If you want to create a reference OS image, you have to run the sysprep Windows tool to prepare the image for OS deployment. If the tool fails with the error message “Sysprep was not able to validate your Windows installation” on a Windows 10 computer, you most likely have a problem with Windows apps.

Michael Pietroforte

Michael Pietroforte is the founder and editor in chief of 4sysops. He has more than 35 years of experience in IT management and system administration.

This problem has existed since Microsoft introduced Windows apps (Metro or Modern apps) in Windows 8. However, the error message in Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 was “A fatal error occurred while trying to sysprep the machine.”

The new error message is less intimidating, but still fatal:

Sysprep was not able to validate your Windows installation

Sysprep was not able to validate your Windows installation

Actually, it is not really a new error message. In previous Windows versions, sysprep produced this message for a variety of reasons.

The most common one is that sysprep was executed on an upgraded Windows installation. I didn’t verify this with Windows 10, but I suppose it is still not possible to sysprep after a Windows upgrade. I wouldn’t recommend it anyway. If you create a reference image, you should keep things as simple as possible. Always start with a fresh installation and modify only what you require in your environment.

Another reason that some bloggers mentioned is that the Windows installation was not activated. I tried to sysprep a Windows 10 installation that was not activated, and sysprep ran through without complaints. I suppose this problem only exists if the 90-day trial period expired.

In some situations, outstanding reboots can cause sysprep to fail. I remember cases where I had to reboot twice. It is essential that Windows is in an absolutely stable state before you run sysprep.

However, I believe the most likely reason for the above error message in Windows 10 is that sysprep ran into problems with the new Windows apps. These apps are still somehow alien to Windows, and you have to treat them with great caution in your reference image. These are the possible causes for app-related sysprep failures that I am aware of:

  • You installed an app from the Windows Store.
  • You updated a built-in app through the Windows Store.
  • You unprovisioned built-in apps without uninstalling those apps for all users.

The bottom line here is that, whenever a discrepancy exists between installed and provisioned apps, sysprep will not be able to validate your Windows installation. I outlined the difference between provisioned and installed apps in my previous post. Make sure that you understand these concepts if you are working with Windows 10 images.

For instance, in my test, I installed an alarm clock app from the Windows Store. After I ran sysprep, the following error messages were in the log file:
%WINDIR%\System32\Sysprep\Panther\setupact.log:

You should always check the log files in the Panther folder if sysprep doesn’t work as expected. If User Account Control (UAC) is enabled, you first have to copy the log file to another folder. If you just double-click the log file in the Panther folder, you will receive an “access denied” error message.

Note that this discrepancy affects all user accounts that have been created on the machine. For instance, if you install a new app for one user and then run sysprep with another account, sysprep will fail. Likewise, if you removed provisioned apps but didn’t uninstall them for all users on the system, you will run into trouble.

Thus, if you need local users on a Windows 10 machine, you should only log on with these users on your reference machine after you unprovisioned all apps that you don’t want to have in the image. As noted in my previous post, Windows 10 installs provisioned apps only when the user logs on the first time.

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48 Comments
  1. Ben Minn 2 years ago

    I deleted some standard apps like alarm ,sway etc and restarted .It opened as a new user and not administrator. Now I am able to open chrome atleast. But Still my own profile does not open and see that the system does not seem to act normal. It does not open file explorer even.

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    • Ben Minn 2 years ago

      Hi, It was a temporary reprieve. I restarted as the new user acct was also a safe mode user acct and did not allow a restore point to be created. On restart, I again get system admin ( Built-in) and it allows only google chrome .. No edge or my own user profile.Thanks,

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  2. BobbyB 2 years ago

    Awsome post Micheal you saved the day again. "Big safety tip" for folks when you reboot in to audit mode disable your network connection quick (if havent done so) because you know Win10 its right on the phone home downloading stuff unprompted.

    After that went like a breeze now just a huge .wim to deal with but at least its better than doing it all again, Hmmm decisions, decisions to split that "sucker" or .esd ?

    Thanks again 🙂

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  3. Prince 2 years ago

    Since this is not a new problem, one would think Microsoft with all their smarts, would update the sysprep process that can scan for trouble and make recommendations before proceeding.

    I have looked and tried nearly all of the suggestions here and elsewhere and still ran into the same issue. I was only able to run sysprep in audit mode even after removing the offending app--that microsoft installed in the first place--in my case, something to do with the 3d app.

    Annoying indeed!

