Need to make a master image and Clone new computers

I have 20 Windows 7 Pro computers that need to be configured. We have corporate licenses for Office and other software we've installed.

I have prepared the first computer, and it's set up exactly the way I want.

I would like to create an exact image of this computer onto several  external USB drives, and then clone the rest of the computers 5 at a time.

I tried two programs:  Acronis Home 2012  and  Lenovo's enhanced backup and restore.  Both failed - the clone drive created by Acronis wouldn't mount, and Lenovo experienced "Internal Errors"

What software will do this for me?


Who is Participating?
Before clonning your master copy to other computers, you need to do sysprep. I have created a little guide to show exact steps. If you follow you will succeed. If you don't take these steps, client computers cannot be member of a domain because they all will have same SIDs. Acronis will do the job if you use appropriate setting while clonning.

1-Download the WAIK (Windows Automated Installation Kit) and installed (Free) On different computer, preferably your tech computer.
2-Install  your laptop/desktop and  first, activate Administrator account (as default its disabled-Right click on Computer icon and manage, local users and groups) and remove the initial admin account the one that you have essentially created at the end of the setup! Now you logged in Administrator account, and install other softwares that you need. Customize desktop, gadgets and other softwares (Office especially-at first run it asking update settings which user will need administrator credentials, its better to do it know so no user will be asked this question)
3-Now go back to other computer and create a folder under C: and name it (say WAIK) and copy the Install.vim and Install_Windows 7.clg files which located under sources to the WAIK folder you just created and run the WAIK. You do not need rest of CD components!!!
4-After finish preparation you will create an answer file (please watch the tutorial how to do this Please use your answer file name as myunattend as I prepared the last command according to that. Most important part here is Copy Profile command which is under Microsoft-Windows-Shell-Setup (right click and Specialize) and Copy profile must be TRUE.
5-copy that answer file under the Windows\System32\Sysprep\
6-Now you look your desktop and make sure everything customized as you wish and type the following command via cmd!! (Not via GUI)
CD \Windows\System32\Sysprep  (Enter) then
sysprep.exe /oobe /generalize /unattend:myunattend.xml  (Enter)

Some programs such as Office requires updating the default profile. Users don't have local admin rights can use the office or similar programs without your personal attendance at the first run! If you don't take this step I guarantee you will visit every each of the machine for the users who don't have local admin rights. PLUS, doing sysprep does not customize the default profile, unless you use the guide above. If you wanna create a proper master image please follow my guide above.
i always use Acronis for this and never had any issues
Instead of cloning to usb and then to the actual computer
I connect all SATA harddisks to the master computer and then boot using recovery disk

I select Primary harddisk and then the target harddisks
and clone in one shot

It takes less time and super fast
Create one master image and store it at a remote location or NAS
using recovery disk pull the image from LAN and deploy it to target machines
I have tried copying master image to local workstation
remotely connected 5 machines to one workstation
process completed in 30 min on all 5 computers
computerlarryAuthor Commented:
Shahzoor -

Does Acronis create a master image?  IF so, which version of Acronis are you using?
Hi computerlarry,

No Acronis does not create a master image. Creating a master image is different thing. You already done that by customizing and installing your softwares. Next step is updating default profile and changing the SID! The guide above does that. That is the easiest way to do that. Please bear in your mind, changing SIDs is essential if you have a domain environment. You cannot runaway from this procedure.
computerlarryAuthor Commented:
Do I need to do SysPrep if the computers are not part of a domain?
David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
Yes you need to sysprep if you want to be in compliance with Microsoft.

I would like to create an exact image of this computer onto several  external USB drives, and then clone the rest of the computers 5 at a time.

A very important step is missing! for windows 7/Server 2008R2 SP1 download the Windows Automated insallation kit supplement
copy the contents of the supplement into the
c:\program files\windows aik\tools\petools

Open in new window

overwriting the existing files

5. Boot from the WAIK DVD/CD and use imagex to capture the sysem that you just sysprepped

IMAGEX /CAPTURE image_path image_file "image_name" ["description"]

Captures a volume image from a drive to a new WIM file.
copy this wim file to your usb drive into the sources directory as "install.wim"
Acronis does not create a master image but a regular image and could be deployed to target machines using Universal Restore which comes as an add-on Plus Pack
you would need sysprep

Please check out:

This TechNet article will fully explain how to create a master image and burn it to as many usb drives as you want.

If you have any questions, I have done this process many times and I can help you out.
Question has a verified solution.

Are you are experiencing a similar issue? Get a personalized answer when you ask a related question.

Have a better answer? Share it in a comment.

All Courses

From novice to tech pro — start learning today.