Installing and Configuring WDS (Windows Deployment Services): Full Images Deployment (Part II)

Ok then, after completing the first configurations made on the Part I of this guide we can perform a clean but attended network installation of Windows Vista.

There are two main steps to take and complete a full image and unattended deployment:

1. Creating the base image to deploy: OS, programs and other special configurations + uploading it to the WDS server.

2. Making an unattended file to be used with that image.

Creating the Base Image

Note: On this series of posts we are only considering to deploy Windows Vista or Windows Server 2008 images. The files used on WDS Native mode as unattended files are only valid to those operating systems, if you want to make unattended deployment with Windows XP or 2003 OS; you will need to use RIS or WDS Legacy Mode.

The first step it’s pretty simple, it consists on installing the operating system with all the features, programs and configurations that you want. But there are some considerations first:

After you complete the image, there’s a process where you release all the specific data involving the computer where it’s installed, like the Security Identifier (SID), computer name, etc. Here are some of the things that the image won’t keep after the release process:

· Computer name
· Owner and Company name
· Domain or workgroup membership
· TCP/IP Settings
· Regional and keyboard settings
· Specific hardware drivers. This refers to specific computer hardware, like video or audio drivers. But if you only applied drivers used on the Windows installation, the same will apply for the deployment, but any other external driver installed will be unavailable.
· Any saved network connections (wireless networks saved)
· OS product key. This is an important note, since no matter if your product has been activated; the key is reset after this process.

But here are some of the things that are kept after this release process:

· Programs and features installed (pretty obvious to say that at this moment right?)
· Local Users and Groups created.
· Product Keys used for programs installed. Meaning if you have Microsoft Office installed, the key used will remain as the same on the deployments.
· Windows updates installed
· User Profiles: Since all the profiles configuration are basically data stored on the Users folders, all that information will be uploaded within the image.
· Printers installed.

All the uploading process is made from the client side; but we must first prepare the WDS server to be ready to receive images.

First, we are going to add a boot image that will be specially to capture operating system images.

1. Go to WDS Console and let’s upload a second boot image; it can be the same that we added on the first post using the boot.wim from a Vista or Windows Server 2008 media.

2. Instead of naming it Windows PE, use a name like “Image Capture”.

3. After the process completes, right click on the image you just added and select “Create Capture Boot Image

Now we have set our WDS server, let’s prepare the client using the sysprep tool and upload the image:

1. On the Vista or Windows 2008 client open a “cmd” as administrator and insert “cd c:windowssystem32sysprep”.

2. Run “sysprep /oobe /generalize /reboot.

This process will require for a few second and after it completes the OS will automatically reboot.

3. Soon as the machine is rebooting, press F12 to select different devices to boot.

4. Select to boot from the network card connected to the LAN

Now the client is communicating with the DHCP server to require an IP and a boot image, the DHCP will forward the request to the WDS. You will be prompted to press F12 one more time.

5. Since we have two boot images, let’s select “Image Capture

The boot image will start to load.

6. A image capture wizard will start, click on “Next

7. Now let’s select the volume we want to capture, in our case C:. And put a name for the image that will be uploaded as long with a description.

It’s important to note that if the sysprep process did not completed properly no volume will be available to select.

8. On the next window you must select where the .wim file will be temporary stored locally. Select to keep it on the root C: (this file it’s not uploaded within the image).

9. Select the option “Load the image to a WDS server”; put the name of the server and click on “Connect

10. You will be prompted with credentials, use a privileged account on the domain or local administrator account of the WDS server.

11. Now select the image group name where you want to store the new image and click on Finish.

Here the process of the image compression and preparation starts, this could take several minutes (~30 mins to ~1hr) depending on the image size and the hardware involved. After this process, the image is uploaded to the WDS server.

After it completes, check on the WDS console, the image should be uploaded and ready to be deployed.

Still we have not configured any unattended file, so the image can be deployed but the entire OS configuration should be entered manually, like on normal OS installation but all the programs will be installed.

For the unattended files preparation and configuration take a look to the third post of WDS.

