Tech Tips / Windows 2000 Server / Installation and Configuration

Disk duplication

The fastest and most efficient method of deploying Windows 2000 on multiple computers is by disk duplication. To do so, follow these steps:

  1. Install Windows 2000 on a reference system.
  2. Install additional applications and/or perform any other desired modifications.
  3. Run Sysprep.exe and shut down the system.
  4. Duplicate the disk with a third-party application like Ghost or a hardware disk duplicator.
  5. After you duplicate the disk, insert it into the destination computer and turn it on. Mini-Setup will run, and you'll have to provide some information (Product Key, computer name, etc.). If you want to automate this step, you'll have to create an appropriate answer file (Sysprep.inf) using the Windows 2000 Setup Manager Wizard and then either specify that when you run Sysprep.exe or insert the floppy containing this file during the first boot.

Sysprep.exe helps prepare Windows 2000 for cloning by removing computer-specific settings and running Mini-Setup after the first boot. You can use this tool only on computers with similar hardware. ("Similar" means that they have to use compatible HALs and mass storage controllers.) Also, the target computer's hard drive must be at least the same size as the source or master computer's disk.

You can use Sysprep.exe only to prepare stand-alone workstations and servers for cloning. You cannot use it to clone domain members or domain controllers. If you want to clone a computer that's a domain member, you'll have to remove it from the domain and then rejoin after duplication.

To use Windows 2000 System Preparation Tool (Sysprep.exe), you have to extract Sysprep.exe and Setupcl.exe from the archive in the \support\tools directory on the Windows 2000 CD.

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