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  1. Senior Member JohnnyBiggles's Avatar
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    #1

    Default WDS vs Ghost System Imaging

    Is it possible using WDS on Win 2008 Server R2 or 2003 to capture/create an image of a computer already running Win 7 with a number of other installed programs and settings configured, and then deploy that image to other similar machines... or, is WDS only used for deploying the OS only? I'm planning on using Symantec Ghost and was wondering if the capabilities needed are already available in WDS... and if so, which is better to use for this sort of thing over a network?
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  3. Senior Member
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    #2
    No you can use WDS to deploy the OS with the applications and settings installed/configured on it. Make sure you sysprep before capturing to avoid complications with multiple copies of the same image being deployed.
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  4. Senior Member JohnnyBiggles's Avatar
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    #3
    [REDUNDANT QUOTE FROM PRECEDING POST REMOVED]

    Anything special you need to do on the server side or is it all in sysprep? I want to set up a model computer with Office and some other non-Microsoft apps then duplicate it to other machines. Are there step-by-step instructions somewhere?
    Last edited by Slowhand; 03-05-2012 at 11:20 PM.
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    #4
    Well on the server side in order for the Win 7 clients to know there is a WDS server when launching PXE is that you have to import a boot.wim into the WDS as a "Boot Image", there should be a folder there if I am not mistaken in the WDS console. The boot.wim can be found on the Windows 7 media (CD, ISO, etc). This allows the clients to boot into the "Windows PE environment" and select your image you want to deploy, this should be in the Install images folder.

    As long as you have the correct amount of licenses of each of your applications you should be fine (volume licenses should be ideal)

    If you want to customize Office deployment (such as certain components you do not want installed) there is a tool for you to do that with Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2010, you can use this tool to further customize already captured images, such as drivers, applications to install after deploying the images, etc. This is for more of deployment of more than one type of model.
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  6. The Bringer of Light DevilWAH's Avatar
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    #5
    If you take the time getting to know WDS you can do loads with it. which included building up OS+application+drivers+ service packs in a a single deployment package. you can also patch the images you have on the WDS server as security patch's and other bug fixes get deployed by Microsoft (or other manufacture of your software).

    set up devices to grab specific images, so if you have all HR PC's tied to there image and all Developments tide to another, if you need to rebuild you just boot up and it picks the correct one for you.

    I found that with time WDS was a very powerful tool and very flexible. where as Ghost is much easier to get your head round and get working out of the box. but with ghost you ended up having to seperatly create images for each purpose while WDS lets you mix and match as you go. Making it very easy to create a number of images fit for multiply purposes.

    This was about 3 years ago so i image WDS has come on a lot since then to

    AS below WDS works by booting the PC in to a "PE envirment" which is like a very basic OS, and then this is used to copy the the image across to the hard drive and carry out any set-up tasks. This gives it a lot more flexibility than GHOST, which just dumps the image to the disk.
    Last edited by DevilWAH; 03-02-2012 at 03:14 PM.
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    #6
    I still do it the old fashion way, via an eSATA drive. Takes ~10 minutes to create or deploy. A PXE setup has been on my To Do list for about 2 years now. Might revisit that now that I am finally on 2008R2. In my defense, I don't have a lot of users and do not do it regularly enough for it to be consuming a whole lot of my time. But I hear WDS/2008R2/Win7 is kickass.
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    #7
    SCCM + MDT >>> WDS + MDT >>> Ghost

    I haven't used Ghost in about 5 years, so maybe it's come a long way since then.
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  9. Senior Member JohnnyBiggles's Avatar
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    #8
    For anyone else, I found this step by step guide for WDS. I'm going to go through this and hopefully it will give me the direction I need.

    Download: Windows Deployment Services Step-by-Step Guide - Microsoft Download Center - Confirmation
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    #9
    I haven't heard of a legitimate reason to use Ghost over WDS since it was introduced in Server 2003 SP1.
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  11. The Bringer of Light DevilWAH's Avatar
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    #10
    [REDUNDANT QUOTE FROM PRECEDING POST REMOVED]

    If you have a single image / small numbers of machines (20 or 30), and a small IT staff then Ghost would be my choice. Its simple no hassle to copy an image of a running system and use that to re-image other PC's.

    Having used both in a 1500 user company though, as soon as the variety of images goes up, and number of devices PC's you are supporting increases, WDS quickly leaves Ghost in the dust.

    Mind you some of the other free offerings around are also great, if you spend the time to learn them. same case as always.

    simple (ghost) has lots of restrictions but does not scale.

    WDS needs more input to get going but once up is very powerful.
    Last edited by Slowhand; 03-05-2012 at 11:19 PM.
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    #11
    Quote Originally Posted by ptilsen View Post
    I haven't heard of a legitimate reason to use Ghost over WDS since it was introduced in Server 2003 SP1.



    Sort of agree with this. WDS is ok for deploying small amounts of Desktops or servers. But once you start deploying over 50 in one go Ghost is a hell of alot faster. We use Ghost to deploy over 200 PCs in one go and it takes aleast half the time that WDS does.
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    #12
    [REDUNDANT QUOTE FROM PRECEDING POST REMOVED]

    I would say you have it backwards, if anything. WDS requires more up-front work and is such is more efficient with larger deployments (see DevilWAH's post above yours). Are you using WDS with multicast? It shouldn't be significantly faster to use Ghost -- not that speed of image installation should be the compelling factor in an imaging solution.
    Last edited by Slowhand; 03-05-2012 at 11:19 PM.
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  14. Well ain't that shiny! TLeTourneau's Avatar
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    #13
    To heck with them both, use HP RDP!

