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

By Jskid · 12 replies
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: 10,432   +801

    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 Guru Topic Starter Posts: 346

    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: 10,432   +801

    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 Guru Topic Starter Posts: 346

    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: 2,920   +629

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

    Jskid TS Guru Topic Starter Posts: 346

    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: 5,443   +36

    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 Guru Topic Starter Posts: 346

    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: 5,443   +36

    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.
  12. STbob

    STbob TS Enthusiast Posts: 25   +12

    99% of the people that speak on syspred don't know what they are talking about. they leave out information that is needed

    1. sysprep will alter the machine you are working on. A disk image from macrium reflect will not do this. so why bother? a image from reflect or acronis will be an exact duplicate of your hard drive it will boot fine if installed on the same hardware. but if you try to boot it on a totally different computer with different hardware it might blue screen and not boot .

    2. once you run sysprep it will mess up the computer you are running it on. so to get that computer back to where it was you need to have a disk image from macrium reflect to make your system like it was before you even ran sysprep. so before you even run sysprep make a total backup of drive C with your fav imaging software. sysprep is bad because this is not something you can do remotely.

    3. how do you get the sysprep image off the computer without rebooting it???? you are not suppose to ask this because the so called experts leave this step out,

    4. is the disk image the entire os without specific settings? again don't ask this

    5. what is the name of the disk image made by sysprep and where is it located. again don't ask this

    why do all the sysprep guides leave out this information? Ans because they don't know what they are doing.

    lets see if someone fills in the blanks for you.
  13. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 5,443   +36

    What are you on about?

    1. Sysprep allows you to "generalize" an image; this is typically done so you can create an image that can be used across a range of different computers; the same image can be used on laptops and desktops, for example. Also, I don't get why "altering" an image is a big problem. If you are referring to custom Windows settings, you could easily use Group Policy to automatically set everything post-image.

    2. Define "mess up"? The sysprepped machine basically acts like a brand new out-of-the-box machine. No existing user data is deleted or altered.

    3. Sysprep does not create images. But assuming you meant grabbing an image of a sysprepped computer, you just shut down the machine, then PXE boot the machine into WinPE and use capture media created using MDT/WAIK/SCCM.

    4. Sysprep does not create images.

    5. Sysprep does not create images.
    jobeard and OortCloud like this.

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