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[Guide] Create a Bootable Windows 7 system Image ISO


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#1
wondim

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This guide would have been shorter but it became a bit long due to more detailed elaboration to fit all type of user from beginner to advanced. So advanced users can simply skip many simple steps. In this guide you can make a bootable recovery DVD without the need of any expensive backup software. We only need freewares to do this. And once the bootable backup is made, we can use it for any computer. It works on both Windows 7 and Vista.

First, any Windows Vista/7 ISO has Install.win file in the source directory. If this Install.wim is mounted, it shows the actual directories of C drive that we see when windows is installed first. So in short, the thing to be done is to replace original install.win with the one made by windows backup then captured by GImageX. Below is the detail.
Requirements
- The host computer needs to have Windows backup and Restore (with system image creator)
- One of Power ISO, UltraISO, Magic ISO, 7Zip (free), WinRAR, etc
- GImageX 2.0 http://www.autoitscr...gex/gimagex.zip
- Windows 7/Vista ISO file
- 4.7 GB or 8.5 GB DVD - size depends on the newly created ISO and a DVD writer (with double layer support if size of the ISO is bigger than 4.7 GB) Or
- USB drive - size depends on the newly created ISO (preferably 8GB or more)
- A Bootable USB – a tool to make USB bootable and to install Windows from USB.
http://www.deviantar...ishal_Gupta.zip
The microsoft Windows 7 ISO to USB tool didn't work for me maybe due to the size.

Phase One – Backup your system image with Windows backup and Restore
It is advised to make this backup when your PC has all the necessary softwares and drivers that you need and when the system is in a stable form. Clean up unnecessary files, move documents and any others files that are not need by your softwares of the system to free up space. If you have plan of installing the Recovery DVD on other systems, make sure you deleted all firefox history, bookmarks, etc and private files. You can recover them again using MozBackup. MozBackup - Backup tool for Firefox and Thunderbird
1. Go to Control Panel search for “Backup and Restore” or type it on start menu search
2. When the main page of Backup and Restore appears click on “create system image”
3. Select a drive location where the backup will be saved. Make sure “On one or more DVDs” and On network location” are unchecked. Then Click next.
4. In the next windows, make sure other drives are not selected. Make sure only the system image is checked which cannot be editable. Then click next.
5. Then click on “Start Backup”.
6. Once the backup is over, it asks you to create a system repair disk. For now cancel. But create another time. It is useful in case of booting problem.
Phase Two – Convert the system image file (VHD) into .WIM file
The system image you created in phase one is saved as VHD – Virtual Hard Disk Format with give us chance to mount as an additional partition. This VHD must be converted to .WIM file so that we can integrate the system backup in Windows 7/Vista DVD/ISO.
1. Start > Right-click on My Computer > Manage. Then from the left hand side menu Click on “Disk Management”
2. Now go to the top menu and Click on “Action” and click on “Attach VHD" then you will be promted to "specify the VHD location" so click on Browse, and locate the VHD that is created by Windows Backup and Restore the VHD file is found in X:\WindowsImageBackup\Your Name-PC\Backup YYYY-MM-DD hhmmss. (eg. F:\WindowsImageBackup\Andex-PC\Backup 2009-12-03 192205) Then once you select the VHD and click ok, the VHD will be mounted as a new partition. Observe the driver letter
3. Open GimageX 2.0 from any of the subfolders x86 or x64 depending on which edition of operating system you are recovering.
4. On the main GUI of GImageX for “source”, select the drive which the VHD was mounted to
5. For destination, Click browse and place it in a location where there is more free space. Under “File Name” on the browse window type “Install” without quotes and click on Save.
6. For compression choose Maximum (to save space)
7. For SKU Flag, choose any of the Windows Version you are backed up already.
8. For the description information, just customize it however you like
9. Once done, click the Create button at the bottom of the GimageX
10. GimageX starts converting the VHD file to WIM file (this process will take from few minuites to several minutes depending on the size of your backup).

Phase Three – Integrating WIM file into Windows 7/Vista ISO file and Burn the ISO into DVD or USB
1. Go to your windows 7/Vista ISO folder and Copy it from the original location and Paste it into another location preferably where there is more free space. Doing this is important because the ISO will be edited and keeping original ISO is a wise option.
2. Open the ISO with PowerISO or similar software.
Inside the ISO, there will be a sources folder, so just remove the install.wim file and drag the install.wim file that you made with GImageX into the sources folder. (In other words, you are just replacing the install.wim file that's on the original ISO, with the one that you made.)
3. Finally, save it as an ISO and check the size of the ISO, and use a DVD that has bigger size than the ISO.
4. Insert black DVD and Burn the ISO using Windows Disc Image Burner (as there might be compatibility issue with other burners).
5. For USB Installation - make sure the size of the USB is big enough – and follow the instruction to create a bootable USB using the utility here. First install the utility and follow the instruction on help in left side of the GUI. This application is odd but simple to use. To know it has finished one step, check if the application can be moved. Often when it is performing a process, it locks itself and user cannot click anything. To stop the application without finishing its process, use task manager and end its process.

