How To Make and Use a Bootable WinPE Drive

A Recipe for a Bootable WinPE/WinRE UFD

Any good recipe starts with a list of ingredients. Here’s what you’ll need to put this project together (I assume readers are working with post-SP1 Windows Vista installations throughout):

  • 1. Windows Automated Installation Kit (WAIK) version 2.1. This is a tool for burning an ISO image to DVD (which refers to the bootable disk format created by the International Organization for Standardization). If you have Nero Burning ROM, Easy DVD Creator, or some other DVD burning tool, it may be up to this task. If not, grab a copy of Alex Feinman’s "ISO Recorder v3" freeware to handle this job. If you want to create a bootable Vista recovery environment (with the same recovery-tool functionality depicted on the previous page), you’ll need a Vista-installation DVD from which you’ll pluck that tool.
  • 2. A UFD that’s at least 256 MB in size. A 1 GB model might work better if you decide to switch back and forth between Windows PE and Windows RE boot-ups. If there’s anything on this UFD, back it up because you’ll wipe it clean as part of your preparation for creating a bootable WinPE or WinRE image.

Ed Tittel is a freelance writer, trainer, and internet consultant. His work has appeared on many sites, including Tom's Guide, Tom's Hardware, TechTarget, and more. He has also contributed to multiple books, including the "For Dummies" series, where he wrote about HTML, HTML4, XHTML, XML, and CCS. He was also series editor of the Exam Cram books until 2005.

  • masterwhitman
    What, no mention of BartPE or UBCD4Win (Ultimate Boot CD for Windows)? These are two projects that are vastly superior to Microsoft's method (both are built on WinPE but have expanded capabilities) and are far easier to use.
  • richwag
    Nice guide. Never knew about it. Thanks.
  • when I saw this I thought it was going to be a review of Bart's PEBuilder... It's saved my a$$ many times. Far superior to WinPE...

    How about a comparison/companion article? or an article on tools gearheads & techies find indespensible?
  • average joe
    Vista's PE is far more advanced than XP's. The BartPE project is based of XP's PE. Barts is amazingly useful and I can't wait till they move to from PE 1.1 to PE 2.0.

    Some "fairly new" systems will not boot from usb so always carry a cd version as a backup.
  • "I usually grab Imagex.exe and the Package Manager using the commands shown in the next screen capture."

    Hmmm... I don't see a 'next screen capture' showing the commands used to get imagex and Package Manager.
  • LightWeightX
    Good start to the guide until you get to the WinRE. In section 5, step 2, you describe using imagex and the secret is the number 2 argument however you do not give an example of the command. In the WinPE you use a 240 MB partition, then in WinRE you state you need at least 512 MB.
  • sdybas
    Show us howto "use imagex to grab the Windows RE image from the Vista-installation media." Thanks.
  • jfutima
    Yes please follow up on the last few comments, I am stuck in that spot.
  • Good article, but it makes a few omissions and goofs here and there.
    1. For using imagex to grab the WinRE image, check out this link:
    2. "x64" won't work when you're using copype.cmd - it has to be "AMD64". Just replace all instances of x64 with AMD64 in this procedure, and it'll work.
    3. For the image showing how to grab imagex and the package manager, click on the picture above the text to open up the gallery, then click one pic forward.
  • jfutima
    thanks suigi!