Walkthrough: Boot Windows PE from Hard Disk

This walkthrough describes how to boot Windows PE directly from a hard disk but not into a RAM disk. This enables you to start a computer for the purposes of deployment and recovery.


To complete this walkthrough, you need the following:

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. Ensure that you include ImageX with your image. After you create your bootable media, continue to the next step.

Step 2: Prepare the Hard Drive

In this step, you 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 a Command Prompt window.


If the hard drive contains an active partition, you must override the boot order to boot from the CD/DVD 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, so you can skip this step.

  1. At a command prompt, format the hard drive by using DiskPart. Windows PE requires an active partition with a size equal to or greater than the size of your Windows PE image. For example,

    select disk 0
    create partition primary size=<insert size>
    select partition 1
    format fs=ntfs

Step 3: Copy Windows PE Files to the Hard Disk

In this step, you copy Windows PE resource files to the hard drive from your bootable media. You need ImageX to apply the Boot.wim to the hard drive. This example assumes the hard drive is blank.

  1. At a command prompt, use ImageX to apply the Windows PE image (Boot.wim) from your bootable media to the hard drive. For example,

    d:\imagex /apply d:\sources\boot.wim 1 c:

    where d is the letter of your bootable Windows PE media that contains ImageX and a Windows PE image.

  2. Copy the \Boot folder from your bootable media to the root of your hard drive. For example,

    xcopy d:\boot\*.* /e /f c:\boot\
  3. Copy the Bootmgr file (no file name extension) from your bootable media to the root of your hard drive. For example,

    copy d:\bootmgr c:
  4. Delete the boot configuration data (BCD) file that you copied from your bootable media. (You will create a new one in the next step.) For example,

    del c:\boot\bcd

Step 4: Configure BCD Store

In this step, you will create a new boot configuration file called BCD by using BCDEdit. BCD replaces Boot.ini. BCDEdit is a command-line tool that is designed to manage BCD stores. BCDEdit is available in Windows PE and Windows Vista. For example,

Bcdedit –createstore c:\temp\BCD
Bcdedit –store c:\temp\BCD –create {bootmgr} /d “Boot Manager”
Bcdedit –store c:\temp\BCD –set {bootmgr} device boot
Bcdedit –store c:\temp\BCD –create  /d “WINPE” –application osloader
Bcdedit –import c:\temp\BCD

The last command returns a GUID value. Substitute <GUID> with this value in the following examples.

Bcdedit –store c:\boot\BCD –set <GUID> osdevice partition=boot
Bcdedit –store c:\boot\BCD –set <GUID> device partition=boot
Bcdedit –store c:\boot\BCD –set <GUID> path \windows\system32\boot\winload.exe

Bcdedit –store c:\boot\BCD –set <GUID> systemroot \windows

Bcdedit –store c:\boot\BCD –set <GUID> winpe yes
Bcdedit –store c:\boot\BCD –set <GUID> detecthal yes

Bcdedit –store c:\boot\BCD –displayorder <GUID> -addlast

Your computer is now ready to boot Windows PE directly from the hard disk.

See Also


Windows PE Walkthroughs