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Windows 7: New Installation: How to Create a General System Image in Audit Mode

23 Jun 2014   #30
Pendaws

Win7 SP1 + Ultimate 64 bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Kari View Post
You are welcome, hopefully the tutorial can give you some tips. You might also be interested in this complete walkthrough: Windows 7 Image - Customize in Audit Mode with Sysprep

Kari
Thanks again, I can use all the help I can get.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
.
06 Aug 2014   #31
milindsmart

Windows 7 Home Premium x64
 
 

Kari I must say, the title is misleading.

The fact is you cannot take a general system image using the builtin tool in audit mode. You should just replace the tutorial with an explanation that it CANNOT be done. It's not like you haven't written other excellent tutorials. This one just says "How to do X in audit mode : Quit audit mode and then do X".

Now if you have a workaround, that's what this kind of tutorial is for.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Aug 2014   #32
Kari

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by milindsmart View Post
Kari I must say, the title is misleading.

The fact is you cannot take a general system image using the builtin tool in audit mode. You should just replace the tutorial with an explanation that it CANNOT be done. It's not like you haven't written other excellent tutorials. This one just says "How to do X in audit mode : Quit audit mode and then do X".

Now if you have a workaround, that's what this kind of tutorial is for.
Once again one of these posts. "Nah that cannot work, no use even to test it, I know it does not work". A shame that you really obviously based your comment on what you think of it, instead of testing, doing it as told in the tutorial.

OK, let's start. When writing a tutorial about How to create a system image in Audit Mode, I thought an appropriate title would be How to Create a General System Image in Audit Mode. I accept that you think it to be a misleading title, so if you have a better name, please let me know and I will ask mods to change the title. OK?

When in Audit Mode, the Sysprep tool is always running on the background if not manually stopped. If the user now tries to use Windows native imaging tool, this error message will be shown and the backup operation is interrupted, it refuses to run:
New Installation: How to Create a General System Image in Audit Mode-2014-08-06_10h40_36.png
This is because Windows treats Audit Mode with Sysprep running as Safe Mode. Quit the Sysprep and Windows no longer thinks it's in Safe Mode.

This is why the Sysprep must be terminated before the imaging, as told in tutorial Step 3. Now the Windows native imaging tool runs just fine in Audit Mode, without issues.

One of my goals when writing these tutorials is to use native Windows tools as often and as much as possible. I want to show that quite a lot of things in and around Windows can be made without third party tools. If this tutorial was only to show how to create a system image using a third party imaging tool when Windows is first modified in Audit Mode, I had written it differently, telling first to shut down the PC exiting Audit Mode when modifications and installations are done, then booting the PC with the imaging tool's own boot disk and create the image.

However, as I wanted to show how it can be done by using the Windows native imaging tool, the method and steps taken in this tutorial is the only possibility. The image (when using native imaging tool) must be created when Windows is still in Audit Mode; if Windows is shut down and Audit Mode exited, then Windows rebooted normally, the situation and resulting image will no longer be the same. Creating the image as told in this tutorial is the only possibility to get an image prior to creating any user profiles.

As is my custom in cases when a method or procedure I have suggested is questioned, before responding to your post I just now installed a Windows 7 Professional on a test rig, then entered Audit Mode and followed this tutorial to create a system image in Audit Mode as if I did not know how it's done but instead following the tutorial step by step. I then restored the resulting image to the same PC. Both creating the image in Audit Mode with Windows native Backup & Restore and restoring the image worked flawlessly.

Next time, please think before posting. Do not tell other members and visitors that something does not work if you just think so but have in fact not tested it. Do you really think I write a tutorial without first researching the subject and testing it myself?

Conclusion:

Note   Note
The imaging method using Windows own native imaging tool for creating a system image in Audit Mode works exactly as told in this tutorial.

I ask possible future readers of this thread to ignore the post I quoted in the beginning of this reply.


Kari


My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Aug 2014   #33
Golden
Microsoft MVP

Windows 7 Ult. x64
 
 

Kari.......one cannot beat facts.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
.

06 Aug 2014   #34
Kari

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

 

Yes. It might be my tone in response above was a bit harsh but I am really fed up with these posts, based on "I think it's like this, it cannot work" without really trying it out and then converting this thought to a fact like this member in saying The fact is you cannot take a general system image using the builtin tool in audit mode when the real fact is that of course it can be done, exactly as told in the tutorial.

