Capture Images of Hard Disk Partitions Using DISM

You can use the Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM) tool to capture an image of your hard disk for deployment and save it as a Windows® image (.wim) file. To see how this information applies to Windows, system, and recovery partitions, see Capture and Apply Windows, System, and Recovery Partitions.

Prerequisites

  1. Windows PE. See WinPE: Create USB Bootable drive.

  2. A reference computer. You can create a reference computer by deploying Windows, and then removing the computer-specific information from the system. For more information, see Sysprep (Generalize) a Windows installation.

Step 1: Determining Which Partitions to Capture

This table shows the types of partitions that you must capture and those that are managed automatically.

Partition type Should you capture this partition?
System partition (BIOS system partition or EFI System Partition) Optional

If only a simple set of partition files is required, you don’t have to capture this partition.

Microsoft Reserved partition (MSR) No
Primary partitions (Windows partitions, utility partitions) Yes
Extended partition No
Logical partitions (Windows partitions, utility partitions) Yes

You can capture and apply images between partitions on BIOS-based and UEFI-based computers, because the Windows image isn’t affected by the firmware. For more information, see Capture and Apply Windows, System, and Recovery Partitions.

Step 2: Assign Drive Letters to Partitions

If any of the partitions you want to capture don’t already have a drive letter assigned, assign a letter using the DiskPart tool.

  1. Start your reference computer by using Windows PE.

  2. At the Windows PE command prompt, type diskpart to open the DiskPart tool.

    X:> diskpart
    DISKPART>
    
  3. View the disks in your PC with the list disk command. For example,

    DISKPART> list disk
    
    Disk ###  Status         Size     Free     Dyn  Gpt
    --------  -------------  -------  -------  ---  ---
    Disk 0    Online          127 GB      0 B        *
    
  4. Select the hard disk with the select disk command. For example,

    DISKPART> select disk 0
    
  5. View the partitions with the list partition command. For example,

    DISKPART> list partition
    
      Partition ###  Type              Size     Offset
      -------------  ----------------  -------  -------
      Partition 1    Recovery           300 MB  1024 KB
      Partition 2    System             100 MB   451 MB
      Partition 3    Reserved            16 MB   551 MB
      Partition 4    Primary            126 GB   567 MB
    
  6. Select the partition with the select partition command. For example,

    DISKPART> select partition=2
    
  7. Assign a letter to the partition with the assign letter command. For example,

    DISKPART> assign letter=S
    
  8. Type exit to return to the Windows PE command prompt.

    DISKPART> exit
    X:\>
    

For more information, see the DiskPart Help from the command line, or Diskpart Command line syntax.

Step 3: Capture Partition Images using DISM

Capture images for each customized partition.

  • At the Windows PE command prompt, capture the images by using the DISM command together with the /captureImage option. For example,

    Dism /Capture-Image /ImageFile:c:\my-windows-partition.wim /CaptureDir:C:\ /Name:"My Windows partition"
    Dism /Capture-Image /ImageFile:s:\my-system-partition.wim /CaptureDir:S:\ /Name:"My system partition"
    

    For more information about using the DISM tool to capture an image, see DISM Image Management Command-Line Options.

Step 4: Save Images to the Network

Save your .wim files to your network or another safe location.

  1. Connect to your distribution share by using the net use command. For example,

    net use n: \\Server\Share
    

    If prompted, provide your network credentials.

  2. Copy the partitions to your network share. For example,

    md N:\Images\
    copy C:\my-windows-partition.wim N:\Images\
    copy c:\my-system-partition.wim N:\Images\
    

Next Steps

After the image is captured and stored, you can:

Related topics

Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM) Command-Line Options

BCDboot Command-Line Options

Capture and Apply Windows, System, and Recovery Partitions

Boot to VHD (Native Boot): Add a Virtual Hard Disk to the Boot Menu