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To preface my inquiry, I posed a question to the community 3 weeks ago regarding choosing replacement computers for my office of 60 users and had an amazing response. I ended up purchasing 60 HP Business class workstations that I'm really happy with thus far. I'm hoping to get some insight into the processes that others use to clone indentical computers.

The specifics are as follows:

I have 60 identical Windows 7 machines that will be replacing the current machines within my office.

I want to create 60 identical computers with the same Windows 7 configuration, software and settings. These new machines have unique keys (Office 2010, Windows 7) as I don't have a site license with 7.

I've looked into some open source and licensed cloning tools (Acronis, Symantec Ghost, Clonezilla, etc.) but I would like to hear some feedback from the community regarding recommendations.

Is there a tool in which I can setup one drive as master and clone the other 59? Is it possible to change the keys after the cloning? - and if so, what would be the most efficient method?

Any other input and/or direction would be sincerely appreciated.

share|improve this question
Yes, if you simply image the drive you will have a problem using it on machines that are not identical. But there are ways around this. None of them are programming-related, unless you're planning on writing your own. – Cody Gray Jul 26 '11 at 12:32
It depends, if the hardware configuration is exactly the same, chances are the drivers should mostly work (if it doesn't, simply reinstall the driver using the driver files on the other computers) – prusswan Jul 26 '11 at 12:35
I'm sorry, I wasn't sure whether it was right here. What are possible ways around this problem? I would be using one of the following: ImageX, Norton Ghost, DriveImage XML` or Acronis True Image. – Tom Jul 26 '11 at 12:38
Why not just use something like RT7Lite to create an unattended installation? – Breakthrough Jul 26 '11 at 12:52
up vote 6 down vote accepted

I actually responded to your original question and since your in the same place I was 2 years ago I'll share my experiences again. We used clonezilla based on the fact they offer multicasting... I did it in 10 computer batches just to make sure everything was going OK. We had a handful (3 or 4 I forget) of machines that asked for licenses and just called Microsoft to activate them. The other ones just accepted the dell licensing since the original machine had the a Dell OEM image and dell stores the keys in BIOS... I just noticed you chose HP so I am not sure if they handle licensing the same way. Keep in mind I used XP Pro downgrade, don't ask me I prefer windows 7 but my IT manager was reluctant to move. However I assume windows 7 should handle this the same way, try testing it on one first just to make sure you don't need to use sysprep. If you need to enter the keys make sure you run sysprep before cloning the drive!

share|improve this answer
Yes, from my experience HP licenses the same way. As far as activation, unless you are on a closed network, they should activate just fine. You might have one or two that don't, but the activation procedure is more annoyance than difficult. – Sarge Apr 29 '11 at 19:20

You might not have a problem with drivers, but you will have a problem with the windows license. It will note that major hardware has changed. As far as the drivers, that's not such a hurdle in most cases (thought it can be if the computers are very different).

share|improve this answer
Not if they have a volume license. – KCotreau Jul 26 '11 at 12:56
Even then it will note that the computer has changed. – soandos Jul 26 '11 at 14:11
Most volume license products do not activate, so they are not going to care about changing hardware. – KCotreau Jul 26 '11 at 14:21
Ah, sorry, didnt realize. – soandos Jul 26 '11 at 14:28

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