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Combining WIM files December 16, 2010

Posted by keithga in Uncategorized.

I was at a customer site during the past few weeks, and the customer asked about merging WIM files. This company was a Lenovo shop, and they had three main platforms in their inventory, the Thinkpad T410, T410s, and the X201.

For technical reasons that I won’t get into here, we decided to create several Model Specific Fat images that could be deployed using SCCM as-is without loading additional Drivers. Unfortunately, when done we had about 8 images, including two base images that contained their common application suite, but did not contain any extra drivers.

When done we had the following x64 images:

  • WIN7ENTX64.base.wim
  • WIN7ENTX64.t410.wim
  • WIN7ENTX64.t410s.wim
  • WIN7ENTX64.x201.wim

Each wim was about 4-6 GB in size, all totaled about 21GB for x64.

WIM files

WIM files are containers that store other files, similar to the way that a *.zip file or a *.cab file stores other files. Microsoft Windows also provides the ability to “mount” Wim files into an existing File Folder, allowing one to Add/Delete/Modify files in the wim.  This causes problems since modifications of the WIM file can cause fragmentation, just like *.vhd files. Windows gets around this by supplying the imagex.exe /export command. This command will allow the administrator to move the content from one WIM file to another WIM file, and in doing so the new wim file will be de-fragmented!

We can use this imagex.exe /export command to move the contents of one Wim file *into* an existing wim file, the cool thing for us is that ImageX.exe will also check to see if the file already exists in the wim file, and will not add the file in order to save space!


In the example case above with the three Lenovo machines and a base image, I decided to start with the base image, and to inject the three other platforms into the base *.wim image:

Imagex.exe /export WIN7ENTX64.t410.wim *   WIN7ENTX64.base.wim “WIN7ENTX64.DDrive.t410”

Imagex.exe /export WIN7ENTX64.t410s.wim * WIN7ENTX64.base.wim “WIN7ENTX64.DDrive.t410s”

Imagex.exe /export WIN7ENTX64.x201.wim * WIN7ENTX64.base.wim “WIN7ENTX64.DDrive.x201”

When I was finished the Base.wim file had increased in size by only 1.5GB, much better than trying to distribute 4 separate *.wim files totalling 20GB


Keith Garner is a Deployment Specialist with Xtreme Consulting Group


1. Johny The Monkey - January 30, 2013

So we the use of these files we can rebuild windows 8 image with the missing features like : start button gadgets , aero, small things especially as i noticed in taskbar settings there is missing the configuration for links in the start menu . Small things that are missing in 8 can be put back and keep the rest. Wouldnt that be amazing idea ? Anyone up for the job ?

2. Tanja - April 26, 2012

thanks on tutorial, i dont understand how task sequence knows witch image have to use?

Sam - April 26, 2012

The built-in MDT task for OS installation assumes that your WIM only has 1 image. So I’m assuming that when using a WIM with multiple images you’d have to create a custom task for “imagex.exe /apply [wim path] [image #] C:”.

3. Combining WIM files « MS Tech BLOG - August 3, 2011
4. aining - July 26, 2011

what’s the exact point of combining .WIM files? is it mainly to cut down on space and number of images?

I have 4 different WIMs, the only difference between the 4 is the applications installed on them, can I still combine the 4 to make 1 super image but still have the capability to image a computer with specific applications?

thanks so much!

5. Sam McLaughlin - May 3, 2011

I’m a little confused by this. I’m fairly new to MDT so please excuse me if this is a stupid question. What’s the point of creating several device-specific WIMs only to combine them into a single (what I presume to be) device-agnostic WIM?

I completely appreciate the knowledge of how to combine them, but I guess it’s just this particular scenario that has me confused as it seems to negate a lot of your previous work.

6. Ankur Mishra - January 5, 2011

You people always do a wonderful job.


Keep it up & thanks for all the info you provided to us

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