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Using Sysprep to prepare a Windows 7 system for making a drive image with Norton Ghost 15

See Main Article: How to Clone Windows 7 using Norton Ghost 15 and Microsoft Sysprep.

Microsoft recommends running the Sysprep command (Microsoft on Sysprep) on the reference computer prior to transferring the image to a target computer, even if the target computer has the same hardware as the reference computer. This is done in order to generalize the image prior to transferring it, and to enable the operation of an automatically initiated mini setup process after booting up the target computer for the first time after transferring the image. Transferring an image from a reference computer to a target computer without running Sysprep is not supported.

Running Sysprep with the generalize option removes the reference computer’s name, SID, and other computer specific information you don’t want to replicate to the target computer.

Although there are quite anumber of scenarios for the use of Sysprep, I have found it useful to add an answer-file to the preparation process, answer files being generated using the Windows System Image Manager (WSIM). The WSIM with the Windows Automated Installation Kit (WAIK), which can be downloaded here, and see this article to learn how to use WSIM.  Using an answer-file when running Sysprep makes it possible to run Sysprep automatically and preprogram a number of options that otherwise would have to be entered manually while operating Sysprep from its GUI.

The answer-file I use sets the following configuration options:

  • Hides the EULA Page
  • Calls the network location “Work”
  • Skips the user and machine OOEBs
  • Set the display parameters
  • Name of owner “The Owner”
  • Name of organization “The Organization”
  • Input locale, system locale, UI language and User locale = “en-UK”
  • Skips rearm. (To avoid having to reinstall the reference computer after runing Sysprep three times)
  • Set the product code (which you must obviously change to the one you will be using.).
  • Joins the computer to a workgroup (not a domain)
  • and many more option (see the file itself).

If you require a more elaborated usage of the answer-file you should read this excellent article.

However for the purpose of this article, you should be able to use Sysprep by following this procedure:

  1. Install Windows 7 and customize your reference computer.
  2. Get a copy of the answer-file and customize its details to suit your own organization’s requirements.
  3. Save the answer-file  in the file system at: %systemroot%Windowssystem32sysprep.
  4. Create a command-file: sysprep.cmd with the following one line and save it to %systemroot%Windowssystem32sysprep.
    [sourcecode language="vb"]
    %Systemroot%System32SysprepSysprep.exe /shutdown /oobe /generalize /unattend:”%Systemroot%System32Sysprepunattend.xml”

    Save files in Sysprep folder

  5. Start the Task List and kill the process “wmpnetwk.exe “, if this process can be seen for all users. (Without this step Sysprep will fail!).

    Use the task list to kill the wmpnetwk.exe process.

  6. Start cmd.exe in the folder: %systemroot%Windowssystem32sysprep.
  7. Execute sysprep.cmd from the command line.

    Sysprep is preparing the reference computer for making a drive image.

  8. When Sysprep has completed generalizing the reference computer it will shut down, and it is time to capture the drive image.
    If you let the reference computer  to boot up to the operating system, it will execute the automatic setup procedure, and will have redo the procedure. So pay attention, and capture that drive image before the reference computer reboots!

    Reference computer shutting down after Sysprep completes execution.

You are now ready to make a drive image of the reference computer.

Related links:
How to Clone Windows 7 using Norton Ghost 15 and Microsoft Sysprep
By Jens Vejrup Lassen

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