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Experiences w/ Drive Imaging Software? 837

Posted by Cliff
from the sharing-your-trials-and-tribulations dept.
Futurepower(R) asks: "Microsoft Windows 2000 and Windows XP have crippled file systems. The file system cannot copy some of the files that are necessary to the operating system. If you don't have experience with Microsoft operating systems, you may find this amazing, but it is true; Microsoft supplies no method of backing up and restoring fully operational copies of Windows 2000 and Windows XP. Microsoft's advice is to reinstall the operating system and all programs every time you want to move to a new or backup computer. For confirmation of this, see the 'Microsoft Policy Statement' in the article, The Microsoft Policy Concerning Disk Duplication of Windows XP Installations. Many industries use numerous programs; installing them all may take a week or even more. All of the disk image duplication programs I've used have problems, in my experience. What program do you use? What has been your experience with it? Can you recommend a program, or recommend staying away from one?"

"This policy of providing no way to backup and restore a fully installed system is impossible for corporations, of course. So Microsoft technical support representatives recommend sector-by-sector disk image duplication, even though it is against Microsoft policy. Copying each sector of a hard drive bypasses Microsoft's copy protection by which Microsoft punishes all users, even if they are honest.

Sometimes Microsoft technical support recommends using 'third-party' disk image programs. For example, sometimes support representatives recommend using Symantec Ghost.

All of the disk image duplication programs I've used have problems, in my experience. So, here's a question: What program do you use? What has been your experience with it? Can you recommend a program, or recommend staying away from one?

Here are my experiences:

Symantec Ghost sometimes fails with non-specific error messages. Uninstalling Ghost does not uninstall all the Ghost software. Symantec is one of the companies using copy protection, so using Symantec products may be a case of jumping from the Microsoft frying pan to the Symantec copy protection fire; also, you have no assurance that the copy protection will not become worse in the future.

PowerQuest DriveImage and DeployCenter have an uncertain future. PowerQuest was bought by Symantec. This was after PowerQuest released DriveImage 7 with problems. The sale cannot be a happy event for those who spent hundreds of dollars on DeployCenter.

I've tried Acronis True Image. I've had better luck with it than with Symantec or PowerQuest products. However, like the others, it sometime gives non-specific error messages that say something like, 'I've failed, and I'm not going to tell you how to troubleshoot the problem.'

Fred Langa, publisher of LangaList, recommends BootIt. I have no experience with it.

I haven't tried g4u, free, open source software provided under the BSD license g4u has the drawback that it writes only through FTP. There is no way to write to a network drive or a CD-R.

It's disgusting; people just want to make functional backups, but to do it they are dragged over the coals."

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Experiences w/ Drive Imaging Software?

Comments Filter:
  • by bigjocker (113512) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @02:36PM (#7455102) Homepage
    dd if=/dev/hda1 of=/dev/hdb1

    If you want to encrypt after the copy you can do

    dd if=/dev/random of=/dev/hdb1
    • by cdc179 (561916) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @02:43PM (#7455220)
      For backups partimage is much better than dd. This is because partimage only copies the used blocks, whereas dd copies every block.

      Partimage can compress data by a factor of 2. I have used it to backup/restore windows boxes on many occations and works great.

      from winblows box:
      1. boot off knoppix 2. nfs mount an export that has enough room to hold the backups. 3. use partimage to backup patition(s) to nfs mounted frive.

      There are option on partimage to break the backup into managable sizes (say 600MB chuncks) for easy CD archiving.
      • Looks good.. The only problem is that their site [partimage.org] lists NTFS support as experimental.
        • It is experimental, but has worked for me on several win2k NTFS machines.

          Doh, Forgot to preview on parrent and noticed lots of typos......good thing didn't major in english...
      • For backups partimage is much better than dd. This is because partimage only copies the used blocks, whereas dd copies every block.

        First run this script (under cygwin on Windows)

        #!/bin/bash
        dd if=/dev/zero of=zeroes
        sync
        rm -f zeroes

        That'll zero out the free space, so it will compress down to nothing when you run

        bzip2 -c /dev/hda1 | ssh backuphost 'cat > WindowsBackup.bz2'

        But to be honest I haven't tried a restore yet!

        • by k12linux (627320) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @05:16PM (#7457194)
          dd if=/dev/zero of=zeroes

          Or, if you don't want to mess with scripts and installing cygwin:

          1. Download Eraser from here [tolvanen.com]. (A very nice privacy tool for Windows, BTW.)
          2. Install
          3. Go to erasing prefs (Ctrl+E) and click New
          4. Enter description: All Zeros
          5. Click Add
          6. Click Save
          7. Select new "All Zeros", go to Unused Disk Space tab and do the same.
          8. Click Ok
          9. File - New Task (Ctrl+N)
          10. Set up tasks for the drive(s) you want to zero out and then run them.
          11. Profit! (Sorry.. couldn't resist.)
          This has the added advantage of zeroing out the slack space in most files which should improve compression a bit.

          BTW.. if you want to use this for privacy, you probably *don't* want to use the All Zeros overwriting option. If you son't know why, read this interesting article [usenix.org].

