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I'm sure cloning isn't the Microsoft approved method, but will it actually give issues in the real world? Sysprepped images take additional time to set up and deploy (Setup is configuring your computer for first use....). The documentation on sysprep states how it genericises certain attributes of the installation which cloning doesn't do. In a domain environment I'm sure cloning causes a trust issue with the machine that was cloned, but once you rejoin the domain under your new name everything is fine.

I've deployed cloned machines before and had no apparent issues with them. Just wondering if this is "bad" or not

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What method are you using exactly? Some methods work some methods don't. – Ramhound Apr 14 '14 at 11:35
one to one copy of the drive (using DD or something similar). It "works" as in everything seems to be working, but cloning a drive isn't proper (MS wants you to sysprep). Just wondering if there will be issues down the line possibly. – yyyyuuu444 Apr 14 '14 at 11:40
If you simply clone the drive its unlikely Windows will even boot if the hardware is different. – Ramhound Apr 14 '14 at 11:46
The hardware is standardized. It does boot. I've been doing it and everything works. I'm just worried about issues on the domain. By the way even in dissimilar hardware Windows often times just boots up in low res mode and finds the drivers it needs. – yyyyuuu444 Apr 14 '14 at 11:49
If its working whats the question exactly? I always use either software to load an image of a drive on different hardware which supports this and prepares the installation itself or use Sysprep to do it. – Ramhound Apr 14 '14 at 12:01

I would recommend against it.

Here's why: Different pc's can have different hardware. Even if you buy an HP machine with type xxxxx, and you buy the same HP with the same type a half year later, chances are that the hardware in the pc is not exactly the same as the one you bought before.

Cloning will work obviously but the pc will have additional hardware installed during first boot, so effectively you are polluting the system.

Furthermore, cloning will make an exact copy of the machine, including serial number and pc name. Only if you have a volume licenced serial with such windows version is it allowed to do this, otherwise its illegal and may cause windows to suddenly stop on a windows update because the serial in use is not accepted.

You are far better off making a windows install cd/dvd that is preconfigured with what you want to be installed, which settings should be on and additional programs that needs to be installed. And this may actually be quicker than deploying an image.

Cloning should only be done if you are going to replace a HDD and that HDD will end up in the same machine.

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Yeah, it is volume licensed. I was more worried about licensing and domain issues than H\W issues. I've thoroughly tested my clones and all the drivers properly install by the end of everything. It's regular practice here if a machine dies we take the HDD and toss it in a new box (which would run into the same issues h\w wise as cloning) and it all works. Thanks though. – yyyyuuu444 Apr 14 '14 at 12:55
The bad thing is, that even though tests seem to indicate that the drives work, it are the drivers that are redundant that can interfere with existing drivers which can slow down the pc or cause weird BSoD problems. – LPChip Apr 14 '14 at 13:18

There are no issues cloning the drive after running sysprep. The reason you need sysprep is because in domains the computer id is used to keep track of computers. You can't have two with the same id.

Windows can handle different hardwares. The problem might be due to applications that are hardware bound like lenovo batteri applikation. it wont work with a hp computer. If it was a problem no one would have been able to upgrade their computers.

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