Going from device-to-device tweaking installation settings takes time, but fortunately, there is a more efficient option; OS imaging and deployment software. Image deployment software can capture OS images and deploy them to multiple computers remotely.
Here is our list of the eleven best OS imaging and deployment software:
- NinjaOne Backup EDITOR’S CHOICE This cloud-based backup system can be used by IT Operations departments or by MSPs to protect the data of their clients. Start a 14-day free trial.
- ManageEngine OS Deployer (FREE TRIAL) This service works offline as well as online and protects devices by managing OS configuration images. Start a 30-day free trial.
- Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office (FREE TRIAL) this package of backup and antimalware includes a disk copying service that can be used for data migration or disk replication. Available for Windows and macOS.
- SmartDeploy Creates a single image for Windows devices and stores on the cloud or to attached media.
- KACE Systems Deployment Appliance A configuration imaging and deployment system that includes automated driver and patch installation.
- Symantec Ghost Solution Suite An OS configuration management system that operates through a web browser and manages Windows, Linux, and Mac endpoints.
- AOMEI Image Deploy A free image deployment system for Windows.
- Ivanti DSM A comprehensive imaging and software distribution system that includes remote deployment capabilities.
- smartImager An image deployment platform for Windows endpoints that includes process automation.
- Paragon Deployment Manager An OS deployment system for bare-metal and virtual appliance installations.
- Deploy Studio A free image deployment package for Mac OS X.
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The best OS imaging and OS deployment software
What should you look for in OS imaging and deployment software?
We reviewed the market for OS imaging software and analyzed tools based on the following criteria:
- A server that can store OS images
- A delivery system for deployment on multiple devices
- Automated rollout
- A reference library structure
- Rollout end status reporting
- A free trial or a money-back guarantee for a no-risk assessment opportunity
- Value for money, represented by an automated tool that improves technician productivity and is sold at a fair price
With these selection criteria in mind, we identified some time saving, secure OS imaging and distribution systems that will save you time and money.
NinjaOne Backup is a cloud-based service that is part of a platform of tools designed to support managed service providers (MSPs). The tool can also be used by IT Departments for in-house data protection.
- Cloud-based system
- Range of backup strategies
- Suitable for MSPs
- Web-based console
The NinjaOne service offers a range of strategies for backing up systems. It is possible to take an image of an OS, which can be used to replicate configurations as well as for recovery. The tool also offers file-level and application-specific backup strategies, plus bit-wise whole disk copies.
Backup locations can be on site or on the cloud. There is a special process included in the NinjaOne system for backing up the devices of work-from-home employees to the cloud. Backups can be full or incremental or a combination of the two. The recovery service is easy to command ad there is even a self-service function for individual users to demand a data restoration to a specific device – that is aimed at the work-from-home market.
- Flexible service with configuration options
- Self-service restoration for users
- Restore to new devices for migration
- Option for automated recovery
- Need to get a custom quote – however you won’t be paying for what you don’t need
NinjaOne avoid charging you for services you won’t use, so it is best to arrange a pricing quote. You can take out the Backup system by itself or in a package with the NinjaOne RMM service. The NinjaOne platform offers a multi-tenant architecture for all of its modules. You can assess NinjaOne Backup with a 14-day free trial.
NinjaOne Backup is our top pick for an OS imaging service because it offers a range of imaging options that can be used for backup, replication, or migration. The service combines data extraction systems plus image library management. Quickly apply an image to restore a device or set up a new computer. This is a cloud-based service and it includes storage space for images. The platform is constructed with a multi-tenanted architecture, which makes it ideal for use by managed service providers.
Official Site: https://www.ninjaone.com/freetrialform/
Related: NinjaOne Backup – Full Review
ManageEngine OS Deployer is a deployment platform that can create and deploy default OS images online or offline. Images can be customized and deployed across multiple computers with authentication pass-codes.
- Create and store images
- Deploy images
- Online and offline deployment options
- Deploys across a network or the internet
- Bulk configuration
This comprehensive software is very easy to use because ManageEngine OS Deployer automatically configures hardware settings during deployment. You can also push OSs to remote computers through the console so that you don’t have to manage each device individually.
