Managing my clones
October 30, 2011 3:43 PM   Subscribe

What are the best ways to create and deploy Windows 7 images across numbers of often disparate computers?

I manage several small school networks. Think 100 -150 computers and laptops, often older and slower equipment.

Currently I use Clonezilla to manage my Windows clones. This is fine when I have a bunch of computers with similar motherboards/chipsets. However, due to buying practice in schools I often find a school with disparate equipment.

How are you managing such setups? Open source or free options are preferred.
posted by chairish to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
At most places where I've worked with disparate hardware we just have build images for each type of machine.

Acronis and Easeus both support Universal Restore. I've never used it.
posted by dgeiser13 at 5:39 PM on October 30, 2011
posted by theora55 at 5:46 PM on October 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you have two machines with very similar build and purchase times, you may be able to get away with one image for both (used to do this a lot on a few labs I once had the pleasure of managing) because most of the motherboards (if using the same processor) are similar/same. As far as deploying, look at FOG for deployment assistance (it does Wake On LAN, boot and push for images, domain joining, machine renaming, machine inventory, etc)
posted by deezil at 6:40 PM on October 30, 2011

Storagecraft is an indispensable tool for imaging across disparate hardware. Not only is it some of the best software I've used, period, the service and support is excellent. It's probably the most important tool in our arsenal for things like backup, imaging and recovery, ESPECIALLY to different hardware. Their hardware independent process is consistently reliable and has gotten me out of more jams than I care to recall.

You can also setup a Microsoft imaging server using several tools from Microsoft and push those images out to the machines. It takes a decent amount of time to learn, but works well once you understand the ins and outs of sysprepping, driver considerations and such.
posted by tgrundke at 7:22 PM on October 30, 2011

To add to theora55, there's also the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit, which uses WAIK and adds additional management stuff. It adds a lot of management tools, which you might want in your environment.

I just went to a seminar on the newest beta version, and it's *really* slick!
posted by cathoo at 5:00 PM on October 31, 2011

Ooh. I hope the new version of the MDK and WAIK are better...because the old ones are needlessly complicated and haphazardly documented. Sadly, it's necessary in order to Sysprep (which is slick, and does indeed let you make a "universal" image).

Of course, the end result *is* worth it, even though I personally use a fairly "vanilla" unattend.xml file.

Oh, and be sure to take an image while you're in Audit mode before you run the final sysprep stages. That way, you can go back and easily make changes. It's generally not recommended to go in and out of Audit mode.
posted by schmod at 6:48 PM on October 31, 2011

Thanks all for your varied answers. Storagecraft looks great but in my line of business there is no money for such software so opensource like FOG is really the way to go.

cathoo and schmod, I have looked at the MS Deployment Toolkit a couple of times and perhaps theora55's link to will help me to make better sense of it.
posted by chairish at 2:01 PM on November 2, 2011

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