drive imagining for novice

currently we setup machines from scratch every time.

i am interested in starting to use an image but have no experience with that.

could someone provide direction for where to start?

we mainly purchase windows machines (dell & HP) though we do have some macs.

any help would be appreciated.
Dawn Marie StanfordOperations CoordinatorAsked:
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Lee W, MVPConnect With a Mentor Technology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
The information provided is largely incomplete so far.

First, licensing.  Microsoft prohibits end users from creating and deploying their own images UNLESS they use a volume license for it.  Reference the Microsoft information on Reimaging rights.  https://blogs.technet.microsoft.com/volume-licensing/2014/02/13/licensing-how-to-reimaging-rights-top-5-questions/

Second, there's a loophole to the first point - if you talk with your OEM, they can ship you a system, you can customize it and ship it back, and then you can order your custom image deployed to newly ordered machines.  Dell does this, at least in the past (though I loath Dell these days).  

For imaging and deployment solutions, you need to think about what you're trying to accomplish and how imaging will help.  If you need to image 5 new computers and you've never done this before and don't expect to do it again for 6 months, DON'T waste your time.  Learning how to properly setup and deploy Windows through imaging can be a huge time save in larger organizations.  In smaller ones, where this won't be needed more than a dozen or so times per year, doing it right and learning it will take you longer than just setting up a few machines via an assembly line/multi-tasking process.  To learn this properly, expect to take 20-40 hours... and probably 2-3x longer to get really good at it.  Deploying 1000 computers, this makes sense.  Deploying 10, you're wasting time.

As for tools, Microsoft has a lot of REALLY GOOD tools that are FREE for your use and a TON of documentation on how to do this.  From a basics standpoint, Start with creating an answer file using the Microsoft tools (start here: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/deployment/windows-deployment-scenarios-and-tools).  Then consider using the free Windows Deployment Services (WDS) once your image is built and ready to capture (Sysprep regardless of what solution you use is an ABSOLUTE MUST - it is NEVER optional prior to sealing your image for capture and deployment).  WDS allows you to multi-cast deployments and can basically install your image to dozens of computers simultaneously (it's really cool to see 40 PCs all loading Windows, go to lunch, and when you get back, they're all at the OOBE (Out of Box Experience).

Also look at the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit.  It will help make imaging worthwhile as it can assist with the deployment of software and drivers.  It's great to pre-load Firefox, Acrobat, 7-Zip, and whatever other programs you might need, but if you seal them in an image, they are outdated tomorrow and you have update the image - that's a waste of time.  You want deployment tools like MDT can supplement the image with current versions of software (in the case of those apps I just mentioned, another option would be scripting Ninite to deploy them on install... that way, you ALWAYS get the up-to-date versions and without having to constantly keep the packages in MDT updated).
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SeanConnect With a Mentor System EngineerCommented:
clonezilla is great if you are looking for free and pretty simple. Just make sure you shrink the drive as much as you can to make things simple. Otherwise you could setup a windows deployment server.
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CompProbSolvConnect With a Mentor Commented:
With the Windows machines, make sure you run Sysprep on the restored image.  You can approach this two ways:
Install the first machine
Image to a new drive
Image the new drive to the second computer's drive
Run Sysprep on the second computer

This should make it easier for multiple computers:
Install the first machine
Image to a new drive
Install the new drive in the original computer
Run Sysprep
Image to the second computer's drive

With the second procedure you have to do one extra image, but only need to run Sysprep once.  This will help avoid having two of the same images running at once and will let you sort out Sysprep issues (there may well be those) initially rather than when you do the restore.
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CompProbSolvConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Microsoft's licensing documents are rather "interesting" on this.

As I read it, you need only one VL to have the right to do imaging of OEM installations (as long as the devices all have individual OEM licenses).  In one place the reason for the VL license is to provide the key and media: "This purchase is required to obtain the media and necessary Volume Licensing Keys (VLKs)".

In another place, it indicates that you are allowed to use the OEM media as long as it properly applies to the hardware: "You may use OEM media (including custom OEM images) to reimage devices, but only those devices that were originally imaged with such media".  That is, if you have 20 of the same model of Dell computer, you can use the OEM media to create the image.  It appears that you'll need a Volume License to get the right to do that, but won't use the VL beyond that.

Of course, the standard disclaimer applies here about getting legal/license information on EE.  I've provided my interpretation but it has no legal weight and won't do you any good if MS thinks you have violated their license rules.

I would agree with Lee's point that there is quite the learning curve to do this the first time.  I think his numbers are a bit overstated, but he is correct that you need to consider whether it is worth the effort or not.  I've done imaging for an installation of 10 identical computers and even with some problems of having to uninstall some apps and a printer driver I think it saved me considerable time.  I had done imaging before but not frequently.
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
In another place, it indicates that you are allowed to use the OEM media as long as it properly applies to the hardware: "You may use OEM media (including custom OEM images) to reimage devices, but only those devices that were originally imaged with such media".  That is, if you have 20 of the same model of Dell computer, you can use the OEM media to create the image.  It appears that you'll need a Volume License to get the right to do that, but won't use the VL beyond that.
I've had this discussion with other licensing experts - You can use the OEM media to re-image the machines it came with, yes.  You CANNOT customize that OEM media.
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CompProbSolvCommented:
Not disagreeing, but trying to get educated.  Where do you find the prohibition about customizing it?  For example, is it customizing if I install Windows updates?  What about other applications?
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
It's right in the text you quoted:

"You may use OEM media (including custom OEM images) to reimage devices, but only those devices that were originally imaged with such media"

Breaking it down - OEM media - the media - or image - that came with the machine.  There is no customization to that - they are referring to the CD/DVD image it shipped with.  So yes you may re-image using OEM media - ONLY OEM media, no where does it say you can customize that OEM media.  Further, you can only redeploy to that OEM system (although the understanding is that it covers all systems that ship with the OEM's part number of media so if OEM media supports 5 different models, you can use it on those models.
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CompProbSolvCommented:
I understand.  I didn't read it so literally, but won't argue that my interpretation is correct.  The legal world is very different from the technical one!

I took the term "OEM media" as the standard DVD that ships with a computer.  My experience has been that this is not an image but an installation disk.  Saying that I can "use OEM media... to reimage devices" implies to me that I can use that disk to create an image since I can't actually reimage with that disk.

If "OEM media" were media that contains a Sysprepped image, then I still don't see that it prohibits me from modifying it.  If I use DISM to customize the image from the OEM media, I'm still "using" the media for imaging.

Of course, I hope to never have to make a legal argument on this no matter how I've done imaging!
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Dawn Marie StanfordOperations CoordinatorAuthor Commented:
thank you all. this is very helpful
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