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I'm in the process of deploying some new PCs (there's only 8), all identical hardware. What I'd like to do is install Windows 7 (64bit), join to domain etc, install a bunch of other software, and then clone that drive to multiple other machines. I'd also like to be able to use it as a backup image, so the machine can be restored back to that image at some future date.

I understand this involves at least sysprep, but I am confused after reading some tutorials that talk about using Windows Automated Installation Kit, or hacks with the registry and custom-build batch files. This process seems overly complex to me: I did something similar 10+ years ago, and and don't remember it being this bad. Surely things have improved in a decade?

There's also some products that involve having network servers running deployment software, network boot, etc etc.. this is way more than I want to set up.

My systems are all identical hardware. Is there a simplified way to clone PCs?

Preferably (since I'm a lazy developer, and not an IT admin) I'd like to find some off-the-shelf product that I can run after I get the machine setup, that will spit out a bootable DVD I can run on all the other systems, which will boot up, ask for a computer name, join it to the domain, and that's it. Does such as product exist?

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4 Answers

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Clonezilla. You can either burn yourself a DVD to do it, or (even better) set it up to image via PXE. They have some extra tools that help with cloning Windows, so I'd suggest you take a look at them.

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I'll accept this answer: I ended up configuring the system how I wanted (without joining it to the domain), then ran sysprep. Booted with clonezilla, used the disk image function to copy to an external USB drive. To install, boot from clonezilla and connect the USB drive, and restore the drive, and that's it: windows boots, asks for hostname, etc, then join to domain, and done. I have a bunch of systems now in use using this method that are working fine (all identical hardware though: don't know if this will work on different hardware). –  gregmac Apr 7 '11 at 3:43
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use disk2vhd to create the backup then just use the vhd that was created and native boot from it!

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try easeus todo backup, it offers WinPE bootable CD/DVD.

u can clone the system disk, and the system can still work.

the universal restore feature enables system work in different hardware.

u can have a look at their product.

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Norton Ghost can do all this nicely. There's others out there I'm sure, but that's the first that comes to mind.

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