How to Create a Windows Rescue CD with Latest Drivers, Updates

Dennis Faas's picture

Infopackets Reader Ron S. writes:

" Dear Dennis,

I want to do a clean re-install of Windows 7 Pro. I want the best available information [on which steps I should take during] ... the install sequence of everything, especially [how I should install] the motherboard drivers ... What [do you suggest]? "

My response:

There's plenty of step-by-step guides on the Internet that explain how to install Windows - you simply need to search Google.

For the most part, re/installing Windows 7 is as easy as inserting the install media (Windows 7 DVD) into the computer, reboot the machine, press the Space Bar during boot to initiate the Windows 7 installation, and then follow the on-screen instructions.

The only major caveat I can think of during the first few steps is that you may need to modify your computer's BIOS boot sequence in order to get the DVD drive to boot before the hard drive. In that case, you can search Google for "how to change BIOS boot sequence," or similar.

Slipstreaming and Making Patched / Custom Windows Install Discs

In the past, I've used slipstreaming methods to apply Service Packs and drivers to Windows XP install discs, but as far as I understand, nothing like that is available for Windows 7. Yesterday we recommended an interesting freeware program called 'Win Toolkit' that does something along these lines, but it appears that the 'updates' feature is not yet integrated. Even so, the steps required to create such a disc can be quite technical and time consuming.

My advice in this case is to create a fresh install of Windows from a standard Windows 7 install DVD, then install all the Windows updates, and any remaining drivers for your motherboard. Once that's finished, create a disk image backup of your freshly installed Windows 7 system. It should only take about 4 or 5 DVDs worth of 4.7GB backup media (if you want to burn to DVD disc for archiving). In the event that you need to reset your PC back to the pristine state, you can use the disk image backup and you'll be up and running in literally minutes instead of hours. I use this procedure on all my PCs at home (which is also my office).

How to Create a Windows Rescue CD with Latest Drivers, Updates

Here are the steps I normally take when I install Windows 7 for a customer, including a personalized and up-to-date Rescue CD (DVD) backup:

1. Do a clean install of windows; delete and format the C drive during setup. Optional: partition the C drive into 2 partitions: C drive should have at least 160GB free, and a D drive with the remaining space. The D drive would be used to store all user data, including: documents, images, music, etc. The C drive is used for the Windows operating system only. This helps to keep backups of the operating system (the C drive) at a minimum.

2. After Windows is installed, go to Device Manager and ensure the network adapter is functioning, or simply launch Internet Explorer. If there is no Internet, acquire and install the network adapter driver using the original install media (CD or DVD), or download a copy from the vendor's website via the Internet using another PC.

3. Download all Windows Updates. Expect 1-2 hours of download and installing; several reboots will surely be required.

4. Activate Windows.

5. Optional: if the hard drive was partitioned, restore any user data (downloads, pics, docs, etc) onto the D drive.

6. Archive the C drive ("the Windows partition") using Acronis True Image / disk imaging; store the backups onto D drive (on the same system) and set the backup to 4.7GB split files. Later, write the image files to 4.7GB DVD writable media; test the media to ensure backup is valid. The backups will remain on D for easy access / convenience only and should not be relied upon under any circumstance. If the hard drive goes corrupt, the D drive will be lost and so will the backups. Optionally, write the backups to an external hard drive if a partitioning scheme isn't used.

7. Create a backup schedule with Acronis True Image to run every other day: maximum 3 backups per week (MWF) of the C drive; reset the backup archive weekly; store weekly backups on current system; archive 4 weeks of backups on an external media or server and rotate / prune the backups.

8. Backup the most critical files of the D drive (user data) using a similar scheme as mentioned above.

Note that Acronis True Image 2015 was recently released; you can purchase it through our website. Proceeds support our website, staff and writers:

If you need help customizing Acronis True Image to work in the manner I mentioned in this article, I will be glad to help using Remote Desktop Support.

About the author: Dennis Faas is the owner and operator of With over 30 years of computing experience, Dennis' areas of expertise include Microsoft Windows, Linux, network administration, and virtualization. Dennis holds a Bachelors degree in Computer Science (1999) and has authored 6 books on the topics of MS Windows and PC Security. If you like the advice you received on this page, please upvote / Like this page and share it with friends. For technical support inquiries, Dennis can be reached via Live chat online this site using the Zopim Chat service (currently located at the bottom left of the screen); optionally, you can contact Dennis through the website contact form.

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bigjohnt's picture

That is a real good article for those that are in need of the info. (Which is a whole pile of people).

Big John