Prepare base Windows 2003 image using SysPrep

After installing Windows 2003 and required updates on your virtual machine, we now need to prepare it for easy duplication later. Now extract files from system preparation package, which we had previously downloaded. As we have installed Service Pack 2 for Windows 2003, so we will use only preparation package related to that.

SP-055 Now run “setupmgr.exe” from the extracted files. This is a setup wizard which will help you create your configuration set and answer file for automating your duplication process.

SP-057 As this is the first time you are creating an answer file, so choose “Create new” option on first screen.


On the next screen select “Sysprep setup”, as we have already installed required components, and only need a mini setup to configure new machines.


Next choose your operating system, in our case it is “Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition”, then choose fully automated way of configuration on next screen.

Then you will be presented with a hierarchical set of configurations, you can either step through all steps or only configure particular steps for modifications. I did not experimented with all combinations, just went through nearly all of them, keeping most things pre-configured.

However some steps I am sure do require some input. One of those screen is specifying name and organization.


Other is time zone information, if you want to set a specific time zone for all your machines, and then the product key. Select automatic generation of machine names on related screen.SP-074

Keep typical networking settings, and also keep the system in workgroup mode. At the end of the wizard you will be asked to save this automated installation answer file, select default.SP-085

Here is the final “Sysprep.ini” file. You can also download it as a sample file.


Setup manager will also create a folder on root drive named “sysprep”. You will have to copy two files from your deploy folder to this folder, these are the two executables listed in the image below.SP-088After creating your answer file and placing these files at desired location, run “SysPrep.exe”. Accept the warning message initially displayed. Click on “Reseal” button on the main screen, keeping everything else in default.


You will be warned that on next reboot, a new security identifier would be generated for this system, click on “OK”, as our purpose is the same. After that your system will shutdown.

You can learn about these security identifier at following pages.

Now locate .vhd file of this virtual machine, and make a copy of it. Create another virtual machine, don’t create any new virtual hard disk for that machine. Associate that machine with .vhd file which you have recently duplicated. Modify other settings as per your requirement.

Now start that machine, your mini setup will start working and preparing your machine. It will install selected network components and other related things.


After installation machine will reboot, then you can login to that machine, and you will notice that not only all things looks fresh and clean, but also a new machine name has been generated, which you can change as per your requirements.

One thought on “Prepare base Windows 2003 image using SysPrep

  1. Steve

    I think that i will delete all my cloned win appliances ! Now i know what coses troubles and problems ! This is simply to much trouble work additional ! And that only to have unique appliance that will not conflict on network ! I will install each of needed system manually then export and delete guest to install new one ! VBox doesn’t allow to install multiple appliance that are exact the same ! But i need it for testing purposes ! And then import appliances ! This way i will have each unique system in parallel just to avoid nasty sysprep ! Yes we all known why sysprep ! Its a major turbokapitalistic atempt from MS to user’s pocket ! I think in near future MS will be major looser with such economic politics ! Soon as MS drop support for XP ans 2003 i will switch to open source ! MS is getting overloaded and over sized slow and bloated ! And they can sysprem user any way they like when they go broke !!!


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