Installing Windows 2008 R2 from USB Stick via EFI on Dell PowerEdge servers

I previously posted an article on Installing Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2 from USB Stick. I’ve been using this process for a while and it’s worked beautifully! However, we recently got in a PowerEdge R510 (12x drive bays) and our RAID10 array is larger than 2TB, so I ran into the 2GB MBR limit.

If you Google around, TONS of people run into problems with this. Ultimately, the solution is different for every EFI implementation. With Dell’s uEFI v2.1 (uEFI before v2.0 does not work with Windows, FYI), the solution was rather simple but me and a team of support engineers at Dell spent a better part of half a day to figure it out.

  1. First of all, the USB stick MUST be formatted as a FAT32 drive. NTFS will not work!
  2. Next, follow my instructions from Installing Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2 from USB Stick. This will get you a USB stick that will work for non-GPT installs, but we need to modify it for EFI installs using Dell’s uEFI implementation.
  3. Now, here’s the part that wasted so much of our time! On your USB stick, go into the H:\efi\microsoft\ folder and copy the boot folder into the H:\efi\ folder.
  4. Next, go into an existing install of Windows 2008 R2 and copy the bootmgfw.efi file out of c:\Windows\Boot\EFI\ into the USB stick’s H:\efi\boot\ folder but rename it to BOOTx64.EFI (not case sensitive).

At this point, the USB drive should be bootable to Dell’s uEFI v2.1 (and likely other versions) in a way that makes Windows happy!

These steps should also work for Windows Vista x64 SP1 (and newer), Windows 7 x64, and Windows Server 2008 x64 SP1 (and newer). If you have a 32-bit version of Windows, then give up (or really, upgrade to a 64-bit OS, are you crazy?!).

  • lukasware

    you are brilliant for figuring this out (even if Dell helped) and thanks for posting this…worked perfectly.

  • Bigops

    I have been surfing around the web to find a solution for installing Windows 7 on UFI on a Lenovo workstation, but was not able to find much help on this. Even though this solution was for Dell it worked like a chram on Lenovo. No I am able to UFI boot to the machine.

  • Garfieldt

    thx a lot, have been searching around some time to find a solution for my PE T610 and finally found the working solution here.

  • Mr. Fake

    #3 Was exactly what I needed on this for some proprietary hardware. Thanks.

  • Alex

    If you don’t have any Windows 2008 R2 installation availavable it is possible to take out bootmgfw.efi from the DVD, it is needed the Windows AIK though:

    1. In a command prompt use Imagex to mount the default image embeded on the SO media:
    Create a folder (i.e. C:\folder)
    now use: imagex /mount X:\sources\install.wim 2 C:\folder (Where ‘X’ is the drive unit of intallation)

    2. Now this will give us an image of Windows Server 2008, so we should have the file in C:\folder\windows\boot\efi run “imagex /unmount C:\folder” (this will delete the image files that were mounted)

    Hope this helps

    Disclaimer: I’m from Argentina, that’s probably why my english really sucks

  • David

    Wow – thank you SOOOOO much. This solved the problem for Win8 too. Thanks!

  • Ryley

    This worked perfectly, I spent hours on this before coming across your post. Thank you very much!

  • Charles

    Worked like a charm for me too on windows server 2012 on a dell r320.. also, if you don’t have any running servers nearby to copy the file from, you can take it from a windows 7 (x64) client

  • Naveed

    Thank you very much. I have spent almost 12 hours in figuring out and trying things but your post really save my day. Thanks

  • Matt

    This may be an old post, but this link can still help people fixing the problem. Looks like MS has released an official fix for this here:

  • Matt Wardle

    I know im a bit late to the party with this but FYI this does not work for Server 2016 TP4, The install.wim is now over 4gb inside meaning you cannot copy it to a FAT32 file system.

    Best solution it so use WDS or similar.

    However if you don’t have access to that, Strangely booting from a USB formatted with FAT32 with just the boot files on (IE everything but the install.wim) and having a 2nd USB drive plugged in with everything on it worked fine (not quite sure how or why, Seemingly Windows PE picked up the WIM files from the NTFS 2nd USB drive)

  • Timm Zahn

    I’m glad I found this. The Server 2012 R2 with Update ISO (and WIM) from Microsoft Volume Licensing doesn’t fit on a FAT32 formatted stick any longer. The post by Matt above, strangely, worked as advertised. It’s installing as a standard UEFI Windows install, without using the LCC. Thanks!

  • Emmanuel

    I am installing a Dell PowerEdge Server and using UEFI to install windows server 2008r2 is not going through. I do no understand this procedure because I tried them and they are not working. Is there any better way I can apply this instructions? It is very urgent

  • @Emmanuel, can you share what model of server you have? That can probably help us help you. I would also suggest posting on ServerFault to get more people to help you. The more details you can provide, the more you can be helped.

    As I mentioned in the post, the solution can be different for different EFI implementations. Additionally, this was the method that worked with Dell’s implementation 6 years ago. Depending on what you’re trying to install this one, very different instructions may be required.

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