This walkthrough describes how to boot Windows® PE directly from a hard disk instead of into a RAM disk. This enables you to start a computer for the purposes of performing deployment and recovery.

These instructions are for a BIOS-based computer. For instructions for a UEFI-based computer, see Walkthrough: Boot Windows PE from a UEFI-based Hard Disk.


To complete this walkthrough, you need the following:

  • A technician computer that provides all the tools and the source files. For more information, see Building a Technician Computer.

Step 1: Create a bootable Windows PE RAM media

Select one of these options and follow the instructions for building a bootable Windows PE RAM media. Ensure that you include the ImageX tool with your image. After you create your bootable media, continue to the next step.

Step 2: Prepare the hard drive

In this step, you boot the new computer with your Windows PE media and format the hard drive.

  1. On the new computer, insert your Windows PE media and restart the computer.

    Windows PE starts and launches a Command Prompt window.


    If the hard drive contains an active partition, you must override the boot order to boot from the CD/DVD drive. During initial boot, select the appropriate function key to override the boot order. If this is a new computer, the hard drive will be unformatted, so you can skip this step.

  2. At a command prompt, format the hard drive by using the DiskPart tool. Windows PE requires an active partition with a size equal to or greater than the size of your Windows PE image. For example,

    select disk 0
    create partition primary size=<insert size>
    select partition 1
    format fs=ntfs
    assign letter c

Step 3: Copy Windows PE files to the hard disk

In this step, you copy Windows PE resource files to the hard drive from your bootable media. You need the ImageX tool to apply the Boot.wim file to the hard drive. This example assumes the hard drive is blank.

  1. At a command prompt, use ImageX to apply the Windows PE image (Boot.wim) from your bootable media to the hard drive. For example,

    d:\imagex /apply d:\sources\boot.wim 1 c:
    where d is the letter of your bootable Windows PE media that contains ImageX and a Windows PE image.

  2. Copy the \Boot folder from your bootable media to the root of your hard drive. For example,

    xcopy d:\boot\*.* /e /f c:\boot\
  3. Copy the Bootmgr file (no file name extension) from your bootable media to the root of your hard drive. For example,

    copy d:\bootmgr c:
  4. Delete the boot configuration data (BCD) file that you copied from your bootable media. (You will create a new one in the next step.) For example,

    del c:\boot\bcd

Step 4: Configure BCD Store

In this step, you will create a new boot configuration file called BCD by using the BCDEdit tool. BCD replaces Boot.ini. BCDEdit is a command-line tool that is designed to manage BCD stores. BCDEdit is available in Windows PE and Windows® 7. For example,

Bcdedit -createstore c:\boot\BCD
Bcdedit -store c:\boot\BCD -create {bootmgr} /d "Boot Manager"
Bcdedit -store c:\boot\BCD -set {bootmgr} device boot
Bcdedit -store c:\boot\BCD -create  /d "WINPE" -application osloader

The last command returns a GUID value. Substitute <GUID> with this value in the following examples.

Bcdedit -store c:\boot\BCD -set <GUID> osdevice boot
Bcdedit -store c:\boot\BCD -set <GUID> device boot
Bcdedit -store c:\boot\BCD -set <GUID> path \windows\system32\boot\winload.exe
Bcdedit -store c:\boot\BCD -set <GUID> systemroot \windows
Bcdedit -store c:\boot\BCD -set <GUID> winpe yes
Bcdedit -store c:\boot\BCD -displayorder <GUID> -addlast

Your computer is now ready to boot Windows PE directly from the hard disk.

See Also