Cloning Hard Drive with Different XP Authentication Codes

My son’s school has 19 computers that may require a total reinstallation of Windows XP due to some viral problems. Each computer is a Dell Dimension 3100 and has a restoration partition hidden on the hard drive. It seems very time consuming to go through each one to reinstall all the patches, SP3 and some basic security programs. Each computer appears to have its own authentication number for XP Home (not a multi-user license). I was wondering if it was possible to install all the necessary software and patches on one computer and then clone it to each of the other computers. Does Acronis True Image or any other freeware option do this? Will there be problems with the authentication and with subsequent updates to the OS? I do not suspect any problems with the hardware since the hardware should be the same. Is there an easier way to accomplish this task? Thank you for the input.

I tried to do a slipstream XP SP3 disc, but I’m running into problems with the optical drive not reading CD-R discs (but will read commercial software discs). The first computer took a few hours to set up and I’m hoping to reduce that time dramatically.

You would have a chance if all of them were on a network but you don’t mention that so I’m guessing they are not. Your problem is the product license keys are all different. I wish I had good news for you, but if all of the PC’s are infected you will have to restore each one individually. You can download SP3 and whatever patches you need plus the additional programs you mentioned, burn them to a CD and install everything to the PC’s with it.

[QUOTE=Whappo;2224046]You can download SP3 and whatever patches you need plus the additional programs you mentioned, burn them to a CD and install everything to the PC’s with it.[/QUOTE]

Thanks. Yes, that’s what I tried to do with the slipstream XP SP3 disc I made, but alas, the optical disk problem I had. I was thinking that I might use my external optical drive. However, I don’t know which would be faster: starting from scratch and reload 18 computers at the same time (like an assembly line while I wait for all the computers to download the updates which will be slowed down because 18 computers are trying to download off the same line) or slipstream each individual computer one by one (since I only have one disc and one external optical drive).

If it isn’t possible, I’m wondering if there is a way to substitute the current drive image into the hidden partition that is currently occupied by the Dell restoration image and use that as the “factory condition”. Only problem is that the Norton Ghost that came with the computer doesn’t give me the option to replace that image with the current image. The question is would that even be wise to do?

I’m a little confused. When you say a “sliptream XP SP3 disk” do you mean the complete XP install + SP3? If so, because of the product keys, that won’t work. If you are having problems with the optical drive you can probably download to or copy SP3 to a USB flash drive along with whatever patches and programs you want and install on the PC’s with it. I strongly suggest not doing anything with the restore partition, leave it as is, you never know when you’ll need it.

Hi,[QUOTE=Curious D;2224013]I was wondering if it was possible to install all the necessary software and patches on one computer and then clone it to each of the other computers.[/QUOTE]Yes. For having assigned each computer to its own Windows license, you may check MS website for sysprep and other deployment tools.
Additionally, I guess any Dell computer of the same model has the same Windows serial# preinstalled and preactivated from factory.
That said, there shouldn’t be any issue with reinstalling the Dell computers from the same image.

Michael

[QUOTE=Whappo;2224246]I’m a little confused. When you say a “sliptream XP SP3 disk” do you mean the complete XP install + SP3? If so, because of the product keys, that won’t work. [/QUOTE]

nLite has an unattended mode that requires the authentication number prior to burning the slipstream XP disc. That can be unchecked. I can download all the updates using WUD, but oddly, the name of the updates do not correlate to the chronological order of the updates. I won’t know if the slipstream disc will work until I try it out later next week. I just don’t want to be stuck there all week updating 18 computers.

[QUOTE=mciahel;2224310]Hi,Yes. For having assigned each computer to its own Windows license, you may check MS website for sysprep and other deployment tools.
Additionally, I guess any Dell computer of the same model has the same Windows serial# preinstalled and preactivated from factory.
That said, there shouldn’t be any issue with reinstalling the Dell computers from the same image.

Michael[/QUOTE]

I was trying to avoid sysprep. When I looked at the website, it all seemed so intimidating. I have enough knowledge to get myself into trouble and that looked like trouble to me. Will this work with Acronis? I have a copy of Acronis True Image 10. Thanks.

You should try it.
You could change the installation key afterwards anyway…

You can load one up completely with all the patches, then use MS Sysprep to remove the ID, then you can clone them.