Winternals Virtually Rushing to Server Crash Scene

With server crashes achieving occupational hazard status, utility vendor Winternals has come up with a recovery utility that remotely administers to ill Windows NT machines.

The company recently shipped Remote Recover, which lets administrators remotely repair NTFS-based systems throughout a network from a single host machine. A host machine, in this case, refers to a computer loaded with the Winternals software.

The tool is designed to bail out administrators after a machine has crashed and is not an administration tool.

The utility, which takes up a mere 1M-byte of space on the host machine, uses TCP/IP to create a connection to a crashed server after it has been booted from an MS-DOS floppy disk. Once the connection is made, Remote Recover lets the administrator virtually rather than physically mount NTFS and FAT drives from the crashed server back onto the host machine.

The mounted disks appear to be local to the host machine and an administrator can go about repairing the operating system and recovering files.

"Any tool that can be used on the host machine can be used on the remote machine," says Bryce Cogswell, chief technology officer of Winternals and co-creator of the product.

Remote Recover also allows hard-disk administration software, which typically runs only on a local NT system, to execute over the network -- even on a system that doesn't have an operating system installed.

Administrators can edit, copy and/or delete files; copy files or partitions between any machines on a network; repair damaged file systems using CHKDSK; partition and format disks as either NTFS or FAT; and restore files or entire disks from tape backup.

Microsoft Corp. includes an Emergency Repair Disk in its NT Resource Kit, but it does not boot to a command line prompt and let administrators troubleshoot. The disk runs its own diagnostics and administrators can only hope it solves the problems.

Remote Recover allows a host machine to take over a downed server and bring it back up.

"We are targeting the situation where the pro-active remote administration tools leave off," Cogswell says.

Remote Recover runs on Windows NT 4.0 and requires a copy of MS-DOS 4.0 or higher booted to the crashed server. The software is priced at US$299.

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