Installing and Configuring WDS (Windows Deployment Services): Full Images Deployment (Part I)
Installing and Configuring WDS (Windows Deployment Services): Full Images Deployment (Part III)



  1. Hi Augusto

    I have a quick question about this portion of WDS.

    I’m capturing images of XP systems at the moment. In your part II you mention that you select the location where the image is temporarily installed and that it doesn’t get included in the image (point 8, part II).

    My images actually do include the xxx.wim file.

    Is there anything that I’m doing incorrectly or is removing the .wim file ‘fixed’ when imaging a Vista system?


  2. Hello there Troy,
    I haven’t noticed that on XP images. But yes, I assume that is related with the XP image being prepared in a non-native way.
    You can still mount the image that you uploaded, delete the file from the file system and then add it again to WDS.
    It is a simple procedure, check the post I made about how to add drivers to Windows PE… you only need the part where you mount, commit and unmount the image (using WAIK 1.1 and 2.0):
    Hope it helps

  3. First of all great guide, however my WDS server hangs at Part II, Step 9
    Select the option “Load the image to a WDS server”; put the name of the server and click on “Connect” +

    When I click “connect” I never get prompted for my credentials. Do you have any suggestions?

    Thank you

  4. Hello JW,
    I’ve seen that happen before, it could be for several reasons, for example, connectivity problems.
    Try restarting the WDS service from the console and try the connection again.
    If you keep having this problem, you can skip the process of uploading the image to the server, create the image locally and then upload the manually .wim file (when you add an image to WDS, you can browse for UNC and shared paths, like “\\referenceclient\C$\image\referenceimage.wim”; no need for moving files from servers).
    Hope it helps,

  5. I have an issue with security

    Just before you login to the deployment wizard client side you get a cmd box anybody client side could access Hdd through even wipe the whole drive how do you stop this

  6. Deployment image services Image capture wizard doesn’t appear for me.
    I’m using win7 install.wim and boot.wim from win7 media.

    I have created a capture boot image and running the sysprep command from the commandline and boot on the capture image boot I come to the windows7 setup.

  7. Hi Augusto,

    When I select ‘Image Capture’ at the PXE screen. The server boots into the deployment wizard and not the image capture wizard.

    Any suggestions as to why it’s doing this?


  8. Hi,

    I have done that in the following step 3.

    ‘After the process completes, right click on the image you just added and select “Create Capture Boot Image”’

    I browsed & located the boot.wim file which I stored on my desktop. However once PXE booted and selected image capture the wizard that appears is still the deployment service.

    I cant see where I’m going wrong?


    • I stumbled into the situation. Try this instead:

      1.In the Windows Deployment Services MMC snap-in, expand the Boot Images node.
      2.Right-click the image to use it as a capture image. In most cases, you can just use the Boot.wim file from the DVD. 3.Click Create Capture Image.
      4.Type a name, a description, and the location where you want to save a local copy of the file. You must specify a location in case there is a problem with the network when you deploy the capture image.
      5.Continue to follow the instructions in the wizard and when it is complete, click Finish.
      6.Right-click the Boot Image node.
      7.Click Add Boot Image.
      8.Browse and select the new capture image, and then click Next.
      9.Follow the instructions in the wizard.

      Note: If you do not run Sysprep on the computer before you boot into the image, you will not see any drives to capture.

      After running Sysprep on the reference computer you can start the upload process.

  9. Is there a way to customize the file location of the boot image? We use one WDS 2008 to deploy images in two offices (PA and CO) and to push a boot image over the net from PA to CO is inefficient (not to mention it usually fails) I was able to specify the Install Image location but the boot image now also need to be located in CO.

  10. HI, need your help on this, i have installed wds on 2008 r2 enterprise, also added boot image but after creating capture image, i am not able to add any drives to same boot image, windows getting freeze. while adding drivers to boot image then i have to delete capture image and then have to delete above reg. then only i am ble to add drivers to boot image even i tried second system also but still getting same error. please need your help to fix this

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