Putting a cloned computer on the same network as the computer from which it was cloned

I realize that Sysprep is the recommended tool for preparing a computer for duplication, but I'm trying to achieve the same result without using it. I used Casper to clone the SSD of a W7 Pro 64-bit laptop to a new SSD and then placed the new SSD into a new laptop with identical hardware. The new laptop works perfectly with the cloned drive.

I will change product/license keys on the new laptop where necessary (including the Windows product key) so that all software is legally licensed and activated. I will also change the Computer Name via Control Panel>System so that the two laptops don't have the same name. They don't use a fixed IP address, so that shouldn't be an issue.

I've read a lot on the web about the SID debate, including that Mark Russinovich has retired NewSID (NTSID). He ends that blog article by saying, "Note that Sysprep resets other machine-specific state that, if duplicated, can cause problems for certain applications like Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), so Microsoft’s support policy will still require cloned systems to be made unique with Sysprep". But I'm wondering how the experts here feel about it. Will the two machines (on the same workgroup, not on a domain) have any problems being on the same network? Are there changes other than the ones I mentioned above that I should make in order to avoid conflicts? Thanks, Joe
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Joe Winograd, Fellow&MVEDeveloperAsked:
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Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
"... Will the two machines (on the same workgroup, not on a domain) have any problems being on the same network? "  ==>  The key word in this question is "workgroup".    As long as the systems are NOT on a domain, I'm confident you won't have any issues.    I've done exactly this many times, with every OS from XP forward, and have never had an issue.
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Fred MarshallPrincipalCommented:
It sounds to me like you have two concerns.  I'm not a sysprep expert but here are some thoughts.

While the hardware may be identical from the point of view of drivers, etc.  the NIC MAC addresses will be unique.  
So, as long as the IP addresses and the computer names are also different after a computer has been set up, I see no reason for incompatibility on a LAN.  What would it be?
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Will SzymkowskiSenior Solution ArchitectCommented:
Sysprep is the only supported method to accomplish this. In Windows Server 2012R2 there are added restrictions to ensure that you are sysprep-ing the machines before they join the domain. If you do not follow this process the machines fail to join the domain.

In Previous versions of Windows you could do this but you would run into issues down the road related to Group Policy, Trusts etc. And the fact that it is not supported is a whole other discussion.

So my advice would be continue to adopt Sysprep into your environment because you might be able to get away without doing it now, but if you move to 2012R2 you will not be so luck.

It is also a good practice to follow compliance and EULA (End User License Agreement)

Will.
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MarcusSjogrenCommented:
Hi

The reason to why you must use sysprep is because it "resets" all necessary ID's, drivers etc.

That is also what will cause issues in the long term, e.g when added to a domain.

I have used image software to setup laptops etc quite a lot, with various long term issue like PC's domain trust being corrupted etc. Then I took the time to setup an MDT-server and I have never had such an issue ever since.
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MarcusSjogrenCommented:
Yes - I'm aware that it's to be used in workgroup, the domain part was more an example of issues I've had due to ID-numbers etc being duplicated on machines.
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McKnifeCommented:
They won't have a problem. Test - see - believe.
After renaming the clone and rejoining it to the domain, all is good (yes, also with WSUS).
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Joe Winograd, Fellow&MVEDeveloperAuthor Commented:
Thanks to everyone who has responded so far.

Fred,
> What would it be?
My question, exactly. :)

Will and Marcus,
The machines will never be on a domain and will never run anything other than W7 (well, maybe W10, but definitely not a server OS). They are in a SOHO environment with no plans for having any server OS. They have peer-to-peer access to some folders, as well as shared access to some network-connected peripherals, but that's it.

Gary,
You picked up on the key point — they are not on a domain. Very comforting to hear that you've done this many times without an issue.

