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Which Imaging software is all the rage nowadays?

Posted on 2011-04-26
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2012-05-11
Hi folks!  Just thought I'd get some opinions on what people are using to image and re-image machines on their domains?

A little about my situation--we're currently using Acronis Trueimage Home to create "universal" system images within a VirtualBox environment, loading them up with drivers and copying them to a bootable USB drive that we use to reimage our computers using a "Bare-metal Restore" option.

I've fooled around a bit with Ghost and found it somewhat lacking--but never with a Ghost Server that could serve our images across the network to multiple PCs at a time.  Would this be worth looking into or is there anything more robust?

I don't really see the need for Sysprep as we use Win7 Enterprise and it's connected to an enterprise activation server.  But I could totally be missing something REALLY important in that regard.

Ideally, I'd like to be able to store all of our images on our NAS or FS and keep the working image off my local computer here (right now Virtualbox is installed on this very PC, which could go up in flames at any minute).

So--Desktop Engineers of the World--what are YOU using?

Question by:DolorousDave
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LVL 97

Accepted Solution

Lee W, MVP earned 2000 total points
ID: 35466903
Microsoft's tools.  Extensive.  Free or included.

Windows Deployment Services (WDS; part of Server 2008 and later; also in 2003 R2 and maybe 2003)
Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT)
Windows Automated Installation Kit (Windows AIK or WAIK)

As for Sysprep, its a must if you want all aspects of the image to function properly.  Sysprep resets critical identification information - though the SID itself shouldn't be an issue, some things, like WSUS won't function properly if you don't perform a sysprep.

Expert Comment

ID: 35467017
How many different universal images do you need? How many nodes are on the network?

Also, how many computers do you run out of virtualbox?
Whats the Host OS your running virtualbox out of?

Author Comment

ID: 35467200
We'll have 2 universal images.  The Virtualbox environment is currently on a Windows 7 box with only 1 VM.  As far as nodes on the network, not sure about that one.
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Author Comment

ID: 35467224
I should probably note that this image is not just a vanilla Windows 7 install.  There is also a large amount of third party software installed, as well as local policy tweaks.
LVL 97

Expert Comment

by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 35467232
You do understand that with WDS, you boot to the network and WDS creates the image (you need to create a capture image which is relatively simple) and then it stores that image on the network.  You can also use MDT for that.  And WDS can multicast deployments so you could deploy 25 machines in about 30 minutes, multicasting the image to all of them.  MDT can be used to push out (VERY selectively or very broadly) software, and the WAIK can customize Windows installs to a very high level.

And it's all free or included with Windows Server 2008 and later.

Author Comment

ID: 35467293
You say that creating the Capture Image is relatively simple--I assume it still needs to be sysprepped, etc?

Author Comment

ID: 35467306
Nevermind--I didn't read far enough ahead.  The capture image is the PE boot image you use to create a .wim file of your reference computer.

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