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Simple way to clone servers

I'm about to set up three Dell R420's, each of which will use Windows 2012, as hyper-V hosts. They will each be configured an identical manner, except for the server name and IP addresses.

I'd like to set up one and then clone its configuration to the other two to save time. I've never done this and am looking for advice on how to do it. I would like to do this:
1. Simply: I've never done this before, so simpler is better
2. For free: I may invest money into doing this if it works the first time around but for now would be great if I do this at no cost. If there's any software that is free or offers a free trial, I would be willing to try it out.

Thanks!
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Julian123
Asked:
Julian123
1 Solution
 
David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
Use the server inbuilt options of WDS or use MDT2012, or just the ADK, create a winpe 4.0 boot disk and then use dism to image the drive to external storage and then go onto machine #2, machine #3 and then boot each from the winpe 4.0 and use dism to unpack the image onto the hard drive.

Windows Deployment Services with PXE boot is the recommended way.
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als315Commented:
If you have installed server, shutdown it, copy file with virtual machine, start it, run sysprep:
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh824816.aspx
shutdown without restart, copy file and use it for cloning. Usual sysprep command line:
Sysprep /oobe /generalize /shutdown
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Julian123Author Commented:
Thanks for the feedback. I'm not familiar with several of the terms above (MDT2012, ADK, sysprep). Some of them I've heard but have not used them. I was looking for something a little more along the lines of "how to" with some steps I could follow. Is there anything available like that?

Also, my goal is to configure these machines as hyper-v hosts and install some software (antivirus, etc.). I would like that to be carried along with the cloning process. Is that possible?
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Making Bulk Changes to Active Directory

Watch this video to see how easy it is to make mass changes to Active Directory from an external text file without using complicated scripts.

 
als315Commented:
There is only one step if you will use sysprep. Prepare your server and run command:
Sysprep /generalize /oobe /mode:vm
seems in server 2012 and windows 8 we have new key (/mode:vm) for virtual machines.
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh824938.aspx#bkmk_2
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Julian123Author Commented:
Thanks. So once I run that command on the server I've configured, then what do I do? Will it output some sort of file I copy to the new server that I have to run? Do I burn it to a DVD or something like that"

And once I run it on the new server, will all the configuration and apps from the old server end up on the new one?

thanks again for the help.
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shahzoorCommented:
The easiest is Acronis
Use the trial version
No need to restart the machine even to backup
it does it all live
restore the image in 7-8 mins depending on the data on server
its the best out there at the moment
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