One of the big issues I hear people talk about when it comes to utilizing an image- and OSD less approach is “What if the hard drive breaks and we need to reinstall the machine?”. This is based on that assumption that we need to create a custom image with the drivers and such for recovery purpose. Disks do break, so this is a real problem.
You probably bought that computer from one of the big computer manufacturers out there meaning that they thought of this.
In this article I will post many bold and naive statements, which you might not agree with. I understand that, but we also need to challenge how we have done things for the last 15 years. I’m not saying this is the whole truth, but I want to challenge the way you operate!
What happens when a consumer computer breaks down? Your typical home user does not have a Windows Deployment Services server running in their home network.
Most of the big manufacturers provides you with a new, fresh image created for your computer from their website, often using their recovery tool. The process to obtain the recovery image is a bit different based on which manufacturer, but it’s an uncomplicated way to recover a broken machine without the need to creating custom images.
Making use of what has already been created (and probably covered by the support commitment) should make sense. If someone else that we know and trust already created this, why shouldn’t we utilize it?
At least Microsoft, Lenovo, Dell and HP offers this service in one way or another.
A second option to this, but less ideal, is to use a generic Windows 10 image downloaded from Microsoft (or your Microsoft Volume Licensing Service Centre). The device will be missing all drivers to start with, but that is usually addressed using either the Windows Update feature or the driver update tool for that particular vendor (which you should consider using anyways to keep your drivers up to date on all your machines).
Resetting the device
If you for some reason need to reset a computer, there is no need to use an external media source to re-install Windows 10. This is built into the operating system, just like on your phone.
In Windows 10, instead of injecting your custom image, you simply reset the computer. Depending on where you are coming at it from, you might have to do it in different approaches.
Microsoft have documented this process very well here, so I won’t dig into it further on a how-to level.
I’m going to make a bold statement that many of you might not agree with. But operating systems deployment and creating custom images are a thing of the past. It will still be around for years to come since change does not happen overnight, and most companies have invested heavily in this. But it will start to fade away as more and more companies dare to trust the OEMs that their images are good enough. This will not solve data-loss at all, but it will bring the device back up and running which is often just as important for the user. Creating a custom image is an artform, but soon that artform needs to evolve into something else. There is a shift happening and we need to find other approaches to the old problems when we use new tools.
Today, this will not fit all scenarios. But if you look at the big picture, this could probably cover 80-90% of your user-base. Heck, you could have your users replace disks them self and then recover the operating system (imagine that!).
I’ve tried this with several different types of machines and manufacturers, and it works really well. You can even reset a custom image using the built-in reset feature. The result, however, can be a bit strange if you have removed a lot of the built-in apps etc. But the machine will still work and the user might not notice (especially if you make sure to deploy the needed apps to the end-user using Intune).
Combine this with the power of Office 365 and the cloud for storing your documents and work and you will have a pretty sweet setup where the device isn’t that important anymore.
Do explore the different possibilities in using standardized recovery media, but I’m not saying it will solve all your problems but it will take away some headache and hours spent on creating and maintaining custom images.