I've been told that one should not sysprep a Windows image too many times... kinda like using a Nuralizer too many times on one person :) Can anyone provide additional information on this?

We like to periodically roll updates into the image we deploy with SCCM (so that deployment patching is reasonably short) and our process takes the last wim made, patches and syspreps it. Since we've done this to our Windows 7 image about half a dozen times so far, just hoping it doesn't cause some type of inbreeding situation...


Sysprep limitations are due to the windows activation process (and it's hardcoded limitations). To quote the manual:

There is no limit to the number of times that the Sysprep command can run on a computer. However, the clock for Windows Product Activation begins its countdown the first time Windows starts. You can use the sysprep /generalize command to reset Windows Product Activation a maximum of three times. After the third time that you run the sysprep /generalize command, the clock can no longer be reset.


If you anticipate running the Sysprep command multiple times on a single computer, you must use the SkipRearm setting in the Microsoft-Windows-Security-Licensing-SPP component to postpone resetting the activation clock. Because you can reset the activation clock only three times, if you run the Sysprep command multiple times on a computer, you might run out of activation clock resets. We recommend that you use the SkipRearm setting if you plan on running the Sysprep command multiple times on a computer.

Assuming you are using a KMS: We recommend that KMS clients use the sysprep /generalize command where the value of the SkipRearm setting is equal to 1. After capturing this image, use the sysprep /generalize command, where the value of the SkipRearm setting is equal to 0.

Just curious, if you are deploying through SCCM, why not deploy from OS source and apply patches during your install? It takes longer to configure your initial tasks, but in the end run the whole process is greatly simplified and the maintenance is extremely easy to handle.

  • 1
    Thanks for finding that information. We use KMS, so rearms are not an issue for us. The reason we don't do all of the updates via SCCM, is that the apply updates step in task sequences is hard coded to 30 minutes and will time out if updates exceed that amount. There are workarounds to this, but they're kludgy... not to mention the users hate waiting forever for a workstation to image. That's not to say we don't use the updates step in the deployment, we just like to do roll-ups every now and then.
    – newmanth
    Oct 14 '11 at 21:05
  • Great information about the 30 minute limit. I'll have to keep an eye on that. MS really should provide a patched "gold" image. That would really simplify our rollout process.
    – NPS
    Oct 14 '11 at 21:41

I'm far from a Windows admin, but as far as I'm aware there are no issues sysprep'ing a machine as many times as you want.

There is/was a limit on how many times sysprep can reset Windows Product Activation's clock (IIRC it's 3 times though so if you've already run sysprep more times than that you're probably fine :-)


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