I'm looking to buy 5 new Win7 boxes and would like to ease deployment by cloning the OS. What I would like to do is install a fresh OS (Dell doesn't seem to sell machines without preinstalled crapware anymore) and then install a few apps on the first one.

Once it is just right, I want to clone the OS and install the image on the other four machines and just change the machine name.

Is this possible to do without any extra third party software? What I am thinking of doing is backing up the disk image of the first machine to a network share, and then booting the others to the windows install DVD and restoring the same image on each machine.

Has anyone had any luck with this technique?

  • 2
    Without 3rd party software... have you looked at Windows Deployment Services? Nov 17 '11 at 23:59
  • Keep in mind you you do not have the right to re-image using OEM or Retail media. You must use Volume License Media which means you MUST have at least one Windows 7 Pro Volume License (more likely 5 due to volume licensing requirements). Or, you can add Software Assurance to your systems within 90 days of purchase - this will also grant you re-imaging rights. For more information, see - download.microsoft.com/download/3/D/4/… Nov 18 '11 at 21:07
  • That kind of crazy red tape is just going to postpone upgrading.
    – John Hoge
    Nov 19 '11 at 14:55

You can use sysprep which Microsoft has lots of documentation on.

  • sysprep comes out of the box, and is Microsoft's recommended deployment tool for cloning workstations.
    – sysadmin1138
    Nov 17 '11 at 23:59
  • To actually capture the image and deploy it, the Windows AIK included WinPE (a lightweight Windows environment for servicing PCs) and ImageX (an imaging program, the one MS actually uses to create the Windows installation files).
    – Chris S
    Nov 18 '11 at 0:31
  • Actually, if you want to image (clone), you MUST use sysprep or you risk introducing problems into the network. Doesn't matter what imaging tool or deployment tool you use, sysprep really isn't recommended so much as it is mandatory for a supported system. Nov 18 '11 at 21:05
  • If I use Sysprep on one machine, can the resulting images only be deployed on exactly identical hardware?
    – John Hoge
    Nov 19 '11 at 13:55
  • Here's a list of unsupported sysprep scenarios. You need a compatible HAL.
    – Rowell
    Nov 20 '11 at 6:17

I personally like Symantec's System Recovery, it's easy to setup 200+ machines at once.

For a small LAN, I recommend you to use http://clonezilla.org/

  1. Burn ISO & Boot

  2. Create the image and save it to a portable device

You can get the latest version at http://clonezilla.org/downloads/stable/iso-zip-files.php

  • Considering the extensive toolset Microsoft has to offer and that they are all FREE or included with Windows and fully supported by Microsoft, I wouldn't bother with third party software (especially anything from Symantec, though that's a different historical story). Nov 18 '11 at 21:08
  • 1
    btw that's your own opinion. Microsoft's toolset has a limited range of features. If you run professional IT, better trust and pay for third party software.
    – mate64
    Nov 22 '11 at 7:43
  • True, that's an opinion... but what exactly do you think Symantec can do that Microsoft's MDT, WDS, WAIK cannot? There may be one a few things that it cannot do that some people might find useful, but the VAST MAJORITY of circumstances can be covered quite nicely by Microsoft's toolsets without the need for third party products. In my experience, people who suggest that IT professionals would be better off trusting third party software are either bias against Microsoft or aren't familiar with the tools available (I'll concur, MS hasn't done a great job telling people about these tools!) Nov 23 '11 at 21:13

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