Tutorial - Booting into a WinPE recovery environment without using a bootable media

Discussion in 'backup, imaging & disk mgmt' started by Raza0007, Jul 22, 2011.

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  1. Raza0007
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    Raza0007 Registered Member

    This simple tutorial is for those who wish to boot into their WinPE based recovery environments without using any external bootable media. Just copy the recovery environment onto your hard disk and then all you need to do is to boot into it. No need to carry cds, DVDs or usb flash drives. Of course, this will not help in case you have a hardware failure.

    Some of you will already know how to do it but some will not and this is for them. A friend of mine asked me to do this for him and after doing it for him I decided to post it here as it might be useful to someone else.

    You will need the following tools:

    Bootable recovery media from the application of your choice.
    EasyBCD an excellent freeware tool. It is free for personal use. Used to be a freeware before.



    Step 1:
    Copy the contents of your bootable recovery media to the local hard disk. You do not need to copy to your root C:\ partition and can use any partition with available space. For WinPE based environments the file you are looking for will have a “*.wim” extension (boot.wim) and is usually located inside the “Sources” folder on the bootable media.


    Step 2:
    Download and install EasyBCD.
    In EasyBCD, on the left hand pane select “Add New Entry” tab (see image below). It will show you your current operating system etc. Leave the top half as it is. In the bottom half under “Portable/External Media” see if “WinPE” tab is selected. In the path field browse to the boot.wim file from the recovery environment you just copied to your hard disk. Name this accordingly e.g “Marcium v5 WinPE 3.1”

    Click “Add Entry” at the bottom.


    Image 2.png




    Repeat this process if you want to add more than one recovery environments.

    You can check the status of your added boot menu option by clicking on “Edit Boot Menu” tab on EasyBCD. (See image below). It will list all your boot options. Make sure your default is your OS. Also make sure you have “Skip the boot menu” option checked, otherwise you will see the boot menu every time you reboot. Click “save settings”.


    Image 6.png



    For some reason on my Windows 7 machine I still got the boot menu at reboot. You can disable the boot menu by going to “Control Panel > System and Security > System > Advanced System Settings > Startup and Recovery settings” and uncheck the “time to display operating systems”.


    Image 3.png




    Step 3:
    How to boot into the recovery environment? Here is a simple method. Click “Useful Utilities” tab on EasyBCD (see image below). Download and install another freeware utility called “iReboot”.


    Image 4.png


    You do not need to have iReboot start with windows, remove it from the automatic startup entries. Just keep the shortcut to iReboot handy. When you need to reboot into your recovery environment just double click on the shortcut. iReboot will start in the taskbar. Right click and make sure “Reboot on Selection” is checked. Right click will also display a list of your recovery environments. Just click on the one you want and your computer will reboot into the selected recovery environment.


    Image 5.png


    This is it. Now you do not need to drag external bootable media with you everywhere. You can also use the EasyBCD to boot into bootable ISO files stored on your hard drive. Follow the same procedure but in step 2 instead of the winpe tab, select "ISO boot" tab on EasyBCD.

    Hopefully, this is useful for someone.
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2011
  2. Sully
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    Sully Registered Member

    Re: Toturial - Booting into a WinPE recovery environment without using a bootable media

    I use a similar approach, only I opted to use Grub4Dos instead of the BCD.

    But, I also put a bit of twist on it. I found a modified GRLDR that would run without a menu.lst. It displays 5 blinking characters after post, and if you do nothing, loads the BCD like normal. If you press the ESC key during that 5 seconds, you can either boot into predifined options, or also have the option to load a menu from a menu.lst on the hdd.

    I hex edited this modified GRLDR for my PEs and Gparted/PartitionWizard .iso files. I made a few menu.lst files that contain a bunch of different settings, mostly so I could have access to .img files of floppies with tools like spinrite/mhdd and ram tools, hdd tools, etc etc. There are some other neat things you can do with grub as well.

