Rebuilding Remote Worker Devices from the Cloud

Dell’s ProSupport and Ready Image are removing obstacles from the IT support process for remote workers.

Editor’s Note: This post has been updated to reflect current information as of April 2024. 

Imagine that your workforce has been sent home and is now working remotely (not too big a stretch of the imagination). You get a panic call from an end user that they have accidentally allowed some malware onto their computer. It appears to have evaded your security tools and now you can’t trust their Windows install. How are you going to fix it? How do you rebuild their device if they aren’t in the office?

For some organizations, this would be a nightmare scenario. Forrester¹ reports that 71% of rebuilds today require reimaging in the office, but for you it is not a big issue. Why? Because your team has Dell laptops. Not just Dell laptops, but Dell laptops with ProSupport and our Ready Image, our cloud-based solution to remotely restore a clean Windows 10/11 image. You simply talk the user through recovering a clean Ready Image install onto that drive using our Self-Healing Image Recovery.

The shift in the way that we work, initially to remote working and then to hybrid working, brought  the need for better remote support solutions into sharp relief. Customers need to restore the image in several scenarios such as:

    • Corrupted operating system
    • Malware recovery
    • After HDD/SSD replacement

While end users are increasingly IT savvy and prefer self-enabled solutions, few IT admins expect their end users to reinstall the operating system by themselves. These scenarios can become complicated and involve decisions that end users may not be prepared for. Our solution makes it possible for the IT admin to make the decisions, while enabling the user to initiate the process from wherever they are.

How Does This Work?

Repeated boot failures will trigger Dell’s SupportAssist agent to assist with the recovery. This is enabled via the following BIOS Settings:

    • SupportAssist OS Recovery – Unchecked
    • BIOS Connect – On
    • Dell Auto Recovery Threshold – Any desired value greater than zero (0)

IT admins then have access to our TechDirect portal (registration required) to set their recovery policies. Dell’s Ready Image is available for both Windows 10 and 11, in 13 languages/variants and four regional language groupings. It is also available in the current shipping (N) and prior shipping versions (N-1 etc.)

Dell’s cloud interface allows IT admins to set the desired Windows build to be recovered. This enables you to recover the right build for the user, instead of recovering the build that the device shipped with, which could be months or years old, depending on the system’s age.

Secure by Design

This is a powerful feature that could raise security concerns within organizations, but we have engineered controls into the solution.

    • The feature is controlled via the device BIOS
    • When the feature is turned on in the BIOS, admins can control its use via TechDirect
    • The TechDirect tile enables IT admins to enable and set policy at a device level or for your entire fleet
    • The TechDirect portal offers Role Based Access Controls

User Experience

Once a suitably entitled device is enabled to use Ready Image, the user will begin the process and let Self-Healing Image Recovery work its magic. They will be required to connect the device to their home network which could include entering the SSID and password for the Wi-Fi, where Wi-Fi is supported. Download time will vary based on the available bandwidth on their network.

The image content is distributed via Content Delivery Network (CDN) technology to provide the best availability and performance, but typically the last mile connection is the bottleneck. Devices with an SSD usually perform significantly better than those with an HDD during the imaging phase.

Dell has taken our popular and widely used OS recovery tool and extended it to enable end users to recover our clean Ready Image to their devices, wherever they are. The TechDirect portal includes a web interface to allow IT admins to control the OS that their end user recovers. Built-in security protocols ensures that users can only recover the OS build an IT admin specifies and only if their device has been enabled to do so. Entitlement and enablement checks are performed at the point of execution allowing for real-time control in response to help desk calls.

More information can be found on the Tech Direct help center.

1 Forrester – Digital employee experience maturity enables the future of anywhere work – September 2021

About the Author: Colin Sainsbury

Colin joined Dell in 2010 as a Solution Architect before becoming a Solution Principal (technical presales) at Dell Technologies Services. Having shown a keen interest in modern management strategy, in 2020, he took the opportunity to move into the Services Client Product Group to help drive Dell’s efforts in this area. He provides the strategic guidance and technology expertise that organizations need to transform their end user computing environments. The Service Client Product Group is responsible for shaping Dell’s Services Strategy regarding Modern Management and Provisioning as well as helping Dell’s customers adopt Windows 10 and optimize their deployment processes. A significant element of this work is to reduce the time to value when a user receives a device, whether that device is new and provisioned via our configuration centres or re-provisioned via our lifecycle management hubs. Colin has 25 years of experience in the IT industry. He started out as a tier 2 helpdesk analyst for the Computing Centre at Imperial College, London. Shortly after taking this role, he was asked to deploy Microsoft Exchange 4.0 into the College as it began to move from a UNIX SendMail email system. Having gained significant experience by deploying one of the earliest Exchange environments, he moved into Exchange consultancy roles. Three years after that initial implementation, he was working as an Exchange consultant for Compaq. Lady luck intervened once more, and Colin was asked to perform an Exchange upgrade for a branch of the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD). This led Colin to specializing first in MoD engagements, then branching out into the wider Central Government space dealing with several key Government departments. This specialization naturally brought with it an understanding of the security concerns and drivers in these sensitive environments. However, since joining Dell he has used this experience across all industry sectors.