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How to Sysprep a Windows System more than Three Times

Article ID: 214
Last updated: 01 Nov, 2013
Article ID: 214
Last updated: 01 Nov, 2013
Revision: 5
Views: 2439
Posted: 30 Oct, 2013
by --
Updated: 01 Nov, 2013
by Andrew Sharrad

Multiple Uses of Sysprep

During an image build process, an image is created and customised before being Sysprepped ready for capture. Once captured, the image can then be deployed.

It is recommended that if the image is revised, that you revert back to a copy of the image that was not Sysprepped ready for capture. However, sometimes this is not possible leading to an image going through the Sysprep process multiple times. Normally, you can only Sysprep a machine three times. After the third attempt, you will receive a fatal error message if you try to Sysprep the machine again.


There is a workaround solution for this that involves modifying the registry or creating an answer file. Please ensure that you test all images that you capture and deploy (all images should always be tested, but after using this workaround we recommend that you thoroughly check the entire image).

Method 1 - Registry Edit

For a machine running Windows 7, you will need to follow the steps below:-

  • Open the registry editor by typing "regedit" in the Start Search Box
  • Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\WindowsNT\CurrentVersion\SoftwareProtectionPlatform
  • Locate the REG_WORD entry "SkipRearm"
  • Set SkipRearm to 1
  • Close the registry editor.

You can now sysprep the machine as normal, for example:

c:\windows\system\sysprep\sysprep /generalize /oobe /shutdown (and then press Enter).

This will run Sysprep and shutdown the machine ready for capture.

Method 2 - Using an Answer file

An XML answer file can be used which includes the SKIPREAM command to allow the image to be Sysprepped again, even though it has reached the normal limit.

If you wish to create your own answer file from scratch, you will need a technician machine with the Windows 7 Automatic Installation Kit (WAIK) tools installed. Once installed you can use the Windows System Image Manage which is included as part of the kit to create an answer file.

A sample XML file is attached to this article. Extract skipream.xml from the ZIP file and copy it to a location accessible by Sysprep, for example c:\wsim. Then, run Sysprep and reference the XML file:

sysprep /generalize /oobe /shutdown /unattend:c:\wsim\skiprearm.xml

Note: These methods do not reset your windows activation grace period. They only increase the number of times you can run Sysprep on an image.

Applies to:

  • Images being built on Windows 7

This article was:  
Article ID: 214
Last updated: 01 Nov, 2013
Revision: 5
Views: 2439
Posted: 30 Oct, 2013 by --
Updated: 01 Nov, 2013 by Andrew Sharrad
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