create windows 7 image and restore to other same model machine

I am trying to create windows 7 image and restore to other machine (Same model) using the windows 7 backup and restore tool. I first sysprep the machine and then I I launched the backup and restore tool, tried to click the create a system image. But for some reason, nothing pop up. But it was working before I run sysprep.... any reason why? Am I doing anything wrong?
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Miguel Angel Perez MuñozCommented:
Backup and restore are not designed to do this.
After sysprep original computer, turn off, boot with any kind of software to clone (p. ex clonezilla) and create an image of your computer.
Then, uses this image on your destination computers, that´s all.
noxchoGlobal Support CoordinatorCommented:
After you use Sysprep you need to boot the machine from WinPE image which you prepare from ADK package and perform the image of the system using ImageX tool from this boot CD.
But you can use some third party tool which works from bootable media as well.
For example Paragon Hard Disk Manager 14 Suite. With it you do not need to use Sysprep even. It has Adjust OS feature which allows the restored image booting from any dissimilar hardware.
okamonAuthor Commented:
thanks! can you find any article from microsoft that confirmed it will not be create the system image after sysprep? And what 3rd party software would you recommend if I want to deploy multiple pc at same time? I know there are a lot of products (Ghost Cast Server, clonezilla,Fog, acronis, partion...) but never had a chance to test them myself. Will the product also has the ability to dissimilar hardware?
We use for years this solution:
Its even possible to integrate these files as networkshare for users to get access to the files in the backup.

We build a machine and sysprep (shutdown) and boot from a usbstick with the small snapshot.exe on it to backup all workstations.
noxchoGlobal Support CoordinatorCommented:
There is a tool called Microsoft Deployment Tools 2013 which is designed for deployment and its documentation says that you need to perform the image from boot CD using ImageX.
Same instructions you can find in Windows 7 Desktop Administrator Exam tutorials.
As a third party deployment tool for more than 10 machines have a look on this:
If you have less than 10 machines - you do not need deployment software. A copy of Hard Disk Manager 14 Server Basic:
With its WinPE based Recovery CD you can take backup of your sysprepped machine and restore it to dissimilar hardware and use P2P Adjust OS if necessary. This is needed if the machines are having RAID configurations as MS default installation works with most non-RAID configurations without any problem.
Mike TLeading EngineerCommented:

First, the question you first raised sounds like you are just backup your old machine, and restore to another and scrap/sell/forget the old one. That's not what you're doing though, so the answer to your original question: "am I doing anything wrong" is yes. You're using the wrong tool and possibly breaking the OS license agreement.

OS deployment
You are really talking OS deployment: take one machine, configure it how you want with the OS you want and then image it, and restore (apply) the image to one or more machines.

This is best done using Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT). For W7 you will need MDT 2012 Update 1 + WAIK update 1.

There are lots and lots of blogs out there but here's two nice ones I found yesterday.

Start here:

Then go here:

I know Acronis/CloneZilla/etc. will work, but those are imaging tools and some are not even free. If you are in a business, especially a corporate shop you need to avoid those tools. Why? Because MDT is free, fully supported by Microsoft and well documented.

The final point I need to raise is licensing. You cannot legally do this process with OEM machines. End of. You really need a volume license key (VLK). You will need to talk to a licensing professional, and certainly not anyone here because "someone on EE told me" will not cut any ice later.
MDT is easy enough. Just be organised and you will have a system that can churn out machines in under an hour, over the network or from DVD/USB. It's up to you as it's completely flexible. Note it does sysprep for you so you don't even have to do that either.


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okamonAuthor Commented:
thanks Mike! I will definitely give MDT a try!
> First, the question you first raised sounds like you are just backup your old machine, and restore to another and scrap/sell/forget the old one

no, I am using that machine as a template and tried to deploy the image to other machine using win7's image tool. I just wondered why it didn't work after sysprep. I just wanted to know if it's officially unsupported...

And another question, do I really have to do sysprep? as I read from this article saying after I change the product key, it will also changed the SID... is that true?
Mike TLeading EngineerCommented:

I understand what you wanted, but the words "backup/restore" just throw people a curve a bit. Using backup to deploy images is not supported. It's meant for restoring data and at worst, the OS for disaster recovery. It will re-use the license from the source machine so definitely not good.

There could be many reasons why it did not work. It depends on how you created the machine in the first place. If it has antivirus installed that's one reason it could mess up. VPN software is another.

As a general principle, the recommended way to do what you're talking about is to create a reference image. People have different opinions on this next bit, but generally "thin" wins.

Thin means you do this:
Install the OS
Install the essential patches

That's it. No software at all.

Fat images, are clearly the other extreme. Office Pro, Acrobat Reader, Flash, Java, WinZip, McAfee etc.

Unfortunately those middle few lead to a world of pain (owing to updating every 20 seconds), so if you really must include apps (to reduce build times), stick to Office and things that do NOT add low level drivers.

