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  1. Joined : Dec 2015
    Posts : 11
    Windows 10
       1 Week Ago #1

    How do I change Signature on Win10 System Drive (and still boot)


    I use slide in hard drive bays with SSDS for my system disks. I usually have a couple of different versions of installs on different SSDS and I swap them in and out like a floppy drive. I also always do my install on one computer and clone it out to several other computers. I was reading another post where several people were saying that it would not work and would be illigal even if it did. Having done this probably 100 times in the past with Win7 and several times with Win10 I can assure you it works. With Win7 you give it a legal Key in control panel and all is good. With Win10 if the recipient computer has already had Win10 it will have it's electronic entitlement registered with MS and you don't have to do anything except wait for it to install drivers. These are all completely different machines with different processors. (In another post somebody claimed that it would only work if the 2 computers had the same processor) I also like to change the drive signiture on each so I can use one SSD to back up the other. (I use Acronis and it works 100% of the time) With Win7 after you change the Sig you have to boot with install disk and use disk repair; it will patch the OS to accept the new sig and it will reboot perfectly. I have not figured out how to do this with Win10; no problem cloning and deploying to other computors, but once I change the sig it's toast, disk repair on instalation disk will not save it. Does anyone know how to change signiture on Win10 system disk and still have it work?
      My System SpecsSystem Spec


  2. Joined : Jul 2015
    Posts : 6,355
    Windows 10 Pro
       1 Week Ago #2

    A few options come to mind, not sure which ones will work and which ones won't.

    You can try BCDBOOT (from Command Prompt [Admin]) look specifically at the /s option:

    Code:
    C:\Windows\system32>bcdboot /?
    
    Bcdboot - Bcd boot file creation and repair tool.
    
    The bcdboot.exe command-line tool is used to copy critical boot files to the
    system partition and to create a new system BCD store.
    
    bcdboot <source> [/l <locale>] [/s <volume-letter> [/f <firmware>]] [/v]
                     [/m [{OS Loader ID}]] [/addlast] [/p] [/c]
    
      source     Specifies the location of the windows system root.
    
      /l         Specifies an optional locale parameter to use when
                 initializing the BCD store. The default is US English.
    
      /s         Specifies an optional volume letter parameter to designate
                 the target system partition where boot environment files are
                 copied.  The default is the system partition identified by
                 the firmware.
    
      /v         Enables verbose mode.
    
      /m         If an OS loader GUID is provided, this option merges the
                 given loader object with the system template to produce a
                 bootable entry. Otherwise, only global objects are merged.
    
      /d         Specifies that the existing default windows boot entry
                 should be preserved.
    
      /f         Used with the /s command, specifies the firmware type of the
                 target system partition. Options for <firmware> are 'UEFI',
                 'BIOS', or 'ALL'.
    
      /addlast   Specifies that the windows boot manager firmware entry
                 should be added last. The default behavior is to add it
                 first.
    
      /p         Specifies that the windows boot manager firmware entry
                 position should be preserved. If entry does not exist,
                 new entry will be added in the first position.
    
      /c         Specifies that any existing objects described by the template
                 should not be migrated.
    
    Examples: bcdboot c:\windows /l en-us
              bcdboot c:\windows /s h:
              bcdboot c:\windows /s h: /f UEFI
              bcdboot c:\windows /m {d58d10c6-df53-11dc-878f-00064f4f4e08}
              bcdboot c:\windows /d /addlast
              bcdboot c:\windows /p
    You can try EasyBCD:
    EasyBCD - NeoSmart Technologies

    You can make a bootable USB flash drive or DVD of Kyhi's recovery tools:
    Windows 10 Recovery Tools - Bootable Rescue Disk - Windows 10 Forums

    Run Macrium Reflect Free after booting into Kyhi's recovery tools and under the restore menu is a utility to fix Windows startup problems.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec


  3. Joined : Dec 2015
    Posts : 11
    Windows 10
       1 Week Ago #3

    I have not tried any of these yet but I notice from reading the first looking at the "S" option it has to do with drive letter being changed.
    It is not a drive letter problem (I think) because the OS that has been restored to the drive has never seen this signature before so it gives it the first available letter - C. When I have done this in the past with Win7 and I used a signature that the OS had seen previously as another drive letter it worked and booted up as the odd system drive letter. Some things worked properly and other things that relied on a path string did not work. Whenever I used a signature that had not been mounted it became the "C" drive. I will try some of these later.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec


