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Capture Images of Hard Disk Partitions Using DISM

Updated: October 20, 2013

Applies To: Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2012 R2

You can use the Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM) tool to capture an image of your hard disk for deployment and save it as a Windows® image (.wim) file. To see how this information applies to Windows, system, and recovery partitions, see Capture and Apply Windows, System, and Recovery Partitions.

  1. Windows PE. See WinPE: Create USB Bootable drive.

  2. A reference computer. You can create a reference computer by deploying Windows, and then removing the computer-specific information from the system. For more information, see Sysprep (Generalize) a Windows installation.

This table shows the types of partitions that you must capture and those that are managed automatically.


Partition type Should you capture this partition?

System partition (BIOS system partition or EFI System Partition)


If only a simple set of partition files is required, you don’t have to capture this partition.

Microsoft Reserved partition (MSR)


Primary partitions (Windows partitions, utility partitions)


Extended partition


Logical partitions (Windows partitions, utility partitions)


You can capture and apply images between partitions on BIOS-based and UEFI-based computers, because the Windows image isn’t affected by the firmware. For more information, see Capture and Apply Windows, System, and Recovery Partitions.

If any of the partitions you want to capture don’t already have a drive letter assigned, assign a letter using the DiskPart tool.

  1. Start your reference computer by using Windows PE.

  2. At the Windows PE command prompt, type diskpart to open the DiskPart tool.

    X:> diskpart
  3. Select the hard disk with the select disk command. For example,

    DISKPART> select disk 0
  4. View the partitions with the list partition command. For example,

    DISKPART> list partition
    DISKPART> list partition
      Partition ###  Type              Size     Offset
      -------------  ----------------  -------  -------
      Partition 1    Primary            300 MB  1024 KB
      Partition 2    Primary            200 GB   301 MB
  5. Select the partition with the select partition command. For example,

    DISKPART> select partition=1
  6. Assign a letter to the partition with the assign letter command. For example,

    DISKPART> assign letter=S
  7. Type exit to return to the Windows PE command prompt.

    DISKPART> exit

For more information, see the DiskPart Help from the command line, or Diskpart Command line syntax.

Capture images for each customized partition.

  1. At the Windows PE command prompt, capture the images by using the DISM command together with the /captureImage option. For example,

    Dism /Capture-Image /ImageFile:c:\my-windows-partition.wim /CaptureDir:C:\ /Name:"My Windows partition"
    Dism /Capture-Image /ImageFile:s:\my-system-partition.wim /CaptureDir:S:\ /Name:"My system partition"
    For more information about using the DISM tool to capture an image, see DISM Image Management Command-Line Options.

Save your .wim files to your network or another safe location.

  1. Connect to your distribution share by using the net use command. For example,

    net use n: \\Server\Share
    If prompted, provide your network credentials.

  2. Copy the partitions to your network share. For example,

    md N:\Images\
    copy C:\my-windows-partition.wim N:\Images\
    copy c:\my-system-partition.wim N:\Images\

After the image is captured and stored, you can: