What's your go-to method of cloning a system to multiple identical targets?


muzicman82

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Hi all,

I haven't needed to do this in a long time, but I do have experience with imaging on previous Windows versions.

I need to build a system with all of it's programs and user preferences, and then deploy this to a dozen or so identical systems. While I have no problems making an image and deploying that to system drives, I'm looking for the latest (free or low cost) methods for doing this with PXE or a bootable USB. I don't have a problem removing the NVMe drive to make the original image if it is necessary.

The key thing I'd like to do correctly is generate fresh SID numbers, and rename the system hostnames. These systems won't be living on the same network after they are created, but they will for a short time. Decades ago, I used to use Ghost for this.

I'm sort of familiar with Sysprep, but won't that clear user preferences?

If there's a software program that will make this super easy that isn't free, I'm ok buying a 1 time license but I don't want to pay for each target or have a recurring subscription. I am a fan of Acronis products and I have True Image, but I don't think Snap Deploy is necessarily what I want... but maybe it is?
 

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glasskuter

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I have a base sysprepped image from Macrium Workstation that I can restore to ANY hardware using Macrium Redeploy to new hardware. The restored machine will boot to oob experience. However the deployed machine does have to have the new user set up and optioned. If you prefer Acronis, I've used its Universal Restore as well.

For your situation with deploying to identical hardware, all you need is a base sysprepped to oobe image and Macrium recovery media. The free version of Macrium would work fine in your case as no new hardware is involved and you want all the drivers to carry over. Here again, though, you would have to set up the user account and its options at boot.(There shouldn't be a problem since the drivers are included in the image but it would be a good idea to insert the mass storage driver into your rescue media just to be on the safe side.)

I am assuming that each deployed machine has a valid Windows license.
 
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cereberus

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Haydon

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This excellent tutorial shows how to create a custom installer. No 3rd party tools needed.

On the custom iso in the given link, can it include (standard) BitLocker? Probably not, because multiple installations would all have the same BitLocker keys. If this is correct, then you would have to configure BitLocker for each installation.
 

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The-Hive

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jimbo45

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Hi there

I know this is a Windows Forum but by far the easiest method for replicating target systems.

1) Boot up ANY linux live distro from a USB device

2) Then from the console / terminal : command line :

dd if=<source disk> of=<target disk> bs=6144M status-progress

In linux also use lsblk to get <source> and <target> disks as they are usually /dev/sdxxx

No messing around with formatting etc required -- it's a pure physical copy cluster by cluster byte by byte -- so if there are errors on the source system these will be copied to the target one. However this works quick and easily.

(Works also for cloning partitions if that's waht you want change the command to </dev/sdxnn> where nn is the number of the partition on the device e,g /dev/sdc2 or whatever).

I know this is a Windows Forum but what's wrong in using appropriate tools for solving Windows problems. If I get a big water leak at home I'm not going to shut off the inlet with a tiny watchmakers clamp am I . !!!!

Note : the only possible conflict you might get here is that the DD method copies the UUID's of the original disks so in order to ensure the correct disk boots you might need to change the parttiion / disk UUID's on the target system.


Cheers
jimbo
 
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