    • I know the second one was a joke.. But does dd work if the drives are different sizes? I was under the impression they had to be the same.. What if I just create the partition to be the same size. Would that work?
      • I know the second one was a joke.. But does dd work if the drives are different sizes? I was under the impression they had to be the same.. What if I just create the partition to be the same size. Would that work?

        It makes more sense to image the hard drive to some file, preferably an external one. For example:

        dd if=/dev/sda1 | ncftpput -c -u username site.com filepath

        And then use ftp to retrieve it back again later.

      • If you can get Unix on it for the transfer (and with single-floppy Linuxes this should not be a problem) then just good old fashioned cp -Rp should do the trick, right?
      • dd to a disk works if the destination volume is equal to or greater than the source volume size. The destination disk then has a partition table that doesn't reflect the drive's true capacity. (Much like formatting a 160 GB drive for only 128 GiB.) If the resulting drive is to become your volume for regular use, you can edit the partition table to allocate the rest of the disk as an empty partition and use that space for whatever purpose you have in mind.

        Of course, then your next dd will need a drive of
      • You can restore to a larger partition, then resize the filesystem to fill the new partition. I don't see how you could restore to a smaller partition.
    • by bahamat (187909) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @02:55PM (#7455386) Homepage
      Parent was modded funny, but the reality of the situation is that ZD Mag did a study of every disk imaging utility they could get their hands on.

      Their pick for best disk imaging utility on the planet was none other than GNU dd. I've used dd several times to back up a Windows installation to a different disk and restored it with no problem. The host OS doesn't even have to support the filesystem of the target filesystem since it works at a lower level.

      LNX-BBC [lnx-bbc.com] is the perfect backup utility. It's self contained, aproximately 50M, and it can read/write to many types of network storage, and of course comes with GNU dd.
    • for me too (Score:3, Informative)

      The strength of dd is its simplicity. It does nothing but reading and writing data. You can read data from a device and store them in a file. Then you can compress that file.

      To do it on the fly:
      dd if=/dev/hda1 bs=1048576 | gzip -c > /some/place/winxp_backup_current.raw.gz
      An 8Gig-Partition should give you a compressed backup-File of about 3 Gigs.
      This you can store on a large partition, split and store on several CD-Rs or mail it to your granny.
      Splitting is quite easy too, you can tell dd to read a certai
      • Re:for me too (Score:3, Informative)

        by WNight (23683)
        Well, assuming you're like me and you keep your files (including backups of the Windows machines) on Linux, you can mount the disk image in loopback mode and browse through it.

        This is hard with compressed images, but if you either temporarily uncompress them or investigate a compressed filesystem driver.
      • let you send it SIGUSR1 and it will report it's progress (namely the GNU fileutils version).
        You could write a wrapper script around it with a cool progress bar if you were smart.

        Try this one day:

        dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/null &
        kill -USR1 %1
        #wait a little
        kill -USR1 %1
        #etc...
    • Why is the parent modded as 'funny'?

      this is the most reliable system I've seen (I admin ~ 75 win32 desktops). Ghost occasionally fails in wierd ways, which sometimes don't get noticed right away (this is really bad).

      You can do it to files as well, which is a bit more useful
      dd if=/dev/hda1 of=/nfsmount/on/big/drive/billsBox.image && gzip -9 /nfsmount/on/big/drive/billsBox.image

      for speed reasons you'll probably want to compress on the nfs server, but you get the idea...

      caveat: for new installs, r
  • by akedia (665196) * on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @02:36PM (#7455105)
    As far as a new machine goes, I always recommend installing a fresh copy of 2000 or XP if you are installing to just a single machine. This way everything is nice and clean, no old drivers can crud up the system, any and all resident spyware and viruses are gone. XP even has the Files & Settings Transfer Wizard to move everything over to a new machine and it has always been a good tool in my experience.

    As for multiple machines, I've always gone with Norton Ghost Enterprise [symantec.com]. Where I work, we recently got a new shipment of 120 Dell Dimension GX270 desktops, P4 2.8Ghz, 120GB disks, top of the line machines. However since we are a government agency we have certain security policies that must be in place on each machine regarding user logins, domains, file permissions and network access. Setting this up on 120 machines would be an impossible chore. So I set up a spare Dell server running Windows 2000 Advance Server with Norton Ghost Enterprise. We then took one of the new Dells, reinstalled Windows XP from scratch and began applying all security measures and end-user programs to the install. Next, a Microsoft program called System Preparation Tool [microsoft.com] was run to prepare the system for the end-user, and the machine was shut down and booted off a Norton Ghost rescue disk with drivers for the onboard ethernet. Then the machine was conencted to the Ghost server and an image of the hard disk was dumped. From there the only remaining work was to boot a dozen or so new machines at a time and point them to our Ghost server and have them image the drives, then we repackaged them and delivered them to the users. The whole process took about 2 weeks from when we got the first machine to when the last one was delivered to the user.

