Technology in terms you understand. Sign up for the Confident Computing newsletter for weekly solutions to make your life easier. Click here and get The Ask Leo! Guide to Staying Safe on the Internet — FREE Edition as my thank you for subscribing!

What is WAIK that Macrium seems to want me to download?

Question: What is the WAIK? And what is the effect if Macrium can’t find it?

WAIK is an acronym that stands for the “Windows Automated Installation Kit.”

To understand what it is and why we need it, we need to talk about backup programs in general and Macrium Reflect specifically.

Become a Patron of Ask Leo! and go ad-free!

Macrium Reflect and rescue media

Macrium Reflect allows you to create two different versions of their rescue media.

The rescue media is the CD or DVD that you boot from when you need to restore your machine. When restoring a backup image, wither because your machine doesn’t boot or you need to replace whatever’s on the existing hard disk, you boot from the rescue media instead. The rescue media runs a copy of the backup program that accesses your backups and helps you restore a backup image to your hard drive.

The two versions are Linux and Windows.

The Linux version is a free standalone program. Macrium and many other backup programs leverage this and make their rescue media based on the Linux-operating system. They have a Linux version of their recovery program and it works most of the time.

Emphasis on “most”.

The problem with Linux and Microsoft

But Linux isn’t Windows. In fact, Linux may or may not be able to access all of the different hardware configurations that work with Windows. As a result, many manufacturers also have rescue media that actually boots a stripped-down version of Windows. As your machine has been running Windows, it’s likely that a Windows-based version of the rescue media will be able to access everything that your Windows installation can.

The problem is that when you create a Windows disk, it needs certain components that are a part of Windows. Microsoft doesn’t give Windows away, so they control exactly what companies are allowed to do when they’re trying to create a bootable disc like this, and how they’re allowed to do it.

In the past, Macrium was able to include those parts of Windows for the Windows rescue disc when you purchased Macrium Reflect.

WindowsMicrosoft changes the rules

Unfortunately, Microsoft changed the rules late last year. Companies (like Macrium) are no longer allowed to include those parts of Windows to make a Windows-bootable disc.

The operation still works, but now you need to download those components directly from Microsoft. They’re bundled in the WAIK, and that’s probably why you’re hearing about it now.

The problem, of course, is that the WAIK is a roughly 1 gigabyte download. Many people are reluctant to do that depending on their internet speed.

So, what happens if you don’t have the WAIK?

If you don’t have the WAIK, you will not be able to build the Windows-based rescue media. That’s all.

You can still build and use the Linux-based one, but you will not be able to create what’s called the Windows PE-based rescue media.

My recommendation is to build a Linux-based rescue media disc. Then boot from that disc and make sure that you can access your computer’s hard drive and that you can access the backup images that you’ve created with Macrium.

If you can, you’re done. It will work.

If you can’t, you’ll probably want to take the time to get the WAIK from Microsoft.

You can then build the Windows-based rescue media. Once you have that, repeat those tests and make sure that the Windows-based rescue media can access your hard drive and your backup images. My guess is it probably can.

But give the Linux version a try first. It will be much quicker to build, and if it’s all you need you’ll avoid a very large download.

Do this

Subscribe to Confident Computing! Less frustration and more confidence, solutions, answers, and tips in your inbox every week.

I'll see you there!

6 comments on “What is WAIK that Macrium seems to want me to download?”

  1. “Unfortunately, Microsoft changed the rules late last year. ” That’s unfortunate for some, and fortunate for others. This also means that people using the free version of Macrium can have the Windows PE rescue discs. When I installed the trial version of Macrium, it created a PE disc for me. Previously, the free version only supported Linux rescue disks.

  2. I have created a Macrium WinPE .iso from the free Macrium that you can download from my Skydrive. This takes only a few minutes in lieu of at least 2 hours for the WAIK download. All you need to do is to burn this .iso to a CD (e.g. with ImgBurn).

    This is the Skydrive URL:
    {URL removed due to copyright issues}

  3. When I tried to create PE, it is asking me about the source. And I do not what is that. Can some one guide me in this matter.

  4. Just a hint. If / when you download Windows Automated Installation Kit (WAIK), make a copy or two on a DVD for future use or installing on other computers. Then you only suffer the long download once. Leo mentioned the size as about 1GB, my download, about 2 or 3 years ago, was almost 1.8GB. Not sure if it has been updated over that time.

  5. I just made a WIN PE rescue disc and wasn’t asked for a WAIK. New free version 6.1 of Reflect only offered me a WIN PE version only, no LINUX option was available.


Leave a reply:

Before commenting please:

  • Read the article.
  • Comment on the article.
  • No personal information.
  • No spam.

Comments violating those rules will be removed. Comments that don't add value will be removed, including off-topic or content-free comments, or comments that look even a little bit like spam. All comments containing links and certain keywords will be moderated before publication.

I want comments to be valuable for everyone, including those who come later and take the time to read.