There are three versions of ManageEngine OS Deployer: Free Edition, Professional, and Enterprise. The Free Edition supports up to four workstations and one server. The Professional version is suitable for LAN computers with online/offline imaging, SID handling, hardware-independent deployment, and more.
In summary, ManageEngine OS Deployer takes care of all endpoint OS management issues in one system, which generates value for money. You host this software on your own server, so you also need to work out where to store your OS images. However, the OS Deployer will keep track of that library and make instances easy to locate and deploy. The package includes automation for individual and maas deployment with choices over whether to work with applications, OSs, or the entire setup of a device.
- Options for operations on a single site or on multiple sites
- Take an image of a device while its in use
- Migrate user profile data
- Bulk operations and automation
- No cloud version
The Enterprise version is suitable for WAN computers and includes remote office deployment. You can download the 30-day free trial.
Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office is a software package for desktops and laptops that provides a range of security services plus disk management systems. The two main strands of this package are an antimalware system and a backup and recovery service. The backup system can be used at file level, on an application basis, or to copy an entire disk. The disk copying service can be used for migration and replication.
- Disk cloning
- File and application backup
- Cloud storage
- Disk management tools
The disk imaging system offers a range of storage options. You can copy to removable storage on site, to a server on a remote site, to a private cloud, to a commercial cloud platform, such as Aure or AWS, or to the Acronis Cloud system.
For data backup purposes, it is better to combine two storage locations and two backup strategies. For replication, you might only need one storage location. The Acronis system scans files for infection before uploading them to backup and scans them again when restoring them.
- Combines malware with backup services
- Supports disk cloning and deployment
- Useful for data migration or setup replication
- Cloud storage included in higher plans
- No version for Linux
There are three plans available for Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office: Essentials, Advanced, and Premium. The software is licensed annually and there are options for multiple device licenses. The Advanced plan includes 500 GB of cloud storage and the Premium plan includes 1 TB of cloud storage space with more available for a fee. The software for this system runs on Windows and macOS and you can assess it on a 30-day free trial.
SmartDeploy is a desktop management solution with computer imaging and app deployment capabilities. The user can create one Windows golden image and deploy it to a PC made by any manufacturer or model). Single image management is much more efficient than trying to deploy lots of OS images separately. SmartDeploy can simultaneously deploy to 25 devices or more.
- Imaging per app or per entire device
- Automated extraction and storage
- Mass deployment
- Preview on a virtual machine
Deployments can be managed from one centralized console. To increase the speed of configuration there are also pre-built driver packages for over 1200 different hardware models.
The application deployment capabilities of SmartDeploy enable you to install applications on a golden virtual machine before capture. You can also deploy or update applications through the Application Layer rather than the Windows OS Layer. These applications can be accessed through the cloud or through more traditional means like DVDs and USB drives.
- Drivers for more than 1,200 hardware models
- Process automation for extraction and rollout
- Operates on Windows
- Usage training packages available
- Is a “Jack of all trades” – not ideal for those looking strictly for disk imaging
- Can’t image devices running macOS or Linux
There are three editions for SmartDeploy: Basic, Essential, and Premium. Prices start at $960 (£724.72) per year.
KACE Systems Deployment Appliance is an OS imaging and software deployment designed to distribute configuration files to devices. KACE Systems Deployment Appliance has deployment scheduling so you can regularly update your infrastructure through a web-based console.
- Scheduled distribution
- Library of OS drivers
- Deploy applications or OSs
The user experience is made simple through the GUI and the task engine, which allow you to control deployment tasks and reboots in real-time. There are also automated features that automate manual tasks like installing applications and deploying scripts. In addition, you can recover remote systems.
Automation is one of the biggest strengths of KACE Systems Deployment Appliance. For example, the platform automatically downloads the latest drivers by computer model. If you ever run into trouble then you can access the expertise of the IT Ninja Community and the KACE training library to find how to get the most out of the program.
