What is Sysprep in Windows 10?
Have you ever heard about Sysprep (System Preparation) in Windows 10? Built into Windows, it is often used to prepare a system image, which can be deployed to multiple computers. The preparation process is also called generalizing the image.
Each time you install Windows on a computer, the operating system assigns an unique SID (Security Identifier) on it. However, if you create a system image for the purpose of installing the same OS on multiple computers, the SID info will be copied to the other devices as well, which may cause some problems.
To avoid WSUS incompatibility and such issues caused by SID duplications on the same network, you must remove the computer-specific information before deployment. Luckily, Microsoft provides Sysprep to not only clear the SID information, but also generalize new SIDs for client computers.
How to run Sysprep in Windows 10
Follow the steps below to generalize your image and make it ready for deployment.
1. Press Windows logo key + X at the same time. Select Command Prompt (Admin) from the menu.
2. Type cd \Windows\System32\Sysprep and then press Enter.
3. Type sysprep and then press Enter to open Sysprep GUI mode.
4. Choose Enter System Out-of-Box Experience (OOBE) and tick the Generalize checkbox. Select Shutdown from the drop-down menu. Then click OK.
To explore the command line mode, you can type sysprep /h and then press Enter at Step 3.
Enter System Out-of-Box Experience (OOBE): prepares the server as if it is powered on for the first time.
Generalize: removes SID information from the image.
Shutdown: once Sysprep completes, shutdown the server.
The above steps also work with Sysprep in Windows 7.
Sysprep limitations you should know
Care must be taken when using Sysprep, as it has some limitations. Here are three major restrictions of Sysprep.
On a single system image, you can run Sysprep up to 8 times. After running this tool 8 times, you must recreate your system image.
Sysprep may fail if you install or update Microsoft Store apps before generalizing a system image.
Users are often disappointed to find Windows 10 Sysprep fails when the Generalize checkbox is enabled.
As you can see from above, Sysprep doesn’t always work fine. Once it fails, you can’t perform deployment with Windows deployment tools like Windows Deployment Services (WDS) and Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT). In fact, you still have chances to deploy system remotely if you read on.
Create and deploy system image without SID (easier)
Since Sysprep has the above limitations, you may want a more simple and reliable way for system deployment, and the Image Deploy Tool (AID) of AOMEI Backupper Technician is a good choice.
This tool comes with an easy-to-understand GUI, which can lead you to create and deploy system to unlimited computers over network simultaneously. With it, you can complete the whole process in one place securely.
It works with Windows 11, 10, 8.1, 8, 7, Vista, XP (all editions, 32-bit and 64-bit) and Server 2016, 2012, 2008, 2003, 2008 (including 32/64-bit, R2/SBS/WHS). Here's a free trial for you:
Here are necessary steps to deploy your system.
Preparations you need to do:
Make sure that all the required computers are on the same network, and all client computers support PXE boot (if not, exclude it please).
The disk sequence numbers for storing system in target computers must be the same. Move out other disks and only keep the destination disk.
Launch AOMEI Backupper to make your partitions be marked first. Then go to Tools tab to create bootable media.
How to deploy Windows 10 image to multiple computers without SID:
1. First, press Win + R and enter "sysprep" in the textbox to find Sysprep.exe. Run it and choose Enter System OOBE, tick Generalize option, and select Shutdown. This step is to remove SID and avoid related issues after deployment.
2. Click OK and the computer will shutdown automatically. You can then boot the computer into WinPE with the bootable media you created, and perform a full system backup with the pop-up AOMEI Backupper.
3. Then you can go to Tools tab, choose Image Deploy Tool to deploy the system image you just created. In the AID window, choose Create WinPE automatically to create a bootable Windows PE ISO.
In case the drivers being incompatible with your hardware and the WinPE cannot start up the client computers, you can also choose Create bootable WinPE ISO manually to add custom drivers into WinPE.
4. When the tool shows "The service has started, waiting for connect...", it's time to start all the client computers. If all the settings are correct, they should boot into AID recovery environment, otherwise you can enter BIOS to set the network boot as the first boot option.
5. Here you can see the status for all client computers. Once a computer connects to AID successfully, you will get "Client computers connected". When all the client computers are ready, check I confirm all the... and click Next.
6. Here comes the guide for deploy configuration. For more details, please refer to image deployment.
a. Choose Browse to find your system image.
b. Select the client computers you need or click All to select all connected computers.
c. Input the destination disk number. If all the client computers have only one disk reserved, the disk number is 0.
d. Decide how many computers will be deployed each time.
e. Click Settings to set computer name. Then click OK.
7. After confirming your operations, you can click Start Deploy. Then choose whether to shut down or restart the client computers.
Although Windows users are given many tools to deploy system image remotely, you must prepare the system image using Sysprep in Windows 10. For many users, Sysprep is time consuming and complex, and sometimes it even goes wrong.
However, the Image Deploy Tool of AOMEI Backupper makes a real difference. By using it, you don’t need to be worried about Sysprep limitations. What’s more, it serves you well as an Acronis Snap Deploy alternative.