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My company has many servers deployed across the world at remote locations. These servers are not connected to the internet except for mails.

In an event, we are selling off the location, we need to clear the server out to a bare. i.e. to uninstall all the softwares as they are company licensed. Since the end user is not a technical fellow, the company currently needs to fly out a IT person to the location. Is there a way to eliminate this? Like automating uninstallations of softwares or a way to "reset" the system with a ghost copy or something like that.

The best option would have been to use System Restore but alas, its not available on Windows Server 2008. The server's are RAID setup so its not easy to "format and reinstall" for a non-tech guy.

Thanking you.

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2 Answers 2

My company has many servers deployed across the world at remote locations. These servers are not connected to the internet except for mails.

I hope you understand this statement makes no sense.

In an event, we are selling off the location, we need to clear the server out to a bare. i.e. to uninstall all the softwares as they are company licensed. Since the end user is not a technical fellow, the company currently needs to fly out a IT person to the location. Is there a way to eliminate this? Like automating uninstallations of softwares or a way to "reset" the system with a ghost copy or something like that.

Just pull the HDD and replace it with a new HDD and reinstall the operating system.

The best option would have been to use System Restore but alas, its not available on Windows Server 2008. The server's are RAID setup so its not easy to "format and reinstall" for a non-tech guy.

You need to send somebody with this basic ability.

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"Just pull the HDD and replace it with a new HDD and reinstall the operating system." Seriously, never sell your used hard disks with your equipment! –  Oliver Salzburg May 9 '12 at 11:48
1  
I should clarify I understand the current setup is a RAID. That doesn't mean it must remain like that. Transfer any files you must backup, yank the drives out, and put in a single disk. There is no value in the disks, unless were talking about 1TB SSD drives and in the case your going to yank them out anyways. –  Ramhound May 10 '12 at 11:06

@Ramhound is right. You need someone on-premises with some basic reinstall ability/expertise (and, if your RAID setup is wierd, maybe the ability to install an F6 driver as well). This doesn't have to be a $150/hr consultant. Any local computer pro should be able to perform these tasks.

If you absolutely can't get anyone competent with computers on the premises, here's a really ugly, involved solution that you shouldn't use:

  1. Get all of the servers connected to some central file share.

  2. Build an instance of MDT on that file share.

  3. In MDT, capture a set of server2008 (or whatever OS you want to sell the servers with) image, and create a simple deployment task for it. A good how-to on this can be found here.
  4. Find and add to your deployment all of the necessary RAID drivers etc. Have the deployment task format the hard drives before installing Windows.
  5. Direct your dumb-as-bricks users at the remote location to burn an MDT ISO and boot from it. Then you should have a windows install process simple enough to walk someone through over the phone in five minutes.

HOWEVER: Just reinstalling the OS on a hard drive is a bad idea. If you're going to sell it, you should at least take the time to zero the drive before reinstalling. The easiest way I know of (if you're OK with breaking your RAID) is to use DBAN. If you can't do that, or if you do something like the awful MDT-based solution above, after installing a new OS, I'd suggest zeroing free space on the drive(s) of the computer. CCleaner can do this, via this setting.

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