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How to revert an XP/Vista computer to pre-setup state

Posted on 2008-10-29
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Last Modified: 2008-11-04
You know when you get a new, pre-loaded computer, and Windows Setup starts automatically?  I'd like this to occur on a computer that had been set up previously.

I occasionally re-sell computers, and would like to test the machine and update XP/Vista before delivery.  Normally, I would create a User account in order to do this.  Once I'm finished, I'd like to be able to "revert" the machine to the point where Windows Setup runs on power-up.

My first thought is to logon to the Administrator account, then delete the User account and its files.  Would you know if this might do it?

Thanks!
Dan.
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Question by:danhutch
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by:Joseph Daly
Joseph Daly earned 1000 total points
ID: 22830589
I believe this is done using sysprep.
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by:danhutch
ID: 22830749
Hi:
Sysprep sounds interesting.  Microsoft has an article describing Sysprep's four modes of operation (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/282190/en-us).  After reading that, I might try:  "sysprep -reseal -msoobe" and see what happens.  I should be able to test that in the next couple of days, and I'll post back.
Thank you for that,
Dan.
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danhutch earned 0 total points
ID: 22847602
Hello, xxdcmast:
Your solution worked fine.  I did my testing, and installed XP SP3.  Following Microsoft Knowledge Base instructions to extract and copy two files from the Service Pack 3 CD, it ran fine and Windows Setup started as expected after power-on.  At that point, I simply powered-off.  I re-started again fine, and went through Setup to check the system status, also fine.
I discovered three things when doing this:
  1. I don't know how to complete Windows Setup without creating a User Account.  The problem is that "Sysprep -reseal" does not remove user-created accounts. I had to logon as Administrator, delete the account in Computer Management, and then delete the account's document folders ... something I don't like to do in that way.  (Control Panel's User Accounts would not permit removal of a sole-remaining administrative user account.)
  2. The Windows updates remained installed following Sysprep.
  3. Re-starting after I ran Sysprep, Windows Setup asked for the XP License Key this time, and required online activation.  Not a big deal, but annoying.
I ran Sysprep a final time, and allowed it to shutdown automatically.  It's now ready for its new owner; whether it will require Activation again, who knows?  Expert Sysprep users may know of ways to get around the little problems, but it essentially did what I needed it for.
Thanks again,
Dan.
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