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v4: How to Create a Windows PE Rescue CD

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v4: How to Create a Windows PE Rescue CD

In this tutorial I'll take you through the steps required to build a Macrium Reflect Windows PE rescue CD. The Windows PE rescue CD is only included with the purchased version of Macrium Reflect and is a separate download. The first time you attempt to burn this CD the installer will be automatically downloaded.

Why do you need a rescue CD?

This is a good question.  The simple answer is because Windows won't let you access all the files on your hard disk.  Windows uses both the RAM (main memory) and the hard disk during normal operation.  Many of the thousands of files in your Windows system directory are open and running to keep your PC humming along.  You can't simply replace them with a different version because they may be loaded into memory and inaccessible from the disk.  The only way you can freely access every part of your system partition is to start your PC with another operating system that loads entirely into RAM.

Enter Windows PE.  This is licensed from Microsoft and has greater flexibility than the other rescue environments. You can add missing drivers to the Windows PE build to enable access to RAID volumes and include drivers for unrecognised network interface cards (NIC).

1. Start Reflect, take the ‘Other Tasks’ menu option and  select ‘Create a bootable Rescue CD  The wizard opens and In the wizard window, select ‘Windows PE 2.0' and click ‘Next’.

2. The Windows PE component isn't supplied with the Macrium Reflect installer and is an additional 100MB+ download.  Make sure you are connected to the Internet, and click OK’.

Note: To ensure that Reflect is not blocked by a firewall you may need to add to your firewall allowed list,

If you receive the following dialog then you have already downloaded the Windows PE installer. Somewhere you will have a file WinPEInstall.exe (32 bit version) or WinPEInstallx64.exe (64 bit version) depending where you saved it.  Running this executable will install Windows PE. To reinstall, double click the existing  WinPEInstall... file. 

Note : You only get one download as each copy requires a license from Microsoft.  You can order another copy by clicking on the 'Purchase download' link.
3. In the next window you select where you are going to save your download.  You may want to create a new folder titled ‘Reflect Download’ or ‘Windows PE Download’.  The folder ought to be in a location where you can easily find it. ClickSave’.

4. After downloading the installer will automatically start....’.

5. After installation, return to the .‘Create a bootable Rescue CD’ wizard, select 'Windows PE 2.0' and click 'Next'.

Put an empty or erasable CD or DVD in your burner and click 'Finish'.

Note: It's better to use non-erasable CD-R or DVD+/-R media.  This tends to be more reliable than RW media for booting. 

Note: If your CD burner has problems creating the disc, you can save the image to a special file called an ISO image file. Click on the CD/DVD burner drop-down list and select 'Create ISO image; file'. You can then use any burning software that you have on your PC to create the rescue CD.  Click ‘Finish’ to save, the .iso file.  It is usually saved to the folder with the Windows PE download at step 3.  Then Burn this .iso file using your CD/DVD burner as ISO image.

You should now have your Rescue CD ready to restore an image.  Keepthe rescue CD in a safe place

You should boot your computer with the rescue CD to make sure it can see all your drives includingthe backup location.If your disks aren't detected by Windows PE then you may need to add drivers to the Windows PE build and create a fresh CD. You can find additional information on this here:

Last Modified:8 Mar 2013

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Type: Info

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