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Servicing Images

Updated: May 8, 2008

Applies To: Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2

Servicing images means updating an image that is currently available to users — for example, adding an update to your existing image. There are two types of image servicing:

  • Offline. In the context of updating images, the term "offline" refers to updating or applying changes to an operating system image that is not currently running. For example, updating a .wim file with security updates by using ImageX.

  • Online. In the context of updating images, the term "online" refers to updating or applying changes to an operating system that the computer is booted into. For example, installing an update by using Windows Update is an online operation.

Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Windows 7, and Windows Server 2008 R2 support offline servicing of images that have been prepared with Sysprep, whereas earlier versions of Windows do not. You service images using the Windows Automated Installation Kit (AIK). The following are the four high-level steps you will need to perform to service an image offline.

  1. Disable the current image. To do this, right-click the image and click Disable. This allows currently connected clients to finish applying the image, but it prevents new clients from starting an installation.

  2. Export the image to a location outside of the image store. To do this, right-click the image and click Export. For install images, this combines the metadata in the install image with the resources in the Res.rwm file into a single .wim file and saves it to the destination location (see the following section for more information about how these files are saved). To save space, you can also use the WDSUTIL /Export-Image command to append the images to an existing .wim file. This is also generally faster than exporting it to a new .wim file. For more information about this command, see /export-Image.

  3. Service the image. In this step, you update the image using the tools in the Windows AIK. Ensure that you are using the correct version of the Windows AIK based on the operating system of the image. You can mount the image to a folder, and then add the files and folders to the image. You can also load the registry hive to add, delete, or modify registry keys. After all your changes are complete, commit the changes to the .wim.

  4. Replace the current image with the updated version. In this step, you add the updated image back to the Windows Deployment Services server. If the previous image is still in use, you have two options:

    • Wait for existing installations to complete, delete the old copy, and then replace it with the new. To do this, right-click the image and click Replace. We recommend this method because any associated external data such as language packs, unattend files, or $OEM$ folder contents will remain associated with the image.

    • Add the updated image as a new, separate image. You must also copy or associate any external data such as language packs, unattend files, or $OEM$ folder contents.

Sometimes it may be more efficient to redeploy and recapture an image to add applications, rather than servicing the image offline. You can perform this task using ImageX, or by creating a capture image. For more information about capture images, see Creating Custom Install Images.

An image group is a collection of images that share common file resources and security. The following are the two components of an image group:

  • Res.rwm contains the file resources for each image group.

  • <ImageName>.wim contains the metadata that describes the content of the install image.

Because the images are stored this way, removing an image from an image group does not reduce the size of the files. This is because files in the Res.rwm file that no longer belong to an image are not actually converted to free space. Instead, they are just dereferenced. To reclaim free space within the Res.rwm file, you must perform the following steps:

  1. Export all images from the image group to an external .wim file.

  2. Create a new image group.

  3. Add all exported images to the new group.

When performing this procedure, you must manually copy and reassociate any external data (such as language packs and unattend files) to the new image group.

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