Getting Past iastor.sys Errors in Vista Deployment with the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit

They say that when you cannot do, teach.  I am not entirely fond of this particular expression, chiefly because I am primarily a teacher in my profession.  I do tend to 'eat my own dog food' and work with the tools that I instruct on though, which is why at the moment I have, for the first time in a while, a very large and powerful (and loud!) Hewlett Packard ProLiant DL-585 G2 server sitting in my office.  I like to joke that if G-d had a server at home, this is what he would have.

So because I was going to be doing some work for Microsoft on desktop & server deployment this week I decided to go back and create a new deployment server using the new Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) 2008 and Windows Automated Installation Kit (Windows AIK).  As I have written in the past this is nothing new to me, and I did not expect to encounter any issues.  The only difference was I had been using Microsoft's Business Desktop Deployment (BDD) 2007, the predecessor to the current version.  I spent most of last year teaching this technology, I did countless user group presentations on it; I was not expecting any surprises.

I imported my source files for the OS and the Applications, and I even imported the Dell-specific driver files from the CDs they provided.

Because I was doing this all in the parent OS on my server which at the time was hosting several virtual child OSes I could not reboot the system, so rather than implement a Lab Deployment Point I created a Media Deployment Point; I burned the ISO file to a DVD and then booted into it.  After a minute or two I got the following error message on a Stop Screen:

File: \Windows\system32\DRIVERS\iastor.sys Status: 0xc000035a Info: Windows
failed to load because a critical system
driver is missing, or corrupt.

I tried the same DVD on a different machine and received the same error, and then on the off chance it was the disc I created a new DVD.  Same issue.

IASTOR.SYS is an Intel SATA driver which should by all rights be included in Windows Vista.*  In fact it is, otherwise it would be impossible to install Vista out of the box.  Unfortunately for some aspects of deployment the driver that was delivered with Vista is not sufficient, and you have to download (and then extract and then import into WinPE) a newer version of the driver.

Behind the scenes someone at Microsoft's deployment team told me that the Intel SATA drivers were a royal pain, and that because the WHQL (Windows Hardware Quality Labs) team had signed off on the driver Intel refused to fix it.  Hopefully based on this article there will be enough backlash towards Intel and convince them to fix it.

So in short, here is what you are going to have to do:

  1. Download the IntelSATA drivers from Intel.  You will likely have to download the Intel Matrix Storage Manager.
  2. Extract these files by executing the IMSM with the proper command line switch (iata82_enu.exe -a).  The following files will be extracted to the directory C:\Program Files (x86)\Intel\Intel Matrix Storage Manager\winall.
    2. iaahci.inf
    4. iastor.inf
    5. iastor.sys
    6. txtsetup.oem
  3. Import these drivers into your MDT Distribution Share as an Out-of-Box Driver.

The Out-of-Box Drivers should now include two new drivers called:

  • Intel hdc iaAHCI.inf (or later); and
  • Intel SCSIAdapter iaStor.inf (or later).

At this point you can recreate your ISO file (by clicking on your Deployment Point and clicking Update).  At this point you should be able to continue your deployment without any further issues.

*While searching the Internet I found a number of newsgroup and forum posts surmising the Vista does not need a SATA driver; in reality Windows needs a driver for everything piece of hardware; many of these drivers are so basic that we do not realize they are there.


2 responses to “Getting Past iastor.sys Errors in Vista Deployment with the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit”

  1. I extracted the Intel iata82_enu.exe driver, version 1023 and injected into both my WinPE x86 Driver folder as well as my Optiplex755 driver folder. verified that I had both:

    hdc iaAHCI.inf
    SCSIAdapter iaStor.inf

    entries but I’m still getting iastor.sys errors when I try to deploy a captured image.

    I’ve updated my Deployment share, regenerating the Boot ISOs.

  2. THANK YOU..!! I’ve been banging my head on this for three days. I have an old Symantec Ghost boot CD with a wide variety of drivers, but not all of them are loaded automatically. I came across a system I need to back up with a FastTrack RAID controller, and the WinPE drvload command says to install them the system must reboot…which is useless because the boot CD is read-only. So after days of re-learning WAIK & creating WinPE, I got stuck on the iastor issue. I read many pages elsewhere, but only yours nailed it; the part that explains the “-a” switch of the Intel setup programs is what I needed, so I had clean copies of the drivers that hadn’t been excised from other sources. Again…thank you.

    PS – I think I’m going to take a stab at writing this to a USB flash drive and making it “live”.

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