Creating the Recovery Environment

Note: Previous editions of Recovery Environment and the IT Edition included a pre-built Windows environment. Microsoft discontinued the distribution of this product, requiring users to create this environment manually using the Recovery Environment Builder (RE Builder).

RE Builder is a simple tool to create a Windows-based Recovery Environment ISO (called the Recovery Environment for Windows). Once created, this ISO works as previous editions of the ShadowProtect Recovery Environment with tools to restore system volumes.


To build the Recovery Environment, RE Builder requires:

  • Windows 7 or newer Operating Systems
  • Windows ADK - Deployment Tools and Windows Pre-installation Environment using either
    • Windows 8 ADK (smallest download)
    • Windows 8.1 ADK
    • Windows 10 (version 1607) ADK

If the RE Builder setup program does not detect the correct installed ADK, the program displays a link to download it. (Earlier versions of Windows do not support the Windows ADK options needed to create the Recovery Environment.) Refer to the Requirements page for details.

There is no difference between the Recovery Environments created with ADK 8.0 or with ADK 8.1. However, if the ADK is not installed, use v8.0 because it is a significantly smaller download.

Important: RE Builder requires a clean install of Windows ADK v8.1. Although Windows does support "upgrading" an existing ADK v8.0 install to v8.1, this upgraded version does not support RE Builder. If necessary, uninstall an existing v8.0 install of the ADK, then install the v8.1 of the ADK before completing the RE Builder setup.

To create the Recovery Environment for Windows

  1. Download and run the Setup executable (or insert the RE Builder disc) into a working Windows 7 or newer system.
    Note: If this system is a VM, verify that the CD-ROM settings for the VM do not use Legacy Emulation. Otherwise, the VM cannot burn the ISO to a CD or DVD disc, Also, on ESXi systems, verify that the client uses Passthrough IDE and not Emulate IDE.
  2. Select the RE Builder's language then click Next.
    Note: This language selection only applies to dialogs in the RE Builder, not to the Recovery Environment ISO that it builds.
  3. Follow the wizard to install the RE Builder.
  4. Once the install completes, select RE Builder from the Start Menu.
  5. If the software does not detect an install of the Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit (ADK), it displays an error message. This message includes a link to download the Windows ADK v8.0. (Use this version as it is a smaller download than the v8.1.)
  6. Do not click OK. Doing so runs the RE Builder but without the needed components. (These are the Deployment Tools and Windows Preinstallation Environment (Windows PE).) If necessary, close the RE Builder and re-run it to return to the error message.
  7. Instead, use the link in the message to open a browser window to the Microsoft Download Center.

  8. Close the RE Builder program.

  9. Caution: The ADK dowload page includes a Select Language option. Ignore this option. This only selects the language for this Download Center webpage, not the language of the ADK. The ADK includes its own language support.
  10. Click Download to download the ADK setup program.
    NOTE: Although the dialog states that the ADK is for Windows 8, these components also run on Windows 7.

  11. Run the ADK setup program. Follow the wizard prompts to begin the install.
    Note: If the setup program does not detect the required .NET Framework components installed, it installs those first. This may require a reboot prior to complete the ADK setup.

  12. At the Select Features page, the program lists all of the available ADK components for download. Select only:

    • Deployment Tools (8.0 = 39.6MB; 8.1 = 54MB) and
    • Windows Preinstallation Environment (Windows PE) (3.0GB).
  13. Uncheck any other features marked by default.
  14. Click Install.
  15. Close the installer when it completes.

  16. Rerun the RE Builder. The software displays its main dialog:

  17. Keep the default Output Product Type as Recovery Environment.
  18. Select the appropriate language.
    Note: This language selection only applies to the Recovery Environment, not to any OS being restored. The default is the language selected with the RE Builder Setup program.

  19. Select the appropriate architecture: 32- or 64-bit. Note that either architecture can restore both 32- and 64-bit operating systems. The 32-bit version is smaller in size, and useful for copying onto CD. The 64-bit version supports native Secure Boot and UEFI.
  20. Keep the default paths for the ADK and the ISO output destination unless necessary to change them.
  21. (Optional) Recovery Environment may need additional drivers to view specific storage devices. (These devices might include specialized RAID or other subsystems or newer versions of a device.) Adding these drivers using this function means that RE Builder includes them on the Recovery Environment ISO. To add drivers, click on the menu bar.
    Note: For most situations, the Recovery Environment does not require additional drivers. It includes many drivers for existing hardware to allow the Recovery Environment to run. However, manufacturers may release new hardware or new versions of drivers or a site may use custom hardware with unique drivers. In those cases, use this option to include these drivers. These drivers must be 32-bit when building a 32-bit Recovery Environment. even if the restored target OS is 64-bit. (The Recovery Environment is a 32-bit application and requires 32-bit drivers, particularly to access storage devices.) The Recovery Environment ISO also supports adding these drivers later on during each individual restore.
    Important: The Recovery Environment created by RE Builder does not currently support iSCSI.
  22. Locate each needed .inf driver file to include in the Recovery Environment.
    Note: RE Builder displays an error message if the driver is 64-bit only. Confirm that the driver SYS file is 32-bit and that it is correctly referenced in the driver .inf file.
    Warning: Do not delete any of the listed driver files or move them to a different folder. This should only be done after using RE Builder to burn the last required copy of the ISO. (Which may be later on.) If the RE Builder cannot find the driver file(s), it fails. If this occurs, restart the program and recreate the list with the correct driver location(s).
  23. To remove a listed driver, select the driver and click .
  24. Click to build the Recovery Environment ISO.
  25. When finished, RE Builder stores the Recovery Environment ISO in the Temporary Output Directory. RE Builder then asks if you want to burn the ISO to a CD, DVD, or to USB. Select the appropriate destination then click Burn.

    Note: RE Builder displays an error if the system has no CD/DVD recorder.

    If you don't want to burn an ISO, simply close the dialog.

  26. To burn the ISO later, rerun the RE Builder tool.
    NOTE: You can also use the ShadowProtect ISOTool to burn this ISO at a later time.
  27. Click to open the Burn dialog.
  28. Select the destination in the dropdown box.
  29. Click Burn.

The program burns the ISO to the disc or USB key.

You can now use the disc (or insert the USB key) to boot a PC and recover a system volume.

Note: After creating the Recovery Environment, the ADK is not required. If conserving hard disk space is a priority, uninstall the ADK.

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