Apply Images Using DISM

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

This topic describes how to deploy images captured from your reference computer to one or more destination computers using the Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM) tool. For more information about configuring recommended hard drive partitions, see Configure UEFI/GPT-Based Hard Drive Partitions and Configure BIOS/MBR-Based Hard Drive Partitions.

Apply a Windows Image

On the destination computer, you will create a structure for the partitions where you apply your images. The partition structure on the destination computer must match the partition structure of the reference computer.

If you apply an image to a volume with an existing Windows installation, files from the previous installation may not be deleted. Format the volume by using a tool such as DiskPart before applying the new image.

To partition the hard drive and apply an image

  1. Boot the destination computer to Windows PE. For more information, see WinPE for Windows 8: Windows PE 5.0.

  2. Connect to the network distribution share where your Windows image is stored. For example, you can use the net use command to do this:

    net use n: \\server\share

    If prompted, provide your network credentials.

  3. At the Windows PE command prompt, type diskpart to start the Diskpart tool.

  4. Create your partition structure using the Diskpart tool. For example:

    select disk 0
    create partition primary size=3000 id=27
    format quick fs=ntfs label="Recovery"
    assign letter="R"
    create partition primary size=300
    format quick fs=ntfs label="System"
    assign letter="S"
    create partition primary
    format quick fs=ntfs label="Windows"
    assign letter="C"

    This example temporarily assigns these drive letters: Windows=C, System=S, and Recovery=R. If you’re deploying to PCs with unformatted hard drives, change the Windows drive letter to a letter that’s near the end of the alphabet, such as W, to avoid drive letter conflicts. Do not use X, because this drive letter is reserved for Windows PE. After the PC reboots, the Windows partition is assigned the letter C, and the other partitions don’t receive drive letters.

    For examples of recommended partition structures, see Configure BIOS/MBR-Based Hard Drive Partitions and Configure UEFI/GPT-Based Hard Drive Partitions.


You can automate this task with the diskpart /s <script> command. For more information, see Diskpart Command line syntax.

  1. Use the DISM tool to apply images to your Windows partition.

    For each partition that you apply an image to, run the DISM/Apply-Image /ImageFile:<image_file> /index<index_number> /ApplyDir:<image_path> command.

    Dism /apply-image /imagefile:N:\Images\my-windows-partition.wim /index:1 /ApplyDir:C:\

    For more information about DISM, see DISM Image Management Command-Line Options.

  2. To set up a basic system partition, you can use the BCDboot tool to copy a simple set of system files to a system partition. These files include boot configuration data (BCD) information that is used to start Windows:

    Use the BCDboot tool to copy common system partition files and to initialize boot configuration data:

    C:\Windows\System32\bcdboot C:\Windows /l en-US

    For more information about the BCDboot tool, see BCDboot Command-Line Options.


You can also set up the system partition by applying an image. Use the DISM/Apply-Image command. For example:
Dism /apply-image /imagefile:N:\Images\my-system-partition.wim /index:1 /ApplyDir:S:</CODE>

You can set up the computer to reinstall your Windows image in the event of a system failure. For more information, see Windows Recovery Environment (Windows RE) Technical Reference.


Microsoft Reserved partitions (MSR) and Extended partitions are managed by the computer. Do not apply an image to these partitions.

You can use audit mode to test the computer and to perform additional customizations before you ship it to your end user. For more information, see Boot Windows to Audit Mode or OOBE.

You can also perform some customizations to the computer without booting it. For more information, see Service an Applied Windows Image.


If you receive the error message: Bootmgr not found. Press CTRL+ALT+DEL, this indicates that Windows cannot identify the boot information in the active partition. If you receive this error message, check the following:

  • Use the DiskPart tool to check to make sure that the system partition is set to Active.

  • Check to make sure that the active partition includes system files.

See Also


Capture Images of Hard Disk Partitions Using DISM
Boot Windows to Audit Mode or OOBE
Samples: Applying Windows, System, and Recovery Partitions by using a Deployment Script