Need to create a "base model" image

Discussion in 'Acronis True Image Product Line' started by Tenover, Jan 10, 2006.

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  1. Tenover

    Tenover Registered Member

    Sep 1, 2005
    We buy Dell machines for our users. I simply want to use Acronis (legally purchased, have license, etc...) to make a "base" image of one of these Dells soI can reimage machines if/when they have problems or die....All the image will have on it is the OS, Office, and a few custom settings, and that's it. Since we do not haveany global licensing agreement with MS (we buy the Dells with OS and Office already installed, but you still need to put in the serial numbers the first time you boot upor go to use Office), so how would I go about creating an image with all that installed, but not with serial numbers....Do I need to use sysprep, and if so, do you have a good "how-to"? This *should* be failry easy I would think......Thanks for any help.
  2. WSFuser

    WSFuser Registered Member

    Oct 7, 2004
    so each dell has windows and office already installed but office still needs a serial right? if thats true then why not create the image as it is? or maybe i misread ur post.
  3. seekforever

    seekforever Registered Member

    Oct 31, 2005
    I think he wants to have a single generic image to use for a restore and needs to be able to enter the machine specific serial numbers.

    However, there may have a bigger problem with using the single image if all the Dells do not have identical hardware, drivers, etc.
  4. pyro2

    pyro2 Registered Member

    Jan 11, 2006
    Good question. I am also wondering the same thing. Oh well for Microsoft's claim that WPA (windows product activation) would not affect legal paying customers.

    I believe the answer is in sysprep, but since I am in the same position with you with individual licenses (as opposed to giant corporate licenses) I'm a bit nervous to see what happens with the XP and Office licenses. Does it really strip these out as well? Or does it assume your using corporate licenses?
  5. pepegot1

    pepegot1 Registered Member

    Jan 15, 2005
    Keep in mind that Dell has a partition that is used to install their system backup-too cheap to give you a disk. If you only backup the C: partition and exclude the D:, the MBR will not be copied and you will SOL when you try to restore. Backup the entire that has the OS!
  6. JWegge

    JWegge Registered Member

    Jan 12, 2006
    I'm not sure if you ever got a response.... how does one prepare for a disaster recovery where the original equipment is no longer available and the replacement equipment has similar but not identical hardware?

    Assuming one can recreate/reinstall all of the critical software on the replacement equipment, can one mount the last image so as to be able to retrieve data?

    Thanks for sharing any expertise with this issue.

    Last edited: Jan 12, 2006
  7. seekforever

    seekforever Registered Member

    Oct 31, 2005
    You can mount the image and copy the desired files or restore the image to a logical drive or another physical drive on the new system and then copy the data files to the appropriate areas. You just want to avoid booting up the stored image which does not have the proper drivers/configurations for the new system.
  8. bobdat

    bobdat Registered Member

    Jul 6, 2005
    You can and cannot do what you want to do. Here are the details:

    1) Unless all the Dells are exactly the same - same processor, motherboard, nic - you will have to SysPrep a 'master' image for future restoration purposes.
    2) Even if all Dells are the same as in 1) you may still have to wrestle with variations in hard drive size and other machine specifics.
    3) You don't need to use SysPrep if all machines are identical as in 1) BUT you can't run them on the same network UNLESS you use a SysPrepped 'master' image for restoration purposes because restoring the same un-SysPrepped 'master' image to multiple machines on the same network will result in all machines having the same ssid.

    Using a properly SysPrepped 'master' image will allow you to restore the Dells as you say you want to BUT there will still be several potential concerns with the resulting restores:
    a) None of the machines (except possibly the original machine which the 'master' image was created from) will automatically pass Windows validation without manual re-entry of the Windows authentication certificate number (located on the bottom or back of each Dell).
    b) All restored machines will share the same Service Tag Number and Express Service Code as the machine the 'master' image was created on. Such a situation will disrupt warranty support, tech support and automated Dell Support. However, you CAN edit and re-enter the correct Express Service Code for the restored machine within the Dell folder after image resoration and bootup. That will automatically generate the correct Service Tag Number and re-enable support services.
    c) Any variation in hard drive size will require consideration for repartitioning after restoring the 'master' image to a larger hard drive. That will cause the Dell PC Restore partition to be non-functional if it was included in the 'master' image. (NOTE: Restoring a complete disk image including the C, Dell Diagnostic & Dell PC Restore partitions to a smaller hard drive is impossible using TI. The restored image will be corrupted, unbootable and unrepairable using any straightforward method.)