    I like your method. I might try that this winter if I build a new machine.

    Good job!

    Sul.
  3. Sully
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    Sully Registered Member

    Re: Toturial - Booting into a WinPE recovery environment without using a bootable media

    Also, what you have found happens when the .iso files (or .wim or whatever you use) are fragmented? Does the BCD method even care? Grub does. If the file is not contiguous, it will not load. I created a very small partition, ran wincontig on them and that fixes that issue.

    Sul.
  4. Osaban
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    Osaban Registered Member

    Re: Toturial - Booting into a WinPE recovery environment without using a bootable media

    Raza0007 thank you! It really works. It is also interesting to note that with the recovery CD I'm operational after 2.10 minutes whereas with your method it only takes 30 seconds. I also had to disable the boot menu through Control Panel, running Vista here. Your tutorial is also excellent, and good on you to post it at Wilders.
  5. Sully
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    Sully Registered Member

    Re: Toturial - Booting into a WinPE recovery environment without using a bootable media

    Does this method run from ram? Can you have the image file located on the c: drive, boot to it, and then wipe/restore the c: drive?

    Sul.
  6. Raza0007
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    Raza0007 Registered Member

    Re: Toturial - Booting into a WinPE recovery environment without using a bootable media

    I believe it does this by default for the .wim images, but you have to specify for the .iso images. I have booted into the recovery environment when the file was located on C drive, but did not perform a restore from there. I like to keep the size of my C partition as small as possible so I prefer to keep the recovery environments on D partition instead. Why don't you give it a try. It is late night here and I am watching a movie on my computer, so I can only try after Friday afternoon.
  7. Raza0007
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    Raza0007 Registered Member

    Re: Toturial - Booting into a WinPE recovery environment without using a bootable media

    You are welcome. Not only does it load faster but if you are on the go and did not remember to bring the recovery media and needed to restore in an emergency, this is the best way to do it. Your recovery environment goes with you.
  8. Raza0007
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    Raza0007 Registered Member

    Re: Toturial - Booting into a WinPE recovery environment without using a bootable media

    I guess both approaches will get the job done. This BCD method is a lot easier though. With Grub you have to do a lot of editing as you mentioned. I like to keep things as simple as possible.

    You can actually get the windows boot menu to wait on the boot screen, after POST, for a few seconds (1-60 sec), where it displays various boot options. You can then choose whether you want to boot into the recovery environment or windows. If you do nothing it will boot into your default boot option which in this case will be the OS. I do not like things slowing down my boot process, so I usually disable the wait at the boot screen.

    Plus, since the recovery environment is only need occasionally, so it is better to disable the boot screen and just load the recovery environment on demand using iReboot.
  9. Raza0007
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    Raza0007 Registered Member

    Re: Toturial - Booting into a WinPE recovery environment without using a bootable media

    I haven't run into this situation till now, as I have ample space on my D partition, so the file are always contiguous. Perhaps I can artificially fragment them and let you know how it goes.
  10. Sully
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    Sully Registered Member

    Re: Toturial - Booting into a WinPE recovery environment without using a bootable media

    Yeah, I initially tried to use the BCD, and know about the options. However, it was the boot into ram that I wanted, so I rolled my own PE based on a project. I have since learned more about .wim and all that.

    I haven't messed with this much since I switched to win7, but it looks like things have improved. I had a few issues with getting the BCD to do everything that I wanted it to do, hopefully that has been addressed, as it does look easier.

    Sul.
  11. aladdin
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    aladdin Registered Member

    Re: Toturial - Booting into a WinPE recovery environment without using a bootable media

    Dear Raza,

    What a beautiful and teaching thread.

    But before anything, your beautiful name Raza is my middle name too, but I spell it, "Redha". However, the way you spell it, "Raza/Reza" is more closer to the pronounciation.

    It is like Abu Dhabi, UAE. The closer pronounciation is Abu Zabi, UAE. And, it means Father of Bee.

