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Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM) Best Practices

Updated: October 20, 2013

Applies To: Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2012 R2

This section describes some best practices related to servicing a Windows® image. We recommend that you implement these practices wherever possible.

In this topic:

Elevate Permissions for Command-Line Tools

Disable Antivirus Tools

Servicing an Image

Changing International Settings

Use Log Files

Package Locations

Storing Files on a Network Share

Servicing a Windows Image from Windows PE

Scan for Corruption and Verify the Integrity of System Files

Improving Security for Windows Images

Many deployment command-line tools, including Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM), require elevated permissions.

Make sure that you have elevated permissions. Click Start, and type deployment. Right-click Deployment and Imaging Tools Environment and then select Run as administrator.

This must be done even if you are logged on as an administrator.

Some DISM commands may be blocked by antivirus or antimalware tools. Before servicing an image, disable antivirus or antimalware tools on the technician computer.

The best way to service a Windows image is offline with the DISM tool. DISM can be used to install, uninstall, configure, and update drivers, features, and packages in Windows images and Windows Preinstallation Environment (Windows PE) images without booting the image. For more information, see DISM - Deployment Image Servicing and Management Technical Reference.

You can use the /Commit-Image option at any point during servicing to save the changes that you have made so far. You can recover a corrupted image more easily with the /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth option if you have committed your changes often.

You can mount and modify multiple images on a single computer. However, performance may slow down on some functions, such as /Unmount-Image, depending on the memory available on the computer. As a best practice, you should not mount more than 20 images at the same time.

noteNote
If you have split a .wim file into smaller files for spanning across multiple media, you cannot mount the image for servicing.

To change the international settings in Windows 8.1, Windows 8, Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Server 2012, Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 images, you must use DISM. For more information, see DISM Languages and International Servicing Command-Line Options.

To configure international settings in Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008, use the Intlcfg.exe tool and instructions in the Windows Vista SP1 release of the Windows OPK or Windows AIK.

DISM will log verbose information to %WINDIR%\Logs\Dism\Dism.log by default. You can also specify a name and location of your choice for the log file, and set the /loglevel parameters so that only the information you are interested in is logged. When an error occurs, the console will display the error code, error message, and the location of the log file.

ImportantImportant
If you specify a log path on a network share from a computer that is not joined to a domain, use net-use with domain credentials to set access permissions before you set the log path for the DISM log.

The log file will automatically be archived. The archived log file will be saved with .bak appended to the file name, and a new log file will be generated. Each time the log file is archived, the .bak file will be overwritten.

The log file gives you the history of the operations that have been performed, which can help you troubleshoot problems.

Do not put a package that you intend to install directly at the root of a partition on a Windows installation.

Although DISM supports network paths for images and packages, most operations will perform faster on files that are copied to the local hard-drive.

You can service Windows images from Windows PE. However, you must consider certain factors while planning your servicing strategy. Review the following requirements for servicing an image from Windows PE.

For better performance, you can allocate additional memory when you boot Windows PE from a hard disk drive. You can also create temporary folders to store update files to accommodate large updates.

Make sure you have sufficient memory to load and run your custom Windows PE image. In addition to the image size, you should have at least 256 MB of available working memory. If you have limited memory, define a page file (Pagefile.sys) to improve memory management. For more information on implementing a page file, see Wpeutil Command-Line Options.

You should use the /ScratchDir option with DISM to create a temporary directory on a different drive when you create or service a Windows image. A temporary directory is used for many DISM operations including capturing an image, installing language packs, installing updates, or installing or removing Windows features in a Windows image. Some files are expanded to this temporary directory before they are applied to a Windows image.

There must be sufficient space in the partition to accommodate large updates. The specific size of the free space that is required depends on the size of the updates that you intend to install. When adding a language pack, the scratch directory must have at least 1 GB of space for temporary files.

If you do not set a temporary directory path using the /ScratchDir option, Windows PE creates a 32-MB temporary directory by default. You can allocate additional temporary storage to this default location using the DISM /Set-ScratchSpace option. Valid sizes include 32, 64, 128, 256, and 512 MB. This feature is available only offline and you cannot adjust this setting while a Windows PE session is running. As a best practice, you should use the /ScratchDir option to instead specify a directory on another partition that has sufficient space to support any image management and servicing operations you perform.

After installation is complete, the contents of this directory are no longer needed and can be deleted. For more information, see DISM Image Management Command-Line Options.

Servicing a Windows image requires additional temporary storage space. For Windows PE RAM disks, you might need additional RAM. In addition to the RAM requirements of your Windows PE image, additional RAM is required to process updates. The amount of RAM that is required depends on the size of the updates that you intend to apply. Ensure that your computer has sufficient RAM.

Before you deliver a computer to an end user, you should verify the integrity of Windows system files. You can use the /Cleanup-Image option to identify file corruption and perform repair operations on the image. For more information about the /Cleanup-Image option in DISM, see DISM Operating System Package Servicing Command-Line Options.

You can also use System File Checker (Sfc.exe) on an online or offline reference image. System File Checker is released with all versions of Windows.System File Checker requires elevated permissions, and you must be an Administrator to run it. It scans all protected files to verify the file versions. To verify only the integrity of the Windows system files, run the sfc.exe /verifyonly option. For complete command-line syntax, at an elevated command prompt, type sfc.exe /?.

Running Sfc.exe can take a significant amount of time. The expected result is that there are no system integrity violations. However, if there are problems with Windows system files, you should investigate the issues. We do not recommend that you use the Sfc.exe scan options to automatically fix Windows system files.

Your Windows images contain custom configuration data, custom applications, and other intellectual property. There are several ways to improve the security of your Windows images, both online and offline.

  • Restrict access to Windows images. Depending on your environment, you can edit the access control lists (ACLs) or permissions on a file. Only approved accounts can have access to Windows images.

  • Update your Windows images with the latest fixes and software updates. There are many ways you can service a Windows image. After servicing your Windows image, test the validity and stability of the computer.

  • During Windows installation, configure the computer to automatically download and install Windows updates. This extends installation time, but ensures that the Windows image that you are installing contains the latest updates. For more information, see the DynamicUpdate setting in the Microsoft-Windows-Setup component in the Unattended Windows Setup Reference.

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