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Clone Windows 7

Posted on 2011-10-29
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Last Modified: 2016-10-27
Hello Experts

I wish to make a clone of a disk running Windows 7.  I need to make an image for a client who will be upgrading several machines in the next year, so I need to create an image that has all theri software in place.

I tried a couple times back in its early days to clone Vista (using Acronis True Image and Apricorn EZ Gig).  Neither software worked.  In fact, not only did I not get a clone that booted, but it ruined the image on the host drive as well.  So neither drive would boot.  All the files were there, but it was no longer bootable.  

I bought Acronis True Image 2012 just now, but tech Support is unavailable until Monday.  I’d like to get this done this weekend (I have 2 to image right away).

Can anyone tell me if Acronis TrueImage 2012 will successfully clone Windows y?  I just spent several hours getting all the updates, loading all their software and printers, etc. and I don’t want to have to do it all again, so I’d rather not experiment with that disk.

Anyone have any experience in this area?
Thanks
thedslguy
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Question by:thedslguy
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Run5k earned 2000 total points
ID: 37051334
As long as you Sysprep your master image, you shouldn't have any problems at all.  Here is a great Experts Exchange community article with a comprehensive set of instructions and recommendations:

Windows 7 Sysprep
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by:thedslguy
ID: 37051380
Run5k

What do you mean "Sysprep the master image"?

I read the information from the link.  It seems pretty complex.  I used to clone XP without a hitch.  Wonder why 7 is so much different?  Are there any shortcuts?  If not,I'll follow the instructions and see what happens.

thanks

tdg
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by:Run5k
ID: 37051403
Yes, cloning a machine was a bit more simple during the Windows XP era, but there are some things that you may encounter now with Windows 7 and Vista that you should keep in mind.  Take a few minutes to read this two-part article that does an excellent job of explaining the importance of using Sysprep:

Why Sysprep is a necessary Windows deployment tool – Part 1

Why Sysprep is a necessary Windows deployment tool – Part 2

I think you will find that Ivanoviola's article (and the subsequent comments) that I referenced in my previous post has some great advice, so it's definitely worth taking a bit of time to read it.

That being said, the most basic operations of Sysprep involved navigating to this location:

C:\Windows\System32\sysprep\sysprep.exe

Once you execute that file with full admin privileges, you typically want to choose the options to OOBE, Generalze, and Shutdown (as pictured below).  Once you have run Sysprep on your master image, virtually any cloning software should fulfill your needs rather well.

 Windows 7 Sysprep
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by:thedslguy
ID: 37051489
Run5k

I think I understand, not.  What I think you are tellng me is if I run sysprep on the master disk I'll be able to clone without difficulty.

And the rest of it, (WAIK and creating sysprep2) I can skip, right?

tdg
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by:thedslguy
ID: 37051494
Oh, and one other question:

One of the things accomplished by sysprep is it removes the pnp drivers.  I don't really want the drivers I installed to be removed.  One of the reasons for cloning is to have all the drivers in place when I create a clone for a new system.

I hope I misunderstood that feature.  If not, is there a way to turn that feature off?

tdg
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by:Run5k
ID: 37051502
Essentially, yes.  Once the image has been "sealed" and the computer has shutdown, then you would boot directly into your cloning software environment (Ghost, ImageX, Acronis, etc.).

As far as drivers are concerned, that was actually addressed within Ivanoviola's article, also.  Basically, the drivers that you may have installed (updated video card drivers, etc.) are still present within the central driver store.
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by:thedslguy
ID: 37051555
Run5k

It says "Uninstalls plug and play device drivers, which reduces the risk of hardware compatibility problems; required drivers will be installed automatically on the target machines."  To me this means it will uninstall anything not required.  So will I lose all the printer drivers I isntalled?

Anyway, I'm going to start a new machine and do a minimal setup.  Then I'll run sysprep and clone it as an experiment.  I'll be back in touch afterward.  

Now here it is Saturday night and it's 8:37PM here.

It'll take an hour or so for this to finish setting up, then I'll run sysprep and try the clone.  So it'll klikely be Sunday morning before I post again.  But I'll let you know how it goes.

Thanks for all yoru help, Run5k

'til morn

tdg
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by:Run5k
ID: 37051573
No, you won't lose the printer drivers that you installed.  They should remain with the central driver store.  That's why they emphasize "required drivers will be installed automatically on the target machines."  The drivers are uninstalled from active usage because those devices may not actually exist on the target computer when the Windows 7 clone stands up, but they aren't actually removed from the Windows 7 central driver store.
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Expert Comment

by:RootsMan
ID: 37052769
After setting up and configuring the master PC, why not use the built-in Windows 7 Backup and Restore tools to back up the hard drive to an external or network drive? At least, if something goes awry when Syspreping or imaging you can restore your master PC with minimal effort, to try again.

Backup and Restore > Create system image
Backup and Restore > Create system repair disc

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by:thedslguy
ID: 37056441
Run5k

I understand.  And good news... it WORKED!!!  I have a working clone!

Thanks so much for yoru help.  This will be golden for me!!

Thanks again

thedslguy
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Author Closing Comment

by:thedslguy
ID: 37056450
Running Sysprep was the difference.  Cloning will make my life SO much easier!!
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Expert Comment

by:Run5k
ID: 37057316
Glad to help!  It makes a world of difference, doesn't it?  Creating a master image, using Sysprep, and cloning saves a tremendous amount of time.
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