Desktop imaging software solution

I am looking for a desktop imaging solution to introduce into the company I just started at. Currently we have the help desk person installing windows / office / all updates from scratch.. That's a waste of his time.  Can anyone recommend me a imaging solution that can make a image for a certain model and use that do fast system reinstalls?  Also I cannot have issues with windows SID so it will have to be smart enough to know to regenerate.  I want the image to be installed on different machines with the same hard ware configs.
GorapsI.T. ManagerAsked:
Who is Participating?
 
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
First, SIDs are just ONE aspect of preparing a machine for imaging.  No imaged system is supported by Microsoft unless the image was sysprep'd BEFORE deployment.  It doesn't matter what solution you use, you MUST SYSPREP FIRST!

As for solutions, you can use any of the above, but why?  You should just use the EXTENSIVE tools included with Windows server and learn the proper method and requirements for imaging.

Imaging requirements:
Your reference image MUST be made using volume license media.  Microsoft does not permit you, the end user to modify the OEM image and redeploy using ANY software.  You only need ONE Volume License to re-image ALL systems running the equivalent edition of Windows.  Put another way, if you don't already have a volume license of Windows 8.1 Pro, then you buy ONE copy.  JUST ONE.  Then, using that media, you create a reference image using audit mode.  Once the image is created, you sysprep to seal it and SHUTDOWN.  THEN, you can use whatever imaging software you want to capture and deploy the image to all your systems.  HOWEVER, if you want to deploy a Windows 7 Pro image, ALL the PCs you want to deploy it to MUST have come with Windows 7 Pro or later (you can't use it to upgrade to/replace/install on systems that came with Home editions of Windows.Your concern about hardware configuration is MOSTLY old and not applicable.  the one exception is for 32 bit vs. 64 bit.  If you WANT to deploy 32 bit and 64 bit images, then you need one image for each.  Windows Vista, 7, 8, 8.1 are all largely hardware independent.  Just pre-load drivers/config the image before capture.  

Finally, Windows Deployment Services (WDS) is an included role in Windows Server and can capture properly sysprep'd systems and deploy  them through media, boot media, or over the network via PXE.  You can greatly enhance your deployment process and capability by using the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT; what I think choward16980 actually meant) which is a free tool.  Before you consider spending money on a non-MS solution, I strongly recommend you look into MDT and WDS first.

A reference with some references: http://blogs.technet.com/b/johnbaker/archive/2011/05/03/technet-radio-deployment-fundamentals-101-with-mikael-nystrom-and-johan-arwidmark.aspx
0
 
Chris HInfrastructure ManagerCommented:
Clone Zilla
http://clonezilla.org/

Macrium Reflect
http://www.macrium.com/reflectfree.aspx

DriveImage
http://www.runtime.org/driveimage-xml.htm

I believe Clonezilla is the only opensource option (free in this case).



Taken from here:
http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/five-apps/five-free-and-reliable-cloning-tools/
0
 
GorapsI.T. ManagerAuthor Commented:
What are the pay for options?
0
 
Chris HInfrastructure ManagerCommented:
Do you have a windows server?  Are these computers on the domain?

If no to both, I'd actually pick Acronis.  
http://www.acronis.com/en-us/

If you do have a server, you should be able to use the Windows Deployment Toolkit.
0
 
Chris HInfrastructure ManagerCommented:
Can anyone recommend me a imaging solution that can make a image for a certain model and use that do fast system reinstalls?

Acronis.
0
 
Chris HInfrastructure ManagerCommented:
@Lee  Windows 2012 R2 standard is 700$.  So, without him acknowledging the existence of a server, your solution is already 700$.  WDS isn't available on 2003R2. (e.g. WIC)

@Goraps Do you have a server and what is the OS version?
0
 
GorapsI.T. ManagerAuthor Commented:
I have windows 2008 r2 server DC. I have a fleet of win7 pro installed on refrub dell optiplex 960's. the WI does install DVD I have can be installed on all computers but each computer has a different product key sticker I need to use when installing win7
0
 
Chris HInfrastructure ManagerCommented:
If you're using OEM win 7, Use a product like acronis if you're using independent images per machine (each machine has its own independent backup).  If you're trying to create one master image to deploy to each machine, follow Lee's instructions above.
0
 
GorapsI.T. ManagerAuthor Commented:
how much does one volume license of win7 pro cost approx?
0
 
Chris HInfrastructure ManagerCommented:
Now, through 100%LEGAL channels, you would have to be buying win 8 at volume, and installing with a win 7 legacy key.  Since win 8's experience is so horrible, Microsoft is allowing and facilitating the downgrade path.

If you do go Volume route, I recommend getting Software Assurance!  It allows upgrades and lab license duplication.

Volume for Win 8.x pro is going to run you (depending on how many you purchase) around 180-250$ per.  This pricing is determined by market cost and volume purchased/reputation with software vendor.
0
 
Chris HInfrastructure ManagerCommented:
I edited my pricing above....   After checking our last Dell invoice, I was way off.
0
 
GorapsI.T. ManagerAuthor Commented:
according to Lee, I would only need to buy 1 to reimage all the machines at the office. how does licencing work if I'm audited and I've reimaged 10 computers with the master image? even tho I've only bought one copy?
0
 
Chris HInfrastructure ManagerCommented:
On OEM, you install per one machine and can only re-install that license on that exact computer, for all 10 computers.  This means, you're not only bound to 10 licenses, but 10 machines.  If one get's stolen, you'll need a new license.

