01 - How to image a Windows system using a bootable WinPE USB drive and ImageX

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Note: Imaging systems using ImageX is not recommended for fully configured systems which have special ACLs (e.g. file access rights) or reparse points - you are expected to use ImageX on sysprep'ed images only.

The following are the issues when you use the ImageX.exe tool as a backup mechanism:
  • File extended attributes are lost.
  • The ImageX.exe tool only applies reparse points that are symbolic links or junctions.
  • Sparse files on the system are captured and applied. However, the sparse files are no longer sparse after they have been applied.
  • Object IDs on files are lost in the capture process or in the apply process.

How to image a Microsoft® Windows® system using a bootable WinPE USB drive and ImageX

ImageX allows you to take complete backup of a Microsoft® Windows® volume and save the image to a file. You can then restore any system with it's original image in just a few minutes.



1. Install WAIK and create a Windows PE folder

Using your personal Windows XP/Windows Vista®/Windows 7 PC (not the target system that you wish to image):

1. Download the Windows 7 WAIK ISO file (e.g. KB3AIK_EN.iso 1.7GB). You must agree to the Terms and Conditions.

2. Download and install your ISO mount utility. (VirtualCloneDrive in this example)

3. Double-click the WAIK.iso file. The WAIK Welcome window should launch. If not, double-click StartCD.exe on the new drive letter in Explorer.

4. Install the .Net Framework Setup from the WAIK menu.

5. Install the MSXML 6 SP1 Setup from the WAIK menu.

6. Install the Windows AIK Setup from the WAIK menu.

7. Exit from the WAIK menu.

8. Click on Start Menu, All Programs, Microsoft Windows AIK, Deployment Tools Command Prompt to open up a command prompt window.

9. Type copy ..\x86\imagex.exe c:\ and press Enter.

10. Type COPYPE x86 c:\pe86 and press Enter.

11. Type copy c:\pe86\winpe.wim c:\pe86\ISO\sources\boot.wim and press Enter.

12. Type copy c:\imagex.exe c:\pe86\ISO and press Enter.

2. Make a bootable USB drive

1. Connect your USB drive to the USB port.
WARNING: All contents on the USB drive will be destroyed!

2. Double-click on RMPrepUSB.exe.

3. Set the following options:
SIZE = MAX (default)
WINPE (optional)
FILESYSTEM and OVERRIDES = FAT32 + HDD (Note: If you want to store image files >2GB on the UFD use NTFS instead of FAT32)
COPY FILES = Tick it
Copy Folder = Type

4. Click on Prepare Drive.

5. The USB drive should now contain:
\sources (Check whether the folder contains

6. Now you can add any other files you wish to the USB drive.

7. When finished, click the RMPrepUSB Eject button.

3. Boot the target system and take an image

The following actions are performed on the target system (the one that you want to take a backup of):

1. Connect the USB drive to the target computer's USB port.

2. Switch on the target computer and press the appropriate key to enter the BIOS Setup menu. (eg F1, F2, DEL)

3. Check whether the Legacy USB support is enabled, and configure the Boot Order so that the USB drive will boot first. Ensure that the BIOS USB-ZIP mode setting is set to Fixed Disk and not Removable Disk (if available).