    Norton Ghost is great for rolling out images to identical machines, but it's hit-or-miss with machines that differ on hardware. And it certainly helps to have coprorate editions of the Microsoft software to avoid activation issues.
    • We run Symantec Ghost enterprise here, and the one thing that really bugs me is ghosting multiple machines at a time. We are a college, so our labs have 30 machines each. When i try to ghost the whole lab at once, i have anywhere from 4-12 of these machines drop out mid process. Then i have to use the network boot disk and manually do the rest. Its still a hell of a lot faster then building them up by hand, but I wish i could figure out why the machines crap out partway through.
    • Norton Ghost is great for rolling out images to identical machines, but it's hit-or-miss with machines that differ on hardware.

      Thats why Microsoft came up with their RIS service, you can create an image and it just disregards hardware on the machine. But I still use Ghost on dissimilar hardware where I work simply because its fast (copies our default computer setup in 5 minutes to a new pc and our programmer's boxes are done in just over 10) - plus if I recall, you can use ghost to roll out linux boxes to

    • by Jon_E (148226) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @04:23PM (#7456420)
      Personally, I like Ed Norton Ghost - It beats the crap out of itself and then starts fights between the other filesystems installed in the system.
  • dd (Score:5, Informative)

    by yack0 (2832) <keimelNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @02:36PM (#7455109) Homepage
    dd bs=8192 if=/dev/sda of=/dev/sdb

    It's worked for me.

    Other than that, I've used ghost.
    • yup - as mentioned above - with Ghost,
      Mr.Zip
      and another, ofwhich I can no longer remember the name....and the minute I hit the submit button, it will flash into my head, like a lightning bolt hitting a tree.

      and yes, they all work great, depending on the task at hand.

      we even ghosted our Testing Novell 5.1 server to our PXE/TFTP Server on Linux...although, the compression with ghost and Novell is horrible. (network boot and dump doesnt care tho)
    • Re:dd (Score:5, Informative)

      by crumley (12964) * on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @02:44PM (#7455231) Homepage Journal
      I'd suggest a related method using netcat, sometimes called Ghetto Ghost [real-time.com].
    • Re:dd (Score:3, Informative)

      by trentfoley (226635)
      Even if you don't have a linux box handy to work with, there is always knoppix [knoppix.net]. Add your new drive to your windows box and boot with the knoppix cd, then dd away.
    • by Gudlyf (544445)
      Just to be clear, I imagine you can first just boot off something like KNOPPIX [knoppix.net], then issue that command from a shell.

      I've never tried that, but this will work with NTFS formatted disks, correct? And all the boot block info as well?

    • Re:dd (Score:3, Interesting)

      by gpinzone (531794)
      Do the partitions need to be the same? If they're not what happens?
      • Re:dd (Score:3, Informative)

        by yack0 (2832)
        The partition tables will be copied.

        In general, dd will complain if the source drive is larger than the target drive, but the way we usually get drives is that the drives keep getting bigger in size.

        So, I usually copy my 4G drive to the new 10G drive. In 90% of instances that I use dd, it's to try and save a dying drive.

        You can also copy things by partition as well, so run fdisk (or other prefered partition tool) on the new drive and you can do

        dd if=/dev/sda1 of=/dev/sdb1

        the bs argument is handy for
    • What if the drives have different sizes?
    • by djtack (545324) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @02:55PM (#7455376)
      dd bs=8192 if=/dev/sda of=/dev/sdb

      I'm not sure if this was a serious suggestion or not, but this is exactly how I do it! I use this method to clone linux cluster nodes, but it would work for windows as well.

      I use a boot floppy, with the grub [gnu.org] bootloader (you could skip the floppy entirely if your hardware supports PXE booting, and you feel like messing with it). The bootloader grabs a kernel and ramdisk image from a tftp server. Then, a shell script creates a fifo, connect it to the tftp server, uses dd to copy to/from the image.

      Here's an example of the shell script to make a backup (just do the reverse to restore):
      tftp_server=192.168.0.253
      mknod img0001 p
      tftp ${tftp_server} <<-EOT &
      binary
      put img0001
      EOT
      dd if=/dev/sda1 > img0001

      This method was adapted from the clone [tldp.org] HOWTO, which has more in-depth instructions.
    • by cscx (541332) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @03:07PM (#7455542) Homepage
      You need to strip the security identifiers from NTFS before making an image... I suspect this is what the (obviously ignorant) author of the article didn't do and instead chose to write up this little FUD escapade. Microsoft has a little tool called "sysprep" that does just this.

      From the article: Microsoft Windows 2000 and Windows XP have crippled file systems

      Bullshit! That one statement shows that the article writer has a serious case of rectal-cranial inversion... For the uninformed, here is MS's definition of SIDs: "A security identifier (SID) is a unique value of variable length that is used to identify a security principal or security group in Microsoft(R) Windows(R) 2000 and Microsoft(R) Windows NT(R)." They are almost like *nix UIDs/GIDs, but a little bit more complex... NTFS is more complex in general. They actually contain information specific to the machine/domain/etc in the permission. To be more clear, an NT machine on a domain is treated as a leaf node in a tree... and each file in the filesystem of that leaf node can be assigned specific permissions relating to any user on any machine in that tree (domain). This allows very complex definition of file/registry/system permissions! Unix works in a similar way, but lacks those extra capabilities. What you need to do is strip the machine-specific parts of the SIDs out before you image the machine! (Here's a thought question for ya... ever tar a set of files on one unix machine, move them to another, untar and notice that the UIDs/GIDs are, as Strong Bad would say, "weirded out?")