- Choose the level image from application to entire device
- Mass deploy images
- Integrate rollout into onboarding automation
- Not suited for MSPs or larger multi-site organizations
- Must contact the sales team for pricing
KACE Systems Deployment Appliance is a solution suitable for those who want to manage OS deployments at scale. If you want to view a quote for KACE Systems Deployment Appliance you will have to contact the company directly. You can download the 30-day free trial version.
Symantec Ghost Solution Suite is a software imaging and deployment platform that can deploy software and custom configurations to bare-metal devices. Symantec Ghost Solution Suite supports a range of OSs including Windows, Mac, and Linux. The software can be loaded in any web browser by multiple users at once. The widespread accessibility of the program makes it ideal for remote environments.
- Supports Windows, macOS, and Linux
- Deploys software or OSs
- Fast deployment
To help new users become familiar with the program, Symantec Ghost Solution Suite provides Guided Wizards, that show how to complete certain tasks. For example, you can look up how to schedule jobs on computers, move computers between groups, and other manual tasks you might not know how to do.
- Wizards provided guided steps for various tasks
- Choose which level to image
- Reconfigure devices
- Pricing is not transparent, must contact sales
- Is built for sysadmin, not the best option for home users
Symantec Ghost Solution Suite is also very fast. The tool supports iPXE, which speeds up pre-boot automation and reduces downtime during deployment. Symantec Ghost Solution Suite can be purchased from a partner or the company website.
Related post: Best Linux Patch Management Tools
AOMEI Image Deploy is a free image deployment tool that allows you to provision bare-metal devices. The tool has a prompt that takes you through the process of deploying OS to connected computers. The user can view a list of IP addresses and restoring percentages. These features provide an overview that makes remote management much easier.
- Free to use
- Operates on Windows
- Can bridge between different hardware
The software also has dissimilar hardware support. That means that you can deploy OSs to the target computers with different types of hardware. Dissimilar hardware support makes AOMEI Image Deploy a good fit in environments with computers from lots of different vendors.
- Images down to bare-metal
- Guided operations
- Restore or replicate
- Only available for Windows
- No application imaging option
AOMEI Image Deploy is available for Windows 10, 8.1, 8, 7, Vista, and XP. It’s a great tool but there’s a catch – the free system is only for private use. Businesses are expected to pay for AOMEI Image Deploy Technician, which costs $199 (£150.23) for a perpetual license. The paid version comes with a 90-day money-back guarantee. You can download the 30-day free trial version.
Ivanti is an automated OS imaging platform with zero-touch imaging and migration capabilities. The software is easy to configure with a range of wizards to help set up OSs and drivers. To provision a new service, all you need to do is click on the type of service you want to deploy.
- Full endpoint management system
- Imaging wizards
- Choice of imaging levels
Deployment options include Application, OS installation, eScript Package, Software Set, Driver Installation, APPX Package, Configuration Package, Distribution of Files, Virtual Application, and more.
Through the Ivanti DSM Packaging Workbench, you can use a scripting language to edit scripts. There are around 170 different commands you can use to manage installations. Packages can also be monitored throughout deployment through the Software Package Lifecycle dashboard, which shows the status of packages.
If there is a problem during deployment, Ivanti supports remote administration so the user can control devices and systems remotely. Remote administration increases productivity because a user doesn’t need to be on-site to fix issues in deployment.
- Guided wizards for administration tasks
- Create installer packages or file transfer bundles
- Automated image deployment
- No cloud-based version is available
- No price list
Ivanti is ideal for geographically dispersed teams who want a simple OS deployment platform to work from. To view the pricing information for Ivanti you will have to request a custom quote form the company. You can download the free trial version.
smartImager is an image deployment software solution that supports any version of Windows. smartImager uses a dynamic scripting engine so that you don’t need to create scripts to deploy Operating System images. It also automates driver deployment and picks the best driver for a given platform, speeding up the wider deployment process.
- Operates on Windows
- Extract and store OS images
- Deploy images automatically
Automatic driver capturing and indexing allows you to work with new hardware almost immediately without installing any add-ons. The user interface makes it easy to keep on top of deployment progress through the dashboard. The dashboard displays real-time metrics and reporting features that enable you to manage deployments.
