Every IT admin has run into that frustrating problem where you have a massive bunch of new PCs to install, but no installed infrastructure of speeding that process up for mass installs. Thankfully Microsoft has a solution accelerator called Microsoft Deployment Toolkit, which, when used in conjunction with Windows Deployment Services is a very powerful tool for capturing an image of one PC (usually a virtual machine) and then deploying this out to tens if not hundreds of physical PCs.
So, what does “capturing an image” mean? Well, capturing an image of a machine is the process of installing all the apps and drivers that all the computers will need onto one PC, then using Windows Deployment Services to “capture” everything that is on the machine, so that it can be deployed out to all the other PCs that need to be installed. So that you don’t have to install all the apps separately on 500 PCs (that would be extremely painful.) It speeds up this process and makes it automated, hence the name “solution accelerator.”
Then what does “deploying an image to a PC” mean? Deploying an image is the same thing as installing Windows, it wipes the hard drive, formats it, installs and unpacks the OS. The difference is once a few details are entered such as the computer name that you want to give it and the domain you want it to join, and the language settings, the process is completely automated. It wipes the drive, installs windows, installs all the necessary apps in the image and then even joins the new systems to the domain automatically, massively reducing time spent doing all this manually.
This tutorial goes through the basics of:
- Installing the apps on the base image.
- Sysprep and capture of the image.
- Deploying and ensuring the system is ready to use.
Another windows definition that you may need to know about is sysprep. Sysprep is a tool built into Windows that completely defaults the system, removing any personal user accounts and completely generalising the machine, this needs to be done before the image can be captured. It’s very easy to do, and the video below goes into detail on how to do this.
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