SysPrep Windows

Microsoft Windows LogoEvery single time it comes to me setting up a bunch of servers in a cloned environment, I always need to sit down and try to remember how this works or end up searching the web for the answers that I am looking for. So enough it enough and I wanted to take the time today to get it on here, so I know exactly where to look.

In case you haven’t encountered Sysprep before, it is a Microsoft tool that allows you to create a base OS image and then re-package it. This base image can have all your programs already installed on it. You can then create a cloned image and when you boot the new image, it is like booting Windows up for the first time, except with all your software packages already installed. You’ll get to setup options like choosing a new computer name, the SIDs are regenerated, etc. Note if you didn’t SysPrep your OS and just imaged it, you may have some problems, as the OS’s SID are the same.

Now Each version of Windows requires it’s own version of the Sysprep to run. The SysPrep tool can be found on your installion disks in :\Support\Tools\

Creating the Sysprep Image:

  1. Open <CD/DVD DRIVE>:\Support\Tools\ and extract setupcl.exe, setupmgr.exe, and sysprep.exe to C:\Sysprep.
    Note in this example C: is your system drive. If you installed Windows to another drive letter, use that drive letter instead of C:
  2. Run setupmgr.exe from C:\Sysprep.
  3. The Setup Manager wizard starts. Click Next…
  4. Create new… Next…
  5. Select “Sysprep setup”. Next…
  6. Select the correct OS version… Next…
  7. Select “No, do not fully automate the installation”… Next…
  8. Enter Name and Organization, Time Zone, Product Key, and Workgroup or Domain. The other settings can remain defaulted.
    Note that you don’t want to specify the computer name since you will be creating multiple computers from the base image and you don’t want to specify the admin password, even encrypted. If the sysprep program can extract the password from the answer file, so can any hacker worth their salt.
  9. Click Next… through to the end.
  10. Finish… Save to C:\Sysprep\sysprep.inf. OK…
    Wait while Setup Manager finishes.
  11. Cancel… (It’s the way to end the installation, Microsoft was weird at labeling that last button)
  12. Run sysprep.exe.
  13. Click OK.
  14. Ensure that “Don’t regenerate security identifiers” is UNCHECKED. You want to regenerate the SIDs when each new clone boots.
  15. Click Reseal, OK to confirm that you want to regenerate SIDs, and wait for the system to shut down.

On Newly Cloned Servers:

  1. Boot the cloned server.
  2. The Windows Setup wizard will appear. Next…
  3. Accept the license agreement. Next…
  4. Enter a new computer name and administrator password. Next…
  5. Windows will boot and you can log in with the administrator password you just entered.
  6. When prompted, click “Yes” to update your product activation.
  7. Select “Yes, let’s activate Windows over the Internet now”. Next…
  8. Update this server… to go to Microsoft Update.
  9. Once you’re ensured that your patches are up-to-date, you can close the browser and click Finish…

You should now have a fresh copy of Windows. You can create as many cloned servers as you need for your network.  Make sure that you have a license for each server that you bring up.

NOTE:  After writing this blog and attempting to do it with Windows Server 2008, the step above need to be slightly changed directions here: SysPrep for Windows Server 2008

1 Comment

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.