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How to clone Windows 7 using Norton Ghost 15 and Microsoft Sysprep

Cloning or replicating Windows 7 using Norton Ghost 15 and Sysprep

Deploying  Windows system images to new computers saves system administrators a lot of time, as you are able to prepare a reference machine with all necessary updates and third-party software ready to be cloned and replicated, making rapid and consistent deployment of new work stations relatively easy. This procedure was until the advent of Windows 7 an acceptable practice, however it has been drawn to my attention that Microsoft does not support a number of possible replication scenarios (Unsupported uses of Sysprep).  Regardless of this, I find it interesting to experiment with various deployment methods, and it is ultimately up to the individual organization to seek advice on the legality of any particular deployment scenario, so on that note, I will describe in the following a simplified way of cloning Windows 7 computers using Norton Ghost 15 and Sysprep.

This article is the main article and to be able to use the procedure will require reading all the subvarticles, which are linked when necessary.


  1. A reference computer on which to install Windows 7 (A Microsoft Virtual PC will suffice).
  2. A target computer (a physical or virtual machine)
  3. A Windows 7 installation DVD
  4. Symantec’s Norton Ghost 15 installation files with valid product code.
  5. Custom Symantec Recovery Disk or bootable USB stick.

Procedure  – is subdivided into fives steps. Each step, except 2, is described in a separate, linked article.

  1. Create a Custom Symantec Recovery Disk or USB stick .
  2. Install Windows 7 on the reference computer with all appropriate programs and updates.
  3. Use Sysprep to prepare the reference computer for making a drive image.
  4. Using the Custom Symantec Recovery Disk or USB stick make a drive image of the reference computer.
  5. Use the Custom Symantec Recovery Disk or USB stick to transfer the drive image to one or more target computers.

If you follow the above 5-step procedure as directed, you should have no problems replicating or cloning reference computers.

As mentioned above, this procedure may no longer be supported by Microsoft, who would like to see administrators  use the free MDT 2010 deployment solution. See Misasi for further information on this topic.

By Jens Vejrup Lassen

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