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Sysprep file locations and versions (1005593)

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  • When attempting to customize the deployment of a virtual machine, the radio buttons are disabled (grayed out)
  • When a virtual machine is deployed from a template, the SID is always the same, despite the fact that you chose the option to generate a new SID during template deployment and guest operating system customization
  • When attempting to create a new virtual machine from a template in vCenter Server, you see the error:

    Warning: Windows customization resources were not found on this server

  • In the guestcust.log file, you see the error:
    deploy doesn't contain known sysprep files

  • When you ignore the errors, the virtual machine deployment does not get customized


This article provides information on the process of determining the correct version of Sysprep to use and the correct locations for these files.


This issue occurs if Microsoft's Sysprep files are not found on vCenter Server host or are not in the location they are expected and the Sysprep files are having incorrect version.


For Windows XP, Server 2003, and earlier operating systems, Microsoft has a different version of Sysprep for each release and service pack of Windows. You must use the version of Sysprep specific to the operating system you are deploying. The differences are not immediately visible in the packaging and documentation of the service packs, so it is necessary to manually investigate.

Note: For Microsoft Vista, Server 2008, and later operating systems, the System Preparation tools are built into the Windows operating system and do not have to be downloaded or have the version checked.

vCenter Server Sysprep Directory locations:

vCenter Server Deployment vCenter_directory_path
Virtual Appliance 5.x and later /etc/vmware-vpx/sysprep/
Windows installation of vCenter Server 5.5 and earlier %ALLUSERSPROFILE%\VMware\VMware VirtualCenter\Sysprep which generally translates to C:\ProgramData\VMware\VMware VirtualCenter\Sysprep by default.
Windows installation of vCenter Server 6.0 and later %ALLUSERSPROFILE%\Application Data\VMware\VMware VirtualCenter\Sysprep\ which generally translates to C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\VMware\VMware VirtualCenter\Sysprep\ by default.

  • C:\ProgramData may be a hidden folder.
  • If Sysprep\ directory does not exist by default, you must manually create it.
The contents of the Sysprep file must be extracted to the Sysprep Directory on the vCenter Server host.

If the file downloaded from the Microsoft Website is a .cab file, use the Installing the Microsoft Sysprep Tools section in the vSphere Virtual Machine Administration guide for details on how to install the Sysprep Tools.
If the file downloaded from the Microsoft Website is a .exe file, these additional steps must be executed to extract the files from the .exe:
  1. Open a Windows commandprompt. For more information, see Opening a command or shell prompt (1003892).
  2. Change to the directory where the .exe file is saved.
  3. Enter the name of the .exe file with the /x switch to extract the files. For example:

    WindowsServer2003-KB926028-v2-x86-ENU.exe /x
  4. When prompted, choose a directory for the extracted files.
  5. Browse the directory and double-click the file.

    Note: In some cases, the file may be located within one of the subfolders created in Step 3.

  6. Select and copy all the files to the Sysprep Directory and insert them into the correct folder. For example, if you are using Windows 2003, insert the files to the Windows 2003 folder found located at directory_path\svr2003.
When the contents of the Sysprep file are extracted to the Sysprep Directory on vCenter Server:
  1. Log in to the vCenter Server as anAdministrator.
  2. Click Start > Programs > Accessories > Windows Explorer.
  3. Navigate to the Sysprep Directory as listed in the following table.
  4. Right-click on the Sysprep.exe file and choose Properties.
  5. Click the Version tab. Record the number at the top, next to File Version.
This table lists the Sysprep version for the Windows versions that are supported for Image Customization. Compare the Sysprep version number with the Windows version for which it is intended:

Windows Version Sysprep Tool Sysprep Version vCenter Sysprep Directory
Windows 2000 Server SP4 with Update Rollup 1 The updated Deployment Tools are available in the Support\Tools\ file on the Windows 2000 SP4 CD-ROM 5.0.2195.2104 vcenter_directory_path\2k
Windows XP Pro SP2 Download at 5.1.2600.2180 vcenter_directory_path\xp
Windows XP Pro SP3 5.1.2600.5512 vcenter_directory_path\xp
Windows XP x64 Download at
5.2.3790.3959 (srv03_sp2_rtm.070216-1710) vcenter_directory_path\xp-64
Windows 2003 Server SP1 Download at 5.2.3790.1830 (srv03_sp1_rtm.050324-1447) vcenter_directory_path\svr2003
Windows 2003 Server SP2 Download at 5.2.3790.3959 (srv03_sp2_rtm.070216-1710) vcenter_directory_path\svr2003
Windows 2003 Server R2 Download at 5.2.3790.3959 (srv03_sp2_rtm.070216-1710) vcenter_directory_path\svr2003
Windows 2003 x64 Download at
5.2.3790.3959 (srv03_sp2_rtm.070216-1710) vcenter_directory_path\svr2003-64
Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, and later System Preparation tools are built into the Windows operating system and do not have to be downloaded. Not Applicable Not Applicable

Additional Information

For translated versions of this article, see:



See Also

Update History

08/23/2010 - Updated the download link for Windows 2003 Server R2. 09/15/2010 - Added link to VMware VirtualCenter Templates Usage and Best Practices. 02/24/2011 - Modified to apply to version 4.x. 10/17/2011 - Added vSphere 5.0 in new row under solution

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