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I have a PC running windows 7. I have created a system image from this PC and I'd like to 'install' that system image on a different machine. But I keep getting an error message after running the recovery console that the computer could not boot up do to a general error. Is it possible to create a system image on one PC and load the image on a totally different PC?

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To my knowledge it is possible, but usually only when the PCs being setup have identical hardware to the original computer; this is because of the nearly infinite possible combination of hardware and devices that can exist just on the motherboard make having the correct drivers installed essential. However, someone with more experience with this may have a more positive answer for you. –  Xantec Nov 2 '10 at 20:40
    
Quote: "PCs being setup have identical hardware to the original computer" - This is how XP and earlier systems worked - Vista and Win7 are more hardware independent. I don't recall if CPU type makes a difference (Intel vs. AMD) but the virtually all Intel images of an XP or Vista system should be deployable to a another Intel system that meets or exceeds the OS requirements. How did you create the image? What software did you use? What is the EXACT error message? Why are you going into the Recovery Console? –  Multiverse IT Nov 2 '10 at 20:43
    
@Multiverse is correct. In my experience, Vista and Windows 7 will boot up (at least in safe mode) provided you're running on the same architecture: i.e. Intel or AMD. But you need to give us more information. –  user3463 Nov 2 '10 at 20:50
    
I have, without issue, deployed an image created on a Dell E6510 laptop to a Dell Optiplex 755 desktop... I think most people would agree, these are very different systems. –  Multiverse IT Nov 3 '10 at 1:49
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4 Answers

As an alternative you could create the image with Symantec Backup Exec System Recovery and restore it to the different hardware. Use this often and itw works very well. Just did a laptop restore from a current Dell E6500 to a Dell D810 wee had spare. Worked perfectly even though harware was very different. A few drivers needed installing but only minor issues. There is a wizard that will check for drivers which can then be added to teh recovery disk.

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I think Paragon has similar software...paragon-software.com/home/brs/cat_migration.html –  Moab Nov 2 '10 at 21:01
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One common cause would be trying to deploy an image that's running in AHCI or RAID mode on a machine with the controller set to IDE legacy emulation mode. You should check this setting in your BIOS.

As Multiverse IT says in the comments, Vista/7 are largely hardware independent beyond this. We'd need more specifics on the machines to try to pin down a problem.

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I found this very interesting. It doesn't mean it won't work. (Indeed some backup/imaging tools explicitly boats this capability.) But it does mean, as far as I understand, that MS doesn't care about this scenario.

Microsoft Article 279624 -

How to move a Windows installation to different hardware

Over the life cycle of a Microsoft Windows operating system, you may have to restore a system state backup that is installed on one computer to the same physical computer or even to a different physical computer. Recovery from the following events may require a restore operation: (...)

You can restore a system state backup from one physical computer to the same physical computer or another computer that has the same make, model, and configuration (identical hardware).

Microsoft does not support restoring a system state backup from one computer to a second computer of a different make, model, or hardware configuration. Microsoft will only provide commercially reasonable efforts to support this process. Even if the source and destination computers seem to be identical makes and models, there may be driver, hardware, or firmware differences between the source and destination computers.

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Use ImageX (Microsoft's free imaging tool.) to capture the image, load that image into a VM (like virtualbox) and then sysprep it using the /generalize flag.

sysprep /generalize /shutdown

Generalize prepares windows to be loaded to another PC. If you specify this option, all unique system information is removed from the Windows installation. The system’s SID is reset, any System Restore points are cleared, and event logs are deleted. The next time the computer starts, the specialize configuration pass runs. A new SID is created, and all drivers are cleared out.

It won't be easy, but using imagex, a VM and sysprep. It can be done.

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