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Walkthrough: Create a Bootable Windows PE RAM Disk on CD-ROM

Published: October 22, 2009

Updated: August 17, 2011

Applies To: Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2

This content applies to Windows 7. For Windows 8 content, see Windows Deployment with the Windows ADK.

This walkthrough describes how you can create a bootable Windows® PE RAM disk on CD or DVD. Windows PE RAM enables you to start a computer for the purposes of deployment and recovery. Windows PE RAM boots directly into memory, enabling you to remove the Windows PE media after the computer boots.

This configuration boots directly into memory and is assigned the drive letter X, which does not correspond to the media, USB flash drive or CD or DVD, from which you booted. You can set the drive letter using the DISM /Set-TargetPath option. Ensure that you have sufficient memory to support the size of your Windows PE image plus any additional memory requirements; for example, if you plan on running customized applications that need additional working memory.


To complete this walkthrough, you need the following:

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

  • CD or DVD burning software. The Windows OEM Preinstallation Kit (Windows OPK) and Windows Automated Installation Kit (Windows AIK) do not include CD or DVD burning software.

  • A blank CD or DVD.

Step 1: Set up a Windows PE build environment

In this step, you create a required directory structure that supports building a Windows PE image.

To set up a build environment

  1. On your technician computer, click Start, point to All Programs, point to Windows OPK or Windows AIK, right-click Deployment Tools Command Prompt, and then select Run as administrator.

    The menu shortcut opens a Command Prompt window and automatically sets environment variables to point to all the necessary tools. By default, all tools are installed at C:\Program Files\<version>\Tools, where <version> can be Windows OPK or Windows AIK.

  2. At the command prompt, run the Copype.cmd script.

    The script requires two arguments: hardware architecture and destination location. For example,

    copype.cmd <architecture> <destination>

    where <architecture> can be x86, amd64, or ia64, and <destination> is a path to a local directory. For example,

    copype.cmd x86 C:\winpe_x86

    The script creates the following directory structure and copies all the necessary files for that architecture. For example,




  3. Copy the base image (Winpe.wim) to the \Winpe_x86\ISO\sources folder and rename the file to Boot.wim.

    copy C:\winpe_x86\winpe.wim C:\winpe_x86\ISO\sources\boot.wim

Step 2: Add additional customizations

This step is optional, but recommended. Using ImageX, you can add applications and scripts to your Windows PE image that you might need while working in Windows PE. ImageX is a tool for capturing and applying images during deployment scenarios.

To add an application or script

  • At a command prompt, enter the following ImageX command:

    copy "C:\program files\<version>\Tools\<architecture>\imagex.exe" C:\winpe_x86\ISO\

    where <version> can be Windows OPK or Windows AIK, and <architecture> can be x86, amd64, or ia64. In both of the previous examples, the tools are not loaded into memory during a Windows PE RAM boot. The media must be available to access the tools.

Step 3: Create a bootable CD or DVD

To create a bootable CD, you must use CD-recording software that unpacks the .iso file and burns it to a CD. Merely copying the .iso file to the CD will not work.

The Oscdimg tool is not supported on an Itanium-based computer running Windows Server 2003.

To create a CD or DVD

  1. On your technician computer, enter the following command to create an image (.iso) file for a BIOS-based computer. For example:

    Oscdimg -n -bC:\winpe_x86\Etfsboot.com C:\winpe_x86\ISO C:\winpe_x86\winpex86.iso

    where C:\winpe_x86\ISO is the location of the source files, and C:\winpe_x86\winpex86.iso is the destination .iso file.


    For UEFI, replace Etfsboot.com with Efisys.bin, specify the EF platform ID, and add the following Universal Disk Format (UDF) options. For example:

    Oscdimg -bC:\winpe_x86\Efisys.bin -pEF -u2 -udfver102 C:\winpe_x86\ISO C:\winpe_x86\winpex86uefi.iso


    For either BIOS or UEFI, enter the following command. For example:

    Oscdimg -m -o -u2 -udfver102 -bootdata:2#p0,e,bC:\winpe_x86\Etfsboot.com#pEF,e,bC:\winpe_x86\Efisys.bin C:\winpe_x86\ISO C:\winpe_x86\winpex86uefi.iso

    where this command starts the Etfsboot.com boot file for a BIOS image, and then starts the Efisys.bin boot file for a UEFI image.

  2. Burn the image onto a CD or DVD.

Next Step

You can also place Windows PE RAM on other bootable media, such as a USB flash drive or hard disk. For more information, see Windows PE Walkthroughs.

To load an application or a script into memory with Windows PE, you must create a customized Windows PE image. For more information, see Walkthrough: Create a Custom Windows PE Image.

See Also

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