Installing XP on Multiple Computers

Assembled / Piv c2d 3.0
February 20, 2009 at 02:49:59
Specs: Winxp-SP2, 2 GB
I want to install XP on around 50 Computers which are having identical hardware configuration. Since installing XP from start, partitioning & installing drivers will consume lot of time, I am planing to prepare one master Computer on which I will install XP & all drivers & other necessary s/w. Next using Norton Ghost to clone the hard disk of all 50 computers and then activating individual XP licenses on each computer.

Please advice whether the above procedure will work properly and cloned XP will run properly & also license will be activated ?

Ravi Modi

Ravi Modi

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February 20, 2009 at 05:14:37
If the PCs are running in a Microsoft Network (ADS or Workgroup environment), you will get in trouble, because the cloned PCs all have the same SID.
So you may have to run SYSPREP before you'll start cloning the master pc.

Please send a reply, if you solved the problem !!!

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February 20, 2009 at 05:39:29

You can successfully clone Windows systems as long as the hardware is identical (or very close to it). I used to do this every day in my corporate job however, there are a couple of things you may need to address separately.

First, in a Domain or Workgroup, each system must have a unique SID (Security Identifier), or you will run into problems with resource permissions. Many cloning programs provide a way to address this issue. Some will handle it "on-the-fly" and some provide a separate utiltiy that you run at the end of the process to generate a random SID. If not, Microsoft provides a free utility for this purpose:

Second, each cloned system will now have the same Windows serial number. In my corporate job, we had an enterprise license for windows, so our Windows serial number was expected to show up on literally thousands of systems, but if you have individual licenses, you will need to update the registry on each system to ensure each has its own valid Windows license.

-- OR --

You can use Microsoft's SysPrep utility which will address these and other issues.

Here's a link detailing how to use SysPrep:

Here's the process we used:

Finish setting up the first (Master) system. Once it's "perfect"...

1. Run Windows Defrag program to defragment the disk.

2. Run CHKDSK /F to clean up any minor disk errors that might interfere with the cloning process.

3. Re-boot and allow CHKDSK to complete.

4. Clean up any .CHK files from the root directory.

5. Run SysPrep.

6. Shutdown Windows

Now, you can clone your master system to create the file you'll use to load the remaining systems. SysPrep will setup your cloned image so that it works like a preloaded system you might purchase at the local compouter store. When you boot up the cloned system, it'll even prompt you for the Windows serial number if you've set it up properly.

Just remember... DON'T boot up the master system until after you've cloned it or you'll undo everything SysPrep has setup. If you need to make a change to the master system, you will need to repeat the above steps again before cloning.

Hope you find this helpful...

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February 20, 2009 at 08:09:32
All the PCs will be running seperately. (No Networking). I am mainly concerned about XP-activation. Whether Cloned PCs activation will work ok ?

Ravi Modi

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Related Solutions

February 20, 2009 at 08:21:58
All the PCs will be running seperately. (No Networking).

First you need to explain what you meant by the above. By running separately do you mean you are selling computers to individual users or are you setting up the 50 PCs in a corporate environment (one company).


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February 20, 2009 at 10:14:10
XpUser makes a good point.

If you are deploying in an enterprise (one company), the best solution is to contact Microsoft to obtain a Volume License for the product. They provide media and a unique Volume License Media product key registered to your company. When you clone, every system will have your company's product key that won't require activation. (I don't even think you can get this for XP anymore.) In any case, the process is explained here:

If you're loading systems for resale to different customers, you'll need valid (legitimate) licenses for each system so you're customers can activate themselves.

If you're trying to "get around" product activation, I don't think anyone here will help with that...

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February 20, 2009 at 21:26:43
Dear XpUser/Kptech,

First let me clarify that I have never mentioned that I want to install single copy of licence on 50 machines & do piracy.

I want to install 50 seperate XP licenses on 50 standalone desktop machines which are to be used for some project for company. I have already procured 50 Nos of XP OEM licenses & just want to save time & convenience on installation. Instead of loading XP seperately on each system seperately, configuring, loading drivers, I want to do one Master installtion & clone the balance machines & then activate the licenses on individual machines


Ravi Modi

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February 21, 2009 at 10:12:45

My apologies if my statement sounded like an accusation –That was not my intent. I just wanted to be clear about my feelings regarding software licensing. Unfortunately, these days if you don’t ask, you may end up inadvertently assisting someone with less than honorable intentions.

Here is a link describing how to manually change the Windows XP product key and re-activate. Because you’ll be using 50 different product keys, you will need to perform on each system after cloning but should just take a few minutes.

So… If this is a one-time deal, I guess I’d probably just take the simplest route. That is to say, I wouldn’t worry about using sysprep. Just use Microsoft’s NewSID utility to generate a unique Security Identifier. The process would be something like this:

1. Either put the NewSID utility on a USB thumb drive or CD, -OR… you could just add it to the master image so it’s already on each cloned pc.

2. Get the master system ready without using SysPrep (see above posts).

3. Clone image to new system.

4. Boot new system.

5. Insert your thumb drive or CD and run NewSID, or if you installed it on the cloned image, run it from the hard drive. (Just takes a couple of seconds and if you ever need to connect to network will avoid problems)

6. Follow the directions in the article linked above to change the product key and activate Windows.

7. Re-boot.

Good Luck!

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February 21, 2009 at 10:31:48
use windows deployment service/Remote Installation Service(WDS/RIS), that is what I use (WDS/RyanVM/nLite/Driverpack).

I manage more than 1000 clients.

You can control your 50 clients with GPO.
Use WSUS for Windows Update.

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