How to Create a Bootable WinPE 2.0 USB Key

Written by kaia liamson
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How to Create a Bootable WinPE 2.0 USB Key
Install Windows PE on a USB key instead of a CD. (ballyscanlon/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Windows PE (WinPE) is a feature-limited Microsoft Windows operating system. This operating system can be booted from a CD/DVD or from a USB key, making it ideal for system repair, operating system imaging, and other tasks that must be completed without booting Windows. To create a bootable USB with WinPE, you will need to install the Windows Automated Installation Kit (AIK) and use the Deployment Tools Command Prompt.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • USB Key
  • Windows AIK installed=
  • Blank DVD
  • Additional component files (optional)

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  1. 1

    Download the Windows Automated Installation Kit from the Microsoft Download Center (see Resources).

  2. 2

    Use your CD/DVD burning software to burn the AIK disk image to a DVD. If you don't have burning software installed, free versions are available, such as InfraRecorder (see Resources).

  3. 3

    Insert the Windows AIK DVD.

  4. 4

    Click "Windows AIK Setup" and follow the prompts to install the software.

  1. 1

    Click the "Start" button and select "All Programs."

  2. 2

    Open the folder for "Windows AIK," right-click the "Deployment Tools Command Prompt" and select "Run as Administrator."

  3. 3

    Type the following command:

    copype.cmd x86 c:\winpe

  4. 4

    Type the following command and press "Enter" to copy the base image to the c:\winpe folder:

    copy c:\winpe\winpe.wim c:\winpe\ISO\sources\boot.wim

  5. 5

    Type the following command and press "Enter" to add custom components to your WinPE image:

    copy <path> c:\winpe\iso

    Replace <path> with the full path to the desired file (for example, c:\imagemaker\imagemaker.exe).

  1. 1

    Insert the USB key into your computer.

  2. 2

    Click "Start," type "cmd" in the search bar and press "Enter" to open the Command Prompt.

  3. 3

    Type "diskpart" and press "Enter" to start the Diskpart utility.

  4. 4

    Type "list disk" and press "Enter" to view a list of available drives.

  5. 5

    Type "select disk <number>," where <number> is the number assigned to the USB key, and press "Enter."

  6. 6

    Type the following commands, pressing "Enter" between each line:


    create partition primary

    select partition 1


    format quick fs=fat32



  7. 7

    Re-open the Command Prompt and type the following command to copy your WinPE image to your USB key:

    xcopy c:\winpe\iso*.* /e <drive letter>:

    Replace "<drive letter>" with the letter assigned to your drive. If you're not sure, click the "Start" button and select "Computer" to view a list of all connected devices.

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