The Sysadmin Wiki

Migrating a windows installation between physical and/or virtual computers can be tricky. Windows machines require a preparation step before the actual cloning. This requirement has been blamed on several factors, like optimization, anti-piracy and just plain annoyance.


There are a few guides for this:

After the prep you can clone the operating system following the cloning guide.

Even the wikipedia article on disk cloning seems to contradict itself to why and even to whether this is necessary.


Note: You might want to follow this guide first

The steps needed for sysprep'ing are:

  • Change the HAL to "Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI) PC" in the device manager
  • Change the IDE controller to "Standard Dual Channel PCI IDE Controller" also in the device manager
  • If you're sysprep'ing from a VMware virtual machine and you might be using the image on a physical computer or a non-VMware VM, then you should uninstall VMware tools
  • Copy the sysprep files to c:\sysprep
  • Open c:\sysprep\setupmgr.exe
    • Select "Create new"->"Sysprep setup"->[your windows edition]
    • Select the automated installation if you want all installations to be the exact same
    • Type in all the details
    • Save it as the suggested "c:\sysprep\sysprep.inf"
  • Edit the sysprep.inf file
    • Add the following line to the "Unattended" section:


    • In the same section you can also add drivers for the new installation, like this (the list of inf's can be a max of 4095 characters):


    • You will need to add an empty section to the bottom, to avoid a 0x7b BSOD:


  • Then go to; start->run and type in "c:\sysprep\sysprep -bmsd"
  • Create and edit a file called "c:\sysprep\i386\$oem$\cmdlines.txt" and add the following to it:

"c:\sysprep\sysprep -clean"

  • [Optional] You can backup the folder, so you can reuse it (it gets deleted after you use it)
  • Run the "c:\sysprep\sysprep.exe" file
    • Read the warning and click OK
    • Select "Use mini-setup" and click "Reseal"

The computer will now sysprep and shut down. After that you can image the computer and it should work on other hardware.