Image deployment from a Network Share

This method of deployment is ideal for SMBs since its implementation is very straight forward and inexpensive as the main requirement is some storage space. This involves an installation of a reference computer (user/department configuration), creating a bootable client (Windows PE) and capturing the image onto a network share. Whenever, you need to install a new or reformatted computer system, you just need to push the image from the network share to that machine :)

Windows PE environment

  1. Install a reference computer either manually from the installation DVD-ROM media or from a USB drive. Also, to speed up the installation you can use an answer file
  2. Customize the system as required by the specific user or department. That is, install third-party applications and other specific tasks such as, installing Office and setting up System Protection  features – remember to install applications for all users!
  3. Prepare the reference computer using the sysprep utility which removes user-specific and computer-specific settings, as well as log files -
     c:\windows\system32\sysprep\sysprep.exe /oobe /generalize /shutdown
    Where the /generalize option removes hardware-specific information while /oobe configures the computer to boot to Windows Welcome phase upon the next restart
  4. Create a bootable Windows PE boot disc  and boot the reference computer from the Windows PE media – in this case a bootable USB drive
  5. Connect to a network share:
     net use r: \\network_share\images
    Here, you may need to enter a username and password with access privileges to the network share
  6. From Windows PE command prompt, use the imageX tool to capture an image of your reference computer installation
     f:\imagex.exe /capture d:  r:\user1image.wim “user1 install” /compress fast /verify
    Where f: is a USB drive (or e: is the CD/DVD-ROM drive), d: is the installed windows location of the reference computer and r: is the destination remote location of the image file – also, you can use a local drive and then copy the file to a remote network share
  7. END OF SAVING IMAGE TO A NETWORK SHARE OPERATION – Deploying from a network share involves preparing the new computer and pushing the image as follows:
  8. Boot the destination computer (new or existing machine) with the Windows PE media (USB) while from the Windows PE command prompt do -
  9. Prepare the hard drive using the diskpart tool – assuming you have one hard drive or you are installing on drive 0, at the command prompt type in the following commands one by one:
     select disk 0
     create partition primary size=100
     select partition 1
     format fs=ntfs label=”system”
     assign letter=c
     create partition primary
     select partition 2
     format fs=ntfs label=”windows”
     assign letter=d
    Such partitioning is recommended by Microsoft while the commands above can be saved in a text file and run using diskpart /s filename.txt
  10. Connect to the same network share as in step 5
     net use r: \\network_share\images
    Again, you may need to enter a username and password with access privileges to the network share
  11. Apply the image using the imagex tool
     f:\imagex.exe /apply r:\user1image.wim 1 d:
  12. Use the BCDboot to copy the boot environment files to the system partition
     x:\windows\system32\bcdboot d:\windows
    Where x: is the default location of the Windows PE command prompt (RAM drive) and d: is the windows location

Repeat this procedure for each additional computer that you configure – make sure that you store the images in a safe location with an updated backup copy on a removable media.