    Thanks for this article.

    Prince

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    • Author
      Michael Pietroforte 2 years ago

      I also encountered cases where all rescue attempts failed. That's why it is so important to start with a clean image and instantly create a new VM snapshot after every tiny modification. It is also important to give the snapshots meaningful names. This allows you to return to a previous a state without much hassle if sysprep fails.

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  4. Pratik 2 years ago

    When I run sysprep on Windows 10, I am getting below error in the log file:

    Package Windows.MiracastView_6.3.0.0_neutral_neutral_cw5n1h2txyewy was installed for a user, but not provisioned for all users. This package will not function properly in the sysprep image.

    I tried to remove MiracastView from powershell but no luck.

    Please help to resolve this issue

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    • Author
      Michael Pietroforte 2 years ago

      Can you uninstall the app for this user in the Windows Store? Another option is to delete the user and the corresponding profile. You better delete the profile through the Control Panel.

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  5. Pratik 2 years ago

    Hello Michael Pietroforte,

    Thanks for your help. Still I am getting same error. I have deleted all other profiles from control panel and even from registry. I have used Get-Appxpackage -allusers | remove-appxpackage also i try to delete miracastview from powershell(admin) but its says access denied to remove miracastview.

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    • Author
      Michael Pietroforte 2 years ago

      I highly recommend starting with a new image. You already messed too much with this installation. An OS image that you want to deploy in your network has to be flawless. That is why I wrote this post. If you made one of the errors, mentioned in this post, you already contaminated your image.

      It is hard to say what causes your problem because I think you played quite a bit with this installation. When you prepare a new image, make frequent snapshots, so you can go back to a previous state if problems come up.

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  6. Pratik 2 years ago

    Thanks Michael. Appreciate your help.

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  7. Don Pham 2 years ago

    I had to uninstall Facebook in my case, that error went away and Sysprep worked as expected.

    Thanks for explaining about "provisioned and installed apps". I updated my Windows 10 v1709 B16299.15 to B16299.19 and all apps in Windows Store.

    Note: make sure you review carefully file "setupact.log" to know what app(s) cause the error.

     

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  8. john 2 years ago

    I Found out, after going through it all, I had to uninstall ALL apps that had (new) beside it that windows 10 updates installed.  News, Bing, Pandora, Candy Crush, Spotify, etc.  There were like 8 apps it installed but they all had a (new) beside them in the start menu, so it was easy to find, right-click, uninstall.  Then run sysprep again.  Each time I ran it initially, it would show a new app near the bottom of the aforementioned log file.  just keep uninstalling one, then move to the next one.

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  9. mayowa 1 year ago

    go to your registry>Hkey_local_machine\system\setup

    select dword name upgrade and delete

    Reboot your system

    Then sysperep

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  10. Saurav Kant Prasad 7 months ago

    @everyone :

    I had been experiencing this for quite a long time dealing with Audit mode (OOBE). Here's the solution you can have for any windows 10 machine from RS3 onwards. There are two ways to suppress it, if it's a new machine:

    1. Don't connect to LAN or wifi immediately to the Physical device or Virtual Machine
    2. Setup the group policy and turn off

    Set the group policy to ENABLED and none of the microsoft cloud apps would be pushed to the device.

    HKLM\“Computer Configuration –> Administrative Templates –> Windows Components –> Cloud Content” called “Turn off Microsoft consumer experiences”

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  11. Ryan Oistacher 7 months ago

    Very helpful, Michael. Thanks!

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  12. Julian Antoine 7 months ago

    Turning on Bitlocker and then turning Bitlocker back off fixed the problem for me.

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  13. Greg 6 months ago

    New Windows 10 Installs

    When creating a sysprep image for Windows 10, do NOT connect it to the internet.  When Windows 10 installs Windows Apps, it is for the logged in user and not for the computer.  This keeps sysprep from generalizing the image.  This is also the recommended image creation process published by Microsoft.

    Later Windows 10 builds, enable Bitlocker upon install, but it is in a suspended state.  Bitlocker status will say, "Bitlocker is awaiting activation."  This will also keep sysprep from running.  To resolve, switch Bitlocker on, then immediately turn it off.  This will decrypt the drive and allow sysprep to run.

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    • Author
      Michael Pietroforte 6 months ago

      This a good tip! The problem is that you want to install all patches and for this you usually need internet. It is certainly doable, but it shows that the entire Windows app system is not thought through and a real mess.

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