Nano Server Image Builder helps you create a custom Nano Server image and bootable USB media with the aid of a graphical interface. Based on the inputs we provide, it generates images for deployment on physical and virtual machines and it also creates reusable PowerShell scripts. With Image Builder we can select server roles to install, add device drivers to install, set machine name, administrator password, logfile path, and time zone, join a domain by using an existing Active Directory account or a harvested domain-join blob etc.


You will only need to select 2 features – Deployment Tools and Windows Preinstallation Environment (Windows PE)

Before we start, make sure you have the following: USB flash drive, physical machine (for nano server image deployment), management machine (nano server can only be managed remotely) and windows server 2016 iso extracted to a folder.

Let’s get started.

Launch Nano Server Image Builder and select Create a New Nano Server Image


Before you begin page will popup, click next.

On Create a Nano Server Image page, Select the location for windows server 2016 source files (OBS!!! You will need to extract windows server 2016 iso to a folder. Iso file will not work)


On Review License Terms page, accept the license aggrement and click next.

On Select Deployment Type page, we need to choose the type of machine this image will be deployed to. I will select Physical Machine Image. 

Physical Computer – vhd, vhdx or wim image

Virtual Machine – vhd or vhdx image


On Detect the destination computer’s hardware configuration page, we have the option to create a USB drive which will detect our existing physical server hardware and analyze it. It will create a log file and display configuration on the screen. Click Create if you want to analyze destination computer, otherwise click Next 2 times to continue.


On Select Optional Packages page, we need to select which windows edition and which package we want to add to our image. Packages = Roles & Features in Windows Server

This Nano Server will host my VMs so I will select Hyper-V. I will also add Failover Cluster Service, VMM Agent and VMM Hyper-V agent. Click Next


On Add Drivers page, add the additional drives if your server requires it and click next.


On Destination Machine Information page, specify computer name and local admin password and click Next


On Join Domain page, you can join this server to a domain by using an existing AD account or you can provision a computer account metadata blob file. I will not join this server to the domain, Click Next


On this page (Set Network) we can enable Remote Powershell Management from all subnets, enable VLAN ID and configure network settings. I will enable Remote Powershell Management and select Manually set IP address


On Select Next Step page, click on Continue To configure advanced settings


On Add Servicing Packages page, add windows update packages (.cab files). Those packages should be downloaded earlier and extracted locally. I will add these 3, Click Next


If you have problem with finding .cab file you can always export it from .msu file


On this page you can add Embed files and commands… I do not have any so I will click Next


On Remote Options page, I will enable emergency management services (EMS), Click Next


On Debugging Methods page, I will enable debugging, click next and review settings and click Create


The creation of Nano Server Image is running. This can take 20 min to complete.

OBSSS!!!! If you run into error after clicking on Create be sure to change regional settings in Windows to use United States. 



The creation of the Nano Server image is done. Let’s create bootable USB media by clicking on Create USB…. Before you begin wizard will pop-up, Click Next

On Select a USB device page,  select USB flash drive you want to use and click Next


On Create Partition page, specify the Boot mode (I will select UEFI), You can edit and change partition parameters if you want… Click Next —> Check the Summary page and click Create



That’s it. Now we can plug in USB flash drive to physical machine and install Nano Server.