I will be using a Dell Recovery Partition as a reference but this works with any .win image. make sure the tools folder with the imagex tool is included while saving the .wim image to a USB or burning a DVD with the image for storage.
- Windows Vista/Win7 install DVD.
- Recovery Partition saved with imagex tool onto a USB Key/Drive or DVD.
Step1: Format the Drive.
1. take the Vista/Win7 installation DVD and insert it into the drive,then boot from it. at this point you can use CMD to fire up Diskpart to format the drive or if you are not familiar with command prompt(CMD), then do as if you would be installing vista.
a. select advance from the drive selection screen. delete the primary partition and any other partition you want to delete. then create another partition and format, once that's done you should end up with a clean c:/ partition at this point you gonna cancel the installation.
b. boot from the DVD again this time you gonna choose the repair option, then it will try to look for a VistaWin7 installation, but wont find it. so a screen should come out with different options like recover to an early state, memory diagnostic at this point you gonna choose command prompt or CMD.
c. once CMD its open, cd(change directory) to the c:/ drive by entering cd c:/enter, or cd.. until you are at the c:/ directory. now your Dell Recovery Partition with your .wim image should be D:/ drive or replace the drive letter where the image is.
Step2: you gonna use a tool already included in the Dell Recovery Partition called IMAGEX(located in the tools folder of the Recovery Partition you have). cd to the directory where imagex is. cd D:/Tools/imagex
now the ease part comes. you gonna use this command
D:/Tools/imagex /apply d:\Dell\image\Factory.wim 1 c:\
The Imagex installation should start and be done in about 10 minutes, then boot normal. if you get a message that something is missing, or the system can`t find a bootable image, then boot from the DVD again and do the start up repair option. the DVD will repair the boot problem and that's it. once is done reboot, and you should end up with a fresh clean factory installation.
you can do this from USB drive or DVD. just put all the files from the recovery partition into a USB drive or burn it to a DVD, then save it and once you need it again you can do the same.