I have:

  • 8 servers in various Windows Server flavors (2008 R2, 2016, 2019)
  • A Windows Deployment Services (PXE) server setup and functioning well
  • Windows Server Backup on all servers, nightly backups to a NAS

OS deployment works great: just boot via PXE, select the OS that I want, and let it run.

And I can do bare metal recovery of any of the servers using the Windows install DVD.

But is there any way to simplify this by taking the physical Install Media out of it? What I want to do is boot via PXE, and do a complete bare metal recovery directly through WinPE, or some other minimal environment.

All of the docs for WDS walk you through adding "install only" install images to the WDS server, not the full install media with recovery support.

3 Answers 3


read here: https://www.vercot.com/~serva/an/WindowsPXE1.html

Note: I'm related to Serva development

  • I was able to check it out in a VM. I like it! Unfortunately I had already gone to all the trouble of setting up PXELINUX to work with WDS before I got your answer. But next time I have to set up PXE, I will definitely go with Serva instead - much easier to set up.
    – HiredMind
    May 29, 2020 at 15:08

Turns out I had completely missed the fact that the Windows Server Backup engine is actually present on the install media that you boot through WDS. But not in GUI form.

You have to boot from the install media, but then hit Shift-F10 to get a command line. Then use the wbadmin program from the command line:

wbadmin start sysrecovery

I wish Microsoft had included the GUI form of WSB in the minimized install environment that you add to WDS, or in WinPE itself, but there ya go. At least I don't have to keep track of my install media now.


Check out the FOG project, it might be to your liking.


It allows to manage automated deploys of images using PXE and tftp, you can prepare a OS template there and then just boot appropriate machines via PXE and install them using FOG. One of our clients used it and was very happy with it.

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