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

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 or CD-ROM). Staging Windows PE RAM on hard disk enables a number of different scenarios, including 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 example, 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 USB flash drive (UFD) device if you are creating a bootable UFD device. You will need access to a computer running Windows Vista.

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 will start and will launch 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.

  1. Format the hard drive by using DiskPart.
    Windows PE RAM Disk requires an active partition with a size no less than the size of your Windows PE image. At a command prompt, type:

    select disk 0
    create partition primary size=350
    select partition 1

Step 3: Copy Windows PE source files to hard disk

Once 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 following directory structure.


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

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

where d is the letter of your CD-ROM drive or UFD media and c is the letter of your hard disk.

Next Step

You can also boot Windows PE directly from the hard drive, not RAM. For more information about this method, see Walkthrough: Boot Windows PE from 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.

You can also boot Windows PE directly from a CD-ROM or a UFD, not into memory (RAM). This method requires that you make two changes to the current BCD sample. In Step 4, change both references from partition=c: to partition=boot. For a CD-ROM, you must still create an .iso file and then burn the image onto a CD-ROM. For a UFD, you can copy the source files directly to a UFD device.

See Also


Windows PE Walkthroughs