The Windows Preinstallation Environment (PE) rescue disc is a special Windows recovery environment that comes with tools that you can use to repair your computer. Think data backup and recovery tools, password utilities, malware removal and protection, and more.
There are some excellent Windows PE based rescue discs. But you don’t have to depend on other people’s work. You can create your own Windows PE rescue disc, pick and choose the recovery tool you want.
What is Windows PE
Windows PE is a lightweight version of Windows 10. You can use Windows PE to install, test, and repair a full installation of Windows 10. The basic Windows PE version supports all Windows applications, drivers, network tools, partition and disk management, and more.
Windows PE-based recovery discs extend this functionality, adding free and open-source tools that you can use to restore, restore, and analyze your ailing Windows 10 installation.
I will show you the easiest method to create a Windows PE recovery disc. It uses a predefined set of tools which you can filter and choose what you want. But you can also add custom folders of your own programs.
How to Create Your Own Windows PE Recovery Disc Using Win10XPE
Win10XPE is a complete custom Windows PE environment developed by renowned customizer, ChrisR. It features a variety of core Windows features, plus you can add a plethora of custom apps.
The Tools You Need to Create a Windows PE Recovery Disc
You need two things before you start:
- Copy of Windows 10 post version 1709
Download: Win10XPE for Windows (Free)
Download: Windows 10 ISO for Windows (Free)
The Win10XPE project files belong to Kyhi, the developer of Windows PE based recovery discs. Kyhi stopped releasing recovery discs but created a system where users can create their own discs. Download the Win10XPE project file archive, then extract the folder. You’ll come back to this in a moment.
Next, use the second info to download the Windows 10 ISO. You can use the dropdown boxes to select the version, edition, and architecture. I’m using Windows 10 1903 Final for this tutorial. Once the ISO has downloaded, extract the contents to a folder, then continue.
Run WinBuilder Win10XPE
Go back to the Win10XPE folder, then run Win10XPE.exe. The WinBuilder customization environment will open.
The first thing to do is Select the Windows 10 Source Folder. Browse to the location of the Windows 10 ISO created in the previous section. Select a folder and let WinBuilder update its source file data.
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Now, select the image you want to base your Windows PE recovery disc on. I recommend using Windows 10 Pro as it is the full version of the operating system, rather than the restrictive Windows 10 Home.
Choose Recovery Tool for Your Windows 10 PE Rescue Disk
Now you can head to the rescue tool options in the left pane. Scroll down and check the options you want to include in your Windows 10 PE rescue disk.
You have options ranging from Accessibility, Components, Network, Office, Security and more. The options are all the apps Kyhi includes in a special Windows PE rescue disc. But you can choose which options you want to add to yours.
There is no right or wrong way to choose the applications you want on your disk. If you click on an application, WinBuilder gives you an idea of what it does. It also gives you some app-specific options, as well as whether you want a shortcut or the other way around.
Set Build Core Options
At the top of the list of apps is the Build Core option. The Build Core options let you set operating system-related options, such as keyboard language and format, whether to use Explorer or WinXShell (a lightweight open source alternative), desktop background (if you want to “brand” your rescue disk), and network, power and wake options.
One option worth changing is the WinPE Cache Size. Increasing WinPE Cache Size can make your Windows PE recovery disk experience faster. However, if you expect to use your recovery discs on a variety of systems, keeping it at 1GB is the best option.
Another important option is to enable Microsoft .NET Framework 4, then Network Additions. This way, your Windows PE based backup disk will have Wi-Fi access.
Add Custom Files to Your Windows PE Recovery Disk
You can add a custom folder to your Windows PE rescue disk as well. On the Build Core options page is the option to Add Your Custom Folder. Check the box, press the Open Custom Folder button, then open Program Files.
You can copy any portable apps you want to add to your recovery disc to this folder. You should choose a portable app.
If you don’t find what you’re looking for, take a look Portable Apps.
I always take the time to add some extra security apps, because you never know when a family member will need you to save an infected system.
Download Your Windows PE Recovery Disc
Once you’ve added the custom portable app to your Windows PE recovery disc, it’s time to download and try it out.
Press the blue Play button at the top right of WinBuilder. Your Windows PE recovery disc may need to download some files during the ISO creation process. Accept these files and move on. If your antivirus or antimalware suite is causing a fuss, make an exception for WinBuilder.
Once your Windows PE ISO recovery disc has finished downloading, you need to burn it to a USB flash drive. The following a tool you can use to create a USB flash drive bootable.
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