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



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

Create a System Image with your software installed but without any user accounts or activation information
Published by Kari
04 Jul 2012
Default New Installation: How to Create a General System Image in Audit Mode

Note   Note
Audit Mode is a very practical way to prepare a system image without any user specific information like usernames or computer name. With it you can create a General System Image that gives you always when used a fresh, clean Windows 7 setup as if it were a virgin, fresh install, only difference being your software, drivers and updates are already installed. Using System Image recovery is a much faster method to start fresh than reinstalling everything.

When recovering image created with this method, computer will start in so called First Run OOBE mode without any user accounts but all drivers, software and updates installed, stopping to ask for initial username, computer name, language (if additional languages installed), time zone, network and homegroup settings. An image includes no user accounts, no activation information and no SID so you always start fresh.



This tutorial takes you through following steps:
  1. Installing Windows 7 and entering Audit Mode during first boot after the installation
  2. Installing drivers, software, updates and additional languages (Ultimate and Enterprise editions only)
  3. Creating a system image
  4. Booting to Windows Welcome (OOBE)
Step 1: Install Windows 7
  1. Beginn installation of Windows 7 as told in this tutorial
  2. When you reach step 11 in above mentioned installation tutorial, DO NOT ENTER USERNAME AND COMPUTER NAME! Instead press CTRL + SHIFT + F3:
    .

    .
  3. This reboots Windows 7 now in so called Audit Mode using built-in administrator profile. There's no need to set up user accounts for now
  4. Continue installation from installation tutorial's step 15
  5. Finally Windows 7 starts in Audit Mode. Click Cancel to close System Preparation Tool for now:
    .
Step 2: Install drivers, software and updates
  1. Install all third party drivers needed (audio, video etc.)
  2. Install all Windows Updates
  3. If using Ultimate or Enterprise editions, install additional language packs if needed
  4. Install your software (third party browsers and mail clients, MsOffice, PhotoShop, Flash Player, PDF reader etc.)
  5. Install software updates
  6. If you want to change where all future User accounts will be located, you can relocate the main Users folder now as told in this tutorial: User Profiles - Create and Move During Windows 7 Installation
  7. When ready, continue from Step 3
Notice: Installing drivers, updates and software might cause your computer to reboot several times. As long as you have not selected to exit Audit Mode, Windows reboots always automatically back to Audit Mode. In this case just close the System Preparation Tool as told above in Step 1.5.

Step 3: Create a System Image

When you are ready with customization, open SysPrep dialog box. You can find it in C:\Windows\System32\Sysprep folder. Select Out-of-Box Experience in System Cleanup Action, select Quit in Shutdown Options. Click OK:
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Now the only thing missing is creating the image:
  • Use Windows native backup tool to create a System Image. This tutorial tells you how
    -- OR --
  • Use any third party imaging application to create a System Image. Here you can find an easy to read, complete tutorial showing you how to do it with Macrium
Step 4: First boot (Welcome or OOBE boot)

Shut down (or restart) Windows. Next time it is booted it will do a so called First Run OOBE (Out-of-Box Experience) boot, stopping to ask initial user profile name and computer name as told in this tutorial, Step 11 and further. If language packs are installed (Ultimate or Enterprise only), initial first boot also asks user in what language he / she wants Windows to be set up.

Now you have your Windows 7 set up, with a System Image that you can use anytime you want to get fast back to fresh Windows.

Have Fun!

Kari



Published by
04 Jul 2012   #1
JaidynM

Windows 7 Ultimate x64/Windows 8 Consumer Preview x64/Ubuntu 11.04
 
 

Very nice tutorial Kari, well done.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Jul 2012   #2
F5ing

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

Nice!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Jul 2012   #3
essenbe
Microsoft MVP

Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 X64 (Windows 10, 8.1, Linux Mint, Windows XP and others in VM)
 
 

Nice tutorial, Kari. Very useful.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
.


04 Jul 2012   #4
Kari

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 8.1 Pro with Media Center
 
 

Thanks geeks. I've been using this method to create initial images. It is nice after recovery to be able to start fresh in case you need / want to change your earlier username or computer name and so on. It's like a totally fresh, clean install except all your software is already installed, all drivers updated.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Jul 2012   #5
A Guy

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Home Premium x64 SP1
 
 

Good tute Kari

A Guy
My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Jul 2012   #6
F5ing

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Kari View Post
Thanks geeks. I've been using this method to create initial images. It is nice after recovery to be able to start fresh in case you need / want to change your earlier username or computer name and so on. It's like a totally fresh, clean install except all your software is already installed, all drivers updated.
Just curious. Does changing computername create the same kind of filesystem/registry "mess" that occurs when username is changed?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
15 Jul 2012   #7
banal

Windows 7 Home Premium 32bit
 
 

Mannnn Kari,
Thanks for the info. Very informative.
Cheers mate.
Banal
My System SpecsSystem Spec
09 Dec 2012   #8
DjMaj

Windows 7 x64
 
 

When i get to Part 3: Create a System Image ( while still in audit mode apparently , should i chose the option Quit ? )
i tried to backup the system and i received a message that says something like you can not do a backup in maintenance mode ? Can you please explain how to fix that ? thanks.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
09 Dec 2012   #9
Kari

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 8.1 Pro with Media Center
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by DjMaj View Post
When i get to Part 3: Create a System Image ( while still in audit mode apparently , should i chose the option Quit ? )
i tried to backup the system and i received a message that says something like you can not do a backup in maintenance mode ? Can you please explain how to fix that ? thanks.
I will do some testing, updating tutorial if / when needed. Just give me some time.

Kari
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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