      Obviously the article writer is an amateur and knows nothing about how Windows or NTFS work... which makes me suspect he is not qualified to do his job. Assuming you can't image Windows machines based on the premise that Windows and NTFS are "fundamentally broken" is the most ludicrous thing I've ever heard. My university must have > 10,000 shiny brand new Dell computers, all running an identical version of Windows XP... and someone means to tell me they didn't image them, instead installing XP from scratch on each one? Please!

      dd is great for quick-and-dirty imaging, but I'd be wary writing that image to a disk of a different size, etc... unless you hacked the partition table to make the new disk "think" it's smaller than the image, if the new disk is indeed bigger.
      • But the Windows 2000 CDs we have as part of our licensing program are different than the kind ordinary mortals obtain. They don't require product activation codes, serial numbers, etc. (or any product activation at all, actually). Windows XP is the same way, as are Office 2000 and XP.

        I don't know whether that affects drive imaging software or not. I've used g4u to create and use images of Win2k and WinXP machines without problems (well, none that seemed specific to imaging), and I had never heard of "sy
  • I have used Partitionmagic and Copy Commander, but neither has ever been successful. I was charged with the task of setting up 25+ client machines with some proprietary ASP.net apps to run remotely at client sites, with Windows XP. All the machines were identical, hardware wise. It made NO sense to set each one up individually. We purchased one of these: Logicube Echo [logicube.com]. If you have the means to purchase this $500+ device, I highly recommend doing so. I did a mirror copy of the 40GB HDs in these machines and
  • dd (Score:4, Informative)

    by paronomasia5 (567302) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @02:37PM (#7455115)
    if you boot from a linux CD, you can use dd to ghost from one XP drive to another blank harddrive. or you can even use dd and netcat together to dd over the net -- there is a google page describing how to do this
  • I mean, I've probably forgotten more ways of doing disk backups on Linux than Windows has available :-)

    Simon.
  • I used to use PowerQuest Drive Image and Partition Magic back in my Windows days, and they were good, solid products. I haven't used the latest versions since I don't use Windows anymore, but I hear that they've gone to Product Activation. If that's true, I personally wouldn't buy any more of their stuff, but that's a judgement call I guess.
  • DD ? (Score:2, Informative)

    Did you try booting knopix and using dd to take an image ? Simple, free, bit perfect copies.
  • Modboot + ghost (Score:3, Informative)

    by SnowDeath (157414) <{peteguhl} {at} {gmail.com}> on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @02:40PM (#7455161) Homepage
    I've used Modboot along with Ghost 2002 to perfectly copy Windows XP systems. Drive Image Pro somewhat works, but not always. Ghost has never given me issue.

    Modboot [nu2.nu] is really nice in that you can make a network boot disk for pretty much any network card that was or is in production without much hassle.

  • by dmayle (200765) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @02:40PM (#7455169) Homepage Journal
    Two things you can do are to customise an OS install using the "OEM" section to do the installs for you, or use a deployment system like Tivoli, Unicenter, or Vision64...
  • by Pike65 (454932) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @02:41PM (#7455178) Homepage
    Well at the place I used to work IT at we used an older version of Norton Ghost and had no problems with it. I can't check what version it was because it won't run under Windows and I don't have a machine I can reboot right now. 7.0? Something like that.

    Either way, just whip the top off the box, stick in your drive with the image on and use Ghost on a boot disk. Never had a problem with Windows 95, 98 or 2k, including NTFS.

    Pulling images down off the network was a bit of a chore, as it'd fail if the lag got too high . . .
  • I've used it in the past to pipe a tar+bzip2 image of /dev/hda1 over SSH to another Linux system. If I needed to back it to CD, which I did sometimes, I used split on the image and would burn the images individually.

    There might be GPL issues that'd compound your Microsoft issues of sector-by-sector copying, but aren't we entitled to a backup? Which laws trump which?

  • dd and knoppix (Score:5, Informative)

    by bats (8748) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @02:42PM (#7455198) Homepage
    I've had a lot of success using Knoppix [knoppix.net] and dd. Knoppix is a full linux distro on a CD.

    I image a lot of identical laptops. With Knoppix, I can pop in a boot CD along with a pcmcia firewire card attached to a big external drive. Everything (even sound!) is detected on boot up and I can mount the external drive and dd an image to or from. I can write a 20 gig image to the laptop in just over 12 minutes. Going the other way takes a bit longer... haven't figured that one out.

