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So my first post might as well be about something I am currently doing.  Earlier in the week, I had 22 PCs delivered to my office (its feeling a little cramped right now). In the past I had manually configured each PC individually, which was a total pain. I have always had good luck with Acronis software (except on Windows Server 2003 64-bit with Exchange 2007, long story), so I figured I would check out what they had to offer. They have a product called Snap Deploy 3 which looks like it would do exactly what I needed it to do. The problem is that it is $25 per PC. A little napkin math (for those following at home) shows me that it would cost $550 to use this solution to deploy my PCs. Since last time I checked I still worked for a non-profit, this option was out the window. That led me to start looking at True Image 10.

I only purchased a single license at $74, so I had to do a little work to stay legal (I am probably tap dancing in a legal grey area as it is). Mainly, I have to be sure that this software is not installed on more than 1 PC at a time. To do my cloning:

I fully configured my initial PC. The only thing not done is joining the PC to the domain, giving it a permanent asset name, and a few minor pieces of specialized software. All of the things like MAC addresses and Serial numbers are either hard coded or stored in BIOS, so you don’t have to worry about duplicates on your system.

After my configuration was done, I performed a full backup to my NAS and removed True Image from my system.

At this point, you have to turn to configured PC off (the new PC will come online with the same system name as the previous, which can cause troubles)

Now you can begin “restoring” PCs from bootable media. Be sure, however, that only 1 PC comes into Windows at a time, initially. The reason is that they will all still have the same name.

Once a restored system comes online, I immediately change its name, and do post configurations such as changing its Symantec Antivirus Parent server from the “holding” server to its true parent server (depending on where it is going to end up).Once that is done, it is a fully configured (well, mostly fully) PC just waiting to be deployed out to its destination.

All in all, while Acronis Snap Deploy 3 might save me some time, the cost of the software licenses is prohibitive for my current budget. With a little bit of planning, you can make the Acronis True Image 10 software do exactly what you need. I would say, everything involved, it takes me 15 minutes to take a boxed PC and have it fully configured and ready to go. Not Bad.