Creating a USB offline MDT Deployment Media

I know that are many environments out there that cannot enable computers to boot from the network when you as an administrator want do take advantage of this technology when deploying your PCs with MDT. The solution to this problem we all know it, we create an offline MDT media, burn it to a DVD disk and walk to every PC and deploy the OS. The bad news is that nowadays most of the PCs or servers do not come with a DVD drive since this type of technology it is almost obsolete, loosing the battle in front of the USB devices. Plus, those DVDs scratch very easily and are very slow.

It will be very nice if we can just put our MDT media on a USB drive and walk with it to deploy the machines, and fortunately we can. Building a USB offline MDT  media it is easy and all we need to do is issue a few commands and mouse clicks. There are a lot of technics out there, and in this article I will discuss two of them that never failed me.

 

1. Building USB offline MDT media from the command line

By using this method we don’t need any tools, but the downside is that we still need a Windows 10 or Windows Server ISO in order to built the boot manager. To start, mount your USB drive then open a Command Prompt and issue the bellow commands:

diskpart
list disk (identify your USB disk number from the list)
select disk X: (where X: is your USB disk number identified from the above command)
clean
create partition primary
active
format fs=ntfs quick
assign
exit

Preparing the USB drive for the Operating System

Before we go any further, let’s not forget about updating our media so we get the latest modifications in the ISO image. Open the MDT Deployment Workbanch, right-click the media object and choose Update Media Content.

Updating MDT Media

Now mount the LiteTouchMedia.iso image and copy it’s entire content on the USB drive.

Mounting into the system the MDT Media ISO

Depending on the speed of your USB drive this can take some time to complete.

Copy the MDT media ISO content to the USB drive

After all files and folders have been copied, as a last thing we need to do is build a boot record on the USB drive. For this, we need a Windows 10 or Windows Server 2012 and above ISO image mounted in the PC where the USB drive is present. Once we have that taken care of, open the Command Prompt again and issue the bellow commands.

D: (where D: is you Windows 10 or Windows Server mounted ISO letter)
cd boot
bootsect /nt60 g: (where G: is your USB drive letter)

Creating the boot record on the USB drive

And that’s it! All we need to do now is test it and see if it actually works. Connect the USB drive to one of the PCs you want to deploy and boot from it.

Using the computer boot menu to start from the USB drive

It will take a moment for the WinPE environment to load up in the memory, but eventually the MDT environment should be displayed.

View of how WinPE is loading fro the USB drive

In case you configured the deployment credentials in the Bootstrap.ini, you won’t see this screen, and if you automated all this with the MDT rules, it might go along and not ask you anything. It will just deploy the OS.

MDT deployment wizard loaded from the USB drive

 

2. Building USB offline MDT media using Rufus

Rufus it’s a third party application that I like very much and I’m using it every time I need to make some USB drive bootable. Not only can you make Windows USB bootable drives with this application, but Linux also. It is simple to use and it does the job very well, plus it is free. Go ahead download it then launch it.

Right from the start we have a lot of options and from the first drop-down box we need to select our USB drive. Moving to the Boot selection option, once we click the SELECT button we are give the option to choose our ISO image that we want to put on the USB drive. In our case it is the LiteTouchMedia.iso file.

Loading the MDT media ISO into Rufus

The next option that we need to configure is the Partition scheme, and here it all depends if your machines support UEFI or legacy BIOS. Moving to the Volume label filed we can name our USB drive just so we know what this device carries.

Choosing the partition scheme

Leave the rest of the settings as they are and click the Start button. A message will pop-up informing us that our USB drive will be erased and all data will be lost. I’m guessing you saved everything and if you are good to go then hit OK to continue.

Warning that all data will be destroyed on the selected USB drive

No go ahead, take your launch, because this will take some time, and once it is done we get the READY message on the green field at the bottom of the program. The only thing last to do is start deploying, so connect the USB drive to one of your PCs, test it and see how it works.

Status completed at creating bootable USB drive with Rufus

 

Summary

As you can see the process of creating a USB offline MDT Media is fairly simple but very helpful. I like using Rufus because doing so I don’t need to have with me a Windows ISO in order to make the USB drive bootable, the software does all the work and has everything it needs to make it work. If you are using other methods, let the community know in the comments area bellow.

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