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I've just installed a 2008 R2 and ran Windows Update multiple times until nothing showed up anymore. No roles have been added yet, and no additional software has been installed. The machine has joined a domain.

  1. Can I safely backup the VHD file and later restore it?
  2. Can I use it as a base VHD for new VMs? Can I safely create new Virtual Machines from copies of VHD without sysprep? suggests it shouldn't be done, however as mentioned above there is no additional software installed.
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@Iain I linked to it myself, so I've read the post. Though it talks about problems with installed software. I don't have any software installed. –  Stijn Aug 17 '11 at 16:50
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up vote 2 down vote accepted

If you clone out that machine you will at the very least need to disconnect, rename and rejoin it to the domain after cloning before you use it. Two machines with the same name/ID will conflict quickly enough.

You may also hit some other "interesting" account ID related issues but it should be mostly fine depending on your specific usage case.

It isn't however what we would call ideal but has worked for me in the past.

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The local Administrator was used to join the domain. After that, a domain user was used. I suppose I won't hit those "interesting" issues then? I wouldn't use them as production servers, just as staging servers. –  Stijn Aug 17 '11 at 16:51
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More an issue of just say your VHD contains a machine named A, which is joined to the domain. You now clone it and have two machines named A both "joined" to the domain. The machine account is going to get confused, as will things like WSUS or possibly group policy. The machines will also complain regularly about duplicate names on the network and you will have issues addressing them outside of the IP address. Doubt it will even work for that long. If none of thats important why join it to the domain? Short version; unjoin it from domain then clone, then rename, then join. –  Antitribu Aug 17 '11 at 20:49
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At any rate cloning and not running sysprep will still leave you with duplicate SIDs which will cause the "interesting" issues, Apache, PHP, mysql probably won't care, IIS, Exchange and MSSQL may very well not function as intended. If you need to clone it's for a reason and you probably have a software support contract somewhere you'll violate so why not do it properly with remote install services and WSUS and just do an end run around the whole issue, esp given your image will be "unpatched" this time next week? –  Antitribu Aug 17 '11 at 20:54
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