How can I use Sysprep to create and install custom reusable Windows AMIs?

3 minute read

I want to use Sysprep to capture and install a custom reusable Windows Amazon Machine Image (AMI).

Short description

You can use the Microsoft tool Sysprep to capture custom Windows images. Sysprep removes unique information from an Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) Windows instance. This information includes the instance security identifiers (SID), computer name, and drivers. For more information, see Sysprep (System Preparation) overview on the Microsoft website.


Before you run Sysprep, consider the following points:

  • Don't use Sysprep to create a backup for your instance.
  • Don't run Sysprep on a production system.
  • Sysprep isn't supported on Windows Server 2016 Nano Server.
  • For Windows Server 2008 through Windows Server 2012 R2, run Sysprep with EC2Config.
  • For Windows Server 2016 or Windows 2019 (LTSC and SAC), run Sysprep with EC2Launch v1.
  • For Windows 2022, run Sysprep with EC2Launch v2. You can also use EC2Launch v2 for Windows 2012, 2012 R2, 2016 (LTSC and SAC), and 2019 (LTSC and SAC).

Run Sysprep with EC2Config or EC2Launch v1 or v2

  1. Open the Amazon EC2 console, and then connect to your Windows EC2 instance using Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP).
    Note: To create a standard custom image without Sysprep, see Create a Windows AMI from a running instance. Be sure to note the AMI ID.
  2. From the Windows Start menu, complete the following steps:
    For Windows Server 2008 through Windows Server 2012 R2, open EC2ConfigService Settings, and then choose the Image tab.
    For Windows Server 2016 or later, open EC2LaunchSettings.
  3. For Administrator Password, choose Random.
  4. Choose Shutdown with Sysprep.
  5. Choose Yes.
    Note: You must retrieve the new password from the EC2 console on the next boot.
  6. Open the Amazon EC2 console, and then choose Instances from the navigation pane.
  7. After the instance state changes to stopped, select your instance.
  8. For Actions, choose Image, Create image.
    For Image name, enter a name.
    (Optional) For Image description, enter a description.
  9. Choose Create image.

For more information and customization options, see Create a standardized Amazon Machine Image (AMI) using Sysprep.

If you receive error messages or experience issues when using Sysprep, then see Troubleshoot Sysprep.

You can also use EC2Rescue for Windows Server to collect log files and troubleshoot issues.

Related information

How do I create an AMI that is based on my EBS-backed EC2 instance?

How do I launch an EC2 instance from a custom AMI?

Why can't I launch EC2 instances from my copied AMI?