This short little article is the postscript to an extremely frustrating afternoon at work trying to image a PC using Windows PE as the OS environment. It is stated somewhere in the WinPE documentation that 512MB of memory is required to boot. However if your PC has less than this, you won’t see any warning message; instead, your computer will just behave strangely and bizarrely, causing you huge frustration. The following are the problems that were encountered on a PC that, unbeknown to me, only had 256 MB of memory, and appeared to boot WinPE normally:

  • External USB devices were not detected and could not be used
  • Diskpart hung and could not complete some commands
  • Some applications would not run at all
  • Some applications would give a spurious error message like "The system cannot find the file specified"
  • Some applications would terminate abnormally with error messages like "Not enough storage is available to process this command".

My last resort after trying many things such as burning additional CDs with different software on them, trying to copy applications to the PC’s hard drive and so on and so on, was to take the HDD to another PC whereupon everything worked normally. It wasn’t until the next day that I remembered the 512MB memory requirement for WinPE and that this PC only had 256MB. I increased the PC’s memory and then reassembled it with the HDD and this time everything worked properly.