Clone Windows Server 2003 image using System Preparation (SYSPREP) tool – Walkthrough Steps

During Windows installation, the computer is assigned a name and a unique computer SID. If a system is cloned after this step the cloned machines will all have identical computer SIDs. You have the option of changing the SID using the NewSID tool, but it is not supported by Microsoft.

The System Preparation tool
The System Preparation tool enables administrators to prepare Windows Server 2003 system images as part of an automated deployment (normally in Virtual environment).

Using SysPrep tool, you can change security identifiers (SIDs), other system settings, and other configuration settings to make them unique. This method is faster and full proof way of changing the security identifiers (SIDs) of the new image.

SysPrep is found in the file in the \Support\Tools folder on your Windows product CD

Walkthrough Step to use the SysPrep tool:

Step # 1

  • Install fresh copy of the operating system in your virtual environment. (Note: Keep the Administrator password blank)
  • Install necessary components like Service Pack, Windows Updates, .Net Framework etc.
  • Install integration components (VMware or Virtual PC) which software you are using.
  • Make sure you have installed everything after which you can move forward to clone the image.
  • Restart the computer once to make sure that the installed updates have taken effect.


Step # 2

Login to the operating system using the Administrator account (Remember, the password is blank)

Map the ISO image of the Windows operating system to the image.

Create two folders in the C: drive of the operating system.

  • C:\Deploy
  • C:\SysPrep

Browse the \Support\Tools folder on your Windows product CD, and extract all file in the to C:\Deploy folder


Copy sysprep.exe and setupcl.exe file from C:\Deploy folder to C:\SysPrep folder


Run setupmgr.exe file in C:\Deploy folder to create configuration and answer file (sysprep.inf) to automate the installation of Windows.






Answer the set of configuration answers as per your requirement and click Next


In the Computer Name section, select Automatically generate computer name

In the Administrator Password section, keep the password field blank.


In the Identification String section enter any string which will help you determine which Sysprep image has been installed and click Finish.


Setup Manager will prompt you the location where the sysprep.inf file will be saved. Click OK and then click Cancel to exit Setup Manager


Confirm that the sysprep.inf file is automatically saved in the C:\Deploy folder and C:\SysPrep folder.

The i386 folder will also be automatically created in C:\SysPrep folder


Run the sysprep.exe file in C:\SysPrep folder. The following message suggesting that Sysprep tool will change the computer security setting will be displayed. Click OK.


The System Preparation Tool 2.0 dialog box will open. Click on Reseal button.


Click Ok for the prompted dialog box


A dialog box saying “Sysprep is working” will appear and once the activity is complete, the system will shut down.



Step # 3

Copy the virtual hard disk (.vhd/.vmdk as the case may be) to another location for future use.

To confirm that the Sysprep image has been properly created, perform the following steps:

  • Copy the above created virtual hard disk (.vhd/.vmdk) file in the folder where you will create the new virtual machine.

In Virtual PC, you will have to manually copy the .vhd file to the destination folder.

In Hyper-V, you’ll have to use the Export-Import option

In VMware Workstation, you can select the option to clone the image.

  • Rename the virtual hard disk file as per your wish, normally similar to your VM config file.
  • Create a new VM config in Virtual PC/VMware and select to map existing hard disk
  • Start the new virtual machine.

The following screen will be displayed. The rest of the activities will be automatically performed.


Once the logon screen appears, login using the Administrator a/c. Remember the password is blank.

!!! Sysprep installation complete !!!


How to use Microsoft Loopback Adapter for internet access on Virtual PC (Part 3)

From within Virtual PC

1.       Select your virtual machine

2.       Go to the Settings (either right-click the VM and select "Settings" or from within a running instance go to the "Edit" menu and select "Settings)

3.       Click the "Networking" setting

4.       For your network adapter, select "Microsoft Loopback Adapter"


Now, you should be able to see your other running Virtual PC instances that also share the same loopback adapter!

