Windows Server

What are the differences between Capture image, Discover image, Install and Boot images (Windows PE)

Windows Deployment Services (WDS) role is to efficiently install Windows on multiple computers automatically. This involves installing Windows on a device called the reference computer, thereafter copying the contents of the hard disk drive of that Windows installation onto other computers. Therefore, imaging is the process of taking a snapshot of an entire hard disk of a device or server and saving it to the file. Therefore a single image file will contain an entire operating system (OS) installation. The idea here is to take a single image and then deploy it to multiple devices in an automated fashion. This will in turn save us time and effort. (We will only have to spend time configuring one device which we will use to deploy other systems. You may want to see the following guides: How to add boot and install images to Windows Deployment Services and configure Multicast transmission via the GUI and WDSUTIL, how to setup and install WDS, how to configure Windows Deployment Services on Windows Server 201, and how to install Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol on Windows Server 2019.

Note: The image which we deploy to other machines is called the base image or source image.We can have several types of images on our WDS server. We can extract those images from our DVD media or from downloadable media.

Install.wim: An install image stores the operating system that will be installed on a client (remote) computer. This install image contains all the settings and applications that were installed and configured from a reference computer. This install image is used to deploy Windows to the other computers in your enterprise environment. The file format of an install image is wim. Simply put, an install image is a wim file containing a Windows operating system.

Boot.wim: Boot images are the Windows Preinstallation Environment (Windows PE) images that are used to start the deployment. They can be started from a CD or DVD, an ISO file, a USB device, or over the network using a Pre-Boot Execution Environment (PXE) server. The boot images connect to the deployment share on the server and start the deployment.

Boot images are used to boot computers before the install image is loaded. It holds the minimal operating system (Windows PE) that is sent to the client when it first connects to the WDS server. This image is a stripped-down OS that only includes the necessary drivers (tools) to install, deploy, and repair Windows. This image is necessary so that the Windows Installation media has something to boot up from. Simply put, boot images are used to boot computers before the install image is loaded and it is just a bootable copy of Win PE that is setup to automatically contact the WDS Server over the network when the computer boots up.
– Simply put, a boot image is a Windows PE that is sent to the client when it first connects to the WDS.

Note: You can also have multiple boot images on our WDS server. In that case, clients will see a menu of boot images and be able to select the proper one.

Drivers from boot.wim are needed for booting the windows OS which is the first phase of windows installation, while install.wim is needed for the second phase of windows installation. WIM files can be manipulated using systems such as MDT or WDS, to add drivers or distribute them out to clients.

In the Windows Deployment Services world, below are some additional boot images
Capture Image: A capture Image is required for an environment where you are deploying similar OS that contains the same basic applications. The image is used to create a captured image.
– Simply put, it is a bootable copy of Win PE that allows you to copy the hard disk of the reference computer as a WIM file over the network to WDS. This WIM file is called the Install image. The captured image is a specialized version of Win PE works with PXE to boot the computer over the network using PXE. When Win PE boots, the captured image will find the WDS and create the install image to WDS. For more on capturing, see this link.

Discover Image: A bootable copy of Win PE that allows you to copy the reference computer as a WIM file. Unlike a captured image, the Discover Image is booted via DVD or USB Key.
– Simply put, a discover boot image is used when we don’t have PXE enabled NIC. This image is then placed on removable media such as CD, DVD, or USB drive. For this specific topic, the following link below will be vital to you.

I hope you found this blog post helpful. If you have any questions, please let me know in the comment session.

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2 years ago

Very well written and easy to understand. Thank you!

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