Windows 10: Clone SSD of perfect config install to other SSDs for identical PCs Solved

  1.    28 Nov 2017 #1

    Clone SSD of perfect config install to other SSDs for identical PCs

    Hi all!
    I have 5 NUC machines for a tutoring centre. All identical NUC7i5BNK models and hardware (8Gb RAM and 128Gb M.2SSD). I have 5 legit Windows 10 Pro OEM keys. Over time, we will increase the number of Nucs to around 20 and buy more Keys.
    There is no need for a server in the centre, but all machines will connect to the internet, printer, manager's PC via a switch.

    I want to make future installs onto new Nucs quicker and easier, without going through the install process & config again.

    Here's my proposed sequence;
    - create a perfectly configured install of W10 onto the SSD of a Nuc.
    - configure & make changes I needed (but I would not enter the W10 key)
    - take that Golden Install SSD out and put it into an external USB enclosure and connect it to a different (technician's) Win10 PC.
    - Using the technician's PC, clone that Golden Install SSD, (perhaps using some software like AOMEI Backupper?)
    - Store that Golden Install clone somewhere (on a PC, SSD via USB-->SSD adaptor, or a USB Flash Drive).
    - Then, if needed, I can easily copy that Golden Install clone onto any new SSDs ( via the USB-->SSD adaptor) for new Nucs or onto SSDs for the existing Nucs that have corrupted/failed etc.

    I have tried EaseUS, but not Macrium, to do this directly on the Nucs and failed with error messages. I was going to go down the route of using the ADK and sysprep etc but don't have the time to learn it just for fun.

    Questions needing answers, if you could spare the time, please
    Q1 - Have I found a novel physical solution to a problem often solved by using Imaging/Cloning software like EasUS or Macrium - Would my proposal work?
    Q2 - What haven't I considered in this process which could lead to errors?
    Q3 - What search terms would you use to solve this problem via a search engine?
    Thanks for the replies,
      My ComputerSystem Spec

  2.    28 Nov 2017 #2

    I would use Macrium Reflect Free. I would get a small, like 128 GB SSD or HDD and put it in a USB 3 enclosure. Create a small bootable partition on the it and put the Macrium Rescue/Recovery environment on it (you should be able to do that from inside the Macrium Reflect program - create rescue drive). Make an NTFS partition on the rest of the SSD or HDD to hold the backup image of the Master computer. Save a backup image of the Master to the USB 3.0 SSD or HDD.

    Boot the target computer from the USB 3 SSD or HDD and restore the image file to it. If you need to, you might have to enter a unique Windows 10 product key to activate the restored image. Once the computer(s) gain a digital license for that version of Windows 10, you will no longer have to do that, the digital license should be pulled from MS Activation Servers after that - assuming that the Master computer was activated with the generic product key and activated with a digital license before the image was saved.
      My ComputerSystem Spec

  3.    28 Nov 2017 #3


    Assuming these NUCs support UEFI and use it then making a bootable FAT32 partition on a USB external drive (HDD or SDD) is very straightforward for you to boot to MR Free's Rescue media.

    All you need to do is have MR create a rescue iso that you save on your drive. Create say a 2GB FAT32 partion on your USB drive, mount the ISO and select all the files and copy them to the FAT32 partition on the USB drive.

    Check to see if it boots. After that you can use the NTFS partition @NavyLCDR suggested for storing you master image. You may also store a list of your W10 keys on it so you have it handy for activating each NUC.

    Last edited by fdegrove; 28 Nov 2017 at 16:21.
      My ComputersSystem Spec

  4.    28 Nov 2017 #4

    The only problem is all of will have the same sid computer name and possibly Mac address the correct way is to run a server to provide the image with a mini sis prep
      My ComputerSystem Spec

  5.    28 Nov 2017 #5


    True but since they're not networked it shouldn't be an issue.

      My ComputersSystem Spec

  6.    29 Nov 2017 #6

    Thanks all!

    I have gleaned from around the web that the best way to do it would be to sysprep. Perhaps I should do that and be done with it... I'd only have to do it once...

    I just need to strip away the modern apps so it is a lean install - I just need Chrome and wordpad on it, really! Protect the hell out my privacy, reduce background bandwidth. I'd need to restrict the student account so they can't access any settings in control panel/context menu etc.

    Would you guys know of a link to a decent walkthrough for doing that kind of thing in sysprep, please?

    There's a lot of sysprep help published but often written for IT pros who are familiar with terminology, acronyms etc. My job, setting up the IT for my wife's new centre and learning this again is a plateful . I left building PCs for my family behind about 12 years ago...

    I should get the SSD enclosure through in the next few day to try out your advice there. - Is it possible to change the SID and MAC address after install?
    Meanwhile, I will try to sysprep an installation on a virtual drive on the "technician" machine I have running already.
    Thanks for your help guys - I feel like I'm rowing in a definite direction now!
      My ComputerSystem Spec

  7.    29 Nov 2017 #7

    the sysprep walkthrough and explanation here in the Tutorials section is great! That'll get me through.
    I'm not sure about uninstalling the modern apps in the default user profile, though...
      My ComputerSystem Spec


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