How To Make and Use a Bootable WinPE Drive

Table 1: WinPE and WinRE Commands and Programs

WinPE and WinRE commands and programs

Swipe to scroll horizontally
arpYesYesXThe TCP/IP address resolution protocol maps between MAC and IP addresses
assocYesYesManage associations between file extensions and file types/applications
bcdeditYesYesManipulate Windows Vista Boot Configuration Data store
bootcfgYesNoEnables users to manage contents of the boot.ini file (Vista uses BCD but maps to boot.ini)
bootrecNoYesWinRE’s premiere boot recovery tool (along with bootcfg)
cdYesYesChange/list directory command
chkdskYesYesChecks layout and structure of Windows disks, with some repair capability
chknftsYesYesChecks layout and structure of NTFS volumes at boot time
clsYesYesClears the command window
colorYesYesLets users set foreground (text) and background color in the command window
copyYesYesFile copy command
dateYesYesView or set today's date
delYesYesFile delete command
dirYesYesList directory contents
diskpartYesYesCreate, modify, and manage disk partitions at the command line
doskeyYesYesCommand line editing, recall, and macro definition tool
echoYesYesRepeats input text verbatim
endlocalYesYesEnds localization of variables in a batch environment
eraseYesYesDeletes one or more files
exitYesYesCloses command window environment (reboots WinPE, closes WinRE command window)
findYesYesSearch for input text string in one or more target files
formatYesYesFormat hard disk, UFD, or floppy disk
ftpYesYesXInvoke command line File Transfer Protocol client services
ftypeYesYesUse to display filetypes or to manipulate files by type
ipconfigYesYesXDisplay or manage Windows TCP/IP configuration
mdYesYesMake new directory (same as mkdir which is not listed here but works)
moreYesYesManages screen output in screen-size chunks
mountvolYesYesList, create, or delete a volume mount point
move YesYesMove files, renames files and directories
netYesYesXA whole family of network service and function controls
netshYesYesXAnother whole family of network service and function controls
nbtstatYesYesXDisplay statistics related to NetBIOS over TCP/IP traffic on the network
netstatYesYesXDisplay general TCP and UDP connections, port assignments, and activities
pathYesYesShow or manipulate contents of the Windows path variable
pathpingYesYesSend an orderly sequence of PING commands to all nodes on a network path
pingYesYesSend an ICMP echo request to some target address to assess reachability and response time
popdYesYesChanges to directory specified in the pushd command (command extensions must be enabled)
printYesYesProvides access to print services from the command line
promptYesYesChanges command prompt shown in the command window to solicit input (command extensions must be enabled)
pushdYesYesstore desired directory target for popd (command extensions must be enabled)
recoverYesYesrecover readable data from a damaged or defective disk drive
regYesYescommand line registry editing/inspection tool
regeditYesYesBoth WinRE and WinPE will open the built-in Windows Registry Editor
regsvr32YesYesuse to register or unregister OLE and ActiveX controls, important for troubleshooting
remYesYesinserts a text comment into a batch or script file
renYesYessame as rename; use to rename files or directories
replaceYesYesreplace one or more files in a source directory from a target directory
rmdirYesYesdelete directory (also rd)
robocopyYesYesrobust file copy for Windows offers wide range of copy controls/checks
routeYesYesXinspect and manage the contents of TCP/IP static routing table
rundll32YesYesmanages relationships between DLLs and devices on a PC; important troubleshooting tool
setYesYesinspect, add, alter, or delete global environment variables
setlocalYesYesinspect, add, alter, or delete local environment variables
sfcYesNosystem file checker; use with /verifyonly to check Windows OS files
startYesYesopens a separate window to run a program or command
substYesYesuse to associate a path with a virtual drive letter
timeYesYesview or set current time
titleYesYessets title for command window
tracertYesYesXtraces all routers between sending and target Internet hosts
typeYesYeswrites contents of target file to command window display
verYesYesdisplays Windows version in use (6.0.6001 for Vista SP1)
verifyYesYesverifies accuracy of file copies upon completion
volYesYesdisplay or alter disk/volume name
xcopyYesYestool for copying multiple files and entire directory structures

Note: yesX in the WinRE column means the command interpreter recognizes the command, but because WinRE doesn’t load network drivers, it do

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!