Installing an operating system and the basic applications on a Wintel machine can be tedious. You can cut down on the time by using the Sysdiff utility for your installations. I personally keep a Sysdiff file in case of a hard drive failure, and this file can be used on two of the three NT machines on my home network.

Sysdiff records the differences between a normal WinNT installation and a machine that has WinNT and applications installed. There are 5 modes to the Sysdiff utility:

  • /SNAP
    The /SNAP mode creates a snapshot of the state of a WinNT operating system registry and added files and directories. This information is recorded in a snapshot file.

  • /DIFF
    The /DIFF mode records the differences between the state of a previous snapshot of a WinNT installation and the current state of the files and operating system. These differences are recorded in a difference file.

  • /APPLY
    The /APPLY mode applies the information from a difference file to the current WinNT installation.

  • /INF
    The /INF mode creates an .inf file and installation data from a difference file. This can be stored on a server and shared throughout the network. If you reinstall from the network, you can set Windows NT up to automatically install the difference file to the new install.

  • /DUMP
    The /DUMP mode produces a text dump of all the details in the difference file. This text dump is readable using Notepad.


    To use Sysdiff:

    1. Install Windows NT on the first machine.

    2. Type sysdiff /snap in a DOS window to record the snapshot file.

    3. Install the additional applications on the first machine, such as Office 2000, Netscape, etc.

    4. Type sysdiff /diff to create the difference file.

    5. Install Windows NT on the other computers.

    6. Copy the difference file to the other computers, or share the file through the network.

    7. At the other computers, type sysdiff /apply to apply the applications and programs to each computer.