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What is the easiest way to make a Windows boot CD that can be customized?

Specifically I would like to run DriveSnapshot from a boot CD so that I can restore images from a USB drive. I tried UBCD a while ago but was never able to get it to work due to no USB support on the PC.

I know there are a lot of *nix based CDs out there, but Drivesnapshot needs to run on Windows. It works fine on a simple boot floppy but not many PCs have floppy drives anymore.

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You can use BartPE for this. Find some good guides on setting it up here:

You'll need a full XP retail license for this, and even then there's some question.

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BartPE for the win! – MikeyB Jun 2 '09 at 21:02

Did you try to follow the tutorial on the DriveSnapshot site: How to create a bootable CD/DVD?

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No, now that you mention it. That sounds easier than what I was trying to do before...wonder if it would have USB support? – jacobsee Jun 2 '09 at 21:22

Windows PE itself can do this too, and it's no longer encumbered by licensing restrictions. Despite being Vista-based, I've used it for deploying a few thousand XP images (and the PCs in question are still up and running over 2 years on).

Pros: you can load drivers while it's running, extremely good hardware support (USB out of the box), can run Win32 apps, very scriptable, supported by MS.

Cons: bit of a steep learning curve, needs 512 MB RAM.

Do a search for Windows AIK on and you'll be getting started. Their "Malware Removal Kit" instructions probably provide the best "how to" documentation.

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I use UBCD4Win which is better than just the UBCD, this is based on the BartPE as well and it already has a lot of useful tools. What I like about it is that it also has a forum so you can see what other people have done and tried.

Check out for more info.

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+1 -I use DriveImageXML for my disk images from the UBCD4Win Disc. Works a treat. – Qwerty Jul 26 '09 at 23:45

You may want to look at building a BartPE disk. (I think it goes under a different name now, and I think the other link is to a similar project.)

You will need an existing XP disk and licence to create it, but I've used it to successfully rescue some files from a jacked up laptop that my usual Ubuntu Live CD couldn't get to.

Last I checked there are some good plugins for BartPE for a lot of common disk imaging/recovery apps.

You may want to look at using PING to create the images in the future as it will let you make your own "recovery CDs". I've used it in the past for some family work.

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See for my walkthrough of making a WinPE boot CD.


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If you're just looking for a customized Windows CD, look for nLite. As for a bootable Windows CD, BartPE, mentioned above, is your best bet.

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