Volume allows you to have a total of ANY 10 computers with the licenses installed.  One gets stolen, you can install that same key on a new machine.

It's about 50-100$ more, but the flexibility can be beneficial if you buy budget computers without warranties.

If you have a windows 2008 R2 server, you already have a license for WDS.  WDS will only work for retail or volume licenses.  OEM is not supported...   If you already have 10 computers with 10 volume licenses and one 2008 R2 server, you can install WDS (for free) and you no additional costs will incur.
0
 
Chris HInfrastructure ManagerCommented:
Now mind you, there is nothing quick about WDS.  The learning curve, image creation, sysprep and deployment all take fine tuning and orchestration.  You're looking at, the very minimum, a week of preparation of learning and testing.
0
 
GorapsI.T. ManagerAuthor Commented:
10 was an example.. I actually have 85 computers
0
 
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
I'm not sure why choward16980 is finding WDS difficult.  I installed it the FIRST time in 2 hours just playing around... it now takes less than 30 minutes to load the role from scratch and boot my first client for capture (assuming it's ready to capture).  Are you telling me that installation time and learning for other products is SHORTER?  if so, not by much I would expect.  WDS has been available since 2003 SP2 - it replaced RIS.  In 2003 it didn't do multicast transmissions... starting it 2008 it does... and it's just improved in every version since.

Image creation - to do it in a supported way is the SAME for ANY deployment tool.  You MUST use sysprep and you will have fine tuning.  You should be building your image in a VM, capturing it and then testing it.  Once you have a suitable image, you move on to deployment.  This is why in ANY environment imaging is practical only if a) you have prior experience doing so or b) you have a sufficient number of deployments to do at once.  If you only have 5 systems, then set them up on a table and multi-task.  If you have 50, create an image then using WDS you can deploy it to all 50 in about 20 minutes.

As for licensing, read the Microsoft document on it - http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/licensing/learn-more/brief-reimaging-rights.aspx

It will confirm what I've said - a SINGLE volume license copy of Windows can re-image any system sold with an equivalent edition of Windows.

A single volume license (which CAN be used as a single upgrade to any Pro edition of Windows as well) is less than $200.  

Something EVERYONE should be thinking about with deployment though, what is your point to imaging?  Do you want to keep rebuilding your image with each new revision of Firefox?  LogMeIn, Java, Acrobat, each month with Windows Update?  Probably not - you'd have a full time job just maintaining the image.  And if you're re-running the installs every time, your image really isn't saving you much time.  On the other hand, if you use use MDT (which I will grant you is far more challenging than WDS) or even a script (which *IF* you know scripting may be easier).

For my imaging process at one company, the answer file joins me to the domain, installs the key (as it should - which is ALWAYS your volume license key and not any included key - which is one reason you MUST use VL Media), and then runs a script.  The script installs the latest freeware apps and the like using NINITE so every new deployment always gets the current version of Acrobat, Firefox, Java, and other support apps.  The same script runs silent installs of Office and numerous other applications.  Finally, it runs a VBscript that kicks off Windows update and reboots the system.  Single system deployment (ready for use) takes about 60-75 minutes. but is completely up-to-date in a uniform way (without little technician customizations that we all would otherwise make) and we only rebuild images to consolidate patches and drivers about once per year.

Basically, to do a proper deployment environment, you really need to look at the bigger picture.
0
 
GorapsI.T. ManagerAuthor Commented:
we will not be doing major deployments. we have 1 system administrator and myself I.T manager. I can't have sysadmin sitting at a computer installing windows from scratch.. loading all updates etc..etc... it takes him away from everything else for 2 long. I'm I still looking at your solution or does what I just said change the way I should approach this.
0
 
GorapsI.T. ManagerAuthor Commented:
basically it's a break and fix model
0
 
Chris HInfrastructure ManagerCommented:
@Lee   WDS isn't difficult, it just takes a good amount of time to configure.  You did not have a production ready solution after 2 hours... Stop lying.  It may have taken you 2 hours to create your first successful image, but I bet you're still to this day, perfecting your images.

@Goraps  Acronis is a very user friendly experience and doesn't require administrator overhead.   You can schedule weekly increment with the backups and centralize them on a server backup share.... Users would experience VERY MINIMUM environment change.  WDS and sysprep will wipe out the user profile to the master image and you would require roaming profiles to restore.
0
 
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
I had a basic production ready solution ready the first time I experimented with it in TWO HOURS.  You don't know me and shouldn't make assumptions as to my skill level.  What takes time?  Going through checkboxes?  Why do you think it should take more than two hours to setup?  (Most of the time, I install the role, make a couple of settings, add the setup and capture images, and I'm set.

Preparing an image can take HOURS and HOURS.  But setting up WDS is easy for basic settings suitable for just about any small environment.

It doesn't appear choward16980 is familiar with properly creating a reference image.  First, I don't see the point to preserving any individual user profile in an image.  I'll happily entertain reasons why it might be useful and other methods of profile creation/transfer shouldn't be used - IF choward16980 would like to politely disagree and refrain from defamatory statements like calling me a liar.  And I'll repeat, SYSPREP is REQUIRED for a properly setup image.  You can read more about modifying the default user profile here - https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh825135.aspx - it involves the the CopyProfile specification in the answer file.
0
 
Chris HInfrastructure ManagerCommented:
My bad.  Text doesn't always convey tone.  I wasn't trying to be a jerk.
0
 
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
> Text doesn't always convey tone.
I wholeheartedly agree.

Thanks
0
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.