Windows Tip Sheet

Attack of the Clones

Avoid inadvertent duplicate SIDs when cloning with this trick.

You're undoubtedly aware of all the weird issues that come up when you deploy WinXP using imaging products like Norton Ghost, most of which result from duplicated computer Security IDs (SIDs). This is an annoying problem that Microsoft has yet to create a really workable solution for, despite the fact that we admins insist on cloning stuff, no matter how often they tell us not to. Sigh.

The latest clone issue nabbed me a few weeks ago, and a helpful trick from a friend helped solve it. The deal is that a WinXP machine, which was a clone, didn't appear in the Windows Server Update Services (WSUS, and does anyone else hate this name as much as I do?) console. Turns out if I'd used Sysprep (Microsoft's answer to cloning, although not a great one in my opinion), I'd have been fine, but I didn't, so the duplicate SID issue hit me again. Actually, this computer had a duplicate SusClientID value in the registry -- which I understand is caused by having a duplicate SID in the first place.

The registry, however, I can deal with. Go to HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\WindowsUpdate and delete:

  • PingID
  • AccountDomainSid
  • SusClientId

And then restart the WSUS client-side service. Then, run wuauclt.exe /resetauthorization /detectnow to force WSUS to get its act together and start over. It'll recreate the keys you deleted with a unique ID, solving the problem.

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About the Author

Don Jones is a multiple-year recipient of Microsoft’s MVP Award, and is Curriculum Director for IT Pro Content for video training company Pluralsight. Don is also a co-founder and President of, a community dedicated to Microsoft’s Windows PowerShell technology. Don has more than two decades of experience in the IT industry, and specializes in the Microsoft business technology platform. He’s the author of more than 50 technology books, an accomplished IT journalist, and a sought-after speaker and instructor at conferences worldwide. Reach Don on Twitter at @concentratedDon, or on Facebook at

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