ImageX is the Windows 7 tool that you use to work with .wim image files. ImageX is an easyto- use command-line utility. You use ImageX to create and manage .wim image files. With ImageX, you can capture images and apply them to destination computers’ hard drives. You can mount .wim image files as folders and thereby edit images offline. ImageX addresses the challenges that organizations faced when using sector-based imaging formats or the MS-DOS XCopy command to copy an installation of Windows onto new hardware. For example, sectorbased imaging:
• Destroys the existing contents of the destination computer’s hard drive, complicating migration scenarios.
• Duplicates the hard drive exactly; therefore, the image can deploy only to partitions that are the same type and at least as large as the source partition on the master computer.
• Does not allow for direct modification of image file contents.
The limitations of sector-based imaging led Microsoft to develop ImageX and the accompanying .wim image file format. You can use ImageX to create an image, modify the image without going through the extraction and re-creation process, and deploy the image to your environment—all using the same tool.
Because ImageX works at the file level, it provides numerous benefits. It provides more flexibility and control over your images. For example, you can mount an image onto a folder and then add files to, copy files from, and delete files from the image using a file-management tool such as Windows Explorer. ImageX allows for quicker deployment of images and more rapid installations. With the file-based image format, you can also deploy images nondestructively so that ImageX does not erase the destination computer’s hard drive.
ImageX also supports highly compressed images. First, .wim files support single instancing: File data is stored separately from path information so .wim files can store duplicate files that exist in multiple paths at one time. Second, .wim files support two compression algorithms— fast and maximum—that give you control over the size of your images and the time required to capture and deploy them.
Source of Information : Windows 7 Resource Kit 2009 Microsoft Press
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