Scenario: Service an Offline Image

Applies To: Windows 7


This content applies to Windows 7. For Windows 8 content, see Windows Deployment with the Windows ADK.

If you have already created and customized your primary deployment image, and discover that you need to apply an update, add a new driver, change the settings, or support multiple languages, these changes can be made without deploying the image and recapturing it. This is known as offline servicing. Offline servicing is an efficient way to manage existing images that are stored on a server, because it eliminates the need for deploying and recapturing the updated image. In addition, when you service an image offline you are not required to run the Sysprep tool, and therefore you are not required to use a rearm.

To start implementing offline servicing, you can:

  • Use several master images. Corporations might maintain several images to minimize deployment time. For example, you might have a different image for each region, office, or department within your corporation. Over the course of time, new drivers and other updates need to be applied to those images so that any new computer that is built has all the required software.

  • Use a single master image. Corporations might create just one master image so that several variations do not have to be maintained. For example, they might have one image that contains all the language packs that they support. If you have an image like this, you can apply updates to that single image and all the updates will be applied to each language in the image. Then, before you deploy the image, you can use offline servicing to remove unnecessary language packs.

  • Use a Windows PE image. If corporations need to change a Windows® PE image, they must use offline servicing. For more information about Windows PE offline servicing, see Windows PE Customization How-To Topics.


The following definitions will help you understand the terminology used in this scenario.

Technician computer

The computer on which you install the Windows Automated Installation Kit (Windows AIK) and where you create answer files.

Master image

A Windows image that you want to update.

Distribution share

A distribution share is an optional storage location for third-party drivers, language packs, and other update packages.

Process Overview

The following illustration shows the work flow for this scenario.

When you service an offline image, you use the Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM) to mount the image, service the image, and then unmount the image and save your changes.

Why use DISM?

In Windows Vista®, you used the ImageX tool to mount or apply images, and the Package Manager tool to service images offline. For Windows® 7, you can use the DISM tool to mount and service images. DISM can also be used to create a report about the state of the drivers, applications, language settings, and packages that are installed.

Scenario Tasks

Before you begin, make sure you have the following:

  • A technician computer with the Windows AIK tools installed, and enough available space on the hard disk drive to mount a Windows image.

  • A Windows image (.wim file) that you want to service.

  • The drivers (.inf files), update packages (.cab or .msu files), and the language packs (.cab files) that you will use to service the image, stored in an accessible location.

Use the following table to find the step-by-step instructions and information that will help you complete this process.



For more information

Gather and store your update packages, drivers, and language packs in an accessible location.

You can create a central location or you can create a distribution share. When you are servicing your offline image, you will point to the location where you have stored the files that will be used to service your offline image.

Create or Open a Distribution Share

Copy an instance of your master image to the technician’s computer.

The image you are servicing must be in a location that you can access when you mount the image. We do not recommend mounting an image from a network share.

Sysprep Technical Reference

Sysprep Command-Line Syntax

Service the image.

Use DISM to mount and service your Windows image. You can also use DISM to verify that drivers and other packages were added and removed from the image. Save your changes and unmount the image.

Service an Offline Image

Take Inventory of an Image or Component

Create scripts for regular maintenance tasks.

If you service your master image on a regular basis, you can create a script using the DISM command line options.

Deployment Image Servicing and Management Command-Line Options

Additional Information

The following list provides additional options to consider as you develop your image management and servicing strategy.

See Also


Understanding Servicing Strategies
Phase 5: Managing and Servicing Your Windows Image