Are you making any of these critical errors in setting up your machines?
PC imaging refers to the process of capturing the current state of an operating system along with relevant software programs and system configurations in order to copy it into another computer. This is mainly used in deploying new machines, as well as restoring compromised computers to their proper functioning state. While it seems straightforward, during the process there is plenty of room for error --- some of which won’t even become noticeable until it’s too late and a lot of damage has been done. Make sure to avoid these common mistakes as you handle the process.
Making this first mistake will trickle down and impact you in other areas. If you use the wrong system images you can have bugs installed. What models are you using? What software versions? This all must be correctly documented.
Creating step-by-step checklists can be a lengthy process. There are “no take backs,” and you must start over if a mistake is made.
What needs to be validated & verified? Do you have a testing plan before you promote? How will you discover mistakes?
Mistakes could propagate across a month’s worth of systems being deployed. If something is missing or something is incompatible, this could become a major issue.
USB-3 drivers could cause crashes, as one example. That will inundate your support team and make a terrible first impression with your customer. Your reputation is at stake. Your sales team will be frustrated, and they will lose confidence in the technical support team. These are company-wide issues that truly affect morale between departments.
Whatever you might be building, the foundation is key. You wouldn’t build a house on top of sandy soil, and you shouldn’t build a PC image on a messy disk image.
If you don’t start with a clean slate, you will run into problems in the future.
Start with a brand new system, using clear and clean disks. Minimize configurations and add-on cards. Also, don’t attempt to build a system image on top of another one. Start with the original installation media.
It’s absolutely crucial that you make your base images hardware-neutral. You never want to have a base image for each and every piece of hardware and version.
If you have Windows updates, you now have a lot of work to do. Making hardware-neutral images will minimize image maintenance.
When you make a photocopy of a photocopy, you get a major degradation in quality, especially when you keep doing it over and over again. This is what we might call a “fast and dirty” solution.
When you use dirty images, you end up with “ghosts in the machine,” aka remnants or thumbprints of old settings --- and weird things start to happen.
Creating disk images the proper way takes time, patience and discipline. That’s why your goal should be to simplify and automate. This frees up time for your tech department to focus on validation, testing, and other important tasks rather than constantly fixing bugs.
Avoid using hyper-specific configurations. Another best practice is to keep application settings and system configuration settings generalized/generic for your environment. The more you put into the image (database settings, network settings, etc.) the more changes you’ll need to make in the future. Instead, leave these unset in the image, and then change them AFTER deployment, not the other way around.
By avoiding these, you’ll be ready to introduce new machines into your environment, or restore machines after an issue with ease
At HACS, we maintain hardware & software version control for all of our clients. We have a full pc imaging validation process with a test plan. If any issues arise, we address them with automation. There's no need to recreate anything from scratch. We are proud to be adaptable in this respect.
We also maintain all base system images for clients. We only use Windows installation media (brand new installs), and we inject hardware-specific drivers. This allows us to maintain versions, patching, etc. all automatically.
When we deploy operating systems, they are always completely generic. We provide a provisioning kit that explains exactly how the disk is set up for its specific use. We handle the installation and setup of apps, user settings, group settings, firewalls, and we provide an Installation Matrix with a simple selection menu, explaining how everything is used.
Our goal in terms of PC imaging is to minimize the possibility of human error while generating a unique, purpose-built solution that’s automated.
We help free up our customers’ tech teams to do what they do best; unleashing their most talented people to be more customer-facing. For these reasons, when working with HACS and embracing automation in PC imaging, our clients grow sales on average by 30%.
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