Capture and Deploy Image Without Sysprep

In some cases, the administrator needs to capture the Windows image installed on the reference computer without using Sysprep. In our case, this turned out to be necessary due to the fact that the rather old legacy program is installed on the computer, which is installed and linked to several local user profiles during deploying. If you try to capture the image of such a computer using sysprep, then this old program doesn’t start after deploying the OS image to any computer manually via MDT/SCCM (when using sysprep, some program settings and local profiles are deleted). That is why we needed to use another way to get a reference WIM image of a computer without using sysprep.

You can use the ImageX utility to capture a WIM image of a computer. The ImageX.exe utility is not built-in Windows or WinPE tool. Therefore, you must first integrate the ImageX.exe utility to the Windows PE image (the utility is a part of the Microsoft Windows AIK utility pack) by copying it to the system32 folder of WinPE image (usually the image is in the boot.wim file).

DISM /Mount-WIM /WimFile:c:\WinPE_x86\WinPE.wim /Index:1 /MountDir:c:\WinPE_x86\Mount

Copy “C:\Program Files\Windows AIK\Tools\x86\ImageX.exe” C:\WinPE_amd64\Mount\Windows\System32

DISM /Unmount-WIM /MountDir:C:\WinPE_x86\Mount /Commit

wds capture image without sysprep

Suppose you have a reference computer from which you want to create an image for deployment on other computers in your company. The reference computer has the necessary drivers, programs installed and certain settings of the OS, environment and apps. Connect an additional disk to this computer or create a separate partition of at least the size of a system disk C:. If there is no free space, you can create a use shared network folder to save captured wim Windows image. To do this, the WinPe environment must have drivers for your network card, and the computer must be configured to automatically obtain an IP address from a DHCP server.

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Boot your reference computer in Window PE (this can be a special bootable DVD or USB flash drive or an installation disk with a Windows 10 Install image).

On the installation start screen, press Shift + F10. A command prompt window should open. Start the capture from the C: drive and save the OS image to the second local drive using the command:

imagex.exe /capture C: D:\win10custom.wim "Windows 10 Custom Image" /compress maximum

mdt capture image without sysprep

Maximum compression (attribute /compress maximum) allows to reduce image size, but the capture takes longer than with fast compression. The speed of unpacking such an image during deployment process is almost independent of the type of compression.

You can copy the image not to an additional hard disk, but to a shared folder on the server over the LAN, for this you need to connect it with the command:

net use u: wds1wimshare /user:contosoadmin "pa$$word"

Capturing the image is complete, now you can boot your computer in normal mode and you will see that the file win10custom.wim has appeared on the mapped drive. Now you can upload this file to your WDS server or use as a backup copy of the reference computer.

The resulting wim image can be included in the Windows install media by copying it to the sources folder with the name install.wim, i.e., overwriting the standard image. If you immediately create a Windows boot disk and start the installation, then you will receive a copy of the OS system of your reference computer.

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You can also apply your image to a computer with the command:

imagex E:\install.wim /apply "Windows 10 Custom Image" D:

dism capture image

If you are using WinPE 2.0 or WinPE 3.0 to capture your PC images (.wim files) and deploy them you have probably run into a little problem when trying to deploy an image of Windows 7 or Windows 10 when not first running sysprep. The problem is that if you try to re-deploy an image of a nonsysprepped image of Vista or 7 that the BootMGR will be broken. Follow the steps below to fix this problem.

Step 1

We assume you have captured your image already and are ready for deployment. Go ahead and boot up your image deployment software (WinPE 2.0 or WinPE 3.0).

Step 2

In our other articles we describe how to use DiskPart and also avoiding the hidden partition before deploying a new image. We suggest reading them.

Step 3

After you have deployed your non-sysprepped image you need to run the following commands: (I have a batch file I use to do this).

bcdedit /set {default} device partition=c:

bcdedit /set {default} osdevice partition=c:

bcdedit /set {bootmgr} device partition=c:

Step 4

This will fix the BOOTMGR problem when deploying a non-syprepped image in Win 10, 8.1 or Win 7. Enjoy!

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Cyril Kardashevsky
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9 comments

  1. Well, I ran through all three articles – diskpart, hidden partition, and this one – and I am not able to get the bcdedit option to work, it keeps throwing me ” The boot configuration store could not be opened. The system cannot find the file specified.” I am entering the commands as written. Just wondering if you had any thoughts on this – I will review the afore mentioned articles to see if I missed something and then move onto looking for answers in the web. Thanks for any help you guys can offer :)

  2. I was playing around with your WinPE scripts and ran the selected the menu option that runs the commands listed above… only problem was that I did that on a machine that has both a reserved partition and a windows parition – whoops! Is this going to mess anything up? Upon rebooting windows repair ran and did some tests and verified that everything was ok. After that, windows booted up fine.

    So, I was wondering if I run those commands, do I need to run anything else to revert things back to normal, or is all still good?

    thanks!
    Mike

  3. I have followed the sysprep and winpe docs and all was going well for my Windows 7 64bit image. The custom sysprep works well. I created the winpe iso but it only boots to a flashing non responsive command prompt not the GImageX App. Any suggestions?

  4. completely failed for me. I deployed a non sysprepped image and like apagano the bcd fix does not work.

    also the reference to other docs… put a link because I am not clear what previous entries you are referring to. There are a mention of 3 articles but which 3. I would really like to get this to work. Sysprep screws up our image horridly by resetting half the settings and tweaks we do to our systems.

  5. Its my understanding that Windows PE does not have Boot Rec utility installed by default. So if one is booting from Windows PE one cannot run the BCD option of Boot Rec in the Command Prompt.One could create a Boot Rec plugin for Windows PE by installing the four files that Bootrec needs to run.They are Bootrec.exe, Bootrec.exe.mui,Wer.dll and Wer.dll.mui. These can be found in the Boot.wim of a Windows 7 recovery disk.Once its mounted one can find these files in the Windows\system 32 folder and copy these to the same folder in the Windows PE Bootwim file. I may create one to see if this works.

  6. I successfully used DISM for this. Then I copied the image to a WDS server and configured it to install with an Unattend file with standard student user accounts to be created. I’ve never been successful using Unattend files to repartition the disk, so I manually wipe all partitions as part of the imaging process, and therefore didn’t need to use bcdedit (which I’ve found to be as troublesome as Unattend files doing disk partitioning). So as suggested by Corey, DISM works and imagex isn’t needed.

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