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Walkthrough: Create a Bootable Windows PE RAM Disk on a Hard Disk

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 a hard disk by using Windows PE RAM Disk media, such as a USB flash drive (UFD) or CD-ROM. Staging Windows PE RAM on a hard disk enables you to perform deployment, recovery, and diagnostics.

Windows PE RAM boots directly into memory, enabling you to reformat or to modify the hard drive after boot. In this walkthrough, you build a Windows PE RAM Disk CD-ROM or UFD media. You use the bootable media to start the new computer, format the hard drive, and then copy the Windows PE source files to the hard drive.


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.

  • A blank CD-ROM and CD-ROM-burning software, if you chose to create a Windows PE CD.

  • A UFD device (if you are creating a bootable UFD device).

  • Access to a computer running Windows® 7.

Step 1: Create a bootable Windows PE RAM media

Select one of these options and follow the instructions for building a bootable Windows PE RAM media. After you create your bootable media, continue to the next step.

Step 2: Prepare the hard drive

Boot the new computer with your Windows PE media and format the hard drive.

  1. On the new computer, insert your Windows PE media and restart the computer.

    Windows PE starts and launches the Command Prompt window.


If the hard drive contains an active partition, you must override the boot order to boot from the CD/DVD-ROM drive. During initial boot, select the appropriate function key to override the boot order. If this is a new computer, the hard drive will be unformatted, and you can skip this step and proceed to Step 3: Copy Windows PE source files to hard disk.

  1. Format the hard drive by using DiskPart.

    Windows PE RAM Disk requires an active partition that is at least the size of your Windows PE image. At a command prompt, type:

    select disk 0
    create partition primary size=1024
    select partition 1

Step 3: Copy Windows PE source files to hard disk

After you have a formatted, active partition, you can copy the Windows PE source files from your bootable media to the hard disk. A Windows PE RAM disk requires the directory structure in the example code provided in this step.

You can manually create the directory structure or use the xcopy command to automatically build and copy the appropriate files from your bootable media. At a command prompt, type:

xcopy d:\*.* /e  c:\

where /e copies directories and subdirectories, including empty ones, d is the letter of your CD-ROM drive or UFD media, and c is the letter of the primary partition on your hard disk.

Next Step

You can also boot Windows PE directly from the hard drive instead of RAM. For more information, see Walkthrough: Boot Windows PE from a BIOS-based Hard Disk or Walkthrough: Boot Windows PE from a UEFI-based Hard Disk.

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


Windows PE Walkthroughs