Windows

Two ways to circumvent the DVD drive requirement for installing Windows Server 2008

If you want to install Windows Server 2008 on a capable system without a DVD drive or boot from USB capability, Rick Vanover describes two tricks that you can use to get around this requirement.

Windows Server 2008 installations from media are only available on DVD. If you want to install Windows Server 2008 on a capable system without a DVD drive or boot from USB capability, installation may seem to be an obstacle. Here are two tricks for getting around this requirement.

Trick #1

One method is to use the Windows Pre-Installation Environment (PE) boot environment. You can perform a boot to a basic environment, where you can launch Windows setup.

To do this, simply boot from the Windows PE CD and map a drive to a network resource. Once you have access to the network resource, place the contents of the DVD that contains the Windows Server 2008 installation files in that location. From there, the setup.exe program will run from the network resource. You may need to refresh your memory about how to use the net use command within a command line environment; once you do, you can launch the Windows Server 2008 installation.

The setup process will interact mostly with the \sources path of the DVD, but for good measure, you should make sure the entire disc contents are available on the network resource. After the setup process issues the first reboot to the system, the network resource will not be required to continue the setup process. (Note: If you are booting from a Windows PE disc or any other 32-bit environment, you cannot launch a 64-bit version setup process from the 32-bit boot environment.)

Trick #2

Another way to install an operating system without the optical drive available is to use hardware re-direction to an image file. The two popular examples are the Dell Remote Access Controller (DRAC) and the HP Integrated Lights-Out (iLO) products. These products allow you to connect an image file to the server to function as a virtual CD or DVD drive. With this configuration, the server can boot from an .ISO image file kept locally on your workstation or available remotely on a central resource. You can also insert the DVD disc into your workstation's optical drive and tell the DRAC or iLO to use your drive by drive letter.

Conclusion

These two tricks, among others, are some of the more accessible methods that you can use to install Windows Server 2008 without having a DVD drive on your servers.

Keep in mind that when you're preparing a migration without additional hardware purchases, it's important to evaluate the use of available systems that meet the minimum system requirements for Windows Server 2008. You should also make sure that you are purchasing DVD drives on server systems.

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About

Rick Vanover is a software strategy specialist for Veeam Software, based in Columbus, Ohio. Rick has years of IT experience and focuses on virtualization, Windows-based server administration, and system hardware.

16 comments
SenseiC
SenseiC

Oh it's easier MUCH than that... It installs VERY nicely from a shared Installation kit... or if you prefer, you can just as easily use a "third party" application to create and ISO image and then mount the ISO

TechWizPro
TechWizPro

Where can one obtain the Windows PE disk or image?

reisen55
reisen55

If your network is sooooo broke and poor where installing a DVD drive is not a financial option????

tplas
tplas

If your server has the laptop-style "pancake" CD drive, and you have a DVD drive in a laptop, you may be able to pop the DVD drive into the server for the install.

yahia.kamel
yahia.kamel

what aboutm using an external USB DVD drive.

BALTHOR
BALTHOR

I think that when IBM installs your network they install the OS and software on your property.The virus free laptop is carried in by the good old U.S.A. Military.The network is set up in the BIOS and network cards.Do it yourself?Fat chance!

OhTheHumanity
OhTheHumanity

I was able to installed windows 2008 on 2 HP blade systems by mapping an ISO image over HP Integrated Lights Out web console without issues. I am confused by the "DVD requirement" as there is no DVD drive in our blade chassie, but I could have missed the point here?

conor_vahland
conor_vahland

but physical access might be a bigger problem. Depending on the setup it may not be an easy task to pull a server out of a cabinet to install a dvd drive, this offers another option, similar to installing via RIS and not replying on the physical media.

judy.smith
judy.smith

I can't find any information on how to create a Windows PE cdrom. I work for a state school. Several of our servers need to be upgraded to server 2008 enterprise x32 and they do not have DVD drives. Our purchasing is cut off until July and one of my servers needs a rebuild. I hate to rebuild it with 2003 and then upgrade it. We do not have a USB DVD device.

mbalaj
mbalaj

I think,it is possible to use DVD image on RIS or any other deployment server,or use DVD emulation with WinPE and have DVD image on USB HDD.

b4real
b4real

WS2K8 is only released on DVD image, thus imposing some 'requirement' for a standalone install. You are one up on most by using the iLO. That's the point.

DIROT
DIROT

An external USB/Firewire DVD-RW is around $100, this has always been my solution when internal optical drive replacement is not warranted. While creative, I agree with the "over-engineered solution" comment.

owen
owen

If a server access is the problem then that is a problem to fix during the upgrade. Come on if it does not have a DVD drive then maybe it needs a processor upgrade then that thing called memory may need upgrading. The methods are nice but sometimes all of us over engineer solutions resulting in more costs to the client or ourselves

pauloxley1
pauloxley1

i came across this problem so i used windows deployment services to deploy an windows 2008 install image to an old hp server which would not boot from an USB device. quite easy really. We are now using it for blades 2008 installs

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