Cloning computers

What is the best way to clone 5 computers.

I will image one master computer just the way I want it, and save it on a USB key , then I want to boot from the USB and install the image on the computer.

I will need all computers to work in a network, so I will have to change the computer name, and I need the Cloning program to re-generate SID for each computer.

In the future I want to use that image for clone over the network.

What is the best / easy working solution that you know.
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This technet has step-by-step instructions on how to capture a Windows 7 machine and then Sysprep it. Sysprep removes the identifying information from the machine, so you can set it to what you like.

alonig1Author Commented:
I'm sure there is a simpler way , (e.g Acronis , ghost etc..)
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
You need to be sure what licensing you have before using Ghost (or Acronis). If you have OEM licensing, there are Microsoft restrictions about making images of OEM computers except for backup for that computer.

Sysprep gets around this but is more complicated than you might like for 5 computers.
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alonig1Author Commented:
It's Dell computers with the original Dell images installed.
You need a volume license in order to clone PC's to other PC's. So if you only have the Dell original OEM systems and no Volume License, you aren't allowed to do this.
You are if you sysprep the image and manually enter the OEM key from the sticker on each PC when the image is complete.
alonig1Author Commented:
Each computer comes with their own license and with windows pre-installed. so every computer has license. my question is what is the best way to clone, there is no product key on the sticker just Windows 7 .
alonig1Author Commented:
Ok leave the license for a second.

What is the best and easiest way to clone the machines. ?
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
That's now an academic question. Ghost works just fine if licensing is not an issue. I have used this at clients and it works well.
This is a free app that should do the trick for you
alonig1Author Commented:
To clone 5 computers do I need to buy license for each one of the computers or just for main one.

I will copy the image to a flash drive and boot from the USB and extract the image to the machine locally.
What license are you referring to?
alonig1Author Commented:
of the program itself, in this case ghost $48.
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
You need a Ghost license for each computer, but in volume the cost should be less than $48. It is for us.
If you use PING, it's free and you don't need a license.
alonig1Author Commented:
So after I use ping or any other software I should run sysprep?
You need to setup your image how you would like it, with all your applications installed.

Run Sysprep to remove all MS security information, then use PING to capture the computer once Sysprep has completed.
As I mentioned earlier, you will need to get a Windows Volume License in order to image one PC to another. Without it you aren't allowed to do this.
David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
Here on Experts Exchange one of the rules for experts is that they must follow all licensing rules when providing solutions.

Within the product usage rights from Microsoft, OEM Windows installations you cannot image the machine and install the software on other computers.  The software is locked to the first machine that it is activated on.  OEM software is not supported by Microsoft but by the OEM and one is restricted to using the recovery options provided by the manufacturer.  

In order to image a computer and deploy it on other computers one must first install the software and applications using VL Media (Volume Licence is the only SKU that allows imaging.  So one must purchase at minimum 1 copy of VL media and appropriate licenses for the machines one wants to install the images on. Also VL media is an upgrade media so it can't be put on a bare-bones (w/o OS computer)

Now we've got the licensing problem out of the way.

What is recommended is to have 2 computers.  A technician computer and the source computer.
On the technician computer one installs the Windows Automated Installation KIt (WAIK).  
note: there was an update for Windows 7 SP1 WAIK  you need both.. install the first one and mount the 2nd one and copy over the installation directory with the 2nd one.

I recommend also getting Gimagex (graphical ImageX).  On the technician computer create a Windows PE (pre-installation environment) iso that you've copied the gimagex to the root folder of the temporary staging area.. One can also add appropriate network and storage drivers to the windows pe).. burn/copy to usb the winpe (windows 7 download tool) and ensure that it works in your environment.
Walkthrough: create a custom windows pe image
On the source computer install the operating system but don't activate it yet.. at the end of windows setup you will be in the Out of Box Environement (OOBE) press CTRL-SHIFT-F3 this will put you into administrative mode. Install and configure the machine the way you want.. once done from an administrative cmd prompt go to c:\windows\system32\sysprep
and run sysprep /reseal /shutdown or use the GUI just by typing sysprep and reseal and shutdown.

If you went past the OOBE then the commands are sysprep /generalize /shutdown or use the gui as explained previously.

boot the source computer using the Windows PE DISK/USB we created earlier.  from this command prompt find your OS drive letter.. it may well be D: and not C:
imagex /capture d: d:\capture\captured.wim "MyCustomWim" /check /verify
You can use gimagex.exe to use a graphical interface

you now have 2 can boot the machine using the windows pe that has the .wim file we created earlier
imagex /apply X:\imaging\captuerd.wim 1 C: /verify
this will totally overwrite  drive c:
The command line options are explained @

or you can create custom installation media by replacing the \sources\install.wim with the captured.wim renaming it to install.wim and install the O/S as per normal it probably will NOT fit on a DVD so use USB media.
alonig1Author Commented:
You took an easy process is made it somewhat difficult. for someone that is looking for an easy solution your answer just failed in the response.

There are many products out there , with GUI that eases the process.
David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
it is a fully supported and free method while other methods are (a) not supported by Microsoft and (b) usually not free. I usually deploy to from 1 to 500 computers at the same time and personally I use the Microsoft deployment toolkit  (also free and supported) but overkill for only 5 machines. It has a moderate learning curve but you could also use it as well.  

It can actually all be scripted
NinjaStyle82Systems AdministratorCommented:
I recommend clonezilla live. it's free and very easy.
Fred MarshallPrincipalCommented:
There are certainly a number of valid comments here already.  
If I might suggest, parsing the evolution / process into its distinct parts might be helpful.

- There is the physical process of cloning.
- There is the aspect of licensing.
- And some will suggest *particular* parts of the cloning process that somehow tie to the licensing.

From the cloning perspective only, I have had good results with Paragon.  This includes moving to new hardware.

If you need a license then you should have a license.

You might ask this question:
"If you clone a computer, will examination of the licensed result indicate anything other than it's OK in everyone's view?"  Is there anything about the process used to get there that remains in the end product that suggests a flawed process?  Is this really an issue?  If so, what defines a flawed process?

Perhaps others will have generic answers to this.....

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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
alonig1Author Commented:
Provided with good answers.
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