    On the plus side, if you create your 'master' image from one of the Dell's at the very first 'out-of-box' initial bootup by doing a hard shutdown immediately AFTER you are asked to "Press Any Key" to acknowledge the EULA and the Serice Tag Number/Express Service Code startup page and BEFORE you enter any information at the Windows XP setup screens, then your 'master' image, upon future restoration, will allow you the option to correct the Service Tag Number and Machine Name upon initial bootup of the future restored image rather than editing the Dell folder and Hardware Information pages to correct the above issues.

    Be advised that TI CANNOT successfully create and restore an image of a Dell factory-brand-new, never booted hard drive BEFORE it is initially booted up at least to the EULA and Service Tag acknowledgement screens. Although an image of a 'never booted, brand new Dell CAN be created by booting up with the Acronis Rescue CD, the restored image will be unusable because the mbr and partitions are not yet structured on such a Dell factory-brand-new, never booted hard drive until the point where the EULA and Service Tag acknowledgement screens appear. Neither can TI successfully create and restore a bootable or usable image of a Dell-imaged warranty replacement drive until AFTER the drive is installed, booted and allowed to execute the unique Dell restore script and restart to the same EULA/Service Tag acknowledgement screens. (This is a GLARING TI FAULT which results from the fact that TI DOES NOT do sector imaging as it claims to do. Hence, the required workaround listed above.)

    My recommendation to you, based upon my Dell experience, is that you should boot up with your TI Rescue CD to simply create a specific "entire" disk image for each new Dell you set up and then store it for future restoration to the appropriate machine. (A nice big external USB2 hard drive works well. Disconnect it after storing the images on it so it doesn't accidentally get corrupted or erased.) By doing that, you will be assured that all potential pitfalls above will be negated and that the machines with the restored "entire" disk image will always function exactly as expected, while preserving the functionality of the Dell Diagnostic partition (now required in all cases for Dell warranty hardware replacement) and the Dell PC Restore partition (convenient to have in some cases).
  9. mdburkey

    mdburkey Registered Member

    Nov 11, 2004
    Although this may be a bit late I have a few comments on this...

    1) At least with TI8, you can do an image of a Dell drive pre-first boot -- which is what I typically do. In the event that that doesn't work, there is always NG.

    2) I typically just do a base system install in the first place and trash the install that comes from Dell to begin with -- it is so chocked full of pre-installed applications and crud as to be unsafe anyway. There is NO way I would ever allow a machine I didn't setup from scratch initially on my network anyway. This does remove the Express Service Code and such, but I consider that a good thing since it makes it less likely that moronic end users will call into Dell directly and try to bypass the IT dept.

    3) Office does require a specific COA code for each install, this can be a pain to setup.

    4) The version of XP Pro that comes from Dell uses a specific "master key" that is linked to the BIOS on any Dell machine. It requires no activation when it is installed on any Dell with a Dell BIOS signature. In essence, I can clone a base copy of XP Pro from any machine in the organization to another without ever requiring a key to be enterred.

    5) Be aware that if you do clone a drive the SID will be the same as the base and will wreak havoc on your network unless you change it. "NewSID" is your friend.

    6) The Dell restore partition is a huge waste of space IMHO.

    7) The Dell diagnostics are useful but not something I want an end user dealing with -- I normally remove them and keep a spare drive on hand with them on it in case I need to contact Dell support.

    Personally TI is a great tool for this -- albeit it with headaches as well. Which is why, I am sad to say, while is use TI9 for all my personal stuff and for my own machine specific backups, I don't generally use it for rollouts. For rollouts I still use an ancient DOS application (NG) that does sector based imaging and can directly write to DVD and create a bootable DVD with itself on it.
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