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Anybody Know Sysprep?


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#1 Herk

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Posted 31 March 2007 - 11:49 AM

This is a strange one: I was working on a computer that fried. Turned out to have a bad power supply and a destroyed motherboard. It was still under warranty from eMachines. They sent it back and the motherboard was replaced, maybe the hard drive, I'm not sure.

When it came back, the USB ports didn't work, so they sent it back again and the motherboard was once again replaced.

I went over to install a new power supply so that the thing wouldn't crater again in less than a year. But I noticed that the Sysprep dialog was up on the screen. Further inspection found that the computer was registered to "Owner." I contacted emachines by chat and the first tech wanted control of the machine. I gave it to him. He clicked on something and killed the internet connection. I restarted the machine and the second tech asked me to disable sysprep in MSCONFIG. It wasn't there. So she took over the computer and I watched as she tried to figure out what to do. She opened Control Panel and then scrolled through Add/Remove Programs. It wasn't there, either.

After a long pause, she linked me to a Microsoft page that showed how to remove Sysprep from the host computer! Now, this seems to require renaming a registry hive, and I'm not anxious to do any such thing on a functioning computer. The owner says that he had an earlier conversation with them and they told him to just close the window every time Windows starts.

So I'm wondering *finally gets to the point*, if this was actually a host computer's hard drive? How did the sysprep program get onto what should be the client computer? I've never used it, but I wonder if the Sysprep program was broken, or if it was a host machine's motherboard and hard drive that were stuck into this box? At any rate, I wasn't terribly impressed with eMachines online techs. The Windows setup program or eMachines setup program never ran at first boot. And most important, could removing the sysprep program kill the activation on the machine?

I'd appreciate any thoughts on this matter. It's Media Center Edition, and the computer was a year old in February. (It originally failed before the year was up.)

One additional bit of information: While I was working on it, there were MS updates - one of which was WGA, so I assume that it is currently registering as a valid computer.

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#2 usasma

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Posted 31 March 2007 - 01:01 PM

Sysprep can be used to put an image of the hard drive on the client computer.

I'd suspect that the regedit would cure it, but first I'd backup the registry and would be sure that I could recover it even if the system wouldn't boot (either through the Recovery Console or with a Bart PE/UBCD).
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#3 Herk

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Posted 31 March 2007 - 01:20 PM

I don't know if the eMachines came with a disk or if one can be made. I'm probably going over there today on a non-computer related issue and could check to see what's available. Right now, the computer works fine, apparently, except for the Sysprep popup, which can simply be closed. If there's an option to create a set of CDs, I might do that, just so it can be re-installed.

Thanks, John, I figured you'd know something about it.

Obviously, eMachines screwed it up when servicing it, somehow. Sure looks to be a garage-based operation, even though they're owned by Gateway. (MSINFO32 says the manufacturer is Gateway, and the Model is eMachines)

#4 usasma

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Posted 31 March 2007 - 01:32 PM

Generally, eMachines recovery is similar to Gateway's (yes, Gateway does own eMachines). They've got a partial recovery partition and the recovery disk will copy the i386 sub-directory to it before doing the restore.

FWIW - I've seen some recent issues/quirks with the recovery not working as intended and have had a number of arguments with the installer myself!

We use any Gateway or eMachines disk to perform restores at work. Just be careful to use the correct version (Pro, Home, Media Center) - as this will change the version on the machine. Interestingly, we recovered a XP Media Center eMachines with a Gateway XPHome CD in order to downgrade the installation so that we could upgrade it to XPPro (you can't upgrade from MCE directly to Pro)
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#5 Herk

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Posted 31 March 2007 - 02:58 PM

I just came back from there. Yes, they do have a recovery disk, so I'm not going to do any more with it at this time. The system works fine except for the annoying Sysprep dialog popping up with each boot. It appears to be in Administrator mode rather than user mode, which shouldn't make any difference, since the first user is an administrator anyway.

I had thought that eMachines had cleared up their problem with power supplies trashing the motherboard since I wasn't seeing so much about it on the net with newer versions. Mostly, it's computers that are as much as five years old that had the problem. And the HiPro power supplies used to last for about three years or more. Still, always a good idea to have something more dependable.




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