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    #14
    I setup up WDS at work, worked fine apart from went I went to PXE install a computer It was asking me for network drivers so i'm guessing I have to inject the drivers into the image somehow?

    Secondly to image the computer whynot use WAIK and use imagex?
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  16. Member nycid's Avatar
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    #15
    [REDUNDANT QUOTE FROM PRECEDING POST REMOVED]

    Yes you will have to inject drivers. A very easy process. One caveat. Make sure your not imaging any PC while doing this otherwise it will never finish "injecting"

    I find WDs to be far superior to any other imaging software. I am upgrading around 100 PC's to windows 7 and after making the various images (HR Dept, Business units, etc...) I just select which image and push it out. You can do multiple computers at once. I have been doing mine in a batch of ten. I can get it all done and ready to be "dropped" in place within an hour. Thats joined to the domain and ready to be used.....
    Last edited by Slowhand; 03-05-2012 at 11:18 PM.
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    #16
    I would also install Microsoft Deployment Toolkit on top of wds. I use it for imaging 1,300+ computers frequently.

    Task based imaging, driver repository, software installs, wsus.updates during imagijgz migration, etc.
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  18. Questionably Benevolent Moderator Slowhand's Avatar
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    #17
    I'm going to toss my hat in the ring for WDS over Ghost, at this point. WDS is not only included with Windows Server, but you can also get additional free tools to help with the deployment process, such as the WAIK and MDT. Since you can not only add drivers, update images offline, work with VHDs, and even use multi-casting, this is definitely a case where Microsoft's built-in product seems superior to a popular, competing third-party tool.

    The only thing that would have kept me coming back to an alternative imaging solution, like Ghost or Acronis True Image, is support for non-Windows images. However, after reading articles like this one that outline the ability for a WDS server to utilize features of Red Hat's Kickstart PXE server to deploy Linux images in addition to Windows, I'm pretty much completely sold on Microsoft's solution at this point.

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  19. Senior Member JohnnyBiggles's Avatar
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    #18
    In going though documentation, what I'm not getting is how I can capture an image from a computer already running Win 7. WDS seems to require the installation DVD for the wim files, even for creating custom images.

    Let's say you get a XYZBrand machine in with Win 7 already installed, no disc supplied, only a restore partition, I guess. You've installed Office and maybe 10 other misc non-Microsoft necessary apps and you now have a model computer for the ABC department of your business. Setting up WDS seems to require a boot image and an install image (.wim). SO, If no DVD is available and Win7 is already on the machine, how do I set up WDS to clone that machine to others? How does licensing work? Does the boot/install.wim from any Win7 DVD work for any version/installation of Win7 you want to deploy? (in other words, can i use whatever Win7 disc is available to just retrieve the .wim files and create the install/boot images before capture or is there some other way of doing this?)
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    #19
    You can create a boot image from any Win7 or 2008 R2 disc.

    WDS is not without a learning curve, but all the answers are provided in the Technet articles.
    Windows Deployment Services Getting Started Guide
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  21. Questionably Benevolent Moderator Slowhand's Avatar
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    #20
    Yup, you can create a boot image from any version of Windows Vista, 7, Server 2008, or Server 2008 R2. In the worst-case scenario, you download a Windows 7 or Server 2008 R2 trial and grab the boot image from one of those ISOs. There's no licensing to worry about for the boot image since you're not actually installing anything, just pulling a file from the disc.

    As for capturing images, you've got a couple of options available to you: you can use the WAIK to create a Windows PE disc and grab an image with ImageX, or you could also create a capture image with WDS and then PXE-boot the machine you want to image to that capture image in order to let ImageX grab the .wim that way. Check out the link ptilsen posted for a run-down on how it works and links to the howto TechNet articles.

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  22. The Bringer of Light DevilWAH's Avatar
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    #21
    You can also deploy static ghost images with WDS, you just lose flexibility. I used it to deploy XP images back when i was using it .
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    #22
    I setup WDS at my current company because I was tired of rebuilding machines all the time. After the initial setup I would say no matter the machine it's about a 45 minute time period from out of the box to user ready. Very efficient. Now I need to go back and start patching the images.
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  24. Senior Member JohnnyBiggles's Avatar
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    #23
    So I successfully imaged and deployed a fresh copy of Win 7 (using WDS on Server 2003) but it used the image straight from the image from the disc (boot/install.wim - a standard OS install). That in itself was something to jump for joy about since it was a a task just to set up. However, cloning a computer already running Win7 with other software has been a pain when it comes to sysprep. I try to run it in audit mode /generalize first as a tutorial had instructed to "clean up", but if it doesn't fail by "fatal error" before it reboots, once it manages to reboot, rather than it giving me some login screen, it gives me an error while setting it up for the first run and keeps looping the restart and doesn't tell you how to fix the problem nor how to get back into the OS normally.

    Has anyone else had these problems? How did you fix the problem and once it does this, does it kill my model computer and force me to rebuild it again??
    Last edited by JohnnyBiggles; 03-06-2012 at 11:22 PM.
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  25. Member nycid's Avatar
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    #24
    you have to create a capture file. Essentially you build the computer you want with software etc. loaded. run sysprep not in audit mode (oobe) then when it boots use the PXE boot and if you have the WDS configured correctly it will ask you capture or image. You select capture and it will upload the image. This will then be used as your install image. Trick is to have the WDS server set correctly.

    This is obviously a brief over view but hopefully gets you going in the right direction.

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    #25
    Quote Originally Posted by Zartanasaurus View Post
    I haven't used Ghost in about 5 years, so maybe it's come a long way since then.
    LOL, that was my first thought too. Ghost! They're still making that!?!
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