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Windows 7: System Preparation Tool - Use to Customize Windows

24 Apr 2015   #70

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient


Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by xbuenacausa View Post
Hello Kari and thank YOU very much for taking the time and sharing your knowledge.

In the section 2.4. Create an Answer File
when it says:

"Browse to your Windows install media (DVD or USB), open the folder Source and select the file install.wim."

I only have an install.esd file...
Hi and welcome to the Seven Forums :).

That's not an issue, you can either download an original Windows 7 install media and use it, or if you want to you can create an ISO Disk Image file from your ESD file and burn it to a DVD or a bootable USB stick.

Check this tutorial for download links for official Windows 7 install images: Clean Install Windows 7

To make an ISO image from your own ESD file, see this tutorial at our sister site the Ten Forums: ESD to ISO - Create Bootable ISO from Windows 10 ESD File - Windows 10 Forums. The tutorial works as is also with Windows 7and 8 ESD files.

For your project, this more in-depth walkthrough tutorial might give more tips: Windows 7 Image - Customize in Audit Mode with Sysprep


My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Apr 2015   #71


OK, so i downloaded ESDtoISO and copied the menctioned install.esd all in c:\esd directory (on ssd to make it faster).

When i run:
ESDtoISO install.esd

i get:
ERROR: Specified file not found or damaged
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Apr 2015   #72

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient


Might be better for you to download the ISO.

Short checklist for the ESDtoISO tool:
  • Extract the zip file to a new folder
  • Copy your install.esd file to this same folder
  • Open an administrator (elevated) command prompt
  • Go to the folder containing the extracted tool files and your ESD, for instance CD C:\ESD
  • Give the command esdtoiso install.esd
My System SpecsSystem Spec
09 Jun 2015   #73

Windows 7 Enterprise x64

Thanks for this incredible resource Kari, my laphroaig triple wood friend. Much studying to do here about Win PE, installation and recovery kits. Here is an interesting link:

I've always gone the laborious way of fresh installs. Now I want to learn PE and imaging, and this journey started last week with my desire to redo my Win7 Enterprise. I wanted to destroy my 1.81TB RAID0 array and simply use one of the single terabyte drives for my user files. I'm using this guide: Move Windows 7 from RAID 0 to Single Disk. How to |

For some odd reason the backup/restore on my Win7 system failed to create a system restore disk, so I had to jump through some hoops to create a Win 7 recovery environment on a USB. See attached jpg. For this I utilized the Windows Automated Installation Kit (AIK) for Windows 7. Instead, could I have used "Windows Assesment and Deployment Kit (Windows ADK) for Windows8.1 Update", as this is what "Paragon Backup and Recovery 14 Free" has prompted me to download and use to create a bootable USB PE environment?

I just completed both my native Windows backup and my Paragon backup. Hopefully I can destroy my RAID0 array and have an extra 1TB drive. I will see later today. Upcoming study of your invaluable "System Preparation Tool - Use to Customize Windows" will hopefully help me to create a much cleaner and streamlined backup these next few weeks/months.

7/4/2015 I destroyed my Raid0 and restored my user files to a single drive, now I have an extra 1 TB drive.

Attached Thumbnails
System Preparation Tool - Use to Customize Windows-windows-7-recovery-environment-usb-stick.jpg  
My System SpecsSystem Spec

09 Jun 2015   #74

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient


WSIM for Seven and WADK for 8, 8.1 and 10 are basically all the same; you can use any of them for preparing a WinPE image or creating answer files for any version of Windows (Seven or later).

You might find this interesting: Windows 7 Image - Customize in Audit Mode with Sysprep

I needed to rewrite this tutorial, make it more "walk through" than this one is, so I wrote the above mentioned one. It goes more in-depth.

Keep us posted :)

My System SpecsSystem Spec
02 Jul 2015   #75

Win7 64 eXtreme

Hi Kari, thanks for your good tutorial.

I have still questions and maybe you can give me the correct answer. Forgive my bad english, iam not a native speaker.

