What is DISM exe?

DISM stands for the Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM.exe) tool in Windows. DISM is a Windows command-line tool used to service, prepare and repair Windows images, including those used for Windows Recovery Environment (Windows RE), Windows PE,  and Windows Setup.

What is DISM.exe?

DISM.exe is the file executable that helps deploy important and necessary images from the DISM utility. It is a safe, secure tool and does not cause any trouble or threat to your PC.

dism.exe command

Generally, the DISM tool can be used to fix common Windows PC issues. For example, it can be used to service or repair a Windows image (.wim) or even a virtual hard disk (.vhd or .vhdx).

Where is DISM.exe?

DISM.exe is a Windows image repair tool. It comes built into the Windows Operating System. It is generally available through the command line (Command Prompt) or from Windows PowerShell.

If you need to use the DISM.exe tool, you will just launch the Command Prompt or Windows PowerShell and type the command line you want to execute. The DISM will be executed based on the command you specify.

For example, DISM comes built-in with Windows 10 in the c:\windows\system32 folder. However, you can run the DISM command in the Command Prompt from any Windows location. But you must be running the Command Prompt as administrator to use DISM in Windows 10 effectively.

Which File Formats can DISM Service?

By utilizing the DISM.exe tool, you can mount and service any Windows image from the following Windows OS file formats.

.wim files
.vhd files
.vhdx files
.ffu files

You can also use DISM.exe to update a running operating system.

How do I Use DISM.exe?

You can use the DISM command tool in three ways:

  • CheckHealth: DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /CheckHealth – this command will check for corruption or damages in the system files and local but will not repair them.
  • ScanHealth: DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /ScanHealth – this command will determine if the Windows 10 image has any problems but won’t repair it.
  • RestoreHealth: DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth – this command will repair local and Windows image problems and restore its health.

Note: If you need a step-by-step guide on how to use the DISM.exe tool, see this post. There are a few guidelines to using the DISM command lines as follows:

  • You need to launch the Command Prompt as an administrator.
  • You need to run these three command components in that hierarchy order to allow DISM to function effectively.

When do I Use DISM?

When your Windows device is facing issues with performance, start-up, system file errors, or ‘unexpected’ errors your first tool is always the System File Checker (sfc /scannow). The SFC scan will detect and replace missing or corrupted system files on the computer’s local image.

However, sometimes the issue may be residing deeper within the Windows image that the SFC may be unable to solve or repair. In this case, your next best option is to use the DISM tool to repair and solve the underlying issue.
Microsoft outlines that you can use the DISM tool under the following scenarios for image servicing and image management solutions:

  • Managing the information or data included in the Windows image: for example, enumerating (or recording the inventory of) the drivers, updates, applications, or components contained in an image. In addition, you can also use DISM to capture or split an image, mount an image or append or delete images within a .wim file.
  • Servicing the image itself: which includes adding or removing drivers and driver packages, modifying PC language settings, disabling or enabling Windows features, and upgrading Windows to higher editions.

So, basically, DISM is used for information gathering, Windows upgrade, and Windows image repair.

Which Windows Images Support DISM?

You can use the DISM.exe tool with older Windows image files (.wim files). But you cannot use it with Windows images, which are more recent than the Operating System’s installed DISM version.
In addition, you can use DISM to service Windows images beginning with the following Windows versions:

  • Windows 7.
  • Windows Server 2008 R2.
  • WinPE.
  • WinRE.
  • Windows 8.
  • Windows 8.1.
  • Windows 10.

Typically, the options and commands available for Windows image servicing depend on which Windows Operating System or Windows version you are servicing. It also largely depends on whether the image is offline or if it is a running Operating System.

What’s New for DISM in Windows 10?

Microsoft has updated DISM in Windows 10, which supports new features including:

  • Full Flash Update (.FFU): DISM now supports the .FFU file format in Window 10, which captures and applies an entire drive and includes partition information. It makes deployment easier and faster.
  • Capabilities: the new Windows package type now allows you to request services like .NET or languages without specifying the version. You can now use DISM to search multiple sources such as your corporate services or Windows Update to find and install the latest version.
  • Compress Operating system and provisioning packages to save space on a Windows image. This new feature replaces the WIMBoot features in Windows 8.1.

DISM in the Windows ADK

The Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit can help you run DISM on an older Windows version or if you need a different DISM version on your PC.

If you download the Windows ADK, DISM will appear in the Windows ADK in the following path:
C:\Program Files (x86)\Windows Kits\\Assessment and Deployment Kit\Deployment Tools\\DISM

Where:

  • <version> can be 8.0, 8.1, or 10.
  • <arch> can be x86 or amd64.

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