When you deploy a duplicated or imaged Windows installation, it is required that the System Preparation (Sysprep) tool is used before the capture of the image. Sysprep prepares an installation of Microsoft Windows for duplication, auditing, and customer delivery. For Microsoft Windows 2000, Windows XP, and Windows Server 2003, Sysprep is included with the latest service pack Deploy.cab. For later versions of Windows, Sysprep is included with the operating system, and Sysprep is located in the following folder:
Sysprep is responsible for removing system-specific data from Windows, such as the Computer SID. During installation of Windows, a computer SID is computed to contain a statistically unique 96-bit number. The computer SID is the prefix of the user account and group account SIDs that are created on the computer. The computer SID is concatenated together with the Relative ID (RID) of the account to create the account's unique identifier.
The following example displays the SIDs for four local user accounts. Notice that only the last four digits are incremented as new accounts are added.
HKEY_USERS on Local Machine
S-1-5-21-191058668-193157475-1542849698-500 Administrator S-1-5-21-191058668-193157475-1542849698-1000 User 1a S-1-5-21-191058668-193157475-1542849698-1001 User 2 S-1-5-21-191058668-193157475-1542849698-1002 User 3
Cloning or duplicating an installation without taking the recommended steps could lead to duplicate SIDs. For removable media, a duplicate SID might give an account access to files even though NTFS permissions for the account specifically deny access to those files. Because the SID identifies both the computer or domain and the user, unique SIDs are necessary to maintain support for current and future programs. For more information about issues that might occur if you clone an installation of Windows 8 or of Windows Server 2012, go to the "Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 specific information" section.
In addition to the computer SID, many other components and features must be cleaned up, generalized, or specialized in order to be imaged. Some examples include the following:
Windows Media player settings
Note This is not a comprehensive list.
We support the following operating systems that are prepared by using the Sysprep utility and then imaged:
Windows NT Workstation 4.0
Windows NT Server 4.0 (stand-alone server, not primary domain controllers or backup domain controllers)
Windows 2000 Professional
Windows 2000 Server (must be imaged before you run DCPromo)
Windows 2000 Advanced Server
Windows XP Home Edition
Windows XP Professional
Windows Server 2003, Standard Edition
Windows Server 2003, Datacenter Edition
Windows Server 2003, Enterprise Edition
Windows Server 2003, Web Edition
All versions of Windows Vista
All versions of Windows Server 2008
All versions of Windows 7
All versions of Windows Server 2008 R2
All versions of Windows 8
All versions of Windows Server 2012
We do not provide support for computers that are set up by using SID-duplicating tools other than the System Preparation tool. For example, this includes the following:
Microsoft provides third-party contact information to help you find technical support. This contact information may change without notice. Microsoft does not guarantee the accuracy of this third-party contact information.
Note If an image was created without using Sysprep, we do not support the running of Sysprep after the image is deployed as a way to bring the computer back into compliance. Sysprep must be run before the capture of the image.
Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 specific information
If you clone a Windows 8 or Windows Server 2012 image or virtual machine without running sysprep.exe /generalize, P2V and keep the physical computer up and running or create a backup of a computer but keep the original computer running you may experience issues in which push notifications do not work. For example, you may experience the following issues:
Tile, badge, and toast notifications do not update even though Internet connectivity is available.
Apps that rely on RAW notification do not work as expected. For example, you notice significantly reduced functionality in Mail, Calendar, and Messaging.
It takes a long time to synchronize changes for roaming and family safety settings.
To resolve these issues, use one of the following methods:
Configure the computers by using the Sysprep /generalize command, and then deploy the image.
Replace the existing user account with a new account. The device identifier is stored as part of the user profile. Each new NTUser account that is added to a computer will receive a new identifier.
For more information about the Windows System Preparation Tool, visit the following Microsoft websites:
The third-party products that this article discusses are manufactured by companies that are independent of Microsoft. Microsoft makes no warranty, implied or otherwise, about the performance or reliability of these products.
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Windows 8 Enterprise, Windows 7 Enterprise, Windows Vista Enterprise, Microsoft Windows XP Professional, Windows 8, Windows Server 2012 Essentials, Windows Server 2012 Foundation, Windows Server 2012 Standard, Windows 7 Home Basic, Windows 7 Home Premium, Windows 7 Professional, Windows 7 Ultimate, Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter, Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise, Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard, Windows Vista Business, Windows Vista Home Basic, Windows Vista Home Premium, Windows Vista Starter, Windows Server 2008 Datacenter, Windows Server 2008 Enterprise, Windows Server 2008 Standard, Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition, Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Enterprise x64 Edition, Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Enterprise Edition (32-bit x86), Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Standard x64 Edition, Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Standard Edition (32-bit x86), Microsoft Windows 2000 Advanced Server, Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional Edition, Microsoft Windows 2000 Server, Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0, Terminal Server Edition, Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0 Standard Edition, Microsoft Windows NT Workstation 3.1, Windows 8.1, Windows 8.1 Enterprise, Windows 10 Enterprise, released in July 2015