Create a Windows 10 ISO image from an existing installation

The install.ESD file is an ecrypted copy of your current OS

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Key notes

  • Users are looking for methods to install Windows 10 on PCs using ISO files.
  • Microsoft does not currently allow users to download ISO files for the latest Windows 10 builds.
  • There is a workaround for this and we will describe it to you step by step.
ISO file out of any Windows 10

When Microsoft releases a new Windows 10 build to Insiders on the Fast ring, it is usually only available through Windows Update.

This means you can’t find an ISO file of that build, and install it manually while it’s still available on the Fast ring only.

Microsoft usually releases Windows 10 ISO files for commercial versions, or when a certain build enters the Slow ring.

You can download official ISO files for the Anniversary Updates, and for different Windows builds, but you can’t download an ISO file of the latest build released.

However, if you can’t wait for Microsoft to officially release an ISO file, and have a good reason to download it, and create an installation media, it’s actually possible to do that.

There’s a way to create a ISO file of basically any Windows 10 Preview build you want, but it’s not an official way, approved by Microsoft. So, here’s what you need to do.

ISO files, also called ISO images, represent a single file of an entire DVD or CD. In other words, it is a virtual version of a disc.

This is why ISO files are very useful, eliminating the need to carry data on a piece of hardware. Also, for Windows 10 builds, the ISO format may play an important role.

It is easier for Microsoft to release ISO files for updates, but it happens that you can’t download the official ISO file of the latest build.

How to create an ISO file of your current Windows 10 build

When you need to install a new version of Windows 10, or download a new build, Microsoft delivers it to you through a new ESD (Electronic Software Delivery) image format.

This image is known as install.ESD, and Windows 10 downloads it on your computer, every time you install a new Windows 10 release. 

To create our custom ISO file, we’re going to take advantage of the install.ESD file. This file is usually stored the hidden $WINDOWS.~BT folder, there’s an easy way to find.

Once you’ve found the install.ESD file, you’re going to need a program called ESD Decrypter, to create your own ISO file.

But first, we have to mention that this utility is a third-party program, so you’ll be using it on your own risk.

In order to create an ISO file from an existing Windows 10 installation, you need to use the ESD Decrypter tool on your install.ESD file. This file contains a copy of the current installation of the OS on your PC.

1. Download the ESD Decrypter and extract it anywhere on your computer.

2. Press the Windows + I keys simultaneously to open the Settings app.

3. Navigate to Updates & security.

4. Click on Check for updates.

create an iso of my current system windows 10 updates

5. Wait for Windows Update to download and install the new build.

how to make iso file from installed windows 10 updates

6. Once the build is installed, DON’T restart your computer.

7. Instead, go to File Explorer and then navigate to This PC.

8. Open a partition on which your system is installed (usually C:)

9. Click the View tab on File Explorer, and check Hidden items option.

10. The $WINDOWS.~BT folder will now be visible. Open it.

11. Look for the Sources folder inside $WINDOWS.~BT.

12. Inside the Sources folder, right click on the Install.ESD file, and choose Copy.

13. Paste the Install.ESD file in the folder where you extracted the ESD Decrypter utility files.

create windows 10 iso image from existing installation files

14. Right-click the decrypt.cmd file, and select Run as Administrator.

15. In the ESD Decrypter Script user interface, type 2 to select the Create full ISO with Compressed install.esd option.

16. Press Enter to begin the process.

create windows 10 iso image from existing installation esd decrypt

17. Once the process completes, the ISO file will be created, and ready for mounting.

That’s pretty much it, once you’ve created a ISO file using this method, you can mount it on a USB flash drive, using a tool like Rufus, and install it on your PC, or a virtual machine.

If you have an old USB flash drive and do not know what to do with it, check out our article to find out our recommendations.

If you have any questions, and comments, please let us know in the comment section below.


More about the topics: Windows 10 Guides