    I was using ghost, but its a royal pain. Limited support for external devices (no pcmcia support). Network backups involve making DOS/Windows for Workgroup (!) boot disks. Ick all around. Knoppix works much better. Network interfaces are also detected and configured via dhcp, so I could do net backups as well.
  • I have seen a hardware hard-drive ghoster. You take two drives, hook them up, and the machine copies the data drive onto the empty drive. I imagine this is a nearly foolproof way to ghost a machine, the only trouble being if you have two really different drives and the HHD ghoster doesn't recognize them. Still, I recommend hardware over software.
  • Well someone may beat me to this but use linux dd. Best would be to use something like knoppix (bootable linux CD with no need for installing anything to the system), and then use:

    dd if=/dev/hda1 of=//disk.image

    Then when you need to restore the image on the system:

    dd if=//disk.image of=/dev/hda1

    (where the disk.image is the one you created above.) Best way would be to store the images on a networked linux server on a nfs share. That way you just mount the share on the localhost once you boot up into knop
  • Overkill (Score:2, Interesting)

    by GreatDave (620927)

    All the people suggesting dd are absolutely right. It's simple and it works. And you can put a regular file for "of" if you want to create a disk image file.

    I don't see why g4u's use of FTP for uploading drive images is that bad. Surely it isn't hard to throw up a Linux box running an ftp daemon, or enable FTP on IIS on your NT box.

    I for one don't even bother with Symantec products anymore. If you know how to use Linux or BSD, fixing Windows problems through them is a snap. And from the looks of it

  • My recommendation (Score:4, Interesting)

    by djupedal (584558) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @02:44PM (#7455229)
    Chassis your Windows drive into a Mac and image/clone it via CarbonCopy Cloner [versiontracker.com], Retrospect [dantz.com], etc. 100% mirror, no problem.
  • by Shagg (99693)
    I recently upgraded the hd on my Win2000 machine. I took both the old and new drives and connected them to a linux machine, then used dd to transfer the data and VolumeManager (same company as PartitionMagic) to grow the partition to the size of the new drive. Worked fine.
  • by Cheeze (12756) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @02:45PM (#7455236) Homepage
    use the software mirror that has been included in windows since at least NT4.0.

    1. put in an identical drive, and make a mirror
    2. run the machine for a few hours while it syncs up.
    3. reboot and take out the fully mirrored drive.

    that takes a while, but it should provide a decent solution to backup all of the files on a windows machine. You can even run the system while the backup is running. You still have to reboot at least twice, and have a drive that is equal or greater in size, but it should work flawlessly if you know what you're doing.

    • Beware...

      You need to use "dynamic disks" (whatever the hell that is) in order to run a software RAID1 array under Windows. This isn't a prob for 90% of the people out there, but if you dual boot, it could cause problems.

      If you do dual-boot, use DD as suggested in another post.
    • If you use SCSI, or some other system that supports removable drives (such as an external USB2 or FireWire disk), it should be possible to hot swap a pair (or more) of drives, and take all but the one currently running the backup off site, so if your windows machine is a server (stranger things have happened. I saw someone using BeOS* as a web server recently) you don't have to put up with the downtime while you swap drives. Of course, when I say should, I've never tried it. If it isn't then you'd be bet
  • Sorta (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonvmous Coward (589068) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @02:46PM (#7455247)
    "Microsoft supplies no method of backing up and restoring fully operational copies of Windows 2000 and Windows XP. "

    Mostly true, but not entirely. NTBackup.exe will save your system state (registry, drivers, etc) plus you can backup Program Files and Documents and Settings etc too. In theory (meaning: I've never done this) you could do one install of Windows, install your apps, then use NTBackup to save your system state and your Program Files/Docs and Sets folders. Then, you could go to the other machines, first do a vanilla install of Windows, copy the .BKF file to each machine, and use it to extract the system state and program files into the right spot.

    I will say again I have never done specifically this. but I have saved a mucked up registry using this techique before. In your position, it's a method I'd explore. Expect limitations. For example, I don't know if XP'll shit itself over it's activation process. I suggest this as a direction to explore, not as a solution I'd stand behind.

    Oh, one other thing, XP doesn't install NTBackup.exe by default, you have to extract it from the XP CD. Google has plenty of help here.
    • Funny?!

      Trying to help the guy here. I also don't wanna stake my reptuation on how well Microsoft made their backup software.
  • Zenworks (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Stile 65 (722451)
    Ghost has worked fine for me in the past, but I really like Novell's Zenworks server. I haven't tried Ghostcast so I'm guessing they're somewhat similar, but Zenworks uses a 3-disk Linux boot floppy system and their image program can back up and restore onto local and server-based images. With some finagling, you can just create those floppy disks and copy straight from one drive to another (and unlike dd, it's a file-by-file rather than bit-by-bit copy).
  • I think the company is long out of business so maybe you can find the program floating around out there. Works great on the same hardware. Set up one pc, image it up to the server. Push it out to up to 255 pc at the same time. I still use an older version on a school lan to restore (and update) their labs. Been doing it since 1998. Image restore takes about 30 minutes for 20 pc's. The only issue is the pc's sid's. You have to remove, then add each pc back into the domain.
  • by gfecyk (117430) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @02:47PM (#7455263) Homepage Journal
    That statement says Microsoft supports imaged copies of specific versions of Windows that also use the Sysprep utility.

