Note: As you may have seen in my other question regarding the data integrity of a .wim, I know this is a very "rigged" method of doing things. I've been the one heading up that whole area for our department, but given how fast we've been needing things done and how thin we're all stretched, I haven't been able to get a concrete method down and pretty much went with the first reliable-looking method just to keep our heads above water.

Are there any practices that are especially solid in this area? As of now we're loading up a virtual machine on a local PC, installing Windows 7, customizing it, doing a sysprep, booting the VM into a WinPE environment, mapping the host machine's drive as a network resource, then doing a "network" capture. After that, the .wim is copied onto an external HDD to be used with a WinPE usb for individual deployments. As for drivers, we used Double Driver to throw those in after the first boot after imaging. Slipstreaming those in with automatic hardware configuration detection to determine which to throw in on each individual machine would be VERY useful.

Our business is growing pretty fast, so I'm looking for a way to further simplify the process of imaging. Knowing generally how to IT world works, I just KNOW there has to be some way to dependably image multiple computers at a time from a network resource without the need to manually do anything to the target computers (except maybe PXE boot them), but I just don't know what it is. You have no idea how much I'd appreciate any assistance here!

migrated from superuser.com Apr 27 '14 at 6:36

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There are lots of ways to do this "dependable" on multiple computers. The best thing you can do probably is not using your own, "home grown" tool, but use one that's readily available and has been tested by thousands of users.

You may want to have a look at the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) for a "free" way:

The Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) provides a unified collection of tools, processes, and guidance for automating desktop and server deployments. In addition to reducing deployment time and standardizing desktop and server images, MDT offers improved security and ongoing configuration management.

or if you want to go further with automation of Software deployment, the automation of the capturing process and things like that, you might to look at Microsoft's SCCM Product.

If you want to improve your current process, start by employing Windows Deployment Services (WDS) which allows you to PXE boot the machines with your WinPE image. You can also configure your WinPE image to grab the .WIM file from a Network share. This way, you always have the curret version of the WIM available, and do not need to copy it to the hard drive every time.

  • If there are any clear tutorials on how to get started using these tools, I'm all for it. I've looked into MDT before, but the only options I could see for loading in our own software was via msi packages. For most of our software, that works just fine, but there are just small configurations the vendors don't have available to customize via msi command line switches. – PCI-J Apr 27 '14 at 15:20
  • That's when I started looking at custom making msi packages, but it looks like that's an entire lengthy pain in and of itself to get working. I'd be willing to put the time in, but my bosses are trying to move me to another area soon. Sadly, if I don't get this done, it's just not getting done. Let's just not get into the mismatching of priorities here... – PCI-J Apr 27 '14 at 15:21
  • Novell's (now Attachmate's) Zenworks does this really nicely, including deploying apps as well, but your bosses may not want to spend the $$ although it is worth it to have fully managed workstations. – Debra Apr 27 '14 at 17:38
  • Look here for an Overview, here for lite-touch using MDT including step-by-step stuff, here for zero-touch deployment using MDT and SCCM including step-by-step stuff – MichelZ Apr 28 '14 at 5:37
  • Also, configuring software after deployment is usually done through GPO. Consult with the vendor of the software on how to configure it properly – MichelZ Apr 28 '14 at 5:38

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