Creating a VMWare Template for Windows Server 2016

This example will be assuming the following are true:

  • Server 2016 – SW_DVD9_Win_Svr_STD_Core_and_DataCtr_Core_2016_64Bit_English_-2_MLF_x21-22843
  • vSphere and ESXi 6 (Presumming that previous version should be similar to the steps shown below).

VM Specs

  • 2GB Memory
  • 1Core2CPU
  • HDD – 60 GB
  1. Create a virtual machine in the templates folder. If you have not created this folder create one now.                                                                   
  2. Set the following VM options;
    1. Configuration: Typical
    2. Name and Location: 
      • Name: Windows_Server_2016_Standard_171216
      • Location: Templates
    3. Host/ Cluster: Primary Host
    4. Storage: Primary Storage
    5. Guest Operating System: Microsoft Windows Server 2016 (64bit)
    6. Network: As per requirements. (Usually has access to the internet) Use e1000E as this is standard over most applications.
    7. Create a Disk: 60GB Thick Provision Lazy Zeroed
    8. Ready to Complete: Finish
  3. Edit the VM properties to point to the Windows Server 2016 iso. 
  4. Power up the VM and proceed with normal install of the OS.   
  5. Enter the local admin password. 
  6. Login into local admin account and install VMWare Tools. 
  7. During install of VMWare tools you may get the following error. After VMWare tools finishes installing, rather then restarting do a shutdown instead. We will need to make a change the VM settings.
    1. Once the VM is shutdown edit the vm settings and select Video Card.  
    2. Change the select monitors area from Specify monitor settings to Use host setting for monitors                             This will allow the vm to detect your monitor settings and scale appropriately.
    3. Start the vm backup again and login to local admin account again. Once loaded check your view settings to scale to full window or full screen. I also found cycling from full screen to windowed to full screen again auto corrected the resolution as well.  Ctrl+Alt+Enter are the keyboard shortcuts.
  8. When Server Manager loads click on Server Manager Properties
  9. Select Do not start Server Manager automatically at logon. Not sure if anyone out there actually like this thing coming up everytime you login to a server, I don’t peronally and generally its something i like to flick off and prevent from starting in my startup items. 
  10. Time to set the time: Click on Local Server in the Server Manager console. We will be setting a couple of things here.
    1. Windows Firewall: Domain off. You will need to go into the Advanced Firewall settings to set this. 
    2. Disable IE Enhanced Security Configuration. In some scenario’s your will be required to leave this turned on. In most of my cases, its best to turn this off. 
    3. Set your Timezone. I’m in Brisbane so (UTC+10:00) for me.
  11. If you are noticing that some or all of the changes you make in Server Manager are not updating changing, hit refresh and you should see this change to the settings that have been changed.
  12. Set network settings. In some cases you will have a static IP address that you set your VM Template to. Now is a good time to set this. In my scenario, I have the template vm on a Development VLAN so it doesn’t really matter what IP it gets from the DHCP server.
  13. Install any other software that you use on a daily bases on all your servers. However do not go over board, as you don’t want to load the template up with everything. For an example I will usually load up the AV and Malware clients get them updated. Put BGInfo on if that is not already a GPO you can apply instead.
  14. Go into File Explorer and change the default view from Quick Access to This PC. 
  15. While we are in this area as well, click on View tab and tick the following boxs;
    1. Always show menus
    2. Show hidden files, folders and drives.
    3. Click on apply to save these changes. 
  16. Activate the server.
  17. Change the name of the server from Win-___blah to WinSvr_2016_Temp. Select Restart Later and shutdown the vm. We are now ready to convert this vm to a template.
  18. Log into vSphere and right click on the VM. (Note that the VM should be shutdown and powered off in a clean state).
  19. Select template and Convert to Template.