Prestage Client Computers

Applies To: Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2003 with SP1, Windows Server 2003 with SP2, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2

You can use Windows Deployment Services to link physical computers to computer account objects in Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS). This is called prestaging the client. Prestaged clients are also called known computers. Prestaging the client allows you to configure properties to control the installation for the client. For example, you can configure the network boot program and the unattend file that the client should receive, as well as the server from which the client should download the network boot program. For more information, see For a list of procedures related to the Auto-Add policy and prestaged clients, see How to Manage Client Computers (

You can create a computer account object and associate it with a physical computer using the following methods:

  • Using WDSUTIL. You can prestage client computers before they have attempted a network boot using the command line. For instructions, see the second procedure below. Note that you cannot prestage computers by using the Windows Deployment Services MMC snap-in, but you can set the Configure the Auto-Add Policy and approve or reject pending computers.

  • Using the Active Directory Users and Computers snap-in. You can prestage client computers before they have attempted a network boot using AD DS. For instructions, see the first procedure below.

  • Enabling the Auto-Add policy. If you enable this policy, when you approve the installation for an unknown client, the installation will proceed and a computer account will be created in AD DS for the client. For more information, see Configure the Auto-Add Policy.

  • Using Windows Deployment Services as part of the image installation. By default, all operating system installations using Windows Deployment Services result in a client computer that is joined to a domain. You can disable this functionality using the Client tab of the server’s properties page.

To prestage client computers by using the Windows interface

  1. On the server running Active Directory Users and Computers, open the Active Directory Users and Computers MMC snap-in (click Start, click Run, type dsa.msc, and then click OK).


To manage the server remotely, you can install “AD DS Snap-Ins and Command-Line Tools” in Remote Server Administration Tools. To do this, click Add Features in Server Manager, and install the feature from the following location: Remote Server Administration Tools>Remote Administration Tools>AD DS and AD LDS Tools>AD DS Tools>AD DS Snap-Ins and Command-line Tools.

  1. In the console tree, right-click the organizational unit that will contain the new client computer.

  2. Click New, and then click Computer.

  3. Type the client computer name, click Next, and then click This is a managed computer.

  4. In the text box, type the client computer's media access control (MAC) address preceded with twenty zeros or the globally unique identifier (GUID) in the format: {XXXXXXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXX-XXXXXXXXXXXX}.

  5. Click Next, and click one of the following options to specify which server or servers will support this client computer:

    • Any available remote installation server

    • The following remote installation server

  6. Click Next, and then click Finish.

To prestage client computers by using a command line

  1. Click Start, right-click Command Prompt, and then click Run as administrator.

  2. Type the following, where <devicename> is the name and <GUIDorMACAddress> is the identifier of the new computer. If you use a MAC address with the /ID option, you must precede it with twenty zeros (0).

    WDSUTIL /add-device /device:<devicename> /ID:<GUIDorMACAddress> <options>

    For example: WDSUTIL /Add-Device /Device:Computer1 /ID:{E8A3EFAC-201F-4E69-953F-B2DAA1E8B1B6} /ReferralServer:WDSServer1 /BootProgram:boot\x86\ /WDSClientUnattend:WDSClientUnattend\unattend.xml /User:Domain\MyUser/JoinRights:Full /BootImagePath:boot\x86\images/boot.wim /OU:"OU=MyOU,CN=Test,DC=Domain,DC=com"

Additional references