Computer imaging  

Computer imaging is the process of creating a copy of a device’s operating system, software, and data from a configured reference machine with the aim of deploying it to another computer or group of computers. This enables you to make sure that computer systems are properly set up and provisioned when onboarding new employees or migrating from one device to another. The right computer imaging solution helps IT teams simplify the historically complicated imaging process, maximize user uptime, and create a more secure and productive endpoint environment.

WHAT IS COMPUTER IMAGING?

Computer imaging, also known as disk imaging or system imaging, is the process of creating and capturing a snapshot (known as an image) of a device’s operating system, software, and data. The image is captured from a physical or virtual reference computer so it can be deployed to another computer or network of computers. This is traditionally a manual process that takes a lot of time and effort.

In many organizations, computer imaging is typically done when IT admins need to set up new user computers for employees, repair or repurpose existing machines, or upgrade devices to the latest OS version. Corporate OS images are configured according to company policies and standards for greater endpoint security and smoother operations. Created images can be deployed to user devices using offline media, over local networks, or even over the cloud.

Once a time-consuming task, computer imaging software saves IT precious time and resources by providing a reliable, repeatable, and efficient way to create and deploy corporate images across their entire fleet.

KEY COMPUTER IMAGING FEATURES

Wizard-driven guided interface

Create images, build deployment packages, and manage ongoing tasks easily from a central dashboard and with the help of wizard guides.

Build a virtual reference machine

Simplify computer imaging by building a single golden reference VM on your computer and save on storage and hardware costs.

Image capture while VM is running

Keep your reference VM running, constantly updating, and ready for image capture at any time.

Capture and deploy Windows 11

Ready to take the leap? Capture and deploy Windows 11 images to compatible machines directly from your console.

Create WDS boot media

Already using Windows Deployment Services? You can create WDS boot media for network-based deployment via PXE boot.

Keep user profiles intact

Manage Windows upgrades and break-fix scenarios more efficiently when you can reimage the OS layer without affecting user files and settings.

Create custom answer files

Use custom answer files to fully automate the deployment process from end to end, application deployment, or post-deployment scripting.

Multicast images

For larger batches of computers, the multicast feature allows you to deploy images to multiple machines at the same time.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF COMPUTER IMAGING?

More efficient endpoint management

Computer imaging enables IT to manage and support PCs across the organization more efficiently. Streamline otherwise resource-intensive tasks like hardware rollouts, Windows migration, user migration, PC break-fixes, and lab refreshes.

Better endpoint performance and security

Deploying a custom, up-to-date corporate image to user devices removes unwanted bloatware or undetected security risks. By starting from the same known, clean state, you get more consistent endpoint performance and a lower risk of unplanned downtime.

  • More efficient PC lifecycle management  
  • Eliminate OEM bloatware  
  • Keep endpoints up to date easily  
  • Improved endpoint performance   
  • Better endpoint security & compliance 
  • Improved helpdesk productivity 
  • Reduced user downtime 
  • Lower IT operational costs   

Hear from real SmartDeploy customers

State-chartered institution, Ohio Valley Bank, cuts imaging time by over 50% after replacing manual efforts, improving operational efficiency and productivity.
New York construction company, EW Howell, reduces imaging and provisioning time by 75% for endpoints spread across their permanent and field locations.

SMARTDEPLOY VS. LEADING COMPETITOR IN CLOUD COMPUTER IMAGING

SmartDeploy

Competitor

Easy setup

Yes

vs

No

Short ramp-up time

Yes

vs

No

Wizard-driven guided interface

Yes

vs

No

Can be used by technicians of any skill level and experience

Yes

vs

No

Additional training recommended

No

vs

Yes

Requires complex configurations

No

vs

Yes

Quick-start guides available

Yes

vs

No

FAQs

What are the different types of computer imaging software?

There are two common types of computer imaging software, each designed to function very differently although they serve a similar purpose. Depending on the number and diversity of endpoints you support, the type of computer imaging software you use can impact efficiency and operational costs.

Sector-based imaging software

Also referred to as “disk cloning software” or “cloning software”, sector-based imaging software involves creating a carbon copy of a reference computer’s hard disk with the OS, drivers, and software, and applying that copy to an identical device. That means that an image created from a particular reference computer can only be deployed to a user device of the same make and model. If you’re managing an environment with different types of hardware, you’ll likely end up with a huge inventory of physical reference machines and images to maintain, making computer imaging a resource-intensive and expensive affair.

File-based imaging software

File-based imaging software like SmartDeploy, on the other hand, allows you to have more control over the OS files and software that you want to include in an image. You can create a golden Windows image that’s compatible with any device model or user group, containing just the OS and core applications required by all users in the organization. Model-specific device drivers and specialized software can be installed or deployed in separate layers. Using file-based imaging software, you can streamline the computer imaging process and reduce the size of your image library.

How do you deploy corporate images to user devices?

A robust and versatile computer imaging solution gives you the flexibility to deploy your image in multiple ways.

  • Offline: You can deploy your image using USB or optical media like DVD, which contain the target OS, device drivers, and software. Offline deployments can be used for computers that are not connected to the local network or the internet.
  • Online via local network: Online deployment via a local office network is fast and reliable, allowing you to connect to a file server and use it as a central image repository. This method of deployment is common in scenarios like hardware rollouts and school lab refreshes.
  • Over the cloud: With computer imaging solutions that are integrated with third-party cloud storage providers and feature out-of-box remote cloud computer imaging and deployment, you can also deploy images and push out software and patches to devices over the cloud.

Whether users are onsite or remote, the best computer imaging software equips you to support and manage devices with ease and efficiency.

How to choose the right computer imaging software?

When choosing the right computer imaging software, it’s important to consider its business value. Most people would choose software products based on price. But low-cost or free computer imaging software can be prohibitively complex to use and often doesn’t come with user guides or technical support. This ends up costing you much more in terms of hours and resources to set up, configure, and use effectively for day-to-day tasks.

Instead, assess your options based on the potential increase in overall efficiency and productivity for your team and your organization by looking at:

  • Ease of setup and use
  • Functionalities
  • Scalability
  • Device compatibility
  • Availability and quality of technical support

Always try before you buy. Check out product demos and free trials that allow you to image a computer or two and experience the software for yourself before deciding.