  4. Joined : Jul 2015
    Posts : 6,355
    Windows 10 Pro
       1 Week Ago #4

    IndieArchive said: View Post
    I have not tried any of these yet but I notice from reading the first looking at the "S" option it has to do with drive letter being changed.
    No, the "S" option has to do with creating the BCD files (system partition) on a specific partition, thus it should point to the new GUID of the drive where the Boot Partition is located.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec


  5. Joined : Dec 2015
    Posts : 11
    Windows 10
       1 Week Ago #5

    I do my installs all to 1 partition, format the disk first, make active , do install to that single partition. Somebody told me that may be degrading performance; what do you think?
      My System SpecsSystem Spec


  6. Joined : Jul 2015
    Posts : 6,355
    Windows 10 Pro
       1 Week Ago #6

    IndieArchive said: View Post
    I do my installs all to 1 partition, format the disk first, make active , do install to that single partition. Somebody told me that may be degrading performance; what do you think?
    On a legacy bios system, I don't see why it would degrade performance. And that makes it super-easy to fix the boot files because the partition will already have a drive letter.

    So you have your master SSD the computer is booted from, which should be C: drive. You clone it to the second SSD, so you have 1 partition on the cloned SSD marked as active. You change the disk signature on the new SSD. Now you can bring the SSD online and assign the partition a drive letter, let's say E: drive. The bcdboot command to write the proper boot files to the new SSD would be:

    bcdboot E:\Windows /s E: /f ALL
      My System SpecsSystem Spec


  7. Joined : Jul 2015
    Posts : 6,355
    Windows 10 Pro
       1 Week Ago #7

    NavyLCDR said: View Post
    On a legacy bios system, I don't see why it would degrade performance. And that makes it super-easy to fix the boot files because the partition will already have a drive letter.

    So you have your master SSD the computer is booted from, which should be C: drive. You clone it to the second SSD, so you have 1 partition on the cloned SSD marked as active. You change the disk signature on the new SSD. Now you can bring the SSD online and assign the partition a drive letter, let's say E: drive. The bcdboot command to write the proper boot files to the new SSD would be:

    bcdboot E:\Windows /s E: /f ALL
    When you boot the computer from the new SSD, it will become C: drive. The E: drive in the bcdboot command only specifies where to find the Windows installation and where to write the boot files to - it does NOT affect the drive letter that it will get when you actually boot the computer from it.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec


  8. Joined : Dec 2015
    Posts : 11
    Windows 10
       1 Week Ago #8

    In my case the SSD that was used to back up the "Original" and to restore the clone is a different installation with different signature so no collision. The "Original" is known as Drive X on the OS used to back it up and restore it. After restoration the clone will also be known as X on the "Backup" OS, but when rebooted with "Backup" SSD pulled out it boots as C. Boot from Backup SSD again, change Sig on Clone, Shut down. Pull out backup SSD and boot with Win7 Installation Disc(For Win7 Install), select Disk repair, and it will patch windows so it accepts the new signature. Otherwise it would not boot after changing the sig. I hope to find something that will allow me to do that with Win10. The Win10 installation CD has a "Disk Repair" on it but it does not fix the signature change.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec


  9. Joined : Oct 2013
    A Finnish ex-pat in Germany
    Posts : 9,070
    Windows 10 Pro
       6 Days Ago #9

    The easiest and 100% sure method to force Windows to create a new machine SID is to run Sysprep command with /generalize switch.

    In your original post you mentioned that you instead of clean installing on each machine, install on reference machine then clone that setup to other machines. Because of this, below you'll find instructions for both scenarios, how to do it for existing Windows installations now and also how to do it in a bit more "elegant" way when clean installing reference machine next time.

     Method One: Generalize existing Windows installation

    1. Activate built-in admin account with following command in elevated Command Prompt:
      • net user Administrator /active:yes
    2. Sign out from all normal accounts, sign in to built-in admin
    3. When Sysprep is run on an existing Windows installation, active user accounts often lose Start and Search / Cortana functionality. Therefore existing user accounts need to de deactivated / disabled first, then activated afterwards. To do this, to disable all existing user accounts enter following command in elevated Command Prompt repeating it for each existing user:
      • net user USER_PROFILE_NAME /active:no
    4. Still in elevated Command Prompt, enter following command to run Sysprep:
      • %windir%\system32\sysprep\sysprep.exe /generalize /oobe /reboot
    5. Sysprep will now run, Windows restarts and goes through OOBE boot as if it was a new installation booted up first time
    6. OOBE asks for product key. You can skip it, if the machine has already had Windows 10 activated, it will be activated automatically with digital license
    7. OOBE requires you to set up a new initial admin account. Just create a local dummy account, notice that you cannot use any username already existing in the system. For instance I can not use username Kari at this point so I will create user Dummy
    8. When on desktop with this Dummy account, activate all existing user accounts in elevated Command Prompt:
      • net user USER_PROFILE_NAME /active:yes
    9. Sign out from Dummy, sign in to your old original admin account
    10. Remove the Dummy user account

