30 Vista laptops to clone

Posted on 2008-10-18
Last Modified: 2012-05-05
I have 30 Vista Business SP1 laptops.  They all are identical Dell machines and Vista is already installed.  I have joined one laptop to the domain and installed everything that will be common on all machines.  I did all this using a domain administrator account.  
I have never used any cloning software and have been looking into WinPe and ImageX, since it is free.  
I have already created the WinPe bootable CD and it has ImageX on it.  
1 - I believe I have to run sysprep before I create the image. Do I have to remove the computer from the domain before I run sysprep?
2 - Since imagex is file and folder based, will it bring over registry settings I needed to make for some of the apps?  
3 - Can I just apply the image to the existing laptop that has Vista on it already or do I have to format the drive first?
4 - Does Imagex have any major gotchas that I need to look out for?

I have had a number of people tell me they use Ghost or True Image, which looks like you have to buy a lic for every device.  So, that would be a couple thousand dollars,so I am looking for the free option first.
Question by:FMAIntl
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Expert Comment

by:Don S.
ID: 22751098
1) No, sysprep will remove all domain membership from the image.
2) Yes
3) Yes, it will replace what is there.
4) becareful with the Vista Product Key when creating the answer file for Imagex restore.  for OEM installs, I use a Key finder to find the actual OEM key that they used (not what is listed on the Microsoft license tag) and use that.  It is a special OEM key that is preactivatedso you won't have to go through the activation process afterward.  There are probably a lot more gotchas along the way, so take your time and test, test, test.

Expert Comment

ID: 22751286
You only need a license for one copy of True Image Echo Workstation. Make sure you get Universal restore also. This allows you to make a "bare bones" image of Vista as well as runs all the sysprep stuff automatically. You can then burn multiple boot cds from the one True Image install (there's no limit to how many cds you can burn). The boot cds are Acronis' version of BartPE, and will auto assign ips on a network. You can then sit at the main installed computer, and use Acronis True Image Management Console to control all the computers, point them to the image on the network, then let them go free.
   I've found it best to do the primary image off a computer that hasn't had a product key installed yet. That way you just go around the various machines and type them in later.
  Make sure that all your keys are the for the same product through...

Author Comment

ID: 22770506
dons6718 - Thanks.  When you said YES on line 3, was that a YES I need to format the drive?  The reason I asked about format was more for the future, not so much with a brand new computer. One of the interesting things about the Imagex was that if there was a folder C:\oldstuff on a computer and I apply an image to that computer and the image did not have a C:\oldstuff folder, the computer would still have the c:\oldstuff folder after the image was applied.  Is this true?  image would  

jbuzzard - Thanks.  Acronis told me I needed a lic for every PC that I was applying the image too??   So, I may go that route if I truly only need one license.  
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Accepted Solution

Don S. earned 125 total points
ID: 22772100
It depends on weather you are using Imagex standalone or as part of a lite touch install from theBDD.  If it is a standalone deployment, then no, it will not format the destination drive, you would have to do that first.  If it is part of a lite touch deployment from the BDD workbench(now called MDT 2008), then the Litetouch script will take care of everything for you.

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