Windows PE USB: Install Windows PE to a USB drive
Updated: October 20, 2013
Applies To: Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2012 R2
Here's how to download and install the Windows Preinstallation Environment (Windows PE / WinPE) so you can boot from a USB flash drive or an external USB hard drive.
The default installation runs from memory (RAM disk), so you can remove the drive while Windows PE is running.
Install the following features from the Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit (Windows ADK):
Deployment Tools: includes the Deployment and Imaging Tools Environment.
Windows Preinstallation Environment
: includes the files used to install Windows PE.
- Deployment Tools: includes the Deployment and Imaging Tools Environment.
Start the Deployment and Imaging Tools Environment as an administrator.
Create a working copy of the Windows PE files. Specify either x86, amd64, or arm:
copype amd64 C:\WinPE_amd64
Install Windows PE to the USB flash drive, specifying the drive letter:
MakeWinPEMedia /UFD C:\WinPE_amd64 F:
Warning This command reformats the drive.
Connect the USB device to the PC you want to work on.
Turn on the PC, and press the key that opens the firmware boot menus.
Select the USB drive. Windows PE starts automatically.
After the command window appears, the
wpeinitcommand runs, which sets up the system. This might take a few minutes.
copypecommand isn't recognized, make sure you're running the command from the Deployment and Imaging Tools Environment, which is part of the Windows ADK.
If Windows PE doesn't appear, try the following workarounds, rebooting the PC each time:
To boot a PC that supports UEFI mode, in the firmware boot menus, try manually selecting the boot files: \EFI\BOOT\BOOTX64.EFI.
Try a different USB port. Avoid hubs or cables.
Avoid USB 3.0 ports if the firmware doesn't contain native support for USB 3.0.
Clean the USB flash drive, and then reinstall Windows PE. This can help remove extra boot partitions or other boot software.
diskpart list disk select disk 2 (where 2 is the USB flash drive) clean create partition primary format quick fs=fat32 label="Windows PE" assign letter="F" exit MakeWinPEMedia /UFD C:\winpe_amd64 F:
Try booting Windows PE from a DVD instead. Create an ISO file that you can burn onto a DVD:
MakeWinPEMedia /ISO C:\winpe_amd64 c:\winpe_amd64\winpe.iso
If your PC requires storage or video drivers to boot, try adding those same drivers to the Windows PE image. For more info, see Customize Windows PE: Add drivers, packages, and more.
Update the firmware of the PC to the latest version.
- To boot a PC that supports UEFI mode, in the firmware boot menus, try manually selecting the boot files: \EFI\BOOT\BOOTX64.EFI.
If the PC doesn't connect to network locations, see Windows PE and Networking.
Typically you won't be able to store or capture Windows images on a Windows PE USB flash drive.
Most USB flash drives support only a single drive partition. The
MakeWinPEMediacommand formats the drive as FAT32, which supports booting both BIOS-based and UEFI-based PCs. This file format only supports file sizes up to 4 GB.
For external USB hard drives, you can create a separate NTFS partition that can handle larger file sizes:
diskpart list disk select <disk number> clean rem === Create the Windows PE partition. === create partition primary size=2000 format quick fs=fat32 label="Windows PE" assign letter=P active rem === Create a data partition. === create partition primary format fs=ntfs quick label="Other files" assign letter=O list vol exit MakeWinPEMedia /UFD C:\WinPE_amd64 P:
TasksInstall Windows PE to a CD, DVD, ISO, or VHD
Install Windows PE to Run from a Drive (Flat Boot or Non-RAM)
Customize Windows PE: Add drivers, packages, and more
Boot Windows PE in UEFI or legacy BIOS mode
ReferenceWindows Setup Supported Platforms and Cross-Platform Deployments
Other ResourcesWindows PE: Windows Preinstallation Environment Overview