I followed a tutorial written here: 47 - How to install Windows Vista/7/SVR2K8 onto a USB drive (or any partition) - RMPrepUSB to make my Windows 7 Installation portable with USB Flash Drive.

It's working for me, i prepared the USB Stick on a Netbook Intel based with Win7x32. Reboot from USB Flashdrive, all is working and Windows 7 is working fine. I created the username "Lucas" and the Computername was "Lucas-Mobil".

Now i have a cmd file on my desk, i run it as administrator.
This is the command in the file: "\Windows\System32\sysprep\sysprep.exe /oobe /generalize /shutdown"

After executing this file, i connect the USB flash drive with my Desktop PC with AMD and completly different hardware.
It boots from the Flashdrive, install all the needed drivers for the new system, and then the Window appear to set the user account data. I tryed to create the username "Lucas" again, but it told me, the username ist still there, i have to choose a new one. Ok, i try another username, and set the same computername to "Lucas-Mobil"

After the creation, i can see both usernames "Lucas" and the new one "CSL" but i dont want to use the new on, i logged into the account "Lucas", installed all the drivers for the "new" hardware.

Rebootet many times during the process, all works fine.

Ok now, what is my problem?

I want to use my USB Flashdrive to switch it between the two different Computers, my Desktop PC and the netbook. But i don't want to set every time a new username.

If i understand it correctly i still have to uses the sysprep.exe if i want to use the USB Flashdrive again at the netbook.
Is there another way to do this, that i can use the existing useraccount, and don't have to set it again and again?

Best regards.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
02 Jul 2015   #76

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient


First, because Microsoft does not officially support installing Windows 7 or older on a flash drive, I have basically never been interested in it and done it only once just for the fun of it, several years ago. Today I have not the faintest idea or recollection about how I did it. I cannot help you in this matter and suggest that you take your issue to the site where you found the instructions.

Second, every time you run the sysprep to boot to OOBE, the PC goes through the first time setup requiring you to create an administrative user. If you run sysprep on a system where there already are existing users, none of these existing users cannot be used at this point and you have to create a new one.

Third, your sysprep command syntax is a bit wrong. When the /generalize switch is used it must come first. Your command given correctly should therefore be:
\Windows\System32\sysprep\sysprep.exe /generalize /oobe /shutdown
My System SpecsSystem Spec
02 Jul 2015   #77

Win7 64 eXtreme

Hi Kari,

thank your for your fast reply.

Maybe i wrote the syntax wrong her, and in the file on my desk it is in the right order, i'll check that later at home.

I test the system in the next days and check which possibilities i have, maybe creating the "new account" with unattended answer and delete the account afterwards and using the first created account.

I will see if it's working or not :)

Thanks for reading my question and answering...

Best regards

My System SpecsSystem Spec
08 Sep 2016   #78

Windows 7 x64


When I'm creating my partitions in the answer file, do I need to designated a System partition of say 250MB along with a partition for the OS that fills the remaining disk space? Or will it automatically make the System partition even if I don't specify it?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
08 Sep 2016   #79

Windows 7 x64

I just successfully completed this and everything went fine for the most part. I attempted to auto-activate the admin account using the appropriate setting in the answer file, but it doesn't appear to have worked. Also, according to Google Chrome "another program corrupted some settings" so it reset things back to default. All-in-all not too bad for a first go I guess :)

A few questions that I have after completing this process:

1) I was doing this on a computer I had setup as a reference machine. Is there a way to not have the answer file applied to the reference machine and everything just resort back to the way it was prior sysprepping? I used the /shutdown switch when I sysprepped, but when I booted that reference machine backup it was clear that answer file I created had been applied to it (booted into OOBE mode). Is the only way to accomplish my question to create a VM and do everything that way?

2) When I run this command:

sysprep.exe /generalize /oobe /reboot /unattend:F:\MyAnswerFile.xml
Does that effectively append my answer file to the sysprepped image? So when imaging my other computers I don't need to reference my answer file any longer?
My System SpecsSystem Spec

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