    This might look complicated but it really is straight forward, takes a few minutes.

    information   Information
    What does generalizing do to existing Windows installation?
    • All system specific information is removed or uninstalled
    • Security ID (SID) of your hardware setup will be reset
    • All system restore points will be deleted
    • All event logs will be deleted
    • All personalization will be removed (theme, taskbar, toolbars, folder options, start etc.)
    • Built-in administrator account is disabled if it was enabled

    What happens when booting first time after sysprep generalizing?
    • First boot configuration is run (OOBE)
    • New SID will be generated
    • New computer name will be generated
    • Re-arm counter is reset if not already re-armed three times
    • Windows will be booted using first boot default drivers and settings
    • Windows desktop and theme will be set to defaults

    warning   Warning
    Please notice that generalizing will also remove all hardware related information, registry entries and device drivers. Generalizing is mainly designed for preparing a Windows image to be hardware independent to allow deployment to different hardware setups. When OOBE boot is run after generalizing, Windows will go through hardware and install new default drivers.

    If keeping hardware drivers and registry entries is important, you need to use a so called answer file with Sysprep command, setting component PersistAllDeviceInstalls value to TRUE. Save this example answer file to C:\Windows\System32\Sysprep folder as unattend.xml:

    Code:
    <?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
    <unattend xmlns="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:unattend">
        <settings pass="generalize">
            <component name="Microsoft-Windows-PnpSysprep" processorArchitecture="amd64" publicKeyToken="31bf3856ad364e35" language="neutral" versionScope="nonSxS" xmlns:wcm="http://schemas.microsoft.com/WMIConfig/2002/State" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance">
                <PersistAllDeviceInstalls>true</PersistAllDeviceInstalls>
            </component>
        </settings>
    </unattend>

    Change value of processorArchitecture to x86 if running Sysprep on a 32 bit Windows installation.

    Now when you run Sysprep the unattend.xml file will be read for instructions, in this case those instructions tell Sysprep to keep hardware information and drivers.


     Method Two: Generalize clean Windows installation

    • Install Windows on reference computer
    • When OOBE starts and you are shown the Settings dialog (Express settings / Customize settings), press CTRL + SHIFT + F3 to restart in Audit Mode:

      Click image for larger version. 

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    • Audit Mode signs you automatically in with built-in admin. Install your software you want to be available on all computers, update Windows, install possible language packs
    • When done, run Sysprep in an elevated Command Prompt with following command:
      • %windir%\system32\sysprep\sysprep.exe /generalize /oobe /shutdown
    • Sysprep will now create a hardware independent Windows image for deployment
    • When Sysprep is ready, PC will shut down
    • Boot reference PC with your preferred imaging application's boot media, create a system image
    • When image is done, restart reference PC and let it go through OOBE
    • OOBE asks for product key. You can skip it, if the machine has already had Windows 10 activated, it will be activated automatically with digital license
    • Restore the system image to all other machines. All machines will get an individual machine SID and computer name, all software installed on reference machine in Audit Mode will be pre-installed on all machines

    This method more detailed in this tutorial: Windows 10 Image - Customize in Audit Mode with Sysprep - Windows 10 Forums

    Sysprepping an existing installation (Method One above) is always a bit more risky, Sysprep tool is designed to be used on a fresh install. I recommend to test it first on one machine. Create a current system image before testing!

    Kari
      My System SpecsSystem Spec


  10. Joined : Dec 2015
    Posts : 11
    Windows 10
       6 Days Ago #10

    This looks interesting and I will be reading it a few more times. I don't think it accomplishes my purposes though. I have a whole bunch of USB drives that I like to assign drive letters, set recycle bin settings, Write caching etc. Mainly it's because I like to have my identity on each computer be the "Same Guy" so that specialized security settings made to the USB drives will persist across all computers. Also I want my desktop & explorer views etc. to persist and it looks like I would lose these settings.
    I have one computer that I use mainly for backing up the others with Acronis. I do an install and set up everything the way I like it, make images along the way, then clone it out to several more computers. I have a 3 pack of Office so even that works on 2 of them, just reactivate. Like I said, very interesting, there are times that I would like to clean it up the way you describe. Your suggestion would be very useful to clean out old computer specific drivers etc., but I would want it to leave Desktop, Identities, & Drives unchanged for what I'm doing right now.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec


 
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