The software is also available for your phone or tablet so that you can remotely manage your network no matter where you are located. smartImager is thus highly recommended to enterprises that want a low-maintenance and accessible image deployment solution.
- Will work with all versions of Windows, including Windows Server
- Automated driver deployment
- Management apps for mobile devices
- Generous 60-day trial
- Look elsewhere for devices running Linux or macOS
For image deployment up to 500 computers, smartImager costs $4,495 (£3,461) per year. However, if you need something different then you can request a custom quote from the company directly. There is also a 60-day free trial.
Paragon Deployment Manager is an OS deployment platform that can install systems on bare-metal and virtual writable devices. Paragon Deployment Manager is easy to install and use with a Wix-Based installer that takes you through the process of configuring your administration environment. Once you’re up and running you can manage all your deployments from one pane of glass.
- Deploys to VMs as well as computers
- Dissimilar hardware in a batch
- Deployment scheduler
When it comes to deploying software, you can deploy to dissimilar hardware and groups of devices. There is also the ability to schedule future deployments. To maximize efficiency you can also back up changes to master images.
- Server version supports backup and recovery of virtual environments
- Uses a simple wizard to create a recovery environment for future media recovery
- Easy to use interface
- Features drive encryption to keep backups secure
- Higher price point, more geared toward enterprise networks
To view the price of the Paragon Deployment Manager you will have to contact the company directly. You can contact Paragon by filling out the form here.
DeployStudio is a freeware image deployment platform for Mac OS. Users can deploy to Mac computers and monitor deployments in real-time. Deploy Studio can be used through a hard drive and remotely, making it suitable for networks of all shapes and sizes.
- Deploys macOS
- Free to use
- Task automation
Workflows drive the bulk of the user experience. Workflow tasks can be created for setting a hostname, creating a new user, creating additional network locations, and inputting a site license number.
There is also the ability to complete more general administrative tasks such as running scripts, partitioning disks, installing packages, copying files, and restarting systems after completing a workflow. These features give the user complete control over OS deployments without the need for any technical knowledge.
- Native macOS imaging tool
- Offers simple yet intuitive visuals
- Users can create workflows to automate repetitive tasks
- Completely free
- Only for macOS
If you’re looking for a low-cost OS deployment solution for Mac devices then DeployStudio is a good option. You can download the program for free.
Choosing OS imaging and deployment software
No matter how well you maintain your hardware, all devices are bound to fail at one point or another. Having a disk image to back up your systems will ensure you can return to normal operations even if a computer is compromised. While you can back up and deploy OSs manually it is more efficient to use an OS imaging and deployment platform.
Products like ManageEngine OS Deployer, NinjaOne Backup, and Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office all help you to remotely administer OSs. These software platforms will mesh with most data backup and recovery plan whether you’re using more traditional hardware or advanced virtual services.
OS Image Deployment Software FAQs
How can I speed up offline servicing?
You can speed up offline servicing for WIM with SCCM by removing indexes from the WIM. The system compares processing to a series of indexes, each written for a specific scenario. You won’t need all of those indexes for your specific deployment. View the indexes with the command
dism /get-imageinfo /imagefile:E:\<path to wim>\Install.wim
Remove unnecessary indexes one by one with the command
dism /delete-image /imagefile:E:\<path to wim>\Install.wim /index:1
-- the above example would remove index 1, change the index number in the command according to your selection.
The index number resequences with the removal of each index. Requery after each index removal to see the new number of the next index you want to remove. Fewer indexes listed in the WIM will shorten the offline servicing time.
Is an ISO image bootable?
Yes. Create a bootable DVD/USB with the image on it by using the Windows USB/DVD Download Tool to copy over the ISO image from your hard drive to the storage medium.
Will OS image deployment software work in a data center environment?
Yes. A data center environment is only different in one way – volume. Data centers can be tasks with setting up a very large number of devices in a batch. Process automation is essential in this scenario.