McKnife,
I'm close to being brave enough to give it a test. :)

Thanks again to everyone. I'll leave the question open for a day or two or three to see if anyone else jumps in. Regards, Joe
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nobusCommented:
just  in order not to confound things - i change the PC name on one before connecting  them together!
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MarcusSjogrenCommented:
Again - I know that's not the intention to put it in a domain or with servers - I just said that you can run in to problems in the long run :-)
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MarcusSjogrenCommented:
Again - I know that's not the intention to put it in a domain or with servers - I just said that you can run in to problems in the long run :-)
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Joe Winograd, Fellow&MVEDeveloperAuthor Commented:
nobus,

> i change the PC name on one before connecting them together

Understood. My initial post said, "I will also change the Computer Name via Control Panel>System so that the two laptops don't have the same name."

Marcus,

> you can run in to problems in the long run

OK, thanks for the caveat, but there won't be a domain or a server, even in the long run.

Regards, Joe
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David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
Please note for compliance reasons you must sysprep and also use VL media.  Volume LIcensing media is the only one with imaging rights (which you are doing). You are expressly forbidden from using OEM software. You can use imaging tools on all versions of Microsoft OS as long as you only install onto the hardware it was originally installed on.  Doing it otherwise (a) is unsupported and (b) a breach of the End User Licensing Agreement.

Will it work probably yes..
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Joe Winograd, Fellow&MVEDeveloperAuthor Commented:
Hi David,

I want all software to be in license compliance and I will read the MS EULA carefully. But to be clear, these are plain ol' end-user machines — not company-owned and no company volume license involved (except for the hardware manufacturer, HP).

Each machine has a W7 Pro COA sticker with a unique product key. However, before cloning, Belarc Advisor and NirSoft ProduKey both report that the product keys are the same, and neither one matches the product key on its COA. This is no doubt because the product key being reported is HP's factory license key. In fact, the Belarc report has this footnote on the key:
This may be the manufacturer's factory installed product key rather than yours. You can change it to your product key using the procedure at http://www.belarc.com/msproductkeys.html.
My interest in cloning is to avoid re-installation and re-configuration of all software. I'm happy to purchase whatever licenses are needed to be in compliance. But are you saying that the very act of cloning (without using Sysprep and VL media) is illegal for W7 Pro? Regards, Joe
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Fred MarshallPrincipalCommented:
It would be interesting to examine an end product and tell us which process was used to get there.......
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Joe Winograd, Fellow&MVEDeveloperAuthor Commented:
True, Fred, but we're not talking about what we can get away with... :)
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David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
There is only 1 legal way and that entails entering sysprep audit mode the very first time you turn on the machine.CTRL-SHIFT-F3. make your changes and then sysprep reseal the machine and shutdown. Now you can clone to your hearts desire.
https://technet.microsoft.com/en-ca/library/cc722413%28v=ws.10%29.aspx?f=255&MSPPError=-2147217396
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Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
Sysprep is certainly required for any volume licensing; but I don't think it matters if you're installing OEM-bound media (i.e. BIOS-linked) to an OEM machine with a valid COA for that OS.

i.e. if you're installing to HP's, Dell's, Lenovo's, etc. using the vendor's media OR from an image made from one of their machines.    In fact, the license # on the COA will almost NEVER match unless you actually change it => the key is that the system "sees" the correct BIOS string for the particular OEM.
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Will SzymkowskiSenior Solution ArchitectCommented:
I do agree with Gary regarding the OEM because the OS is tied to the hardware.
so as long as the OS is installed on the original hardware you are compliant.

However, if you are using a retail or volume license  as David mentioned to be compliant you need to sysprep which is accepting the EULA.

Will.
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Joe Winograd, Fellow&MVEDeveloperAuthor Commented:
David,

I read the entire Audit Mode article, but the very first sentence leads me to think that it's not relevant for me:
Audit mode enables OEMs and corporations to customize a Windows installation before shipping the computer to an end-user.
I'm not an OEM or a corporation. I'm just an end-user with two identical, consumer-grade laptops. I'm not trying to clone/image to hundreds or thousands of computers — just one. I can't even begin to estimate how long it took me (and would take again) to install and configure all of the apps, as well as configure Windows itself, to my tastes. (Btw, that article has a paragraph that starts with, "When Windows Vista boots...", so it's obviously about Vista, but I'm guessing that it also applies to W7.)

