Ever since the introduction of WDS services in Windows Server 2003 R2 SP1, creating images for deployment on the Windows platform is extremely easy and straightforward. In the past, I have managed to create clusters of machines (about 52) in one afternoon by automating the whole process with a single WDS server (without multicast, mind you). We can all agree that WDS is amazing – but what about those ocasions when you want to image something and you do not want to sysprep the source computer?
In case you are not familiar with the process syspreping a machine: sysprepping a machine is the procedure in which you convert a source machine into a generic one, stripping away all SSIDs so that on next boot, it will have a new ‘soul’, so to speak. This is a must if you plan to deploy images that will be used in an active directory environment, else you are in for a treat when your DC starts seeing all these machines that have the same properties.
Anyhow, in order to use WDS to create an image, the source machine needs to be syspreped – period, there is (AFAIK) no way around this. So if you have a perfect demo and you want to have an image in case you need to restore – what can you do? You obviously do not want to sysprep a demo machine, who knows what might happen.
You can always use Ghost, like I did. You create the image, restore the image and…
Whoa…not quite what you were expecting, huh? The problem is that (I think) some of the boot partition is lost during the restore. Repairing with Windows Server 2008 will take you nowhere, trust me.
After looking all over, I decided to give the Windows Vista Repair Disk a try. After booting from the DVD, Vista said that something was wrong with the disk. It then asked me if I wanted to repair, which I said “Yes. Please. Thank You”. After rebooting the machine, I saw the Windows loading green progress bar and everything was back to normal.
Where do you get this magical Windows Vista Repair Disk, you ask? I found them posted on the Neosmart Files web page, it’s a legit torrent download. AFAIK, the download is legit and does not break copyright laws, please let me know if I am wrong.
Let me know if this works for you, I have searched all over and never found a site that documented how to get this working.