Jesper M. Christensen

SharePoint and Security

Cloning Windows Server 2008 using sysprep

To make a copy/duplicate of a Windows Server 2008 you need to make sure the Security ID (SID) and all other settings that are machine-specific are unique . This is the "normal" and supported way to clone a Windows client/server and has been since Microsoft Windows NT 4.0.

The sysprep-command is by default located in C:\Windows\System32\Sysprep (in Windows Server 2003 it was hidden on the installation-CD in \Support\Tools\ and can be run as a GUI (Graphic User Interface) or command-line.

The GUI does not give you many options, but can do the job. To customize the sysprep with e.g. the product key you must use a configuration-file. which is now in XML (former versions of sysprep used an INF-file). To generate this file use the Windows System Image Manager for Windows Vista/Server 2008 which is a part of the Windows Automated Installation Kit (WAIK), which can be downloaded at Microsoft here:

Simply use one of these procedures to clone your Windows Server 2008

Without pre-entered configuration

  • Run the C:\Windows\System32\Sysprep\Sysprep.exe from Windows Explorer
  • Choose OOBE, check the generalize and shutdown

Pre-entered configuration

  • Generate a XML configurationfile with the Windows System Image Manager
  • Copy the XML file to C:\Windows\System32\Sysprep
  • Run sysprep /generalize /oobe /shutdown /unattend:sysprep.xml

After the automatic shutdown the Windows Server can be cloned. When you start the servers again they will use the configuration you have made. The computername though will be auto-generated.


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