Windows Deployment Services is a program that helps you deploy Windows operating systems over a network. This saves you from installing operating systems manually via CD or DVD.
WDS can deploy images to different Windows environments, minimizing the cost and complexity of manual installations.
It utilizes multicast functionality to transmit data and images. The Image Capture Wizard plays a great role in creating images of reference computers. And you can add driver packages and configure them before deploying them alongside the images to the client computers.
However, WDS is not always the best fit for all systems. For one reason or another, you may opt for an alternative that complies with your requirements.
For example, while using the program to deploy your system, you may encounter PXE issues, which will prompt you to seek another alternative.
During the process of deployment, the multicast protocol fails to speed up deployment, slowing things down.
The tool sometimes causes a memory leak and encryption issues. It may also take time to test and configure before it starts the deployment process.
These are the issues that may drive you to look for similar software with better features. That being said, let’s look at some of the best WDS alternatives to consider.
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SmartDeploy is a user-friendly desktop management solution. It comes with app deployment and computer imaging capabilities too. All you need is to create a single Windows golden image before deploying it to any PC. Managing a single image works better than deploying multiple OS images separately.
You can simultaneously deploy to more than 25 devices with SmartDeploy. The best part about this WDS alternative is that your deployments can be carried out from a single centralized console.
This tool has pre-built driver packages for more than 1200 hardware models to help boost the speed of configuration.
With SmartDeploy’s application deployment capabilities, you can effortlessly install apps on a golden virtual machine before capture. The Application Layer lets you update or deploy your applications without relying on the Windows OS Layer. If you want to access these applications, you can use USB drives, DVDs, or the cloud.
Compared to Microsoft’s deployment services, SmartDeploy offers more deployment options with speedy configurations. It can conduct deployments on various devices from one centralized console using model-specific drivers. With one golden image, it ensures seamless deployment to any computer model.
SmartDeploy offers Basic, Essential, and Premium pricing plans. The basic plan costs $23.30 per machine. It covers five support tickets every month and a 12-hour response time.
The essential plan comes at $27.50 per machine, with five support tickets every month and an eight-hour response time.
The premium plan costs $30.80 for 10 tickets every month and a four-hour response time.
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AOMEI Image Deploy (AID) is a free image deployment and network cloning tool – one of the best WDS alternatives in the market. With this software, you can clone multiple computers over the network or deploy system images to various computers.
AOMEI has a prompt that guides you through the deployment process. You’ll view the IP addresses list and restore percentages. This will make your remote management process easy.
If you’re wondering how you’ll manage to deploy system images to many different computers simultaneously, AOMEI can do the job efficiently. It can provision hundreds of servers and PCs simultaneously, including drivers, software, patches, and more.
This software has dissimilar hardware support too. Do you know what this means? You can deploy operating systems to target computers that have different hardware. This makes it a good tool for environments with computers from different vendors. And with centralized backup management, your work will be easier.
What gives AID an edge is its universal restore feature that helps to deploy custom images to other computers with dissimilar hardware. AOMEI is also efficient and easy to use.
AOMEI has two versions, the Freeware version and the Technician version that costs $199.
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Clonezilla is a free, open-source deployment computer program, disk cloning, data recovery, and disk imaging tool. It was developed in Taiwan and provides multicast support similar to that of Norton Ghost, WDS, and True Image.
Clonezilla helps with system deployment, bare metal backup, and recovery.
Clonezilla lite server enables you to use Clonezilla live to carry out massive cloning. It supports broadcast, multicast, unicast, and BitTorrent.
Clonezilla Live lets you use a DVD, CD, or USB drive to boot and run it (Unicast only).
Clonezilla SE is part of DRBL. To use it, a DRBL server has to be set up. Then you’ll be able to use Clonezilla for massive cloning (broadcast, unicast, and multicast are supported).
Clonezilla allows seamless deployment and creation of excellent backup and recovery systems. For one computer, you can use Clonezilla Live. But if you have an entire network, consider Clonezilla SE, which can seamlessly clone over 40 computers.
To increase clone efficiency, the tool saves and restores used blocks in the hard drive. In unsupported file systems, a sector-to-sector copy is done by the dd in Clonezilla.
It supports multiple file systems and you can use boot parameters to customize your cloning and imaging.
If Wake-on-LAN and PXE are supported by your clients, you can use multicast to save or restore several computers.
Clonezilla surpasses Windows Development Services in areas such as creating excellent backup and recovery systems. It can clone massive computers (41 and more). It helps to save time and resources, especially if you’re deploying to virtual systems.
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ManageEngine OS Deployer is what you need to standardize your systems, cut costs, wrap up your working hours, and reduce manual efforts. It can seamlessly create and deploy OS images offline or online and customize them across computers using authentication passcodes.
It is a comprehensive, easy-to-use tool that automatically configures hardware settings during the deployment process. With ManageEngine, you can push operating systems to remote computers through a console to save time on managing every device individually.
