folder.  When I want to update my Rescue Media, I run the wizard and have it send the files onto the flash drive, since the Rescue Media wizard does NOT erase the target USB device.  The wizard sends the files to the root of the drive of course, and then I just cut and paste everything it placed there into the desired subfolder of "Boot".  It works fine.

Edited 14 February 2018 10:21 PM by jphughan
jphughan
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Just in case a picture is worth 1000 words, here's what my flash drive layout looks like, with the Rescue folder's contents shown on the right.  All of that gets moved to the root when needed.  As long you don't regularly keep much ELSE on the root (I just have the "Bootable Environments" and "Other" folders there permanently), then moving the files of a bootable environment back to a subfolder is a simple matter of pressing Ctrl+A to select all, then holding Ctrl to deselect the items that should stay on the root, then moving everything else back to the subfolder.



Edited 14 February 2018 4:40 AM by jphughan
Docfxit
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jphughan - 14 February 2018 4:33 AM
Just in case a picture is worth 1000 words, here's what my flash drive layout looks like, with the Rescue folder's contents shown on the right.  All of that gets moved to the root when needed.  As long you don't regularly keep much ELSE on the root (I just have the "Bootable Environments" and "Other" folders there permanently), then moving the files of a bootable environment back to a subfolder is a simple matter of pressing Ctrl+A to select all, then holding Ctrl to deselect the items that should stay on the root, then moving everything else back to the subfolder.



That's a really great way of keeping multiple copies on one USB.
It appears you do keep a copy of all files from the root in each image folder including the Boot folder.  I thought you mentioned in a last post that you don't keep the boot folder for each version.
If I understand it correctly when the Reflect version changes you need to update every folder?
It would be nice to know which files get updated when a version changes and only keep the files in the unique folders that are unique to that PC.  Not the files that get updated with each new version.

Thanks,
Docfxit

Edited 14 February 2018 10:15 PM by Docfxit
jphughan
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I now realize that "Boot" was a poor choice of folder name.  I actually use "Bootable Environments" and simply saved myself a bit of typing there, but now I realize that the Rescue Media file set in fact includes a folder called "Boot", so it wouldn't have been possible to use that name for my "container" folder.  Sorry for the confusion there.  I've edited my earlier post

To my knowledge, as long as you don't change the version of WinPE you're using with your Rescue Media, the only files that get updated are

\Boot\Reflect.cfg
\Drivers (the whole folder)
\Sources\Boot.wim (which contains another copy of your drivers, the Reflect application files, and WinPE itself)

But Boot.wim is ~90% of the entire Rescue Media build by size anyway, so I find it's easier to update Rescue Media by simply deleting whatever I currently have in that subfolder, running through the wizard, and moving everything it puts onto the root of the drive into my desired subfolder.

Edited 14 February 2018 10:22 PM by jphughan
davephx
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Less technical me asks - confused if have to have PE files in the root of the flash drive or can have in a folder like "PE Recovery".   Macrium installed fine in root but I have other support stuff for testing in other folders.  But want to confirm if I have to leave the PE files in root or can move to a folder.
Thanks
jphughan
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davephx - 20 February 2018 8:13 PM
Less technical me asks - confused if have to have PE files in the root of the flash drive or can have in a folder like "PE Recovery".   Macrium installed fine in root but I have other support stuff for testing in other folders.  But want to confirm if I have to leave the PE files in root or can move to a folder.
Thanks

You can store the Rescue files wherever you want most of the time, but they have to be on the root of the flash drive whenever you want to boot using the Rescue files.  Technically that requirement could be sidestepped if you wanted to venture into the world of custom bootloaders, but that's certainly a more technical undertaking, and if your PC uses UEFI booting with Secure Boot enabled, a custom bootloader would likely mean you'd have to disable that whenever you wanted to boot from it, so you'd just be trading one set of extra steps for another.

GO

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