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I am trying to clone a Windows 7 Install from one machine to others, in a computer lab situation. I have used clonezilla to make an image of the machine's harddrive and then attempted to write that image to a second machine's disk. Everything went fine, but when I try to boot Windows 7 on the second machine I get a blue screen flash and then it tries to run the startup repair tool, which runs unsuccessfully. Is there something new with Windows 7 that keeps it from being cloned like this?

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possibly more appropriate to serverfault? (trobrock, please don't crosspost, this question can be migrated if necessary.) –  quack quixote Mar 29 '10 at 14:59
See my answer here for some tips on software that can do this. –  CGA Mar 29 '10 at 15:57
If you have a license to do this you have the MSFT roll-out tools to generate the correct keys. –  Martin Beckett Mar 29 '10 at 16:31
Is the hardware identical between the two systems? –  DHayes Mar 29 '10 at 19:44
@mgb - it's not impractical or uncommon (in some environments) to create a WIM of your drive, and install it on a VHD on the drive for failover or backup, or deploying to another machine on the same network. sysprep /generalize also resets the activation clock (if it hasn't been reset 3 times already). Just re-activate with a new key on the new machine. –  SnOrfus Mar 30 '10 at 2:48

3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

You can create a WIM of your installation using ImageX, start up in that image and use sysprep /generalize for deployment on the new machine. You'll need to install drivers and activate windows when you deploy to the new machine.

If you want to setup a new user account and machine name on the new system, add the /oobe flag when you sysprep.

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I would only do a perfect "clone" if the machines' hardware is identical in every way. And even then, you need to be really careful!

If the machines are different at all, I would expect a bluescreen on startup due to the low-level drivers being different. You should follow snorfys answer and do a sysprep install instead of a clone:


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As far as I know, windows has been this way since XP or earlier. You can only use windows on the hard drive that it was originally installed on. I think they use a serial number or something that is specific to that disk to prevent duplication.

While a lot of don't like M$, this is illegal, and I'm not even sure this kind of question is allowed on this site.

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@bradlis7: while you're correct regarding a retail or OEM Win7 license, Microsoft has lots of different licenses; this may be valid practice (ie, legal) under a site license. –  quack quixote Mar 29 '10 at 14:57
This is rather interesting: so if I back up my HDD, the HDD crashes, then I install the backed up HDD into my machine, then Windows will simply never boot again? F***! –  PP. Mar 29 '10 at 15:11
@quack quixote: You're probably right, I was just speaking from my own experience (installing a single licensed copy of Windows). @PP: It's usually a waste to back up a full copy of Windows. Just reinstall Windows, explain that the hard drive crashed and they will give you an unlock code. –  bradlis7 Apr 1 '10 at 16:07

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