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If you create an image of Windows 2000 installation and then restore the image to a drive on a different computer (or, in some seconds, another drive on the same system) you may see the message "INACCESSIBLE_BOOT_DEVICE."

This happens when Windows 2000 cannot access the hard drive due to a difference in device drivers between the computer imaged and the target computer. Your thinking, "I thought Windows 2000 was plug and play" and you'd be right...

Normally this is because the target computer had a hard drive controller that didn't exist on the originally imaged system where the image was created. Windows 2000 tries to access the device on the target computer, but can't as the drivers for it are not installed. Also, if the imaged computer had a drive that is not present on the machine being imaged, Windows 2000 chokes when it loads the old drivers, but cannot find the appropriate drive for them. Even if the source and destination computers use the same drivers, but the target's system partition is on a drive that is on a different IDE channel than the originally imaged computer- When Windows 2000 attempts to access the hard drive, it cannot find it because the drivers for it have not yet been installed for that IDE channel.

This can be taken care of by editing the SysPrep.inf file and using SysPrep prior to creating your image. Alternatively you could also correct this by configuring the destination computer's hardware to match the source computer's hardware before cloning, but this would require prior knowledge of the hardware on the target systems ahead of time. Using SysPrep is the best solution, and can be implemented in the following manner:

* Install SysPrep on the source computer.

* Edit the SysPrep.inf file using notepad or other text editor:

- If the problem is due to which IDE channel is in use, type the following two lines under the [SysprepMassStorage] section:

Primary_IDE_Channel = %windir%\inf\mshdc.inf

Secondary_IDE_Channel = %windir%\inf\mshdc.inf

- If the problem is due to a new hard drive controller, add an entry for that controller to the [SysprepMassStorage] section. Check your controller's documentation or manufacturer's web site for what is required as it will be different for each controller.

* Save the file

* Run SysPrep

* Create and image of the disk

If the problem was due to the IDE channel in use, Windows 2000 will boot from the correct IDE controller regardless of which IDE drive you wrote the image to.

You may also experience this error if you cloned a Windows 2000 disk to a different size drive or different drive location. Finally, the drive could be incorrectly configured to use DMA access. Turning off DMA access in the computer's BIOS may resolve the problem (before turning off DMA access, consult your hard drive's documentation and the computer's documentation.)

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7.8 Gigabyte Size Limit in NT''s NTFS

You won't even get away with a three gigabyte drive size when performing a Windows NT installation, but many of the imaging tools on the market allow you to grow your partition to the full size of your drive. Partition Magic has allowed this for some time as well. What a great thing- one big "C" drive- 20, 30, 40 gigabytes!

Now the bad news. Even though you can grow it as big as you like, there is at least one good reason to exercise some restraint. At boot time, only the first 7.8 gigabytes can be seen which will be a problem if an installation should move a needed file outside that range. It may seem unlikely if you are only using a couple of gig- but you are venerable nonetheless. Once such file you are likely to encounter this problem with is "c:\winnt\system32\c_1252.nls" 

Your screen will show something like this:

OS Loader V4.01

Disk I/O Error Stats=00000001

Windows NT could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt:

Unfortunately there is not much you can doabout it, you may get lucky with an emergency repair disk- but for me this has meant a system rebuild. Recommendation: Keep your C drive to 7.7 gigabytes on NT 4.0 NTFS formatted systems!

If it is too late for you to limit the partition space one visitor offers their means of recovery in our imaging message board, "We have deleted this file using a www.winternals.com tool, and then copied a fresh copy to the same location. We had to delete the file first and not simply copy over it. It took a while, but the machine revived without re-building."

A visitor offers this solution:
"You can get around the 7.8 gig limit by using the "NTLDR" from Windows 2000. We have been using it for some time now with no problems."

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There are lots of times where you may wish to perform actions prior to logon, during an unattended build process especially. The NT Resource Kit contains a great tool called AutoExNt that can help you do just that.

The AutoExNt service allows you to run a batch file, Autoexnt.bat, when you boot NT without having to log on to that computer. AutoExNT.exe is a service which will run the autoexnt.bat file. AutoExNt is an NT Resource Kit utility. You use instexnt install command to install AutoExNt. To allow AutoExNt to function, set the service to start automatically in Control Panel / Services. Contact rkinput@microsoft.comfor questions or feedback concerning this utility.

Microsoft KB Article Q243486 Explains Its Use

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Sysprep "Factory Mode"


You can use the "-FACTORY" switch to install additional drivers and applications at the stage after the reboot that follows Sysprep. Running Sysprep is normally the last thing you do whenpreparing a computer for delivery. When turned on, the computer simply displays Windows Mini–Setup.

By running Sysprep in Factory Mode, the system instead reboots in a network–enabled state without starting the Mini–Setup. In this state, Factory.exe processes an answer file named "Winbom.ini", which initiates the following actions:

- Copies drivers from a network source to the computer.

- Starts Plug and Play enumeration.

- Stages, installs, and uninstalls applications on the computer from source files located on either the computer or a network source.

- Adds user data.

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Use Generic Drive Controller Driver In Your Image

If you are imaging from from one type of hardware to another, you must ensure the driver for your drive controller is a standard one (not controller-specific). This needs to be done before uploading the image:

- In Device Manager, under IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers, update the hardware-specific driver labeled PCI Bus Master IDE Controller with a standard/generic driver.

- Do not reboot after doing this or Windows will automatically update the driver on you!

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