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Looking for Desktop imaging software- Windows 7 Pro on Windows domain

Posted on 2014-03-15
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Last Modified: 2016-10-27
I have about 18PC's that we are phasing out from XP and replacing with Windows 7Pro machines, that have Office 2013 home/Biz and some client/server based software. the PC's on the network are all static IP addressed, and connect to Windows 2008R2 DC. The new machines are already preinstalled with office 2013 and windows 7 pro- just not registered. I would really like to get one of the Windows 7 machines entirely done, and functional and then clone it to the other 17 machines we have to install into the network. I'm wondering if there is a good imaging software that I could do this with. I know I would have to change machine name, ip address, a couple specific .ini files that are PC specific, network printers for specific PC location. All of that is relatively quick and easy.
I have not used imaging software before, so I have no idea if this would work or not or what pitfalls there may be? Does it work if the PC I'm cloning has been joined to the domain before imaging software? Imaging Software recommendation?
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Question by:350ztn
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by:rick81
ID: 39932056
as long as the hardware for all the computers is the same then this is an easy painless task.

i've used acronis true image and found it to be great.  works a treat and relatively fast.

the other option you have (if you dont want to pay for imaging software) is to use the windows backup program.  backup one of the new PC's to USB.  Then restore the backup to one of the new computers.  If the hardware is the same the restore should be fine.

apart from changing ip's, printers, etc you will need to run sysprep (if the new computer is already added to the domain) this will allow you to give it a new computer name and SID.

here's an article on how to run sysprep.  follow steps 3 onward.

http://publib.boulder.ibm.com/infocenter/toolsctr/v1r0/index.jsp?topic=%2Fdpsccm%2Fdpsccm_t_running_sysprep.html
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by:350ztn
ID: 39932066
hardware is identical on all PC's. will acronis push this out to all 17 machines at once, or does it have to be done one at a time?
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by:rick81
ID: 39932069
im not sure on the latest acronis software if you can deploy it.  you can with windows but you need to build an imaging server and deploy via pxe.  probably not worth the work to setup for 17 machines.

i usually just create 5 acronis boot disks and have the image on 5 usb hdd's or sticks and image them, 5 at a time.

realistically you could image all 17 within a day this way.

or you could pull all the hdd's out of each computer and just keep imaging the same comptuer but swapping the hdd's in and out.
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by:rick81
ID: 39932070
just dont forget to do sysprep on each imaged computer.  otherwise you will have issues with the computers on the domain
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by:350ztn
ID: 39932082
is that sysprep run on just initial PC after I have everything setup the way I want it, or is it run after every machine has been imaged?
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by:rick81
ID: 39932093
no you need to run it on each machine after you have it imaged.

basically it will allow you to give the computer a new name and new SID on the domain.

otherwise if you dont do sysprep the machines will conflict on the network.  even though you change the ip address, etc.  there are domain varilables which are tied to the machines, so you need to run sysprep to make it appear as a different machine.
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Schuyler Dorsey earned 200 total points
ID: 39932097
There is a much easier and better solution for this.. plus doesn't require third party software.

Windows Deployment Server. It is a Role you can add to any domain-joined server. You setup one workstation the way you want (do not join it to the domain). Then you use Sysprep and WDS capture to suck the image to the server.

You can then deploy the image to as many workstations as fits with your licensing. If you run across machines that require different drives, you can add them from the WDS console without having to redo the image.

WDS also can auto-add the the machines to the domain after it formats them. You can even prestage the accts to the correct OUs.

This is the method I use for all of my clients.
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by:rick81
ID: 39932104
Mack's solution is the correct way to deploy an image via the network.

If you don't want to stuff around with your server and want a simple problem free solution to just image those computers and move on, use acronis or similar.
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by:Schuyler Dorsey
ID: 39932107
Just make sure you have volume licensing for Windows 7 if you are imaging/cloning with either Acronis or WDS.

OEM licensing does NOT allow you to do either.
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Expert Comment

by:sumeshbnr
ID: 39932292
If the hardware are identical you can use any imaging software to clone these systems .After you clone all the systems and make the appropriate changes as per your needs.Then Run sysprep.You can also use norton Ghost .But Acronis is found more easy.
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Author Comment

by:350ztn
ID: 39932464
If the desktops are pre-installed with the OS already, I believe that would be OEM licensing? Each machine has it's own win7 sticker on it, so I can't image and just re-enter the code on the PC?
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by:Schuyler Dorsey
ID: 39932506
If you are using the pre-installed OS then yes that is OEM licensing. But OEM licensing is specifically tied to the hardware that it was installed on when it came from the factory. So if you image an OEM OS onto a different piece of hardware (even if it is the EXACT same model), you have violated the OEM license agreement.

