How to clone 20 identical latops

Steve Tinsley
Steve Tinsley used Ask the Experts™
I have 20 brand new laptops and I want to setup them all up the same.
What is the best way of cloning the hdd from 1 laptop to the rest??
I believe you can do this using Windows rather than a 3rd party software.
Any help would be gratefully received.


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Technology and Business Process Advisor
Most Valuable Expert 2013
If you don't have a Volume License for Windows, you cannot clone (proper term image / re-image).  Only Volume Licenses can be imaged and deployed by end users.

You don't need 20 volume licenses - you need ONE.  But the laptops must have shipped with Windows Pro - Windows 7 Pro, Windows 8.1 Pro, or Windows 10 Pro - you replace the OEM Pro install with a volume license Pro install - you cannot use a Volume License Install to replace the OEM license of Home.  

PROVIDED you have the proper version of Windows, you can then use any number of tools - Ghost, Clonezilla, Windows Deployment Services (WDS).  It doesn't matter.  In all cases, it must be done with a volume license install.

The high-level way of doing this is:
Install a clean copy of Windows from volume license media and enter audit mode with CTRL+SHIFT+F3 at the first Windows screen

Install the apps, settings, updates, as you want them

Sysprep and SHUTDOWN.

Capture the image.

Deploy the image.

There is tons of documentation available but doing this right will take 20-40 hours of learning how to do it right with your chosen tools.  Once you do, imaging is a great way of saving time.
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process Advisor
Most Valuable Expert 2013

More information of Microsoft's free tools used to deploy images as well as imaging rights and requirements:

Reimaging rights (from the below link):
Reimaging is the copying of software onto multiple devices from one standard image. Reimaging rights are granted to all Microsoft Volume Licensing customers. Under these rights, customers can reimage original equipment manufacturer (OEM) or full-package product (FPP) licensed copies by using media provided under their Volume Licensing agreement. However, certain conditions exist for using the Volume Licensing media for reimaging software that is previously installed either by the OEM or from FPP.

Sysprep (this is REQUIRED, not optional)

Windows Deployment Services:

Microsoft Deployment Toolkit:
If these are Dells ,you can use  Dell deployment imaging no minimum unit required.
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These are HP ZBooks.
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process Advisor
Most Valuable Expert 2013

Almost certainly too late.  Those programs allow you to customize one system, SEND IT BACK TO THE MAKER, and then future systems ordered from them can contain the customized image.  You'd almost certainly have to do this with one, return them all, and then re-order 19-20 of them to get this done this time.

If your time is valuable, just buy the volume license - it's $180-200 (depending if you have an open VL agreement).  And you'll also have a "pre paid" upgrade to 10 Pro on an existing pro machine.  It's also probably less than the cost of shipping 20 laptops back to HP/your vendor.
noxchoIT Product Manager
Top Expert 2009

If it were so easy to do this with Windows then third party deployment tools would not exist. Get a backup & recovery software, create a bootable USB stick with it.
Then boot one of the machine from it and backup its HDD to USB Drive.
After that you can restore the backup to the rest of the machines.
This will take some time but with 20 machines 15-20 minutes per machine you will get all them done in one day.
Then you have the only question remaining - how to go with Windows activation. But as long as you have a volume license - this should not be a problem.
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process Advisor
Most Valuable Expert 2013

Or, setup WDS in 30 minutes, Capture the image in 15.  Deploy it to the 19 others in 15.  Instead of a day, it could take as little as an hour.

But even if you try the backup and restore method - let me repeat what I said earlier - YOU MUST SYSPREP.  AND you must re-install with a VL version of Windows first.  In which case, why not do it right with the free tools from Microsoft.

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