In simple terms can someone explain to me what sysprep does?

By Jskid
Jul 17, 2013
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  1. In simple terms can someone explain to me what sysprep does and why it's necessary?
  2. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 13,579   +349

    SYSPREP is a tool normally used by an admin of a Windows Server environment, not home users. That tool allows an admin to create a custom install CD with all the necessary programs preinstalled for the needs of that company.
  3. Jskid

    Jskid TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 434

    How is that different than setting up a system with all the necessary programs installed and taking an image from it? For example I'm cloning VMs in vSphere and I've been tasked with determining whether or not sysprep is necessary.
  4. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 13,579   +349

    A clone will duplicate the HD but leave several issues unresolved:
    • the software license will be invalid
    • the host name will be a duplicate (and perhaps even the ip-address)
    • the user logins will be duplicates of the originals
    The point of sysprep is to perform a fresh INSTALL of a known system configuration

    hmm; I'm not sure that either approach is correct for cloning a VM and especially when using vSphere
  5. WinOutreach5

    WinOutreach5 TS Rookie

    As stated in the TechNet library article entitled, “What is Sysprep?”, the System Preparation (Sysprep) tool prepares an installation of Windows for duplication, auditing, and customer delivery. Duplication, also called imaging, enables you to capture a customized Windows image that you can reuse throughout an organization. Sysprep is typically used during large-scale rollouts when it would be too slow and costly to have administrators or technicians interactively install the operating system on individual computers. You also might want to check out the How Sysprep Works library article, also from TechNet.

    The biggest difference between a clone and a syspreped image capture is that Sysprep, by default, removes system-specific information from a Windows image, including the computer security identifier (SID) which allows you to transfer the image to other systems.

    Typically speaking, when using virtual machines to create images it is easier to create snapshots. While you may be using a different virtual machine technology, it might be helpful to review the Hyper-V Virtual Machine Snapshots: FAQ to understand snapshots a bit more. Now, when capturing images of any kind of machine, you will definitely want to use Sysprep to ensure there isn’t any duplication of computer names or issues with activation and licensing as Jobeard touched upon. In your case, you could Sysprep the system, shut it down and then snapshot the VM.

    Hope this helps!

    Windows Outreach Team – IT Pro
    The Springboard Series on TechNet
  6. Jskid

    Jskid TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 434

    After running sysprep on Windows Server 2008 R2 after booting it it says I must choose a new password. Why? I'm using vSphere client 5 btw. Thanks.
  7. St1ckM4n

    St1ckM4n TS Evangelist Posts: 3,479   +624

    "user must change password" was checked in the settings?
  8. Jskid

    Jskid TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 434

    It didn't used to do that before the sysprep...what I'm trying to get at is it would be nice to know what exactly sysprep changes.
  9. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 7,291   +25

    Sysprep strips away the SID of the computer you run it on and generates a new one, which is typically important for services such as WSUS and KMS, and for management applications like Ghost Console (cloned machines with the same SID may show up with the same name causing confusion).

    It also resets activation, disables the in-built admin account (if it was enabled), removes some custom settings such as muted volume etc. and triggers plug-and-play hardware detection, if you are "generalizing" an image. I might have missed something, but off the top of my head, this is what I could think of.
  10. Jskid

    Jskid TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 434

    Should the base image be activated or no and each individual deployment should be activated?
  11. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 7,291   +25

    It doesn't matter, since the activation counter is reset as soon as you run sysprep.

    Of course, each deployment needs to be activated after you've renamed the computers and bound them to your AD domain, if applicable. Unless you have a KMS setup that activates them automatically as soon as they join the domain.

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