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On all flavors of Windows prior to Windows Vista, the Windows install CD contained a folder called i386. After installing Windows, this folder is suppose to be copied to the C: drive. Once the folder has been copied, if user is ever installing a program or windows updates that require the Windows install CD, it will retrieve the files from the hard drive INSTEAD of prompting for the Windows CD.

On new versions of Windows, including Windows Vista, Windows 7, Server 2008 and Server 2008 R2, the i386 folder has been renamed to "sources". Should this folder be copied to the hard drive? Or do the new versions of Windows work differently (i.e. by installing all features on the hard drive to eliminate the need for ever prompting the user to insert their disc.)

It does not hurt to copy the sources folder, so I have been doing it. But if I could eliminate time wasted it would make installations faster which helps my customers' bottom line.

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At first I thought, "Wow, great! I don't need to put the disc on the C drive." (sources folder) But I am disappointed with "Microsoft's solution" to putting the install image somewhere on the C drive. I have had a lot of cases where the startup repair does not work. Along with the SFC /scannow showing "Windows cannot repair these files". When that happens, now what? Putting the Windows image on C with the install (the Microsoft way) is not proving to be a great help at all when serious problems arise. I would always put something on there that can/could help. – Another ADMIN May 25 '12 at 15:05
up vote 4 down vote accepted

You don't need to do that. Vista and newer, by default, keep a cache of all features on the hard drive so you should never need your OS installation media.

From Engineering Windows 7: Disk Space:

As you might notice today in Windows, when you choose to add a feature that was not installed Windows does not require a source (a DVD or network location). This is because the feature is stashed away as part of a complete Windows install—this is itself a feature. We will always keep features available and will always service them even when components are not installed—that way if you add a component later you do not risk adding a piece of code that might have been exploited earlier.

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