Phase Four – Recovering Windows
The Recovery has no single difference from a clean windows installation. The major difference is the outcome. All your software and setting will be recovered at the end of Windows installation process. The time taken is almost the same as Clean and new Windows installation. Activating Windows might be needed unless you are using a pre-activated Windows.
Most importantly, the recovery DVD can be used for other systems too. The drivers will be installed at first start. It might be necessary to uninstall driver software of the original PC and changing user name and PC name. I have successfully installed Windows 7 Professional on Acer, Dell and Toshiba Notebook using the created Recovery DVD of an HP Notebook.

Important Note
This note doesn't concern Windows Vista/7 OEM users but it is concerned with those with retail versions. If you are making the recovery ISO from Retail versions, you will be asked to immidately activate Windows once you start the system. Preactivating is also another option which is a bit complicated.

Note: for better understanding of your ISO size;
The size of my C partition before the backup 19 GB.
My Windows 7 Professional backup size (VHD) - 12.2 GB ;
The created Install.wim file size 5.2 GB,
The ISO file after replacing the original Install.wim - 5.8 GB.
So using this info, you can estimate the size of your final ISO.

Any suggestion, question, comment, and rejection is welcomed.

Edited by wondim, 19 October 2010 - 12:48 AM.



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#2
Kelsenellenelvian

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Hmmm makes me wonder just how you get past the .wim limitation of 4gigs?

#3
cluberti

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Use a USB key formatted NTFS? ;) I have a 7GB WIM with quite a few versions of Vista / 2008 and 7 / 2008 R2 in it, and it works fine from a 64GB USB key formatted NTFS.

#4
wondim

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Hmmm makes me wonder just how you get past the .wim limitation of 4gigs?

I didn't know that there was a 4 GB limit on.wim. Maybe because I used the new version of GImageX and didn't try to boot with FAT32 formatted pen drive.

Use a USB key formatted NTFS? ;) I have a 7GB WIM with quite a few versions of Vista / 2008 and 7 / 2008 R2 in it, and it works fine from a 64GB USB key formatted NTFS.

That is the trick Cluberti, and a bootable USB tool works perfect ( http://www.askvg.com...ver-2008-and-7/ ).

#5
Kelsenellenelvian

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Use a USB key formatted NTFS? ;) I have a 7GB WIM with quite a few versions of Vista / 2008 and 7 / 2008 R2 in it, and it works fine from a 64GB USB key formatted NTFS.



HOLY CRAP!!!

I thought the 4gig limitation was a rather stiff one to beat...

I will have to give that a try.

Now where in the hell did I put my 16gig usb at?

#6
wondim

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Now where in the hell did I put my 16gig usb at?

You might not even need your pen drive for testing as you can just create the ISO and use EasyBCD 2.0 Beta build 76 to boot from the ISO. EasyBCD is making a huge progress. http://neosmart.net/...read.php?t=4874 (requires registration for beta builds but I have it, just PM me if you need it).
I also created a recovery partition using EasyBCD, which is added on the boot manager and when I create another backup, I just convert from vhd to Install.wim and replace the existing Install.wim in the recovery partition. I already have two bootable double layer DVDs in case of complete crash.

#7
cluberti

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Also, if you use oscdimg to create a UDF ISO with the -m -o -h options, it seems to work if you use the ISO in a virtual machine (at least Hyper-V and Virtual PC both work with >4GB WIMs in an ISO in my testing).

#8
dencorso

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Use a USB key formatted NTFS? ;) I have a 7GB WIM with quite a few versions of Vista / 2008 and 7 / 2008 R2 in it, and it works fine from a 64GB USB key formatted NTFS.

Is it a Corsair, perchance?

#9
cluberti

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No, Patriot.

#10
MAVERICKS CHOICE

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Excellent post & guide will give this a try over the coming days. :thumbup

Edited by MAVERICKS CHOICE, 01 January 2010 - 02:41 AM.


#11
gosh

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ive made an iso that has every version of windows 7 and server 2008 r2 for only 3 gigs. Im thinking of writing a tutorial on it. I used new methods.

-gosh

#12
wondim

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ive made an iso that has every version of windows 7 and server 2008 r2 for only 3 gigs. Im thinking of writing a tutorial on it. I used new methods.

-gosh

That is cool:thumbup . I think it is already done by others but I would love to see your tutorial.

#13
daraj

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I followed the instructions in first post and i got the wim file which was 11GB. I replaced it in the win 7 iso image then tried to install it on my virtualBox machine installed fine but it will not start windws it will show BSOD everytime. What am I doing wrong here?

Note: The host harddisk is a 2 TB raid( 1Tb each). Not sure if it makes differecen.

#14
cluberti

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Does the install finish, and then Windows crashes, or does it BSOD during setup? Also, what's the bugcheck code in the BSOD itself?

#15
daraj

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Does the install finish, and then Windows crashes, or does it BSOD during setup? Also, what's the bugcheck code in the BSOD itself?


Install itself goes jst fine and smooth. Its just when its done installing and starting windows it BSOD. I cant read screen because it happens so fast. My guess is that the wim file created needs to be syspreped first?