    It also has the side effect of making sure you have all of your OS licenses. Or is that a problem? :-p

    Sysprep is your friend if you have a pile of apps and want to reinstall multiple copies of them quickly. I use Symantec Ghost myself, and the image in question has Win2K, Office 2K, a bunch of 16-bit apps, Acrobat Reader, a bunch of 32-bit apps to go with said 16-bit apps, IE6, and other stuff I forget or don't want to disclose at this time, and Sysprep makes these all imageable.

    In that sense it doesn't matter WHAT imaging software you use to make a mass copy of Windows, as long as you Sysprep it before the fact.

    As for disaster recovery backups of a single workstation, the included NTBACKUP still is tried and true. Though I liked the NT4 version better than the Win2K version.
  • Ghost 6.5 or 7.0 (Score:2, Informative)

    by Lester67 (218549)
    Works fine for Windows XP. The only time I've gotten bizarre errors is the last shut down was "dirty". Restart, Error Check, and ghost after the reboot.

    I've also used DD from a linux boot disk. It takes forever, but used to handle imaging some drives that older versions of Ghost (pre 6.0) would choke on.

    I tinkered with Acronis, but didn't care much for the limitations. (I'd like to be able to image a drive connected via USB with another OS image. Acronis only seemed concerned with its system drive, a
  • partimage (Score:2, Informative)

    by gylle (531234)
    I have successfully backed up and restored both windows and linux machines with partimage: http://www.partimage.org/ [partimage.org]. Some features:
    • It compresses (gzip or bzip2) the allocated parts of filesystems, and leaves out the unallocated.
    • It can work in client server mode over the network.
    • It can automatically split files, e.g., on the 2G boundary
    • Available on live bootable linux cd:s such as knoppix
  • by Elwood P Dowd (16933) <judgmentalist@gmail.com> on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @02:48PM (#7455286) Journal
    Maybe Symantec has copy protection bullshit, but I've never once seen Ghost carp about licenses. And I can't imagine it was because the IT dept was doing their job properly (at a former place of work).

    There are a few things that you don't want to duplicate exactly when you're installing on a bunch of machines, even with identical hardware. If I understand correctly, that's the whole point of Ghost. dd doesn't always cut it if you're doing 400 installs on separate machines.
  • "week or even more?" (Score:4, Informative)

    by quakeroatz (242632) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @02:49PM (#7455297) Journal
    "installing them all may take a week or even more?"
    Sorry. If it takes you a week to install replication software, you shouldn't be in IT.

    One word. Ghost. It works. If you see limitations with the normal version, grab the enterprise edition which offers Ghost servers and network system replication, with just a floppy on the client machine.

    Sounds like.... Debian net-intstall floppies!
    • "installing them all may take a week or even more?"

      Sorry. If it takes you a week to install replication software, you shouldn't be in IT.


      I believe they were talking about the applications they used, not the actual disk imaging software.
  • Works great. We don't install it on the machines, instead we setup a machine, make an image using the boot disks to net dump it to the ghost server, and then either burn to cd to manually do single machines or we broadcast it to a whole lab.

    Installing stuff for Ghost? Ours runs completely off floppy - either the client or the server.
  • dd if=/dev/hda of=/backup/today/hda.raw
    where /backup/ is a removable harddrive for backups - possibly one from which you booted the system to Linux to make the backup.
    Then eventually run "gzip" or "bzip2" over that. You get a perfect mirror, that recovers everything, including MBR, partition tables, deleted files for undelete and empty diskspace (which is lucklily very compressable).
    Recovery?
    dd if=/backup/thatday/hda.raw of=/dev/hda

  • Back when I did IT support for a large university, we had a problem of disting Windows images to each machine (for those who are not familiar, it's to synchronize each machine with a master image upon logout). It was easy on the Mac [radmind.org], but the best we could do in the Windows world was to use PC-RDist [pyzzo.com], a piece of software written probably by high school kids in their parents' garage. It did not handle Microsoft software very well. Even with a fully-functional image set up, we had to manually go to each machine
  • They would prefer that you did not back up, because Windows slowly fucks itself over time with the abortion they call the registry. This way you have to do a clean install every now and then, and it cleans up whatever little problems it has.
  • From the article:
    "Can you recommend a program,"

    Linux? Ba-dum-dum.....hey, stop throwing cans at me!

  • Dude, you can skip C:\pagefile.sys

    But seriously, I just finished a contract at a large bank maanging the disaster recovery for a w2k advanced server environment(over 100 servers around the world, terabytes of data). To make it more complicated it was exchange (now there is a backup anoyance).

    I never had any problems even using the internal NT backup (before they chose a solution).

    All you need is a good DR procedure.
    In short:

    1. Make backups (Full, diff and incremental to taste)
    2. Have OS install disks r
  • If you want to stick to just Windows, and you don't want to use something like Ghost (which find very effective), then have a minimal NT (4/5.0/5.1/5.2) install on another partition. Boot in to it and you will have what you need. I recommend hiding the other partitions before doing a multi-boot NT system to avoid them sharing the same boot.ini/ntldr/etc - you can add the entries to boot.ini later.

