I while back I explained how to create some Win 7 recovery DVDs using the ASUS WIM recovery image, for the people like me that wanted to have that option. Now, it’s time to get the image updated and cleaned up, so the restore process doesn’t smell as bad (and you know what I mean).
The goal here is installing the image into an SSD and having a new recovery image that doesn’t contain any bloatware and it has been updated to SP1 and all the patches applied (for future updates)
There are basically 2 ways to do it:
- you install you WIM image in your laptop and continue from there
- you use a virtual machine (Virtual Box works quite well and it is free). This option is more flexible and allows you to create snapshots, and in case you do something wrong you can go back to the previous point.
Once you decide which way to go, we can start the process.
You’ve got your system installed (restores) and you start feeling disgusted for all the bloatware and trial crap that you’ve got in your clean image (you had already forgotten it, right?). Windows update is prompting you to install 355543 updates and 4 service packs and maybe later will ask you to apply some extra security updates and more updates afterwards (be aware that updating the system from the image can take a couple of hours, so go and grab a coffee or a tea).
- Restore your image.
- Uninstall all the trial programs and rubbish that you don’t need.
- Install the Win7 service pack 1
- Apply all the updates
- I would recommend not to install extra programs, because most likely, next time you need to restore, there will be updates and you’ll need to uninstall them and install the new programs. So, let’s keep it clean.
Now that we have a Windows 7 the way we would have loved to have after restoring, we need to create a new image for future use. Here we have 2 options:
- Use Windows 7 backup. This option is really easy to use and probably the preferred option for most people
- Create a new custom WIM image. This is the more advanced option and probably the only one if you are replacing one of the HDD and installing an SSD. We will choose this option.
To do this we need a bootable DVD/CD with he Windows AIK tools (this can be done using my previous tutorial).
Once we have that, we need to tell Windows that we want to prepare the system to make it look like right after installing it (out of the box experience). The gotcha here is that because we have created a user after restoring the image, we need to clean all the information from that user, so we need to do more step before we prepare Win7.
- In the Windows Explorer go to C:\Windows\System32\sysprep\ and run sysprep.exe
- In the first drop down choose “Enter System Audit Mode” and the second “Reboot” and press Ok. This will restart Windows 7 in the Administrator account.
- After restarting as an Administrator, go to the Control Panel\User Accounts and delete all the users in the system (the user that you created when you restored your image).
- Now that we don’t have any more users, the system is ready to be prepared. Go the the tool that you run before (sysprep.exe) and choose “Enter System Out-of-the-box Experience (OOBE)”, mark the “Generalize” option and choose “Shutdown” and the option in the second drop down menu, press Ok and the system will shut down.
Now you need to restart using the Windows AIK boot disk. From this point, I’ll assume that you have 2 partitions in your disk, C: contains the Windows 7 install that we want to use as an image, and there is another partition D: that is free or has 10-12GB free to store the new image (my new image after removing all the bloatware and applying all the updates was 6.5GB) (I believe that if you have a USB drive when you restart, it’ll be visible as well).
After booting you need to find the unit that has the file imagex.exe (in my case it was E:). To do that you can do what I did. Try different drives D,E, F… until you find it (when you start, by default you land in X:)
When you you find it, then we can create the new image.
imagex /compress <type> /capture <source> <destination> "description"
ie: imagex /compress maximum /capture c: d:\Win7Clean.wim "Windows 7 SP1 Updated Clean"
This will take windows from C: and create an image in D: called Win7Clean.wim
/compress maximum is optional, it’ll take a bit longer to run, but it’ll create a smaller image.
Once it’s finished, you can reboot the system and you’ll have the new clean image with Out Of The Box Experience in you D: drive
In case you want to want to split it into volumes and create a self installing and bootable image, you can read my other posts in where I explained the process to do so.