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Where I work we have dozens and dozens of old ThinkPad laptops. A lot of these can be reused but not for our needs. They have been long since replaced. The higher-ups have decided to donate them to charity. For better or for worse I have been tasked with reimaging them.

I took a laptop and installed the factory copy of Windows, updated it, configured it appropriately.

Now I'm trying to reimage it to dozens of other laptops. What's some good software to do this? First I used clonezilla to clone the hdd in the laptop to an internal drive in an external enclosure and it worked. Then I tried taking the base image out and connecting it externally to a laptop that needed to be imaged and I got it to work a few times. So far so good, right?

Well once I informed my boss of my findings and what I would want to do then the images started to not work on new laptops. One of three things would happen:

  • The Thinkpads would just blink at me and Windows wouldn't load.
  • Or Windows would load but freeze within two minutes.
  • Last but not least the laptops would BSOD during the Windows XP bootup.

These laptops are not going to be used by the company. They're going to charity. So can anyone else recommend a way to reimage multiple laptops?

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migrated from Nov 20 '11 at 18:34

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any reason using the restore disks wouldn't work? create a restore disk per model, wipe the systems, restore with said disks. it'll be a heck of a lot easier, and should the charities who are getting them need to reformat, they can use the utilities on the system – Journeyman Geek Nov 14 '11 at 23:45
I have at least 100 laptops and only about two sets of restore CDs. Plus it would be easier to just install on one, update it, remove any junk then image that one. – Jason T. Nov 14 '11 at 23:46
even then, one image per model would make more sense, since then you wouldn't have to sysprep – Journeyman Geek Nov 15 '11 at 0:08
Why spend the effort? I have worked with several K-12 schools and organizations that have received donated equipment. The first thing the org does is wipe/re-install. It is nice that you are doing this, but as a person receiving the equipment. Would it be wise of me to trust that you given me a system with malware on it. (not saying you would, just that other providers are lazy). – Zoredache Nov 15 '11 at 0:52
You have a good point. Honestly I didn't even think about that too. However, I'm trying to use this as an opportunity to learn how to image so I do want to follow through with it. – Jason T. Nov 15 '11 at 12:00

You need to use SysPrep. There are lots of questions on SU about it. See What is Sysprep? How is it useful? for more info, and for info on using Sysprep on Windows XP

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Thanks for the tip. I was looking into that already but I don't believe these are going into another AD environment. So is Sysprep still useful? – Jason T. Nov 14 '11 at 20:51
Yep, just don't join it to the domain. If it's different hardware as well, you can use the /generalize switch to make it re-detect all hardware – Canadian Luke Nov 14 '11 at 21:21
Okay thank you. I'll look into that a bit more. Now Sysprep doesn't actually create a clone to an external drive, right? – Jason T. Nov 14 '11 at 23:48
No, it prepares the system to be duplicated. Once you generalize, set it to Out Of Box Experience (OOBE) mode, and shutdown, it's ready to be cloned – Canadian Luke Nov 15 '11 at 0:17
Unfortunately I don't have that option. These are Windows XP SP2 machines. – Jason T. Nov 15 '11 at 16:22

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