Windows Server

How to create a Windows Server reference image using WDS

Windows Server

Creating a reference image is important because that image serves as the foundation for the devices in your organization. This image will serve as the core operating system you need in your network environment. The image requires all the needed software for your Windows Servers to be installed. So before capturing the Windows Server image, ensure you update the applications and Windows with the latest updates. See this guide on how to create a Windows 10 reference image using MDT.

Windows Server capture with WDS is relatively straightforward. You need to have your WDS installed and also have the WDS configured. In order to demonstrate this, I made a clone of a Server in my lab environment.

Below are the steps needed to capture an image via WDS

Access the path below and execute the utility to Syspep your server.

reference image

– Once the Sysprep has completed, the system will restart and boot it from Network. You must configure your system to boot from the network. Just press F12 to go to PXE.
– Now select Capture Image to capture Windows 10 reference image of the Server.

Note: To complete this step, ensure you have created a captured image on Windows Deployment Services and have been uploaded to WDS as well.


This will ensure the capture image is loaded as shown below.

On the Welcome to Windows Deployment Services Image Capture Wizard page
– Click Next

reference image

Now select the directory where you want to capture, type image name and image description then click Next
Note: If your Volume is not Sysprepped, you cannot proceed.
– If you have already sysprepped and you can not select the drive, this is because you had little delays, etc. You have to very careful and Sysprep the server (VM) again and ensure you press F12 immediately to PXE boot.

Select Name and Location or tick the checkbox of Upload image to a Windows Deployment Services server.

Note: You can optionally upload the image to WDS on the fly. This will require to connect and type user credentials.
– In my case, I could connect to the server using the User Principle Name format (UPN)
– Select the Image Group name also, then click Next.
Note: This group (Windows Server) must also be created in your WDS under your install images.

Nevertheless, It will take forever to complete the process of capturing the Windows Server reference image

– This Windows Image meta data

Next, the Windows Server captured image will be sent and uploaded to the WDS server (remember, this option was checked above). Nonetheless, Sit back and relax as this process can take some time.

At this moment, we can see from the Windows Event log that the ports needed to transfer this image to the WDS servers are open.

When the capturing process completes, click Finish and restart your Windows Server reference PC. 
– Configure and select the reference PC language, time, user, and password because Sysprep has stripped this.

– Go to the Windows Deployment Server and check the result of the Windows Server capturing Image. However, The Windows Server captured image should be transferred successfully to WDS server


I hope you found this blog post on Windows Server reference image using WDS helpful. Furthermore, Please let me know in the comment session if you have any questions.

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