Assistance advice for best practice for large machine deployment

Andrew N. Kowtalo
Andrew N. Kowtalo used Ask the Experts™
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Hello all.

I am going to be tasked with deploying about 70 new machines to one of our client.   I am trying to figure out the best and most efficient way to do this.   They will all be HP machines running Windows 10 Pro.   I plan to provision 1 unit with every piece of application software they run.   This includes their EMR software, Trend Worry Free Business AV, Office 2016, our Remote monitoring software as well.   My question is because or product keys will it be a problem?  We are using the HP Desktop Minis for now and will probably use them going forward unless they become unavailable for purchase.  I am guessing the product key is built within the registry of the bios to activate the software.  

My question is what would be a best practice to roll out all these units.   I was thinking putting it on the domain, installing all the apps, updates, etc.   When completed?  Should I run sysprep?  I have no idea if that's even a thing anymore.   Reason being is computer name.   I will need all the new units to have new names once they are on the network and want to ensure the product keys for windows 10 are all specified to that machine.   Trend Worry Free comes from the web portal so there is no license key, same for RMM and their cloud EMR software.   Office is volume license so I don't need different keys for that.  

Also what would be a recommendation for a free tool to image the machine upon deployment so I can just plugin 5 machines at a time and boot of USB to image the device and go?  Ghost? Or can someone recommend anything else?  I haven't used Sysprep or Ghost in ages so I am not even sure if its still free or if there is a sysprep tool for Windows 10 that's free. If someone could explain the best way to do this I would appreciate it.
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Scott SilvaNetwork Administrator

Commented:
When I get a spat of new machines I will put one in audit mode, install all needed software, and sysprep/generalize it.
Then clone to the rest. I do still use ghost, but it wasn't free.

I do believe Easus has a free tool.
https://www.easeus.com/backup-software/tb-free.html

Also Macrium
https://www.macrium.com/reflectfree
Top Expert 2016

Commented:
70 new machines to one of our client.   I am trying to figure out the best and most efficient way to do this.   They will all be HP machines running Windows 10 Pro.   I plan to provision 1 unit with every piece of application software they run.  

These are OEM versions of the software and you want to do deployment and imaging. This is specifically forbidden by Microsoft License Terms. You must use Volume Licensed Media to create the image which can then be deployed. I use Microsoft Deployment Toolkit  for this. I do not use thick images but script the installation of the various software pieces that is applied to a base install of windows.  I boot via USB key or via PXE

I do all of the development and testing using virtual machines so I can use the same procedure once I add the drivers to MDT for Dell/Lenovo/HP/ASUS/Supermicro machines.

I am guessing the product key is built within the registry of the bios to activate the software.   Not for Windows 10
Andrew N. KowtaloSupport Center Engineer

Author

Commented:
The machine's we buy are HP small form factor machines that come preinstalled with Windows 10 Pro.   Is it possible to image a machine after mounting it on a domain, setting up all the apps and then using a sysprep tool to force them to change the product id?  Yes the key is built into the bios.  Please advise.  Or do I have to use the Microsoft Installer tool to reinstall windows with a fresh copy of 10 and go from there?
Leading Engineer
Commented:
Hi,

When you buy machines with Windows (anything) preinstalled that is a *retail* license. Microsoft does NOT allow you to clone any machine with retail licenses. Unfortunately you can't do anything you said either. You cannot add a machine to domain and THEN either image it or run sysprep - you have to do the exact opposite. There is no registry in the BIOS either.

Steps

0) BUY a Volume License Key
1) Read up on Microsoft Deployment Toolkit
2) Install it on any machine, but ideally a server
3) Create a blank virtual machine (VM)
3) Create a "Reference image" - with just the OS and updates applied on the blank VM
4) Capture the VM as an image
5) Add the VM back to MDT
6) Add each application to MDT
7) Create a new task-sequence that deploys the captured WIM and the apps
8) Get a driver pack from HP for ONLY the model you had
9) Add it to MDT
10) When happy, deploy to all 70 machines

Forget "sysprep" and "imaging". MDT does those things for you. Given where you are I expect two or three weeks of work to do all this. the hard bit is getting the apps to install without prompts (aka silently).

MDT is free. Ghost is not. MDT is very flexible and supported by MS, Ghost is not as flexible and expensive. Forget Ghost. Forget "imaging". It's a guaranteed way to make more work (and more cost) to your life.

Mike
Andrew N. KowtaloSupport Center Engineer

Author

Commented:
Thanks for all your help.

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