As for sysprep, the answer is yes you *always* need to run it if you are joining a domain. It anonymises the machine, removes SIDs, GUIDs, clears MRUs and more so that it becomes a true template. Not running sysprep is like copying a Word template that someone has already filled in and using it.
Worse than that, it has some very strange effects on networking comms much later on, so is really not a good idea. Yes, it will appear to be OK, but it's not.

As for the PDF you found and read, I have never read so much un-mitigated rubbish for a very long time. Please delete it. It is sooooo wrong I don't know where to start.

One final thing which complicates things a little. The BEST machine to create an image from is a virtual machine. You can use VMware or Hyper-v. It doesn't matter. The important thing is it has no hardware so no drivers to worry about.

Hope that helps.

Mike TLeading EngineerCommented:
*extra info regarding sysprep*

While it is possible to run slmgr.vbs /rearm to reset the machines CMID that does not leave the machine in a supported state. Images deployed without using Sysprep to prepare the image are not supported by Microsoft. Sysprep executes ~30 sysprep providers. These providers are written to correct issues with various components when you duplicate the installation. By not running sysprep it is unknown what types of issues you could encounter and many components will be in a broken state. The supported solution is to rebuild the image using the Sysprep /generalize switch and redeploy the systems.

okamonAuthor Commented:
Thank you so much Mike. For the Creation of base image from VM, do you use the MDT to deploy later?  Is there any tutorial you know I can follow?
Mike TLeading EngineerCommented:

Yes you do.

A mini walkthrough of this (which they call Lite touch):

1) create reference image on a virtual machine
2) sysprep it and shutdown
3) Capture it using a WinPE boot disk. You can capture with imagex or better still DISM. You will know have a WIM

4) Create a new deployment share, call it Production
5) Add that BACK to MDT (using import OS) to the new Production share
6) Create a new, full task-sequence which includes drivers, patches and apps
7) Create a new WIM
8) Deploy with MDT through WDS (which ONLY points at a bootable image to get the MDT share) or on bootable media if your network is not ready


There's a video here:
together with a better (more detailed) walkthrough than mine but still nice and short.

okamonAuthor Commented:
Thank you again. In order to deploy multiple pcs at one time, is it the only license I can use is volume license?
For example, if I buy 40 pc from HP, usually I don't need to enter any key during installation.. is this OEM license? Is it possible to deploy using this method, if not, I have to do it one by one? Even I run sysprep before deployment, it's still considered illegal? I thought user would have to enter their info and product key info again after sysprep... am I wrong? and does MDT support dissimilar hardware?
noxchoGlobal Support CoordinatorCommented:
It is Volume License. The activation in this case will be done by you during deployment.
If the license is going to be activated later by entering it manually by user - you need OEM licenses.
As long as you have the licenses it not illegal to run sysprep before or after deployment. Sysprep is actually making the system barebone - means no user account, no binding to specific hardware or network.
MDT is a tool for deployment. The support of dissimilar hardware is question of Sysprep as it sets all the drivers to default Windows drivers which you have when you finish installing Windows and get to the step where user account and password must be created at first time.
Mike TLeading EngineerCommented:

Q: Is it the only license I can use is volume license?
A: For deploying many machines with ONE key, yes.
(For example, if I buy 40 pc from HP, usually I don't need to enter any key during installation..) > you enter it in MDT just once.

Q: is this OEM license?
A: NO, definitely not, unless you asked HP to delivery machines with an OEM license. That's not a good idea unless you only have 5 machines; each machine will have a sticker with a key and can only install to the SAME machine.

Q: Is it possible to deploy using this method,
A: with OEM, yes, but you have to enter the key manually

Q: if not, I have to do it one by one?
A: see above

Q: Even I run sysprep before deployment, it's still considered illegal?
A: It's only illegal if you use an OEM key + MDT because you are using OEM keys on other machines

Q:I thought user would have to enter their info and product key info again after sysprep... am I wrong?
A: see above

Q:and does MDT support dissimilar hardware?
A: yes but it's really the OS that supports dissimilar hardware. MDT is the delivery van. It just delivers stuff.

If you bought OEM machines then you need to use the OEM license for each machine, using the key on the sticker that's probably on it. If you bought a volume license then you can add that to the deployment - directly into MDT - and forget about it because MDT will enter the key during the build process. So, you only enter it once at design stage.

Note there are two types of volume license. KMS keys and Multiple Activation Keys (aka MAKs). It can get complicated with pricing so whoever supplies your hardware needs to discuss it with you if they supply the OS too. Otherwise it's procurement department if you have one. Either way you need to get to a position of someone giving you ONE (volume) key that you put into MDT to avoid effort. Some people prefer MAKs, some prefer KMS. KMS is better if you have lots (over 25) of machines.
see for info.

Sysprep is nothing to with keys per se. It's sole purpose is to "prepare the system" by making it like a new install of Windows so the machine is "clean". As mentioned this means no drivers except native ones. It's your task to supply drivers through MDT. This is what /generalize does: strip any hardware info out. Ideally you start with the image with no extra drivers at all, which is why people recommended using  a virtual machine.

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