winrewim bootable usb

How to Create Bootable USB Drive with WinRE in a WIM File


In this article we will show you how to create a bootable USB drive with Windows Recovery Environment (WInRE) in a WIM file using the standard Windows tools. Boot into WinRE environment can be useful to quickly repair the installed Windows: fix common causes of unbootable operating systems, start the system recovery, restore system from an image, roll back to a restore point, change boot options and access to the command prompt, which means the ability to do a lot of different things.

In addition, you can run regedit.exe and other system programs (and even some third-party software) unless it does not require running a full Windows edition. An alternative solution is to boot from the installation DVD or ISO-image, but the directly launch of the WInRE from the WIM file will be faster and its size is much smaller than a DVD. In addition, you can place multiple WIM-image (for example, 2  different WinRE image (x86 and x64) and other WIM images on one USB drive).

Creating Bootable USB Drive with WinRE

What we need:

  1. File Winre.wim can be copied directly from the installed systems (in Windows 7, it is stored in the directory C:\Recovery\{SomeGUID}; in Windows 8/10 in a folder C:\Recovery\WindowsRE). In some cases, this file is located on a special boot partition with name “System Reserved”, which has a size of 100-500 MB and located before the main system partition C: \. Also Winre.wim file can be copied from the installation DVD from the image file \sources\install.wim within the image file it is located in the following folder \Windows\System32\Recovery (the easiest way to open the install.wim and extract Winre.wim file is using 7-Zip).
    winrewim windows 10 iso
  2. file sdi also located inside winre.wim or install.wim image in folder \Windows\Boot\DVD\PCAT, or on a distribution DVD in \boot folder.
  3. executable exe is needed to make a bootable USB flash drive. You can find this file inside the wim image \Windows\System32 or on DVD in \boot folder
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Next, format the USB drive in the FAT32 file system using the following commands:

diskpart

list disk

select disk 1

Warning! Note that the flash drive disk number (disk 1 in our case) may differ on your system, otherwise you can format the hard disk.

clean

create partition primary

select partition 1

active

format FS=FAT32

assign

exit

command prompt diskpart

Create a boot sector on the USB drive (in our case it was assigned the letter G:):

bootsect /nt60 G:

bootsect

The next step is to copy on USB drive files of bootmgr loader. The necessary files can be copied from the installed Windows:

bcdboot C:\Windows /l en-us /s G:

Note. In this way you can put different versions of WinRE from all systems (Windows 7 / 8.1 / 10 and server versions) and any bitness at the same time on a bootable USB flash drive.

Files also can be copied manually from a Windows distribution DVD/ISO. We need:

  • file bootmgr
  • folder \boot\

Let’s create a boot record:

cd /d G:\boot

bcdedit /store bcd /copy {default} /d "Windows Recovery Environment"

command prompt bcedit

Copy the resulting GUID of the new boot record and replace the my GUID {a63f188f-e492-11e6-9c2a-0050569efccb} in next commands:

bcdedit /store bcd /set {a63f188f-e492-11e6-9c2a-0050569efccb} device ramdisk=[boot]\boot\winre.wim,{7619dcc8-fafe-11d9-b411-000476eba25f}

bcdedit /store bcd /set {a63f188f-e492-11e6-9c2a-0050569efccb} osdevice ramdisk=[boot]\boot\winre.wim,{7619dcc8-fafe-11d9-b411-000476eba25f}

bcdedit /store bcd /set {a63f188f-e492-11e6-9c2a-0050569efccb} locale en-US

Tip. {7619dcc8-fafe-11d9-b411-000476eba25f} is default configuration value since Windows Vista.

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command prompt bcedit completed

After the sequential execution of commands above, boot record will be created. But its content will be slightly different, depending on where the file storage BCD was taken. This is due to the fact, that the basis for the new post entry creation is from different original records from the bcdstore: to run the installation program, or to boot Windows.

A complete listing of the working boot record, taken from the DVD Windows 10.

windows boot manager

The same way you can create other entries. For example, to boot winre.wim for x64 version Windows, just change the path to the WIM-files in the device and osdevice parameters.

It remains to copy files winre.wim and boot.sdi to the folder \boot on the USB flash drive. The folder can be different (then correct the path in the bcdedit commands above), but both files must be placed in the same folder.

winre

To boot multiple wim images you can use only one boot.sdi file.

Now you can try to boot the Window Recovery Environment from your USB drive (don’t forget to configure your BIOS to boot from USB).


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