Microsoft's WinPE is a stripped-down version of Windows, capable of running from a boot CD or a USB stick. Its name stands for "Windows Preinstallation Environment". OEM and enterprise customers use it as an installation platform for PCs.
WinPE does not require a hard drive to boot, and it can run solely from a CD or a USB stick using the memory for dynamic data. This feature makes WinPE appealing for data recovery and system maintenance. In fact, you can run our software from such a boot medium. Since WinPE's primary purpose is installing Windows, you can expect most hardware to be supported.
Another useful feature of WinPE is the ability to create a boot medium that provides network access. You can even access the Internet from such a medium.
WinPE is not available for end-user customers, but all files needed for WinPE to run are included in a retail Windows installation DVD.
WinBuilder is a free utility from http://theoven.org that helps you to create your bootable CD or USB stick by extracting the necessary files from a Windows installation DVD. There are currently four WinBuilder versions that work with the respective Windows installation DVD:
Win7PE SE — WinBuilder using a Windows 7 installation DVD, 32 or 64-bit, download from project home page
Win8PE SE — WinBuilder using a Windows 8 installation DVD, 32 or 64-bit, download from project home page
Win8.1PE SE — WinBuilder using a Windows 8.1 installation DVD, 32 or 64-bit, download from project home page
Win10PE SE — WinBuilder using a Windows 10 installation DVD, 32 or 64-bit, download from project home page
If you do not have a retail Windows installation DVD at hand, WinBuilder provides links for downloading official ISO DVD images.
WinBuilder lets you add other applications by using "plugins". We have most of our products integrated into one plugin:
Runtime_Software_All.Script — Download this plugin. It contains the latest versions of our programs:
This single plugin contains all the necessary files from Runtime Software. If the software needs a license key, you can enter the license key in the application at run-time or in advance in a license file. To keep the plugins as small as possible, we did not include the help file (CHM) or the startup flash logo.
The most compelling benefit of WinPE is that you can run our data recovery software on the affected computer without interfering with the hard drive you need to recover data from. Remember, if you want to recover data, you must not write anything to the affected drive, leaving you in trouble if the drive in question was the system (C:) drive. With a bootable CD or USB stick containing our plugin, you can recover your data without installing a new operating system. Here are some typical uses:
Warning If you are in a data recovery situation, do not create the bootable medium on the computer where you want to recover data from.
1. Download one of the WinBuilder projects above, for example,
2. Extract the zip file into
C:\Win10PE\Projects, create the subdirectory
C:\Win10PE\Projects\MyPlugins_Direct, create the subdirectory
4. Download our plugin
Runtime_Software_All.Script and put it into the directory
WinBuilder: Add the Runtime Software plugin
5. Start the program
6. Make sure the plugin
Runtime_Software_All is visible and checked in
Win10PE SE->AppsMy. Check the desired programs and add your licenses (optional, see below).
WinBuilder: Put checkmarks next to the plugin and the programs
7. Click "Win10PE SE" on the upper-left corner. If you have a Windows 10 installation CD at hand, you can use that and proceed to step 8. Otherwise, click on the download link in the lower-right corner.
WinBuilder: Download Windows 10 installation ISO
A browser window opens, and you can download the Windows 10 installation ISO file. Make sure you download the suggested version, "1809" in this example.
8. Insert the installation DVD into a drive or assign a drive letter to the ISO that you downloaded. We mounted our downloaded ISO file to drive
9. Click on "Config Source" and set the source to your installation DVD,
E:\. Click "Set Source". Then click on "Play".
WinBuilder: Set location of installation files
WinBuilder should now create an ISO file that you can burn onto a CD, and should be able to boot from. This process should complete within 20 or 30 minutes. If you run WinBuilder for the first time, it might download additional files.
WinBuilder: Checkmark the plugin and the programs
10. Once you successfully completed the build of your first boot CD, please make sure you can actually boot your machine into it. In our example, the ISO is located at
c:\Win10PE\ISO\Win10PESE_x64.ISO. Burn this ISO to a CD or DVD.
11. Boot your machine into the CD. The desktop should look like this:
WinBuilder: WinPE Desktop
Once you have a working ISO, you can quickly transfer it to a USB stick. Select a stick with a capacity between 2 GB and 32 GB.
1. Start WinBuilder and expand the
WinPE10 SE->WriteMedia node.
2. Select the script
Copy to USB-Device.
3. Set the drive letter of your new USB stick and click "Copy to USB".
WinBuilder: Transfer ISO to a USB stick
4. Follow the on-screen instructions. Your bootable USB stick is being prepared and ready to use after about 2 minutes.
You can enter license keys for the software on the fly, for example, when you want to copy files with GetDataBack. The downside of this approach is that after shutdown, the software reverts to "unlicensed", and you have to enter the key again.
In step 6 of the above instructions, you can attach a license file to the boot medium. Create a file
C:\licenses.txt and type this file name into the box labeled "Text file containing the software licenses". Continue with the remaining steps to create a boot medium with licensed versions of our software.
The license file is a text file with the following format:
[Product2] LicenseName=Name2 LicenseKey=Key2
For example, if you want to include license keys for "GetDataBack Pro " and "NAS Data Recovery", the license file would look like that:
[GetDataBack Pro 64-bit] LicenseName=Donald Duck LicenseKey=S1334SDFD0340DSDF0989
[NAS Data Recovery] LicenseName=Donald Duck LicenseKey=GSGYBSRVTDMLUI
Besides this article, we do not provide support regarding WinPE and WinBuilder. Please read the on-screen instructions as well as Winbuilder's help file that resides in the same directory. For more help, consult the support forum on http://theoven.org.