    Personally I would just go with Ghost. We use it a lot (several times/day for several years now), and it's n
  • Related to this, what would one do about an older laptop without a working cdrom, with no OS on it. Wish to get win98 on it, but having issues since I cannot get my network card working. It is PCMCIA, and the boot disks/setups I have tried have not supported it, so I cant do much! It does have an a: drive which works, and the network card WILL work.

    I am thinking of resorting to opening the case, pulling the HD, and putting it in a friends lappie that has a working cdrom
  • We use Drive Image 2000 (so I can't speak to the problems people report with the latest version) and we have never had a problem creating or restoring an image. Boot from the boot disks into dos and away you go.

    As far as sysprep is concerned, we've seen some problems with it on xp machines in that after sysprep is run, some of the settings that *were* in the default user profile are no longer there. We came to the conclusion that sysprep is junk and unnecessary if you replace it with NewSID from sysinter
  • More Anti-MS FUD (Score:2, Insightful)

    by chumpieboy (257469)
    I fail to see what the linked MS KB article has to do with drive imaging for backup or transferring purposes.

    The article clearly states that MS does not support drive imaging as a *deployment* method. Nowhere does it say that disk duplication software is not allowed ever.

    Back to the question hidden at the end of the /. story. If you're looking to take all of the files on the HD (including those in use or flagged as being important to the OS) then you can use the native W2K/XP backup utility to back up t
  • vmware (Score:2, Interesting)

    by NynexNinja (379583)
    use vmware and image the disk as one big .vmx file... when the stuff breaks, just copy a vmx file across the network and you're done.
  • Isn't this discussion similiar to one you would NOT have when calling up Microsoft asking them how to image a *nix workstation? /. is a *NIX site not a Microsoft site (MS Bashing perhaps). I would advise the poster to go hang around some of the MS boards, of which there are plenty.

    This issue, has been discussed and resolved many times over by many different people.

    Ghost, PQ Magic, SYSPrep, etc. I have seen 1000s of corporations roll out imaged systems just fine.
  • by I_am_Rambi (536614) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @02:58PM (#7455419) Homepage
    Working for computer services for my university, we have recently dropped Ghost for Novell ZenWorks imaging. This is a linux based imaging software, that I think is fairly simple, if you don't mind typing. example:

    For a image residing on a server that you want to bring down:
    img restorep server //server/path/to/image/file

    The only issue that I have ran acrossed is that sometimes it will give the wrong error. I've received the error that it couldn't find the server, but it was a hard drive issue. I think though this is an easy imaging software, and if you are up for fun, its seems that you can edit some of the config files to automatically image stuff, but I'm not for certain.
  • Here's a solution (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Kazymyr (190114) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @03:23PM (#7455708) Journal
    Backburner [kilgallonfamily.com] will backup anything you throw at it. It's a collection of Perl scripts, thus very small. It can backup and restore partitions or raw disks, with or without compression. It can write the backup to multiple CDs. You can even send it over the network to a NFS mounted volume. Been using it for over 3 years with no problem whatsoever.
  • by greed (112493) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @03:30PM (#7455783)
    While this isn't drive imaging software per se, it does handle the restore a system to an operating state feature. Dantz Retrospect has an add-on [dantz.com] which they say can make a bootable disaster-recovery CD which will regenerate any client of the Retrospect backup server. AFTER the client has failed.

    I've never used that feature, as my primary use of Retrospect is on Macintosh; I have a Windows client, but have not had to try to regenerate it following a total system loss. (And I don't have the add-on to do it anyway.)

    But the rest of Retrospect is common across Windows and Mac. (Disaster recovery on Mac seems to be a lot easier.) The important part for this discussion, in addition to the 'disaster recovery CD' add-on, is the way it does a so-called 'snapshot' when it takes an incremental backup. This lets you get both the speed of doing incremental backups, plus the ability to restore a system to precisely the contents it had at that time. (So basically, it can handle deletes too, so it doesn't need to restore files from the full backup which were deleted when a later backup took place.)

    I bought Retrospect for Macintosh after Norton 'Crash Gaurd Causes Crashes' Utilities removed their backup/restore software in a newer version. (Fortunately, the id10ts at Symantec offered a satisfaction guarantee on software. The store didn't believe it, they had to place a toll call to Symantec to find out they weren't kidding.)

    I've been using Retrospect for Macintosh since System 8 came out, through OS X, and now with a Windows 98 client. It's my very favourite backup program, and what's more, the restores work.

    Just need to get the upgrade to 5.1 for Mac so I don't need a separate backup system for my Linux box.

  • by azaris (699901) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @03:30PM (#7455784) Journal

    The author of the "story" is wining and bitching about how hard it is to make a functional copy of a Windows installation and how supposedly this is some kind of "license enforcement" issue when anyone with half-a-brain can read the KB article themselves that the reason it's not supported and will cause problems is that you're violating the internal security policy of your own network by having duplicate machine SID's on your network. To make it work you have to change the SID, but since MS obviously feel it's not reliable enough they're recommending it as a workaround (since, hey, if anyone could just change the SID no questions asked we'd get another Slashdot article about how Windows is fatally flawed). Had they simply put in a safety that stops the image from working completely, I'm sure the crap would have flown even further.

