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Capture and Apply Windows, System, and Recovery Partitions

Updated: October 20, 2013

Applies To: Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2012 R2

By using Windows image (.wim) files to deploy Windows, you can do the following:

  • Change the drive partition configuration.

  • Change the Windows image itself easily with tools such as DISM.

  • Create scripts that modify the partition sizes based on the drive installed on a particular PC.

  • Reduce the management of individual partitions by using Windows tools to create and configure new partitions.

The procedure below walks through creating an image of the Windows partition on a drive, and using the files in that image to set up the rest of the partitions on the drive.

The following diagram illustrates this process:

Diagram showing capturing the Windows partition
For full code samples that summarize these steps, see Samples: Applying Windows, System, and Recovery Partitions by using a Deployment Script.

  1. Before you can deploy a Windows image to another PC, you must first generalize the image. For more information, see Sysprep (Generalize) a Windows installation.

  1. Boot the PC using Windows PE.

  2. Capture the Windows partition. For example:

    Dism /Capture-Image /ImageFile:"D:\fabrikam.wim" /CaptureDir:C:\ /Name:Fabrikam

    Where D: is a USB flash drive or other file storage location.

  3. On the destination PC, use a DiskPart script to configure and format your hard drive partitions. For more information, see Configure UEFI/GPT-Based Hard Drive Partitions or Configure BIOS/MBR-Based Hard Drive Partitions.

    If you apply an image to a volume that has an existing Windows installation, files from the previous installation may not be deleted. Format the volume by using a tool such as DiskPart before you apply the new image. For example:

    diskpart /s CreatePartitions.txt
  4. Copy the image to the recovery image partition:

    copy D:\fabrikam.wim R:\install.wim

    where R:\ is the recovery image partition.

  5. Apply the image to the Windows partition:

    dism /Apply-Image /ImageFile:R:\install.wim /Index:1 /ApplyDir:C:\

    where C: is the Windows partition.

  6. Copy the Windows Recovery Environment (RE) tools into the appropriate partition.

    • For Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI)-based PCs, copy these tools into a separate Windows RE tools partition:

      md T:\Recovery\WindowsRE
      copy C:\Windows\System32\Recovery\winre.wim T:\Recovery\WindowsRE\winre.wim
    • On BIOS-based PCs, copy these tools into the System partition:

      md S:\Recovery\WindowsRE
      copy C:\Windows\System32\Recovery\winre.wim S:\Recovery\WindowsRE\winre.wim
  7. Configure the system partition by using the BCDBoot tool. This tool copies and configures system partition files by using files from the Windows partition. For example:

    bcdboot C:\Windows
  8. Register the location of the recovery image by using REAgentC. For example:

    C:\Windows\System32\reagentc /setosimage /path R: /target C:\Windows /index 1
  9. Register the location of the WindowsRE tools by using REAgentC.

    • For UEFI-based systems, copy the image to the use the image location as the Windows RE tools partition. For example:

      C:\Windows\System32\reagentc /setreimage /path T:\Recovery\WindowsRE /target C:\Windows
    • On BIOS-based systems, set the image location as the System partition. For example:

      C:\Windows\System32\reagentc /setreimage /path S:\Recovery\WindowsRE /target C:\Windows
  • Capture and apply each individual partition. This method enables you to manage customized system and recovery partitions. Note, for UEFI-based PCs, do not capture and apply the EFI system partition or the MSR partition – these are managed by the PC. Use the BCDBoot command to configure the system partition:

    bcdboot C:\Windows
  • Capture and apply the entire drive. You can use third-party software to capture and apply the entire drive. This method works well for multicast deployment.

See Also

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