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deploy windows 7 image to different hardware

What free or low cost software do you recommend that will allow me to have one BASE windows 7 image (has MS Office, etc) that can be deployed to different types of machines ?

Currently I maintain multiple windows 7 image (has MS Office, etc)
  ** one for each hardware model we have
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finance_teacher
Asked:
finance_teacher
5 Solutions
 
FocISCommented:
The "correct" way to do this is to use Sysprep - it accounts for licenses, SIDs, machine id's etc.  Here's a video to get started:
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/ee530017.aspx

However, people have been known to make one good image and then use CasperXP to clone that hard drive onto another physical hard drive.

Some people have a backup container created with Acronis, and boot to a CD then restore the container to the new machine.

CasperXP - http://www.fssdev.com/products/casperxp/
Acronis - http://www.acronis.com/backup-recovery
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Joe Winograd, EE MVE 2015&2016DeveloperCommented:
Acronis True Image is a well-known product for disk cloning and imaging. The latest version is 2014 for home and 11.5 for business:
http://www.acronis.com/homecomputing/trueimage/
http://www.acronis.com/backup-recovery/smallbusiness.html

The base product can't do what you want, but they have an add-on called Universal Restore that does it:
http://www.acronis.com/backup-recovery/smallbusiness.html#add-ons-universal-restore

Here's a Knowledge Base article that discusses it in detail:
http://kb.acronis.com/content/2149

Regards, Joe
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Fred MarshallCommented:
Sometimes a computer needs to be replaced with the software intact.  
(Here, I leave the licensing issues up to the owner.  I'm not suggesting that this isn't a necessary step.)
Reasons for doing this can include the existence of software that is no longer supported and for which the original producer is no longer in existence; it can include software installations that cannot be had via reinstalls because the cost of configuration would be too great.  The latter has nothing at all to do with the cost of the application software licensing, etc.

So, I believe in many cases that one might "clone" a computer (really meaning replace the motherboard or the entire computer) and be able to license the end result while avoiding complex application configuration issues.  For example: This could come up in installations that have been engineered at high cost - control systems for example.

I've had pretty good luck using Paragon Drive Copy for this type of process.  
I've used Acronis to create a new hard drive imaged from the original.
(It shouldn't matter what you use for this step .. clonezilla, whatever..)
Then *add* that new hard drive into the new computer - alongside the new computer's hard drive.
Then use Paragon Drive Copy boot clone adjustment to adjust the added hard drive to the new hardware.
You still have the issue of drivers and you can either deal with the new computer as you might any new bare install or you can package up the drivers ahead of time if you know what they are.  
For example: if the operating system remains the same between the two computers then you should be able to extract the drivers from the new computer using something like those mentioned here:
http://www.experts-exchange.com/Microsoft/Hardware/Q_27539289.html
Then these drivers could be included in the boot clone adjustment process.

Of course, you should be aware that OEM licenses of Windows are tied to the machine/hardware.  So, you would want to obtain a new Windows license for the new machine.  (Perhaps it already has one).  I would not recommend such workarounds that amount to piracy.  There is clearly a difference between making something work or  appear to work and meeting the intent of the licenses that you have.

For example: you can browse the web and find ways to "authenticate Windows".  If you investigate a bit, the procedures don't do that at all.  What they do is work to *avoid* having to face into that issue.  I'm always happy when I get a Windows installation to properly authenticate because that's the end objective in preparing a system.  But the procedures mentioned at the beginning of this paragraph aren't doing that.  So I would beware of that.
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colditzzCommented:
MDT (Microsoft Deployment Toolkit) is free and excellent - http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=40796 - that's the link to MDT 2013.

Also, Johan at www.deploymentresearch.com has lots of amazing video's on how to do some very clever things using MDT to capture reference images, deploy Windows to many different makes & models of machine using one base image.

I truly cannot recommend it enough.
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McKnifeCommented:
Some background info: there is only one crucial driver and that's the hard drive controller's. If your base image holds drivers for all kinds of machines you run, it will boot on all machines and all other drivers can be adjusted later on.

It happens that win7 already features a generic sata controller driver called msahci. If enabled on a system, we can image it can deploy that image to any machine that uses sata AHCI. How to enable? Simply make sure your machine runs in AHCI mode and don't install any non-Microsoft AHCI drivers prior to imaging.
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