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Cloning base image to multiple Windows hard drives

Hello,

Does anyone have experience creating a generic image that can be installed on a bare hard drive using a disk cloning machine?

After the image is applied, take the imaged drive to a remote location, replace a hard drive with the newly imaged drive, have the image install necessary drivers and self configure for the model computer it is installed in, and then later be prepared to join a Windows domain over a VPN connection?

Here are additional details that might be useful in understanding our scenario.

We are in the process of updating the operating system on 1600 computers  in 185 offices located over a wide geographical area (throughout all parts of Washington state). 15 of these offices are on a dedicated WAN and have persistent connectivity to our data center. The other 170 offices are in remote locations. All have internet connectivity, but connection methods vary, as does bandwidth speed. The slowest connections are 3 or 4 extremely remote offices that use 256k satellite connections. The fastest use Cable based connectivity (20mb or something similar). The 170 remote offices connect to our data center using a Cisco VPN client.

We want to update these systems from Windows 7 to Windows 10. All systems are Dell, though we have a variety of models in service. The majority are Dell Latitude laptops, with a small number of Dell Venue tablets and an even smaller number of Optiplex desktops. All systems are managed via SCCM over VPN.

We are considering allowing our staff to carry a domain controller with them, have the domain controller connect to the domain via a VPN connection, have the computer join the domain using the domain controller connected to the local LAN. We are looking for more elegant (and less costly) solutions.

Any thoughts or suggestions?

Thank you,
Scott
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Bill Rellergert

While most of what you ask for could probably be done with Symantec Ghost Suite, it would be a LARGE undertaking.  It would take a team or 10 about  MONTHS to comb through every computer and find all devices and all drivers, then script the installation of such devices.  The image would be available through the network and PXE or remotely with boot disks.  But honestly, after all the labor involved.. It's probably cheaper  to purchase 1 computer model for everyone and create one image.
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Hi Bill,

Thank you for taking the time to reply. We currently distribute an image via SCCM that provides drivers for basic functionality within each system (i.e., video, NIC, system board chipsets, etc.). The problem is that maintaining a connection to the SCCM server requires a VPN connection for remote offices and SCCM distributes images using PXE boot. Can't PXE boot with no network connection. Can't establish a network connection without VPN. Can't make a VPN connection with being booted into an OS. So using SCCM in this manner is just not practical.

We know that image works just fine when we're not in a remote office. However, I have been told by the person who creates our images that it is not possible to create a generic image that we can clone onto a drive and then later put the drive into a machine and have the machine identify necessary drivers for just the components in the machine, not external devices. External devices can be handled manually at the time of the install.

Best regards,
Scott
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David Johnson, CD
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Thank you to Mike and Dave for the feedback. I oversee the team that is responsible for installing the update. I do not oversee those who either create the image or manage SCCM. I am doing research because I need to gather additional information to present to those who are actually creating the image. The solutions offered make sense. I will present them to the team that manages image creation and our SCCM/MDT environment.

Thanks to all for taking the time to comment.

Best regards,
Scott