    I have now set up the BCD of Recovery Disks (Media) with EasyBCD, even the ISOs of Paragon's which are in Linux.

    BTW, the latest version of EasyBCD is v2.1 for those who are interested.

    Also, about couple of days ago, I set up the Recovery Disks (Media) on USBs by using xBoot. It only allows to setup four Recovery Disks (Media) with a maximum size of about 800mb. Lots of limitations but on USB, rather than burning CDs, everytime there is an update.

    Best regards,

    Mohamed Redha
  12. newbino
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    newbino Registered Member

    Re: Toturial - Booting into a WinPE recovery environment without using a bootable media

    Raza, this is very useful. Thanks for your clarity and thoughtfulness.
  13. Osaban
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    Osaban Registered Member

    Re: Toturial - Booting into a WinPE recovery environment without using a bootable media

    I've tried to do the same thing on my XP netbook, unfortunately EasyBCD doesn't install on XP, it says something along the line "it needs Vista/Win7 boot environment". A real pity as the netbook not having a DVD reader, would greatly benefit from it. Any thoughts about a workaround?
  14. Brian K
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    Brian K Imaging Specialist

    Re: Toturial - Booting into a WinPE recovery environment without using a bootable media

    Osaban,

    The following method is only for TeraByte Unlimited users but it works if you have WinXP. It's more complicated than Raza0007's method.

    http://www.wilderssecurity.com/showthread.php?t=302019
  15. Raza0007
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    Raza0007 Registered Member

    Re: Toturial - Booting into a WinPE recovery environment without using a bootable media

    Well, it sort of makes sense as BCD was only introduced in Vista, but this is the first time I am hearing that EasyBCD would not even install on WinXP! I guess I never did install it on XP myself.

    The only workaround I can suggest right now is if you can connect your netbook's hard drive with your Vista system, then easyBCD can modify the XP bootloader on it, as the options to modify XP are available in it. I have never done this myself though.

    or Give me a couple of days, I will see how to get this working for XP.
  16. Raza0007
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    Raza0007 Registered Member

    Re: Toturial - Booting into a WinPE recovery environment without using a bootable media

    You are welcome.
  17. aladdin
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    aladdin Registered Member

    Re: Toturial - Booting into a WinPE recovery environment without using a bootable media

    In the old days of XP, I used to manually edit the bootup by notepad. Used to go to > Advanced System Settings > Startup And Recovery > And edit the OS

    See the first post of Raza (the OP) and image #3.

    Let us say that you want to add IFW, and you have unrar the ISO of IFW in the D:\boot\ifw

    So now, you will add the entry:

    "D:\boot\ifw\sources\boot.win"

    Add, the above entry without the quotes, assuming that the unrar files are in Drive D, under the sub-directories of > ifw > sources.

    Best regards,

    KOR!
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2011
  18. Raza0007
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    Raza0007 Registered Member

    Re: Toturial - Booting into a WinPE recovery environment without using a bootable media

    Thank you. Hope this works for you. The friend I originally made this for could not get it to work. I had to go to his home and do it for him. But then he is not a technical person.

    This method will work on all bootable wim's and iso that are bootable from windows environment.

    Again thank you. I guess people pronounce their names depending on their mother tongues. A lot of words are similar to each other in Turkish, Arabic, Persian, Urdu, Hindi, Bengali etc but are pronounced differently depending on the speaker's native tongue. So I guess, it is Redha in Arabic, Raza in Urdu, Reza in Persian etc.

    ~Raza Ali
  19. aladdin
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    aladdin Registered Member

    Re: Toturial - Booting into a WinPE recovery environment without using a bootable media

    Dear Raza,

    How true. Imam Raza (a.s.) name is written same in Arbaic/Urdu/Persian, but the English language as only 26 characters, whereas Arabic has 40 characters. Add, to that the short vowels for all those 40 characters, and it is mind bogling.