#16
cluberti

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If you installed Win7, configured it, then want to use the new WIM, yes you must sysprep /generalize capture it before you can redeploy it anywhere but the original machine (and even that sometimes doesn't work). So yes, you must sysprep before you capture and redeploy, otherwise you're likely to have things just not work.

#17
wondim

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Does the install finish, and then Windows crashes, or does it BSOD during setup? Also, what's the bugcheck code in the BSOD itself?


Install itself goes jst fine and smooth. Its just when its done installing and starting windows it BSOD. I cant read screen because it happens so fast. My guess is that the wim file created needs to be syspreped first?

Did you install Windows 7 from DVD or USB? Did you try to make a startup repair with Windows 7 Recovery Environment?

#18
daraj

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Does the install finish, and then Windows crashes, or does it BSOD during setup? Also, what's the bugcheck code in the BSOD itself?


Install itself goes jst fine and smooth. Its just when its done installing and starting windows it BSOD. I cant read screen because it happens so fast. My guess is that the wim file created needs to be syspreped first?

Did you install Windows 7 from DVD or USB? Did you try to make a startup repair with Windows 7 Recovery Environment?


I installed it from iso ( not dvd) on my virtualBox application. I tried to repair it but not go. I followed the instructions on the 1st post untill the point where the iso image is ready to be burnt on dvd. Didnt burn it but instead attached it to my virtualBox and started win 7 installation. Installed went perfct with no hitch. Only when initial startup after installation it crashes.

I dont see syspre instructions on the first post. How do I do that?

#19
wondim

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I installed it from iso ( not dvd) on my virtualBox application. I tried to repair it but not go. I followed the instructions on the 1st post untill the point where the iso image is ready to be burnt on dvd. Didnt burn it but instead attached it to my virtualBox and started win 7 installation. Installed went perfct with no hitch. Only when initial startup after installation it crashes.

I dont see syspre instructions on the first post. How do I do that?

I didn't test it on Virtual box so I cannot say much on that. I see that your actual hard disk is too big as the Install.wim is 11 GB. Did you give enough space for your virtual hard disk? And could you take a snap shot of the BSOD message as soon as displayed?
Don't use EasyBCD to boot from ISO in Virtual Box or Vmware. It doesn't work.

Edit: I found a similar problem on Virtual Box support forum. http://forums.virtua...p...696&start=0
It might be helpful.

Edited by wondim, 06 January 2010 - 10:17 AM.


#20
daraj

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I installed it from iso ( not dvd) on my virtualBox application. I tried to repair it but not go. I followed the instructions on the 1st post untill the point where the iso image is ready to be burnt on dvd. Didnt burn it but instead attached it to my virtualBox and started win 7 installation. Installed went perfct with no hitch. Only when initial startup after installation it crashes.

I dont see syspre instructions on the first post. How do I do that?

I didn't test it on Virtual box so I cannot say much on that. I see that your actual hard disk is too big as the Install.wim is 11 GB. Did you give enough space for your virtual hard disk? And could you take a snap shot of the BSOD message as soon as displayed?
Don't use EasyBCD to boot from ISO in Virtual Box or Vmware. It doesn't work.

Edit: I found a similar problem on Virtual Box support forum. http://forums.virtua...p...696&start=0
It might be helpful.


Thanks for the quick answers you are providing. The hard drive on the virtualbox is 40GB so thats not a problem. the BSOD screen happens in a blink of an eye. I will try to capture that. I didnt use EasyBCD.

#21
gosh

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Here's a pic of my AIO ISO. It has every version of windows 7/ server 2008 r2. Only 3.91 gigs. When i get time im going to write a guide. Im thinking of putting it on my site too along with other useful information.

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#22
wondim

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Here's a pic of my AIO ISO. It has every version of windows 7/ server 2008 r2. Only 3.91 gigs. When i get time im going to write a guide. Im thinking of putting it on my site too along with other useful information.

This is awesome :thumbup Did you test my guide?

#23
wondim

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Thanks for the quick answers you are providing. The hard drive on the virtualbox is 40GB so thats not a problem. the BSOD screen happens in a blink of an eye. I will try to capture that. I didnt use EasyBCD.

You are welcome! I made a test on Virtual Box using a Windows 7 ISO which is made as described in the first post. I have used this ISO multiple times on different Machines. When I tried it on the latest Virtual Box, it didn't work. With error message of bad drivers. What I can say is, as the ISO works well on real machines, this must be the fault of Virtual Box. So whenever, you want to reinstall Windows again, try it on your Real PC and see the result.

Cheers!

#24
djxspeedy

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atm i think : shoud i test it with xp installation ? :D

when iam testing i do it in virtualbox ;)

so i thik i test it...hope it works.. btw wondim you have an pm with tips from me ;)

*edit*
with xp dosnt work.. you can create the vhd & wim.. but dvd says : image not found

Edited by djxspeedy, 07 January 2010 - 12:42 PM.


#25
wondim

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*edit*
with xp dosnt work.. you can create the vhd & wim.. but dvd says : image not found

I was going to say that. The XP Setup different from Win7/Vista. Maybe there might be a work around which requires an expert knowledge. Thanks for the PM!




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