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WinPE: Create USB Bootable drive

Applies To: Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2012 R2
Create a Windows PE (WinPE) bootable 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 Windows ADK

  • 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.

Install Windows PE

  1. Start the Deployment and Imaging Tools Environment as an administrator.
  2. Create a working copy of the Windows PE files. Specify either x86, amd64, or arm:
    copype amd64 C:\WinPE_amd64
    
  3. Install Windows PE to the USB flash drive, specifying the drive letter:
    MakeWinPEMedia /UFD C:\WinPE_amd64 F:
    
    WarningWarning
    This command reformats the drive.

Boot to Windows PE

  1. Connect the USB device to the PC you want to work on.
  2. Turn on the PC, and press the key that opens the firmware boot menus.
  3. Select the USB drive. Windows PE starts automatically.
    After the command window appears, the wpeinit command runs, which sets up the system. This might take a few minutes.

Troubleshooting

  • If the copype command 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 <disk number>
        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
      
      In File Explorer, navigate to C:\winpe_amd64, right-click winpe.iso, and select Burn to disc. Follow the prompts to create a DVD.
    • If your PC requires storage or video drivers to boot, try adding those same drivers to the Windows PE image. For more info, see WinPE: Mount and Customize.
    • Update the firmware of the PC to the latest version.
  • If the PC doesn't connect to network locations, see WinPE Network Drivers: Initializing and adding drivers.

Storing Windows Images on the Windows PE Drive

  • 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 MakeWinPEMedia command 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:
    

See Also

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