[I learned this the hard way]
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by:Schuyler Dorsey
ID: 39932508
[by hard way I mean through a Microsoft licensing audit conducted by MS]
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by:350ztn
ID: 39932511
So this illegal per MS...lovely. So this leaves me back to configuring each machine individually then, I assume.
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by:Schuyler Dorsey
ID: 39932517
You have two options..

1. You can purchase volume licensing upgrades. Without software assurance, upgrading an OEM license to a volume license is roughly $180 I think. With most of my clients, we cost justified this because it was cheaper than my time of setting each PC up individually.

2. Script it. For some clients, I created a batch script or a PowerShell script which would do it. So you put all of the software you want installed on a network share. Have the script mount the share, install the software silently and do whatever else you need it to do.

There are even PowerShell scripts that will check for and install Windows Updates. You can script just about anything.. here are some examples from mine:

1. Install client software (such as Adobe Reader and Office)
2. Install Updates
3. Uninstall x software
4. Rename computer
5. Join to domain
6. Make user X member of local admins if required
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Author Comment

by:350ztn
ID: 39932523
http://www.aidanfinn.com/?p=14534

MakeWage: Found this link, is this what you are discussing in option 1? If I read it correctly, I buy one license...or is it one license per PC.
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by:Schuyler Dorsey
ID: 39932538
Yes and you have to buy one license PER pc if you wish to upgrade to volume licensing.

You may also check with your MS licensing reseller to confirm any specifics and/or price as  I am by no means the end-all know all when it comes to the complex world of MS licensing. :-P
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by:350ztn
ID: 39932541
Thank you for all the help and info. Guess Monday will be quite busy.
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by:Schuyler Dorsey
ID: 39932543
I'm trying to understand that link in his reasoning for purchasing a single licensing and deploying it across multiple devices.. but I don't see that mention in his source (the MS article).

As I mentioned, I would double check with your licensing reseller to be sure.
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by:Schuyler Dorsey
ID: 39932547
FYI I found this line in the MS document.

"You must purchase at least one license of the Microsoft software that you want to reimage under your Open License
authorization number or Microsoft Open Value or Microsoft Open Value Subscription Agreement number. This purchase is
required to obtain the media and necessary Volume Licensing Keys (VLK[s]). "


Definitely check with your licensing partner. I am doing the same as I was/am unaware of this.
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Author Comment

by:350ztn
ID: 39932566
Yeah that makes it sound like I only need to get one license.
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Assisted Solution

by:Mike T
Mike T earned 100 total points
ID: 39932755
Hi,

I'm not going to discuss licensing as that's been covered. However there are two choices:

1) use a disk imaging software to take a sector-based copy (think DNA) of ONE machine and then deploy that to all other machines. The "deploy" bit is the tricky bit. You can use USB, DVD or the network. It's up to you. Acronis does a Server product, as does Symantec Ghost

OR

2) create a gold, master image on one machine and then capture it and deploy (as 1).
This involves install the OS, drivers and some software (thin image) or ALL software (fat image). The choice is simply the speed of writing the image back to the target machine.
Fat is quicker but locked to just those apps. If they update tomorrow, you have to start again!

Whether you use 1) or 2) when you're happy with your "gold machine", you run sysprep and *then* take an image. You do NOT run sysprep on each machine; the image will run sysprep on any machine you boot the image with. Sysprep is baked in to the image.

The good news is that you can do what you want for FREE. You just need Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2013. In your case, just create a "capture" task-sequence and that will create a WIM file. That's your image. Then create a "standard client" and point it to your WIM. If you want to deploy over the network, you add the WIM to WDS on a server, otherwise just use offline media (aka a USB stick). You could easily do this in a day or two - for free - no Acronis or Ghost required.


For more details check my previous answer:
http://www.experts-exchange.com/OS/Microsoft_Operating_Systems/Windows/Windows_7/Q_28173092.html

The main advantage this gives you is that once you've done it, it's repeatable, reliable and editable. Using Ghost/Acronis locks you into a frozen build that's hard to update. If a patch - make that *when* a patch comes out you have to build a machine, run the patch, run sysprep and re-Ghost it and then create a new build disk. With MDT you just import the patch and click "Update": it will then create a new build for you and you copy the result onto USB/DVD/import to WDS.

Save your money and time and use MDT (or MDT + WDS).

Mike
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Expert Comment

by:rick81
ID: 39933079
when i've imaged multiple PC's with an OEM license i have just re-entered the license key from the sticker.  to memory you can activate windows and re-enter the key.  or use a tool to change the product key.
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