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Windows 7: Question about Windows system images

19 Jul 2014   #1
techhead287

Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
 
 
Question about Windows system images

Hi,
I've heard that if you're getting a new PC, you can capture and restore a system image of your computer, thus cloning your old computer to the new one. But, before you capture the image, you need to run sysprep, and then capture the image in an offline Windows PE environment. The sysprep tool removes all information specific to your computer.

However, if I'm getting a new computer of the exact same model, do I need to run the sysprep tool, or can I get away without running it? Also, what are the side effects of running the sysprep tool? Does bloatware get reinstalled from the OOBE? Does any complex software get affected, such as VirtualBox, Visual Studio, antivirus, etc.? Is there anything that I should uninstall before running sysprep, if I have to? Also, would Windows make me reactivate? This computer has a UEFI BIOS, so there's no Windows product key sticker on the bottom of the computer.

Thanks

-techhead287


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19 Jul 2014   #2
Golden
Microsoft MVP

Windows 7 Ult. x64
 
 

Kari is the man to answer your questions - I'll ask him to stop by.
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19 Jul 2014   #3
SIW2

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Vista x64 / 7 X64
 
 

Yes, you could do it that way if you like.

Probably simpler to use a 3rd party imaging program for a small scale move. Most of the paid versions will make an image and restore it to different hardware.

If the hardware really is identical, you can probably image and restore with one of the free versions.

There are several:

Aomei Backupper Standard (free)

Pargon Bakup and Restore (free)

Macrium free
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20 Jul 2014   #4
mjf

Windows 7x64 Home Premium SP1
 
 

You might also want to look at
Make Windows 7 bootable after motherboard swap
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20 Jul 2014   #5
Kari

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

 

  1. Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by techhead287 View Post
    The sysprep tool removes all information specific to your computer.
    This is correct; using the GENERALIZE switch with SYSPREP command all hardware specific information is removed.

    This from a tutorial of ours:

    Note   Note
    What does Sysprep generalizing do to my Windows 7 setup?
    • All system specific information is removed or uninstalled
    • Security ID (SID) of your hardware setup is reseted
    • All system restore points are deleted
    • All event logs are deleted
    • All personalization is removed (taskbar, toolbars, folder options, start orb etc.)
    • Built-in administrator account is disabled (if it was enabled) and needs to be re-enabled if needed

    What happens when booting first time after sysprep generalizing?
    • First boot configuration is run
    • New SID is created
    • Re-arm counter is reseted if not already re-armed three times
    • Windows 7 is booted using first boot default drivers and settings

  2. Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by techhead287 View Post
    However, if I'm getting a new computer of the exact same model, do I need to run the sysprep tool, or can I get away without running it?
    Machine SID, MAC addresses and so on are different even if the hardware is otherwise identical. You should prepare your old system to be moved, be it the Sysprep or any other method.
  3. Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by techhead287 View Post
    Also, what are the side effects of running the sysprep tool? Does bloatware get reinstalled from the OOBE?
    OOBE mode, also called Welcome mode is the the first boot after installation, in case of a new PC with preinstalled Windows the first boot user makes. The OOBE can be described as a Windows which has been completely installed but has not been booted to user desktop yet. All built-in native programs, also third party so called bloatware is installed, subject to Windows version, edition and used installation method. Machines with a preinstalled (by manufacturer) Windows system have more bloatware than a clean installation.

    All bloatware present, as well as the complete Windows installation on your new PC will of course be completely removed when another system image will replace it.
  4. Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by techhead287 View Post
    Does any complex software get affected, such as VirtualBox, Visual Studio, antivirus, etc.? Is there anything that I should uninstall before running sysprep, if I have to?
    Before sysprepping a Windows installation to prepare it to be moved to another computer, you should disable any antivirus, malware and Firewall programs. No need to uninstall, just disable.

    Virtual machines can be tricky, my recommendation is to use tools in your virtualization program to export all your virtual machines on old system, then after restoring the image to the new PC import these exported virtual machines, again using tools and wizards of your virtualization program.
  5. Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by techhead287 View Post
    Also, would Windows make me reactivate?
    Yes. This warning from the tutorial:

    warning   Warning
    Using this method causes Windows 7 to lose all activation information, and it needs to be reactivated afterwards. If your Windows 7 is an OEM version, you might not be able to reactivate it, at least not without phone activation option.

  6. Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by techhead287 View Post
    This computer has a UEFI BIOS
    About BIOS vs. UEFI: remember that as the partition tables are using different systems, you cannot restore an image from a BIOS system to another computer with UEFI and vice versa, at least not without third party tools.
Also important to remember is that an upgraded Windows cannot be sysprepped. This means that if you have for instance in-place upgraded Vista to Seven, or using Anytime Upgrade upgraded for instance a Home Premium to Ultimate, you cannot sysprep.

Notice that a repair install is also an upgrade install, so if you have ever done a repair install (= in-place upgrade to same edition), you cannot sysprep.

Kari
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