Use it to create a master image of the operating system and deploy it to servers and desktops from a centralized location.
This program not only standardizes operating system deployments, but it also helps to automatically add compatible drivers to the computer where the image is deployed. It has flexible boot options and advanced features for OS deployment. This only means you can customize deployment to the needs of your company using deployment templates.
Image your computers using such modern techniques and boost productivity. ManageEngine has convenient and reliable driver management that enables automatic collection and distribution of drivers to computers in any location. You can also migrate user profile data as you deploy the OS.
ManageEngine also offers a step-by-step guide on reinstalling the operating system on a computer or network that is virus-infected.
ManageEngine offers a free edition, a professional plan, and an enterprise plan. Its free edition supports four workstations and one server.
The professional version is meant for LAN computers with offline/online imaging, hardware-independent deployment, SID handling, and more.
The enterprise plan is for WAN computers and also supports remote office deployment.
What makes ManageEngine stand out from WDS is its ability to automatically collect and distribute drivers to computers anywhere.
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KACE Systems Deployment appliance is a software deployment and operating system imaging program for distributing configuration files across devices. It comes with deployment scheduling to allow you to update your infrastructure regularly through a web-based console.
KACE can help you execute large-scale system imaging and OS deployments on multiple sites. This helps to streamline distributions, driver updates, and gold master image administration on different hardware platforms.
This tool provides a simple user experience through the task engine and GUI which gives you control over the reboots and deployment tasks in real-time.
KACE has automated features to use on tasks like script deployment and application installation. The best part is that you can easily recover remote systems.
The biggest strength that gives KACE an edge over WDS is automation. For instance, this software can automatically download the latest drivers based on the computer model.
You also have access to its training library and the IT Ninja Community where you can get more insights and assistance whenever you need help. They have a support portal that enables you to get help when you are stuck.
With KACE, you have;
- Fast delivery of massive systems deployment virtually to devices in any location
- Centralized software deployment and systems imaging
- Automated software and OS distribution for secure and up-to-date systems
This is the program that will help you minimize deployment times. If you are on a budget, KACE Systems will get you up and running in no time.
Besides, KACE Systems has deployment scheduling to help you update your infrastructure through a web-based console.
If you need to manage your OS deployments at scale, then KACE Systems is for you. It offers a 30-day free trial. Other pricing plans are only available on quote.
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FOG is a free and open source Linux-based computer imaging application for Windows 7, XP, and Vista. The software doesn’t use any CDs or boot disks; everything takes place through PXE and TFTP.
Besides, many drivers are built within the kernel, making drivers the least thing you have to worry about. The WDS alternative lets you put an image from a PC with a partition of 80GB to another one with a hard drive of 40GB.
FOG comes with a graphical Windows service with the ability to change a PC’s hostname, restart the computer, especially if there’s a task made for it, and import hosts into the software’s database automatically. The deployment service installs printers too and does easy snap-ins.
You can install FOG in two ways: either install the stable version via the package manager, or a development version using SVN or Git.
Installation can take place on Debian-based systems, such as Ubuntu, Debian, and Mint. It can also occur on RHEL- based systems, including RHEL, CentOS, and Fedora. The steps for installing on either system are virtually similar.
You may be wondering, what version of FOG should I install? Do I go with Stable or Trunk? Well, for most of us, Stable works seamlessly, but what if you lack the functionality and new features that newer builds offer?
That’s where the Trunk version comes in handy. The version comes with tons of features. However, it undergoes frequent updates to try and fix bugs. I would suggest that you try both versions and settle on what works for your environment.
The dashboard is among the greatest features of FOG. And the reason is simple: the dashboard offers a simple pane for the management of storage nodes, images, devices, and deployment tasks.
But that’s not all that this dashboard can do. Near its top, you’ll find several icons that lead you to the various sections. Creating and uploading an image is straightforward and done via the dashboard.
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The award-winning application is used for deploying and imaging laptops, desktops, tablets, and servers. The software lets you quickly migrate to a preferred OS, deploy software on various operating systems and hardware platforms, and perform customized configurations.
The deployment platform works by deploying custom configurations and software to a computer’s hard disk. The application supports various operating systems, including Mac, Windows, and Linux.
What makes the software a popular WDS alternative is that many users can load it in any web browser simultaneously. The application is widely accessible, making it suitable for remote environments.
If you’ve ever used Windows Deployment Services you know that while the installation is dead simple, making it functional can take time. Well, installing the Ghost app is equally easy; you start by installing the application from a wizard.
Next, you should use the Ghost Boot Disk Wizard to create a CD, floppy, or network boot image and use it to boot the device you’d like to deploy or make an image. The next step is to set up a server session, type the session name, and that’s it. You can start making Ghost images about five minutes after inserting the installation disk.
When creating images with Ghost Solution, I was happy with the duration it took to create an image. After creating a reference machine, I had to boot into the DOS boot and the next thing I remember was that a 15GB drive image was uploaded in approximately 15 minutes.