    Arabic the beautiful language, the first language. Even the dead and dormant Hebrew language was resurrected from Arabic in 19th century.

    Best regards,

    Mohamed Redha

    P.S. The Prince of Peace (Jesus (a.s.)) and his disciples were Jews, but they didn't speak Hebrew as it was a dead language by then.
  20. Raza0007
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    Raza0007 Registered Member

    Re: Toturial - Booting into a WinPE recovery environment without using a bootable media

    Sully, I did some tests and found out for a fact that the wim's are indeed loaded as a ram drive, so even if the file is located on the C: partition you can still perform destructive operations on the drive. I just restored using Macrium while the boot.wim was on the C drive.

    Also, I checked using Perfectdisk, my Paragon's boot.wim has about 16 fragments, but it still loads using the method above, so fragmentation should not cause any problems.

    Also, I wanted to mention that your knowledge in this area far outstrips mine. I would not have been able to do this process if I had to manually edit the BCD's and all that. But now that I have done this using the EasyBCD, I can manually edit the BCD myself to add and remove entries.

    I don't know whether you remember or not but about a year and half ago, I asked you a method of booting into a bootable iso from hard drive (see post 11 onwards). Unfortunately before I could try your procedure, the Nvida GPU in my Dell Laptop died and since I was not in US I had to send my laptop with my sister to get it fixed under warranty. I got it back after 7 months. During those 7 months I did not want to risk my only other backup computer. So, I just wanted to thank you for taking time to detail the process there, as that thread ended quite abruptly.
  21. aladdin
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    aladdin Registered Member

    Re: Toturial - Booting into a WinPE recovery environment without using a bootable media

    Dear Osaban,

    The file you want to edit in Windows XP is called, "boot.ini". It is a hidden file in system Drive C. Use notepad to edit it. No need for EasyBCD.

    The above file doesn't exist in Windows Vista/7 and thus the need for EasyBCD. In Windows Vista/7, it is now part of the 100mb system reserve.

    Best regards,

    KOR!
  22. Raza0007
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    Raza0007 Registered Member

    Re: Toturial - Booting into a WinPE recovery environment without using a bootable media

    Yes, I believe this will work but he will have to add the drive path as well in the boot.ini, so the entry will have to be

    multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2) \boot\ifw\sources\boot.wim

    Assuming the file is on the second partition of the same hard drive. If not, just change the number within brackets after "partition" accordingly.
  23. Raza0007
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    Raza0007 Registered Member

    Re: Toturial - Booting into a WinPE recovery environment without using a bootable media

    Osaban, I found a workaround for your problem. I guess it will work for anybody on winxp.

    First make sure you backup your xp system, I believe you use Shadowprotect.

    Remove EasyBCD from the xp system.

    Then go ahead and install Microsoft .NET v2.0

    From EasyBCD site download and install EasyBCD v1.7.2

    After that follow the directions in this article here.

    It will install Vista Bootloader on your XP system. Just make sure that after you add the WinXP entry back, it is listed as the default OS (click on the "change setting" tab to check.

    I checked this process on my win xp inside vmware and it worked.

    After this you can just add the winpe image by hitting "add/remove entries" tab then "winpe". It will ask you to copy some files from your Vista DVD. I could not continue beyond this point as I do not have a Vista DVD available right now. But I am sure it will work.

    Let me know if you have any problems.
  24. aladdin
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    aladdin Registered Member

    Re: Toturial - Booting into a WinPE recovery environment without using a bootable media

    Pandlouk has Vista boot loader files in the FD-ISR Sticky Thread, in the OP post:

    http://www.wilderssecurity.com/showthread.php?t=267909

    Kind regards,

    KOR!

    BTW, where is Pandlouk (Panagiotis), do miss his him and his vast knowledge.
  25. J_L
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    J_L Registered Member

    Re: Toturial - Booting into a WinPE recovery environment without using a bootable media

    Very interesting and useful guide, thanks for sharing.
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