Create an Answer File

This article walks through how to create an answer file for use with SmartDeploy deployments, using an image, Platform Packs, and Application Packs via a local network share. For information and help with creating an answer file for deployments using resources in your cloud storage provider, see the Cloud Storage Integration section of our User's Guide.

  1. From the Activities workspace of the SmartDeploy Console, click Reimage Devices, and then click Create Answer File.
  2. (Optional) Click Advanced to review additional answer file settings.

    • On the General tab, review these settings:
      1. Deployment automation
        By default, answer files are set to Unattended which means that your SmartDeploy Deployments will be “zero-touch” and complete without the need for any action from you or the end user. If you want to be able to make on-the-fly adjustments to any page or setting of the Answer File, you can set this to Attended. This will reveal a check-box on each page of the Answer File Wizard enabling you to skip one or more pages of the Deploy Wizard. If you check the Skip this page box, the setting you choose will persist and the page will not be shown during deployment. This can be helpful for scenarios you can’t automate. For example, you might want to manually name a computer during the deployment because you don’t know what the name should be until you image and allocate it. Attended deployments can help prompt for specific questions while automating known settings.
        Example of the Skip this page checkbox, unchecked, in an Attended answer file:

        Note: If you are creating a console-initiated Deployment Package, you may only use an Unattended answer file. Other media types, such as USB or WDS boot media, you may use attended or unattended answer files.

      2. When Deploy Wizard ends
        After the image is applied, you can elect to restart and complete the deployment, shutdown, or remain in SmartPE.

      3. Registration information
        This information will be applied to Windows.

      4. Autologon after deployment
        You can specify an account and the number of times that you want the device to automatically sign in to Windows after deployment.

      5. Firmware
        SmartDeploy will use the OEM tools that are available to attempt to enable UEFI and Secure Boot if it is not already enabled.

    • On the Disk Options tab, review these settings (see the UI for detailed information):
      1. Recreate drives (recommended)
         This option deletes all existing partitions, re-creates the necessary partitions, formats the new partitions, and then writes image data to the partitions. The new partition structure is based on the partition structure from the reference VM and will fill any previously unused space.
      2. Wipe & load drives
        This option formats only the target drives that are specified in the image but doesn't change the target device’s hard disk partition scheme. You'll receive an error if the existing partitions don't match the partition structure of the reference VM. This method lets you leave a folder structure on the hard disk. You can choose a protected folder by using the Browse button on this tab. By default, SmartDeploy protects the C:\Backup folder.

    • On the Tasks tab, create Answer File Tasks as needed.

    • On the Network tab, review the settings.
      Note: You can specify the target device’s IP address, subnet mask, default gateway, and DNS server information. Or by default, you can obtain the network address information automatically.

    • On the Wireless tab, review the settings.
      Note: You can configure SmartDeploy to allow devices to be imaged over a wireless connection and to configure wireless settings after the device is imaged. See the Use a Wireless Connection article for more information.

  3. If Advanced Options is open, click OK, and then click Next to continue creating the answer file.

  4. On the Select Image Source page, click Local network or offline deployment media, and then click Next.
    Note: If you want to deploy your image over the internet from a cloud storage provider, see the Cloud Storage Integration section of our User's Guide.

  5. Specify the user name and password of an account that has access to the host where the image is stored, and then click Next.

  6. Click Browse, browse to and select your image (.wim) file, and then click Open.
    NoteIf you select an image from a local disk (such as C:\SmartDeploy\Images), the path automatically is converted to \\hostname\C$\SmartDeploy\Images\ when the wizard finishes. 
  7. Confirm that the correct image name and description are displayed, and then click Next.

  8. Click Browse, browse to and select the folder where your Platform Packs are located, and then click Next.
    Note: By default the wizard looks in the same directory as the image (.wim) file that you selected to deploy.

  9. If you've downloaded or created any Application Packs, select them, click the right arrow to include them in deployment, and then click Next. 
    Note: If you want to explore deployment including Application Packs, see the Application Packs section of our User's Guide.

  10. Modify the naming hierarchy by selecting the preferred convention and clicking Move up, and then click Next.
    Note: You can specify # to generate a random number, 0-9.

  11. If you want to capture and deploy a user’s data and settings during a deployment, click the Enable User Data Migration check box, specify a network share to temporarily save the user's data, and then click Next.

    Note: By ticking this box, you will back up data from a single computer, reimage it, and then restore that data back to the same computer (OS refresh scenario).

    If you wish to back up user data and restore it to a different computer (migration scenario), you can do this from the Computer Management view in the SmartDeploy console. See: Capture and Deploy the User State.

  12. (Optional) If you didn't specify a Windows product key when you captured your image, specify it here.
    Note: You won't see the Product Key page in the Answer File Wizard if a product key was specified in the Capture Wizard during capture. You can leave the product key blank if you are testing deployment or want to provide it after deployment.

  13. On the Network Identification page, specify a domain or workgroup, or choose to be prompted to join an Azure domain during deployment, and then click Next.
    Note: If you select Domain, you are prompted to specify the user name and password of an account that has permission to join the domain.


    The Organizational unit (OU) field is optional. You may specify an OU, or you may leave this field blank. An OU must be specified in the Distinguished Name format. To locate this value for a specific OU, launch adsiedit.msc (see Microsoft KB) on your domain controller, browse to the OU you wish you use, and copy the exact value that appears in the Distinguished Name column.
    See the (truncated) example in the screenshot below.

    Do not specify the Active Directory default container, Computers. The container is the default destination for domain-joined computers in Active Directory, and it cannot be specified as as an OU during domain join.


  14. Select the time zone and language that you want to be set on the endpoint after deployment, and then click Next. 

  15. On the Install Client page, review these settings.
    Note: We recommend that all answer files are configured to install the SmartDeploy Client. This allows you to perform additional deployments to clients over the network or cloud via the SmartDeploy Console.  
    1. Click the Install SmartDeploy Client during deployment check box.
    2. Specify the SmartDeploy Console host name or IP address.
    3. Check the box for Cloud Only Connection if you want to force the SmartDeploy client to use the Cloud Service even when on-site, or connected via VPN. 
  16. Review the summary of your selections, click Next, and then click Finish to complete the Answer File Wizard.

  17. Chose a name and location to save the answer file, and then click Save



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