This entails a full install of Microsoft Office 2019, Windows 10, Adobe Creative Suite, and a couple of other apps used in our organization.
To use the Ghost Solution Suite, certain system requirements are critical. To begin with, you need GSS Agents, which require network connectivity and disk space of at least 10MB.
You also need a GSS server; it’s recommended that you run the GSS Server components on the latest, dedicated server with a fast processing speed (at least 1 GHz) and at least 1GB RAM. If the computer will host both the GSS server and database, you need at least 1GB of extra memory.
Additional requirements include 512 MB memory for booting WinPE. Besides, if the installation of SQL Server Express database is from within the GSS 3.0 installer, you may need .NET Framework 3.5 or newer.
It’s worth noting that Ghost moved to Broadcom in 2019 with their product, services, Security Center, community functions, and education pages.
The software allows you to create the exact disk image of a standard configuration, such as an operating system, files, and applications, and deploy the same image to several machines in a single step.
Not only is Acronis Snap Deploy suitable for rapid bare-metal deployment, but it’s also ideal for easy on-going redeployment to live running machines. The application reduces configuration errors besides ensuring your environment is up to date, safe, and free from any malware. These are some of the features that make Snap Deploy one of the best WDS alternatives.
Additionally, the software saves effort and time with automatic provisioning of new OS’s and other applications to multiple systems at the same time.
Acronis Snap Deploy comes with powerful features that make it a suitable choice for most users. First on the list is a flexible deployment where you can choose between automatic, manual, standalone, scheduled, and user-initiated deployment to servers and machines running Linux or Windows.
The flexibility is not just with the deployment options; the boot options and licenses are all flexible as well. Let me explain: you can boot bare-metal machines from a customizable medium using a flash drive, DVD, CD, or from a self-configurable server via network boot.
Licensing is equally flexible. You can go for the license that suits your needs, and this can be: per machine for unlimited deployments on a specific machine, per deployment to allow one successful deployment to each machine, or per site for bigger installations.
The deployment service also allows high-speed dispatch where you can quickly deploy a single image to various servers via multicast or unicast from a central management console. Simply let the machines connect to WiFi or LAN networks.
You can customize the configurations and provide each machine with a setting. You can then monitor the status and even pre-configure any new device that the Mac address identifies.
The cost of Acronis Snap Deploy starts from $9.99.
Ivanti is an automatic imaging platform for operating systems with zero-touch imaging as well as migration abilities. You can easily configure this application with a wide variety of wizards for setting up drivers and operating systems.
Ivanti’s deployment options are OS installation, application, software set, eScript package, APPX package, distribution of files, driver installation, configuration package, virtual application, and more.
The software’s DSM packaging workbench lets you edit scripts using a scripting language. You can manage applications using approximately 170 different commands.
The other feature that makes Ivanti an excellent WDS alternative is that it allows you to manage packages throughout the deployment process. The monitoring takes place through the software package lifecycle dashboard that shows the package status.
If a problem arises during deployment, the software supports remote administration to enable you to control the systems and devices remotely. And remote administration boosts productivity, as it means you don’t have to be on-site to address deployment issues.
Ivanti suits teams that work from various physical locations and need a simple deployment app to work with. Besides, the application allows you to seamlessly automate the packaging of system configurations, operating systems, drivers, and applications.
You can try Ivanti for free or contact their team to receive a customized quote.
This image deployment solution supports any Windows version. The application uses a dynamic scripting engine that eliminates the need to deploy OS images or create scripts.
SmartImager deploys drivers automatically and selects the best driver for a particular platform, accelerating the entire deployment process.
Besides, automated driver indexing and capturing lets you work with new hardware without add-ons. You can also keep an eye on the deployment progress via the dashboard, and the intuitive user interface makes this possible. From the dashboard, you can see real-time metrics and other reporting features for easy management of deployments.
What’s more, you can access smartImager on a tablet or cellphone so you can manage your network regardless of your location. This application is best suited for organizations that are looking for accessible and low-maintenance image deployment services.
The application costs $4,495 yearly for image deployment on not more than 500 computers. But, if you have different requirements, you can contact the company for a custom quote. Moreover, there’s a 60-day free trial.
Clonezilla is the best WDS alternative. It is free, open source, and offers multicast support. Whether you’re looking for system deployment or bare metal backup and recovery, you have an entire repository of resources in Clonezilla.
The tool offers multiple ways of deployment including massive cloning as well as booting and running via CD, DVD, and USB.
To add some icing to the cake, it supports unicast, multicast, BitTorrent, and broadcast. And it creates some of the best backup and recovery systems too! Plus, you can deploy more than 40 computers.
Tom loves to write on technology, e-commerce & internet marketing.
Tom has been a full-time internet marketer for two decades now, earning millions of dollars while living life on his own terms. Along the way, he’s also coached thousands of other people to success.