Beginner's Guide to Creating a VistaPE CD

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This guide is aimed at first time users. VistaPE is an extremely useful tool that can be used for Windows system repair and recovery purposes. Let's assume you are here because you have found a need to use VistaPE, but don't know exactly how to go about creating it.

Required Items:

1. Download the latest version of WinBuilder from Version 074 was the latest stable version at the time of this writing. WinBuilder can be installed in either a Vista or WinXP SP2 system.

2. A valid Vista source. You can use a Pre Service Pack 1 Vista installation DVD or an installed Windows AIK folder. Windows AIK is a free downlod from Microsoft. See the section below on how to download and install the WAIK. (A Vista DVD that includes Service Pack 1 will not work with WinBuilder 074. If you have a Vista/SP1 DVD, you must use the WAIK below instead.)


1. Make a new folder on your hard drive called C:\WinBuilder. Unzip the download of WinBuilder to this new folder.

2. Run WinBuilder.exe and click on the download tab. In Vista you shoud run WinBuilder.exe as the Administrator. Right click WinBuilder.exe and choose "Run as Administrator".

3. My Acronis scripts work best with VistaPE V11. The current version of VistaPE is V12. I recommend using V11 and WinBuilder 074. To change back to version 11, uncheck in the list of servers. Now click the small button in the lower right section to add a server. In the box that pops up type and hit OK. You should see VistaPE MultiBoot V.11 show up on the left side. Don’t change any of the check marks and hit the Download button. Wait for the download process to complete. If you see any error boxes pop up, just close them out and let the download finish.

If you elect to use V12, you need to use WinBuilder 075 and a valid Vista SP1 source. Be aware that Image Mounting does not work with V12, it does work with V11.

4. Now hit the Scripts tab next to the Paths tab. You need to look at two check marks in the VistaPE MultiBoot v.11 project. Click on the line entitled "Extended Configuration". Notice the box entitled "Mount folder with programs as drive Y:". Remember this box. You will need to use it later in step 7. below. If you elect to run True Image from ram, you need to leave this box unchecked. If you elect to run True Image from the CD because you don't have enough ram on your computer, you need to check this box. Now hit the plus sign next to the second "Finalize" line. Place a check mark in the box entitled "Create ISO".

5. Copy the folder for your Acronis script to the folder C:\WinBuilder\Projects\VistaPE\App. You can download VistaPE WinBuilder scripts for Acronis programs from my website at

6. Hit the Refresh button in the upper right of WinBuilder to add the Acronis script to the list.

7. Hit the plus signs to drill down to VistaPE MultiBoot v.11\App\your Acronis script. Hit the plus sign next to the script. Highlight the script name and read the info on the right side. Follow the provided instructions to configure the script and add the Serial Number from the registry.

8. Now hit the “Paths” tab. Browse to your Vista source in the first box to set the Source directory (%SourceDir%). Leave the other paths as they are. If you have a Vista installation DVD, use it as the source. If not, use the installed Windows AIK folder as the source. (See section below on downloading and installing the Windows AIK.)

9. Highlight VistaPE MultiBoot v.11 and hit the Play button in the upper right. If you see an error about a wimfltr.sys driver, hit OK to install the driver. If you see an error about bcdedit.exe not being found, copy bcdedit.exe to the location shown in the error message. Do a search for bcdedit.exe on your hard drive and your Vista source. You should find it. These errors will only pop up the first time you run the Play button.

10. Your CD will be created in the form of an ISO file called VistaPE.iso located at C:\WinBuilder\ISO.

11. Burn the ISO to CD with Nero, or a similar program, and boot VistaPE. When the CD boots, choose VistaPE from the menu. Then select LiteStep as the shell after VistaPE finishes loading. You should be at a fully working desktop with an Acronis icon.


Downloading and Installing the Windows AIK:

1. The Windows Automated Installation Kit (WAIK) is a free download from Microsoft. You can get it at It is a 992 MB download, so you will need a broadband connection. (This is the pre-Service Pack 1 WAIK. It may be installed in a Vista SP1 system. The SP1 WAIK will not work with WinBuilder 074.)

2. Burn the download to a DVD. It comes in a .img format. Many burning programs like MagicISO, WinISO etc. can handle the .img format. If you don't have a program that will handle it, you can download a free program called ImgBurn at ImgBurn will burn the .img file directly to a DVD.

3. The WAIK can be installed in either a Vista or WinXP SP2 system. Insert the burned WAIK DVD and it should auto run. On the left side choose "Windows AIK Setup" to install the WAIK. The default location is C:\Program Files\Windows AIK.

4. Now set the path to the Vista source in step 8. above to the location of the installed WAIK folder from the above step.


Adding Drivers for Unsupported Hardware:

1. You must have the Windows AIK installed before you can use this section to add drivers.

2. You can download the AddDrivers script for WinBuilder VistaPE at

3. Unzip the script and copy it to C:\WinBuilder074\Projects\VistaPE\Drivers.

4. Run WinBuilder.exe and navigate to the AddDrivers script. You need to specify the path to the file peimg.exe. The default location is C:\Program Files\Windows AIK\Tool\PETools. You need to specify the full paths to each driver you want to add. You can add up to five drivers with this script. If you only want to add one driver, leave the paths for drivers 2 - 5 blank. It is very important that you do not have any spaces in the path names for the drivers. You need to include the name of the driver inf file in the paths. An example would be C:\WinBuilder074\Projects\VistaPE\Drivers\Promise\ultra.inf.

5. Hit the Save button after you have finished entering the paths.

6. Rebuild the VistaPE CD and test to see if the drivers are working.