Windows Imaging Software Comparison

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In the complex landscape of IT management tools, it can be difficult to find, evaluate, and ultimately implement a perfect solution for your organization. SmartDeploy asked PassMark Software, a leading authority in software and hardware performance benchmarking and testing, to evaluate some of the most popular Windows imaging software solutions on the market: Acronis Snap Deploy, Microsoft Deployment Toolkit, Symantec Ghost, and SmartDeploy. Check out the results.

Imaging Tool Showdown

A guide for IT pros

Acronis Snap Deploy

with Universal Deploy


Microsoft Deployment Toolkit




Symantec Ghost

with DeployAnywhere

Capture Image

When creating your master image it’s a best practice to start from a virtual machine (VM). Using a VM means you won’t capture any device specific drivers in your image that could cause problems at deployment time. Most tools use a physical device to create an image, but with SmartDeploy you’ll capture a VM using a simple wizard. Plus, capture occurs completely offline without using complex command-line interfaces.

SmartDeploy: 12minutes
Symantec Ghost: 17minutes
Acronis Snap Deploy: 33minutes
Microsoft Deployment Toolkit: 40minutes

Download & Package Drivers

Traditional imaging software requires dealing with drivers in one of two ways: capturing an image from a physical device to deploy only back to the same type of device, or having one large driver repository included with your image leaving it up to plug-and-play to determine the correct drivers to use.

SmartDeploy keeps image files and device drivers separate. Simply download the Platform Packs for the computer models you support and SmartDeploy will automatically run Sysprep and inject the correct drivers at deployment time.

Create Deployment Media

It’s important to be able to create different types of deployment media depending on your environment. USB or DVD media is a great option for low bandwidth or disconnected environments.

SmartDeploy: 4 minutes
Symantec Ghost: 18 minutes
Acronis Snap Deploy: 3 minutes
Microsoft Deployment Toolkit: 7 minutes

Industry Standard File Format


3.81 GB



3.66 GB


File Size & Type

Larger file sizes mean more storage is required and can slow deployments. Proprietary file formats, like .GHO and .TIB, are inflexible and incompatible with other solutions. The Windows Image file format (.WIM), used by MDT and SmartDeploy, is a Microsoft standard, allowing for ultimate flexibility and reliability.

Proprietary File Formats


4.16 GB

Symantec Ghost


4.19 GB

Acronis Snap Deploy

Deploy Image

Traditional imaging software usually requires maintaining a separate image for each computer model in your organization, resulting in a large image library that can be time consuming to manage and update. With SmartDeploy, one master image can be deployed to any hardware make and model. You can carry around a single USB stick with everything you need to reimage any device in your organization. Deploy your hardware-independent image to any endpoint in your organization using the same simple process. It’s that easy!

SmartDeploy: 18 minutes
Symantec Ghost: 22 minutes
Acronis Snap Deploy: 65 minutes
Microsoft Deployment Toolkit: 25 minutes

The Results are In!

SmartDeploy saves you time with faster image creation and deployment

Total Time

SmartDeploy: 36 minutes
Symantec Ghost: 64 minutes
Acronis Snap Deploy: 85 minutes
Microsoft Deployment Toolkit: 111 minutes

Hours to Deploy Multiple Machines

As the number of computer models you need to manage increases, the imaging solution you use can have a big impact on the number of hours required to complete your work.



Symantec Ghost

Symantec Comparison1

Acronis Snap Deploy


Microsoft Deployment Toolkit

MDT Comparison1

Driver Management Makes A Difference

traditional ghosting software

Symantec Ghost, Acronis Snap Deploy, Microsoft Deployment Toolkit

You must decide how to architect and implement your driver management strategy. This may include creating model-specific images, writing scripted installs, or counting on Windows to have the correct drivers for each computer model.

smartdeploy imaging software


Driver management is done automatically. You create one hardware-independent master image and SmartDeploy injects the model-specific drivers at deployment time.

Take the next step.

Software tested:
SmartDeploy Enterprise v 1.1.1940
Symantec Ghost Solution Suite 2.5, includes DeployAnywhere
Acronis Snap Deploy 3 with Universal Deploy
Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2010 Update 1

PassMark Software Logo

Software to be tested was chosen by SmartDeploy. PassMark® tested the latest version of the software product that was available at time of testing. PassMark® Software Pty Ltd was commissioned by SmartDeploy in July 2011 to conduct an independent benchmark test for four different operating system imaging and deployment software solutions. PassMark® Software Pty Ltd is a leading authority in software and hardware performance benchmarking and testing. PassMark® specializes in the developing of high quality performance benchmarking solutions, as well as providing expert independent IT consultancy services to clients that range from government organizations to major IT heavyweights. David Wren, managing director at PassMark®, was the lead for this test.

For more information, download the full report or contact us.