Note: If you run into a problem where you can’t select the Microsoft Loopback Adapter", you’ll need to verify that

1) The "Virtual Machine Networking Services" are installed for the loopback adapter, and

2) If they are, and you still can’t select the adapter, uninstall the service and then reinstall the service (by pointing to the Virtual PC installation directory under Utility/VMNetSrv).

How to use Microsoft Loopback Adapter for internet access on Virtual PC (Part 2)

Step # 2 – Configure Internet Connection Sharing

To use Internet Connection Sharing to share your Internet connection, the host computer must have one network adapter

that is configured to connect to the Internet.

To enable Internet Connection Sharing in Windows XP, follow these steps:

1.    Click Start, click Control Panel, and then double-click Network Connections.

2.    Click the local area network (LAN) connection , the one that connects to the Internet), and then under Network Tasks, click Change settings of this connection.

3.    On the Advanced tab, click to select the Allow other network users to connect through this computer’s Internet connection check box.

4.    If you want to permit other network users to enable or to disable the shared Internet connection, click to select the Allow other network users to control or disable the shared Internet connection check box.

5.    Click OK. You receive the following message:

When Internet Connection Sharing is enabled, your LAN adapter will be set to use IP address Your computer may lose connectivity with other computers on
your network. If these other computers have static IP addresses, it is a good idea to set them to obtain their IP addresses automatically. Are you sure you want to enable Internet
Connection Sharing?

6.    Click Yes

Note that to enable Internet Connection Sharing in Windows XP, you must have administrative rights.

For more information, click How to configure Internet Connection Sharing in Windows XP which provides Video demo of the above activity.

Enabling ICS on Windows 7


1.       Open Network Connections by clicking the Start button, clicking Control Panel, clicking Network and Internet, clicking Network and Sharing Center, and then clicking Manage network connections.

2.       Right-click the connection that you want to share, and then click Properties.

If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

3.       Click the Sharing tab, and then select the Allow other network users to connect through this computer’s Internet connection check box.


The Sharing tab will not be available if you have only one network connection. For the same, you’ll have to install Microsoft Loopback Adapter if you have only one network card installed on the PC.

4.       If desired, you can also select the Allow other network users to control or disable the shared Internet connection check box.

5.       Optionally, to allow other network users to use services running on your network, click Settings and select the services you want to allow.

When you enable ICS, your local area network (LAN) connection gets a new static IP address and configuration, so you’ll need to reestablish any TCP/IP connections between your host computer and the other network computers.

Proceed to Step 3

How to use Microsoft Loopback Adapter for internet access on Virtual PC (Part 1)

The Microsoft Loopback adapter is a testing tool for a virtual network environment where network access is not available.

Microsoft Windows 2000 and XP (and probably others) ship with a built-in network interface driver called the “Microsoft Loopback Adapter” that lets you create a local-only network interface device. This adapter can be extremely useful when you are doing development testing using Virtual PC and want to isolate your Virtual PC’s from your main network.

Step # 1 – Install Microsoft Loopback Adapter

Manual installation in Windows XP

To manually install the Microsoft Loopback adapter in Windows XP, follow these steps:

1.   Click Start, and then click Control Panel.

2.   If you are in Classic view, click Switch to Category View under Control Panel in the left pane.

3.   Double-click Printers and Other Hardware, and then click Next.

4.   Under See Also in the left pane, click Add Hardware,and then click Next.

5.   Click Yes, I have already connected the hardware, and then click Next.

6.   At the bottom of the list, click Add a new hardware device, and then click Next.

7.   Click Install the hardware that I manually select from a list, and then click Next.

8.   Click Network adapters, and then click Next.

9.   In the Manufacturer box, click Microsoft.

10.   In the Network Adapter box, click Microsoft Loopback Adapter, and then click Next.

11.   Click Finish.

If you are running Windows 7 host operating system, use the below URL for step-by-step guide:

How to install Microsoft Loopback Adapter in Windows 7

Proceed with Part 2