Other type of complaints I dislike is when OP is trying but cutting short, not following the instructions step by step and then complaining when it does not work.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Aug 2014   #35
essenbe

Windows 7 Enterprise X64/Windows 10 Enterprise X64/Windows 10 Pro X64/Linux Mint
 
 

Too many people have bothered to follow the instructions and found that it does in fact work to even pay any attention to his comments. Great answer, Kari. Much better than I would have done.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Aug 2014   #36
Layback Bear

Windows 7 Pro. 64/SP-1
 
 

I think that milindsmart must also concider on this forum Tutorial are not posted with out testing and permission of the Bosses.

Kari your answered back was much nicer than I would of given so I will stop now in this post so I don't step on my p p
My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Aug 2014   #37
milindsmart

Windows 7 Home Premium x64
 
 

I am really very very VERY sorry for the way I commented. Please forgive me.... I was amazingly idiotic in the way I misunderstood "Shutdown Options : Quit"

Your explanation makes perfect sense, and I finally understand what's going on. I thought the step that quits Sysprep was actually going back to OOBE, which defeats the entire purpose of keeping it in audit mode.

I was following this tutorial when I faced this issue... apparently I don't read things as completely as I should, and I gathered that "Quit" just reboots into OOBE. I thought for some more time, then decided to give up, and booted up into OOBE.

I too have the exact same preference to use native Windows tools as much as possible... I was greatly saddened by the imagined impossibility of taking an image in audit mode, and was just going to post a question about how to as nearly approximate a pre-OOBE system on a post-OOBE system as possible, by removing user accounts, or what not...

Again, I apologize, and will remember to read more carefully before criticizing. And I request you to include your explanation making clear the difference between dismissing the sysprep dialog box clicking cancel, and quitting it completely, while still in audit mode. I read quite a bit about audit mode but did not get this important point.

In fact this reinstallation was necessitated by a previous attempt with Users folder relocation (your answer file method) in Windows 8.1. It somehow broke the ability to create new users, and ultimately it came down apparently some bug in executing answer files in windows 8.1 setup (see this 8F thread : http://www.eightforums.com/installat...ows-8-1-a.html)

So hoping you're not still mad at me,
  1. I've now taken an image backup in normal windows mode. It's fairly minimal, but I'm fairly obsessive about doing it right, so : how much can I approximate pre-OOBE state?
  2. Assuming the answer to (1) isn't good enough, can I find some way of extracting the windows updates so that I don't have to redownload?
  3. Any best practices on capturing a WIM rather than a VHD (which is what a system image backup seems to be, from what I observed while poking around)?
Thanks in advance.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Aug 2014   #38
milindsmart

Windows 7 Home Premium x64
 
 

Elaborating :
The wording "The fact is... " came from my (bad) understanding of your tutorial and one subsequent post about just this :
  1. System Image Backup gave me that safe mode error.
  2. That other poster also said the same thing.
  3. You agreed.
  4. The solution was to quit "audit mode".
  5. Hence windows system image backup cannot be done in audit mode.
QED (NOT!!)


And about users folder relocation :
In my current fresh installation I've done the registry modification so that all future accounts are created in the new location, but the initial admin user folder lives in C:\Users . My thinking, looking for the next best compromise, was : keep one account in the absolute default location, so that when restoring from system image or custom installation image, the other user accounts are abandoned, which I can extract contents from.



Your opinion?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Aug 2014   #39
Kari

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

 

As I have mentioned, the Sysprep is running all the time in the background when in Audit Mode. When Sysprep is in the background, Windows thinks it's in Safe Mode. As soon as the Sysprep process has been terminated, Windows no longer thinks being in Safe Mode and Windows Backup can be run in Audit Mode.

Let's make this really clear: Windows Backup does not work in Audit Mode if Sysprep is not terminated. It works in Audit Mode when Sysprep is run and stopped with the Quit switch.

To get a Windows image when restored to act as if it was the first ever boot (OOBE boot), the image have to be created after a successful Sysprep and before the machine is booted from the HDD. This can be achieved either by creating the image in Audit Mode after running the Sysprep /OOBE with Quit switch, or running the Sysprep /OOBE with Shutdown switch and then booting the machine with a WinPE boot disk (for example a Macrium Imaging boot disk) and using third party tools to create the image.

To put it very simple, there are basically only one major difference in using this method (create a vhd image) and creating an install.wim file: The vhd restores an image setting up a copy (image) of a previously installed Windows, whereas the install.wim setups Windows by doing a clean install. Other than that the result is the same. For home users I recommend the method told in this tutorial, the vhd image as it is a bit simpler and does not require non-native Windows tools to capture the image.

Kari
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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