I purchased cloning software that I've used so far only to upgrade drives on the same computer or create backups for the same computer. This is the first time that I'm using it to clone a drive that will go into a different computer and it's really hard to understand that I can't do this legally when each computer has a genuine W7 Pro on it with a COA (and all other apps are, or will be, legally licensed).

Gary,

> I don't think it matters if you're installing OEM-bound media (i.e. BIOS-linked) to an OEM machine with a valid COA for that OS.

On the original laptop, I did a bare-metal install to a new hard drive with OEM disks provided directly by HP, followed by installing all of the drivers from HP's website.

> the license # on the COA will almost NEVER match unless you actually change it

That's what's happening here.

Will,

> as long as the OS is installed on the original hardware you are compliant

In this case, is it? The OS is a clone from another system, but both are OEM licenses from HP with the same factory product key (and each machine has its own, unique product key on a COA).

> if you are using a retail or volume license

I am not, unless you consider HP's factory license as a "volume license".

Thanks to everyone, Joe
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Fred MarshallPrincipalCommented:
Joe:  I wasn't suggesting getting away with anything.  It was a serious question.  If one thinks about it, I believe it has import.

David Johnson:  I prefer to use the word "legal" to refer to something that has an "illegal" possibility - meaning "to break the law".  I think you mean "there is only one way to be in compliance with..." or some such thing.
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Joe Winograd, Fellow&MVEDeveloperAuthor Commented:
> I wasn't suggesting getting away with anything.

I know that, Fred. That's why I put the smiley at the end.

> If one thinks about it, I believe it has import.

I agree. Seems to me that it shouldn't matter how you got there, as long as you're legal, legitimate, in license compliance (whatever you want to call it) when you're there. And, as your post stated, how could one even tell which process was used to get in a legal, legitimate, compliant state?
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Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
I don't think there's any question about this being "legal", "in compliance with", or whatever => if you're installing an OS on a HP system that was created using HP media and the system has a valid COA for that OS, then it's legal/compliant -- period.     If you have any doubts, just change the key to that shown on the COA [an unnecessary step ... but if it makes you "feel" better, go for it :-) ]    But as far as WINDOWS goes, you're fine.

The area that's much less clear is with any additional software you may have installed on the system before cloning.      You noted "... My interest in cloning is to avoid re-installation and re-configuration of all software."    Software such as Office, Photoshop, compilers or editors, etc. all has their own rules r.e. how  many systems you can use them on.    In general, they will "phone home" and recognize if you've installed them on more systems than they're licensed for -- and if so they'll demand re-activation.    Most of these kind of utilities, however, allow at least 2 or 3 installs ... so if you're just doing a single clone you're likely okay.    If they ask to be re-activated, then you'll need to do that; and possibly buy additional licenses.
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David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
Personally I detest OEM software with a passion. The major OEM's primary job is to sell hardware (which the profit margins are razor thin), and Microsoft desires that their software is on this hardware so the major OEM's get a special price which is minuscule in comparison to a retail license. The end user (you) get a perceived value of the retail price.  The end result is that we get lengthy discussions here and I personally have to deal with very angry customers trying to explain what is allowed and what is not.  My customers feel that they have paid for the software and feel that they are being unjustly being gouged by Microsoft.  At one time you would be provided with OEM installation media with your purchase which was identical in almost every respect to Retail Media just using different sets of product keys. Hardware vendors started adding additional trial software where they receive a small amount for each installation.  The consumers started calling this 'CrapWare' and rightly or wrongly many customers believe that the trialware they received by the manufacturer was vetted by the manufacturer and was the best of product for their computing needs. This is also known as the tyranny of the default.

