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Can I just setup a clean install and image this using Windows 7 backup and then restore this image to all the other machines (changing computer names and rejoining to active directory of course)?

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Yes, there are lots of much-harder-than-necessary ways to deploy Windows 7. Or they are the easy ways, like WDS + Windows AIK. – Chris S Jan 20 '11 at 20:51
up vote 3 down vote accepted

Please, good sir, please. Until you get WDS, or WSUS, or SCCM up and running (all tools to help you automate the distribution of images) just follow the steps in this guide. The guide will walk you through, step-by-step, how you can create your first image using WAIK and Sysprep.

It will save you hours of headache, I assure you.

PS - Don't install anti-virus software while making the image, as it has a tendency to cause a problem. Everything else can be installed without issue.

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Anybody want to tell me why I got down-voted for this? – JohnThePro Jan 20 '11 at 21:26
Drive-by Angry-Admin, I suppose. – Wesley Jan 20 '11 at 23:22
How nice. Really appreciate it. :) – JohnThePro Jan 20 '11 at 23:23
Looks like I may have inadvertently given your answer -1 months ago. Now that we can audit our voting, I was able to identify my mistake, edit your post and remove the vote. My apologies. – jscott Mar 14 '11 at 18:06
@jscott - Well thank you very much. Pardon the sarcasm above. Good group of people around here. – JohnThePro Mar 15 '11 at 21:45

Why would you do it this way? It seems like a lot of work.

Yes you can probably do it. There are some problems because of the lack of being able to sysprep the machine before running Windows Backup. You'll run into naming conflicts when you first turn the computers on. They'll also have duplicate SIDs (not so important for most things but it does effect things like WSUS reporting).

A better option would be to take some time to learn Windows Deployment Services. This will do what you want it to but make computer naming, SID regeneration, and deployment much simpler and quicker. An added benefit is that it's included with your Windows Server licenses.

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