PortableBaseLayer in v1903


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Dimitri
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When creating a Windows system image, do we need to include the new PortableBaseLayer disk, or since it's a temp storage for Windows and the new Windows Sandbox, upon restoration it will be recreated by Windows 10 v1903?

 
dbminter
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You know?  That is a good question.  I know Reflect is smart enough to avoid backing up large temp spaces like the Windows virtual memory page files and the hibernation file.  I don't know if that particular bit of space has been addressed by the software since Sandbox was added to Windows 10.  I would think not, just given how such things operate, but I could be wrong.  Still, it would be interesting to hear from a developer on the subject to see.  So, I would think it does get backed up in a Reflect image of the Windows partition, but I don't know that for certain.

jphughan
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That disk only appeared on Windows 10 1903 and only when Windows Sandbox is enabled.  From reading up on Microsoft's documentation, it appears that the PortableBaseLayer is a sort of image that Windows uses in order to construct the Sandbox environment.  But since it's just a mounted VHD, there's no reason to include the mounted instance of it in your image backup selection, because the source VHD file itself will already be backed up when you capture an image of your OS partition (and automatically mounted by Windows after a restore, as it would be under any other circumstance.)

Edited 23 May 2019 5:18 PM by jphughan
dbminter
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Oh, are Windows Sandbox instances assigned their own drive letters?

jphughan
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The Sandbox runs as a VMs, so it doesn't have any presence within the host OS.  The mounted VHD is not assigned a drive letter, and I've never tried to do that.  Also note that you can also only run one Sandbox instance at a time (currently), and there is no way to have a Sandbox state persist after you close it (currently).  On the other hand, the Sandbox starts quickly, requires none of the initial setup that a normal VM does, its disk footprint on the host is much smaller than a normal VM, and the Sandbox always starts running the same Windows version and patch level as the host, i.e. no need to patch the Sandbox separately from the host as is necessary with normal VMs.  Those last two items are both related to some file system magic that Microsoft is working under the hood.  Also, no OS licensing requirements for the Sandbox instance.  And it's free, so I'm not complaining (though it does require a Pro or better version of Windows).

Edited 23 May 2019 5:16 PM by jphughan
Dimitri
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Thanks a lot for your answer @jphughan.
It does make sense, that it's most likely not needed to include it in an image.
Of course, an official response from Nick or Macrium in general, will definitely put things Iin place.

The only thing that I would like to add is that PortableBaseLayer is not just for Sandbox, but special storage introduced in v1903 to accommodate Windows Update space requirements and temp space for apps and in my opinion needs a bit  more clarification from Microsoft .
 
It can be enabled or disabled via altering: 
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\ReserveManager
ShippedWithReserves DWORD
0 = Disable (default)
1 = Enable

In case Sandbox is enabled, it's created regardless of the value of the above ShippedWithReserves property.
Edited 23 May 2019 5:51 PM by Dimitri
jphughan
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I've seen people mention that other use of the PortableBaseLayer as well, but that wouldn't really account for why it doesn't appear until Windows Sandbox is enabled, so I'm not sure about the accuracy of those claims.  Of course a TechNet articleabout this would be nice, but I haven't seen one yet.

As for backing it up, ask yourself this.  Suppose you did back up that mounted VHD.  Where would you even restore it?  In a full system recovery scenario where you boot into the Rescue environment to restore everything, there certainly won't be a mounted VHD container file in that environment to restore onto, after all.  And again, if the VHD source file is being backed up (and will therefore be restored when you restore the OS partition), then backing up and restoring the contents as well is unnecessary.  And if you're thinking about trying to restore that mounted VHD using Reflect while Windows is running, that seems apt to create problems rather than avoid them.  But if hearing from someone at Macrium would reassure you, hopefully one of them will drop by.

Edited 23 May 2019 6:09 PM by jphughan
Dimitri
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You just covered me...thanks a lot @jphughan !!!! Smile
What remains to be seen is if v1903 recreates it, upon
 a full system recovery scenario, given that Sandbox feature is restored.
As for PortableBaseLayer use, the only thing I could find is this article

Edited 23 May 2019 7:34 PM by Dimitri
dbminter
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Oh, I'd heard something about some kind of possible "scratch space" reserved in 1903 for Windows Update.  Don't know if this is related or not.

Dimitri
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dbminter - 23 May 2019 7:43 PM
Oh, I'd heard something about some kind of possible "scratch space" reserved in 1903 for Windows Update.  Don't know if this is related or not.

That seems to be the one! Smile
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