OEM-Specific Information
Reimaging is the copying of software onto multiple devices from one standard image. Organizations that want to recover their systems by using OEM media or OEM custom images may only do so as follows: OEM media may be used to individually recover an image to a device using recovery media provided by the OEM. The OEM recovery media (1) should match the product version that was originally preinstalled on the system, (2) may only be used to image devices that came with it, and (3) may not be modified prior to recovering an image to a device.
Using OEM Media to Reimage: You may use OEM media (including custom OEM images) to reimage devices, but only those that were originally imaged with such media.
https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/licensing/learn-more/brief-reimaging-rights.aspx

As I mentioned before, yes you can probably do it and it will probably work, but the experts at Experts-Exchange have give advice that follows the software vendors rules exactly. Our hands are tied, we cannot give workarounds that violate these terms. As such I cannot advise you to do it. Nor can I give you support if you do it.
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Fred MarshallPrincipalCommented:
garycase:  I don't think Joe intended to do anything but make sure the licenses were properly in place.  
As far as legal vs. compliant, well, I'm a nitpicker for words.  Non-compliant is usually not illegal.  Those are very different concepts / definitions.  I hate to see words misused.  So, when one says "legal" when they mean "compliant", I find that grating.  But that's just my preference and not more than a complaint.

Now I jump to another philosophical perspective:
David Johnson fairly describes a situation that I think *we* understand but, as he points out, many do not.
There are plenty of folks around who are somewhat "expert" in these matters.  Yet we are forced into situations where we have to discuss .. and discuss .. and discuss because of the relatively confusing mess that Microsoft has created.

I quickly note that I have never been a Microsoft basher and I don't intend to start now.  IMHO they have contributed tremendously to this market.  But, when I think of the mistakes they've made, it seems those mistakes are rooted in a lack of concern or even understanding of their customers.  It comes across as arrogant in a way.
- why did "Add or remove programs" become "Programs and features" when one is arranged at the top of an alphabetical list and the other is buried in the middle?  What important functionality was achieved by this change?
- why does Windows 8 have a schizoid interface that is *way* difficult to navigate when a truly bimodal or distinctly split SET of interfaces would have been possible?  Linux at least provides choices in that regard - not a hard concept to copy.  What important functionality would have been missed if the familiar Windows interface had *not* been "broken" but, rather, replaced along side.
- why are reinstallations of Windows easier to "get it right" technically and "not get it right" otherwise?  Other software manufacturers seem to be able to assure adequate licensing without the same degree of difficulty.

We should be reminded that "better is the enemy of good enough".

... but this doesn't help Joe.  Sorry for the rant.
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Joe Winograd, Fellow&MVEDeveloperAuthor Commented:
Time to close this one out. Thanks to all the experts for participating. Some final responses on the latest set of comments:

Gary,

> if you're installing an OS on a HP system that was created using HP media and the system has a valid COA for that OS, then it's legal/compliant -- period.

That's exactly what I'm doing!

> Software such as Office, Photoshop, compilers or editors, etc. all has their own rules r.e. how many systems you can use them on.

Understood.

> If they ask to be re-activated, then you'll need to do that; and possibly buy additional licenses.

I'm fine with that. I want all software to be activated/compliant/genuine/legal/legitimate/licensed.

David,

> At one time you would be provided with OEM installation media with your purchase which was identical in almost every respect to Retail Media just using different sets of product keys.

Yes, OEM media came with both HP laptops. In another case, I bought an HP laptop on eBay that did not come with media, but I called HP and they sent out a full set of OEM media (including W7 Pro) at no charge.

> the experts at Experts-Exchange have give advice that follows the software vendors rules exactly. Our hands are tied, we cannot give workarounds that violate these terms.

Understood.

Fred,

> I don't think Joe intended to do anything but make sure the licenses were properly in place.

Exactly!

> Sorry for the rant.

No apology needed — it's an interesting rant!

McKnife,

> Test - see - believe.

Got brave enough to test it. All has been good for a few days.

Thanks again to everyone. Regards, Joe
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