    Not to mention that there are perfectly fine methods for doing large-scale Windows roll-outs for those who need them, which don't involve 3rd party software kluges like Ghost.

  • by Slightly Askew (638918) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @04:13PM (#7456291) Journal
    Hello. I'm fairly new to slashdot, and I have all of these moderator points I don't know what to do with. I would like to mod down the post I just read as -1 Troll. It was posted by Cliff [mailto] and titled "Experiences w/ Drive Imaging Software?" [slashdot.org]. Thanks for the help.
  • by harborpirate (267124) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @04:37PM (#7456611)
    About 6 months ago, I bought a new HD. I decided to split it into separate partitions, one for OS, a big one for Data. I cleaned off my old HD so that I could put images on it.

    Once I got XP running and set up the way I liked it, I made an image. I installed a firewall and some other necessary programs, made another image. Added all the accessory programs I like, made an image.

    Then I tried to install a major IDE. The installation hosed up at 99%. After a reboot, the machine was F'd up big time. I restored the image I had made just before starting the installation. Then I tried installing the IDE again and it worked perfectly. My machine has been running great ever since, and the IDE works just fine. Needless to say I also have an image with the IDE installed :)

    TrueImage certainly saved me loads of time reinstalling my OS, configuring it, and installing all the programs I like. Not only that, but since I can cut an image of the OS while running it, making new images is a piece of cake. Booting from a disk to make an image now feels practically prehistoric. But the greatest thing about it is that its cheap, unlike certain other image software.

    So I vote for Acronis.

    It may not be an ideal corporate solution - I think Ghost is probably still the best for that. Its got automation, networking, pretty much everything you could want in image software. Except, perhaps, ease of use and low cost.

    For personal use though, I'd argue Acronis is the way to go for MS OS.

    Personal Soapbox section:
    When you set up a new machine, make a separate partition for data and OS! It'll save you a lot of time because making OS images is fast and easy, and you can restore your OS without having to worry about losing data. The data partition can be backed up via more conventional means. Copy important data to CD or tape, or whatever other backup solution you want to pursue - but image your OS. I'd never set up a new machine any other way.
  • *sigh*.. PLEASE READ (Score:5, Informative)

    by bmajik (96670) <matt@mattevans.org> on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @06:29PM (#7458271) Homepage Journal
    Hi.

    I work for Microsoft. i designed an automated deployment system that over 2000 computers at MS used for 24/7 automated testing. (a follow on technology by some of my co-workers has taken this approach to the next step, so only a little of my code is still running out there, but i digress)

    there is nothing crippled about NTFS on XP or otherwise. Imaging works just how you expect it to. we've used Ghost (multiple version) PQDI (multiple versions, including the 16 bit dos version) and some internal-to-MS only stuff even. All of these make and restore images of XP machines perfeclty fine.

    Not only is imaging a windows machine not broken, it is a supported and tested product scenario with its own feature and test teams.

    enter: SYSPREP

    Sysprep is the 100% microsoft supported way of bulk deploying machines and setting them up for imaging. sysprep is fully scriptable as of XP and the same sysprepped image can be restored on hardware of nearly any type. It can automaticly configure the box, set a hostname, join a domain, setup local users/groups, etc etc etc.

    I know this because if it doesn't work, nobody in the world can test visual studio.

    Please look at microsoft.com and read about sysprep. It's your friend.

    Incidentically, before sysprep-XP, when sysprep wasn't quite the cat's meow, you could still image and restore NTFS OSes (even XP, with WPA), even across different hardware. You just had to know what things to change/tweak. (which i found out WITHOUT special MS-only knowledge)

    Sysprep for XP also works great with WPA, letting you seal/reseal an image so that the WPA activation bomb goes away.

    Honestly people, ask slashdot stories should be ASKING, not presuming. because the presumptions are often wrong, and the meat of the "question" is an uninformed bash as opposed to a legitmate request for help or comments...
  • Knoppix (Score:3, Informative)

    by Qbertino (265505) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @06:53PM (#7458514)
    Knoppix has at least 3 tools that come to mind that can easyly be used for the purpose you need and have never failed me.
    And it's free and can help you do other rescue and recovery stuff as well.
    In case you don't know: Knoppix is the leading Live CD Linux distribution. A perfect chance to test it as well.
  • by The_Myth (84113) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @07:38PM (#7459036)
    In the System Admin tools for Windows there is a little utility called SYSPREP that prepares a drive image for the imaging process. The reason that most images fail is due to SID's in teh wnidows architecture. SYSPREP removes these allowing them to be recreated on the machines first boot. Programs like GHOST then have no problems at all.

    We use GHOST and Microsoft's SYSPREP to roll out the images on our 300 desktops as needed.
  • by ddent (166525) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @09:57PM (#7460367) Homepage
    I help admin a largish Win98 installation... we have no intention of going any further on the upgrade treadmill. It has been very frustrating -- there seems to be a windows 98 sysprep tool out there, but it isn't available anymore, as they want people using 2000/XP. We of course only realized how useful the tool would be _after_ they decided to stop distributing it... we do without, but it would save hours of work.

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