Windows Imaging Taking Non Generalized Images

System administrators may run int0 the frustrations of trying to prepare a generalized image for their network only to find that the generalized image doesn’t contain everything they need and it is beyond the scope of using the offline imaging tools to resolve.  One of the processes that can be your friend when trying to capture a generalized image is taking a non-generalized image of the staging machine.  There are several processes that happen during the generalizing of a staging workstation that can add problems later when trying to resolve or add to the image, including activation problems, account problems, and other issues.

Before running the sysprep step to generalize a workstation, using your Windows PE environment it is wise to capture the workstation in its non generalized state to have a point to go back to before the generalization phase.  Many admins may choose not to do this due to the time it takes to capture an additional image, but if something goes wrong, you will thank yourself later.

Steps to creating a non generalize image:

  • Boot from your WDS server, USB key, or other media to get booted into a Windows PE environment
  • Map a network drive to your image server or other location you would like to store the non-generalized image
  • Run the command imagex /compress fast /capture d: z:\yourimagename.wim “Your description” /verify

Restoring the image:

  • If you need to restore the image you create above, the steps are exactly the same as restoring a generalized image
  • Take a look at our article here that describes this process.

Final Thoughts:

Creating non generalized images will actually save you time  in the long run as they will allow you to go back in time before the generalize phase potentially allowing you to correct problems that may have been introduced that you were unaware of.  The steps are non complicated and the restore process is straightforward.  It could well be considered to be a best practice to create these images along with your generalized images.

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