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Endpoint Management Community Blog

How to Image Computers from a USB Thumb Drive

Created: 21 Dec 2006 • Updated: 11 Jun 2007 • 15 comments
davidm's picture
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How cool would it be if you could carry your imaging toolkit in your shirt pocket?

Imagine the look on your significant other's face when you're Johnny-on-the spot and offer to re-image the in-law's system before dinner?

Well, maybe that's a stretch (and maybe the look wouldn't be one of pride) but, alas, Deployment Solution does support imaging clients from bootable USB devices. Read on to learn how.

To image computers from a USB thumb drive device do the following:

  1. Format the USB drive using HP's USB Disk Storage Format tool as FAT and make it a DOS startup disk.
  2. In Boot Disk Creator, create a new automation boot disk while creating a new configuration.
  3. Select Bootable disk - Removable disk to install on the USB drive.
  4. Copy HIMEM.SYS to the device.
  5. Copy RDeployT.exe from the <InstallPath>\eXpress\Deployment Server\RDeploy\DOS directory to the device.
  6. Copy the <Filename>.img file to the device.
  7. Create an Autoexec.bat with the script and command-line option: rdeployt -md -fc:\IMAGE.img -d2.

    Note: The -d2 switch is the most important part of the script, as it specifies the flash drive.

  8. Create a Config.sys with the following:
    switches = /f
    DOS=HIGH,UMB /p /E:1024
  9. Boot from the USB drive (recognized as C:) and rdeployt executes and images correctly.

Comments 15 CommentsJump to latest comment

kwebb004's picture

Can't wait to try this out! Now I just need a usb stick.

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davidng150's picture

Is there any particular size (MBs) the USB stick needs to be? Any minimum/maximum requirements?

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apascucci's picture

30 minutes after reading your message, I did a test & it works. Another great tip!

Thanks, Anthony

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kpedersen's picture

I wonder if this will work with a USB hard drive that has multiple images on it?

I also want to see if there is a way to execute the redeployment manually on boot.

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Jeanne's picture

I used this technique with some pretty good success although I had to use a thumb drive that did not have some of the newer security features on it. I got the Win98 files from an old boot disk creator I had laying around.

*Note* Not all thumb drives will allow you to format them to fat 32.

This was great for sanitizing drives before we got rid of the old systems we just gave them a clean DOS image.

It took about 1 1/2 minutes to clean up each system.

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erikw's picture

To make the system working faster, you can enhance the memory usage.

Change himem.sys with the following:
Lastdrive= G

The system will now have more base memory, and will run better and faster.

Regards Erik Dinamiqs is the home of VirtualStorm (

If your issue has been solved, Please mark it as solved

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DaveBey's picture

Steps 2 & 3 don't make any sense...

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CHeacox's picture

Where do you find the DOS Files in order to make it a DOS Startup Disk? Thanks!!

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jjesse's picture

[quote=CHeacox]Where do you find the DOS Files in order to make it a DOS Startup Disk? Thanks!![/quote]

You can find the DOS files you need to create a boot disk on a win98 disk, so dig that out of the archives. You can also use freedos which is a download from Altiris.

I remember sitting in a training session at the win2k launch and being told there was no longer the option to do a format /s in win2k.

Jonathan Jesse Practice Principal ITS Partners

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jeremyboger's picture

Several of my collegues have switched to imaging with thumb drives. I admit, it is much more convenient to carry around. I still prefer the comfort of using a CD to image with, though. This process is much easier. Just use Boot Disk Creator in Altiris and create a bootable .iso image. Use a program to burn that image to a CD and away you go. I know thumb drives do not fail that often, but they still fail more often than a CD ROM will.

Jeremy I. Boger
Network Technician
MSD of Lawrence Township

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beckeraw's picture

btw great tutorial. Works great.

Question: What are the speed limitations of RDeploy. When using the usb device on a USB 2.0 compliant port I get about 22megabits per/s. Is there any way that I can speed this up? Can I add usb 2.0 drivers?

Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.

Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.

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Antonp's picture

I think your limitation isn't with the Rdeploy itself but with the USB device.
USB device can only transfer data up to a certain speed.

Technical Consultant

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tbowman01's picture

Just to clarify, you are simply using the USB to boot to rdeploy then pulling the image from the network correct?

Assuming that you are getting the image from the network your speed issues are dependant upon the drivers being used. Are you using 32/64bit drivers? If so, I have personally seen speeds upwards of 500/mb or more.

Try booting into either the linux boot or the winpe 2.1 boot client. You would then be able to use the 32/64 bit drivers and obtain higher speeds.

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lazarskip's picture

This works great, but I too am having an issue imaging a Dell 755 pc via usb on a 2.0 port.

With a:
Firefly 4 gig flash, maxing out at 16mbps drops to 13
Western Digital 2.5 usb, stays stable at 16mbps
Samsung 2.5 usb, stays stable at 16mbps

If I could achieve 22mbps, I would be thrilled.

I am not using the separate exe and ISO, but the packaged exe image file. Will this make a difference in imaging speed?

I am using a standard 98se bootdisk and the utility to make the flash stick bootable. For the 2.5 hard drives, I am following the following guide.

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ProductPro's picture


  Here is the official document related to making a bootable USB disk with Backup Exec System Recovery's System Recovery Disk software.


BESRMS 2010 useful docs:

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