Windows Server

How does WDS work: How to configure Windows Deployment Services on Windows Server 2019

Windows Deployment Services (WDS) is a really interesting tool from Microsoft for network-based installation (deployment) of Windows operating systems. In windows server 2003 it was called as Remote Installation Services (RIS). The purpose of WDS is to remotely deploy the windows operating systems.

How does WDS work?
WDS uses a PXE method for client booting. PXE enables clients to boot off the network. To find WDS services and to load boot images, the client should be able to contact the WDS server, and the client network card must be PXE compliant and most devices are NICs complaint. For cards that don’t support PXE, we have another type of boot image which is referred to as a discover boot image.

Discover images can be used for computers that are not PXE compliant. That means that those computers cannot boot off the network. Note: The discover image has to be created manually in the WDS server first, after which we can transfer it to external media such as CD, DVD or USB drive. For more information on WDS images, see https://techdirectarchive.com/2020/05/24/what-are-the-differences-between-capture-image-discover-image-install-and-boot-images-windows-pe/

Then we can use that media to boot up the computer into the discover image, which will then allow us to connect to the WDS server over the network. So, remember that clients have to have a PXE compliant NIC in order to contact the WDS server. If the NIC is not PXE compliant, then we must use another means of network boot such as a Windows PE through the discover image of the WDS server. We can use WAIK tools to create an ISO image that contains the discover boot image. ISO can then be burned to CD or DVD using some tool that is capable of creating a disc from IS

In environments with a large number of clients, WDS can be very useful as new devices can be formatted on the fly by simply plugging it to the Ethernet, without any physical support like Windows DVDs or USB drives.

The configuration isn’t difficult but there are some requirements.
– There must be an Active Directory Domain Services
– At least one partition on the server must be formatted as NTFS
– A DHCP server must be active to assign IP addresses to the WDS clients

See the following links for more details on what DHCP is, installation and configuration..
– What is Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP)
– How to install Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol on Windows Server 2019 
– Configuring DHCP: Post deployment of Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol

Configure Windows Deployment Services (WDS): The following requirements are vital.
– Choose where to store your images
– DHCP Options
– PXE Server Settings

Open the WDS snap-in console. In the previous article, I discussed and installed WDS role, see https://techdirectarchive.com/2020/05/09/what-is-windows-deployment-services-how-to-setup-and-install-wds/

This will launch the Windows Deployment Services console as shown below
– As you can see the server is currently not configured.

To have the server configured
– Right-click on the server name (in my case, TechDarchive.techdirect.local)
– Click on configure the server

– This will open up the Windows Deployment Services Configuration Wizard as shown below.
Read and ensure you are complying with the requirements to setup WDS.
– Click on Next

– Click on next to continue
– On the Install Options page, verify that you choose  Integrated with Active Directory and then click Next.

– Click on Next.
– On the Remote Installation Folder Location page, you can accept the default location which is C:\RemoteInstall and then click Next

Note: If you do not want to have your boot images, install and PXE boot files etc saved to this location, click on browse and select your desired location. Since this is in a test environment, I will leave it this way. Ensure you select a different partition for a production environment.

– Click on Next,
– This will prompt the “System Volume Warning dialog window”
– Click Yes.


– Next, on the Proxy DHCP Server window, ensure the two boxes are checked in order to use DHCP tool to add appropriate PXE options to all DHCP and DHCPv6 scopes.
– Click on Next

Note: If you are configuring WDS and there is not DHCP server running on the same hardware, you will not see this image below.

– On the PXE Server Initial Settings window, click Respond to all client computers (known and unknown), and
– Click on Next, please wait for few second for the process to complete.

– This will start the WDS configuration as shown below.
– When complete, Click on Finish.

This will display the WDS console as shown below.

You can right click

We will be adding the images in the next article. See …………..

As you can see in the above or below diagram, the WDS is currently stopped.
– To start WDS, right-click on the node as shown below
– Select All Tasks
– Click on start

Now, Windows Deployment Services is started as shown below

To stop or restart WDS, follow the same steps to perform either of the operations.

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