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Experiences w/ Drive Imaging Software?

Cliff posted more than 10 years ago | from the sharing-your-trials-and-tribulations dept.

Software 837

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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Has always worked for me ... (5, Funny)

bigjocker (113512) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455102)

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

Re:Has always worked for me ... (5, Informative)

cdc179 (561916) | more than 10 years ago | (#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.

Re:Has always worked for me ... (1)

Wakkow (52585) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455291)

Looks good.. The only problem is that their site [] lists NTFS support as experimental.

Re:Has always worked for me ... (0, Redundant)

tankdilla (652987) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455226)

doesn't it cost $699 to do that?

Re:Has always worked for me ... (1)

Wakkow (52585) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455246)

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?

Re:Has always worked for me ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7455320)

I have a 3GB image I use to set up new workstations at work using the above image. Once the image is on the machine, I use Partition Magic to resize the partition.

Alternatively, you could just set up a D drive with the remaining space to use for user data.

Experiences with Norton Ghost (5, Informative)

akedia (665196) | more than 10 years ago | (#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 [] . 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 [] 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.

Re:Experiences with Norton Ghost (1)

dzym (544085) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455133)

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.
And yet, setting up all this automatically with a couple of domain controllers already in place is a breeze.

Re:Experiences with Norton Ghost (1)

calebtucker (691882) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455188)

Hey, give him a break. He did say he works for the government.

Re:Experiences with Norton Ghost (1)

akedia (665196) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455249)

And yet, setting up all this automatically with a couple of domain controllers already in place is a breeze.

Yes, if we were using Active Directory on Windows Servers. We are not. We are currently using Novell Netware servers with multiple different trees and contexts for each department. In addition we had to load custom versions of proprietary applications (not just Office and the like) plus applying all Windows Update patches and configuring SUS automatic updates and Norton Anti-Virus. There was a lot more to be set up than just group policys.

Re:Experiences with Norton Ghost (2, Interesting)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455211)

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.

Re:Experiences with Norton Ghost (1)

clarkc3 (574410) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455271)

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 too

dd (5, Informative)

yack0 (2832) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455109)

dd bs=8192 if=/dev/sda of=/dev/sdb

It's worked for me.

Other than that, I've used ghost.

What he said (1)

Houn (590414) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455191)

If you've got a linux box, dd's the way to go. Pop the windows drive and the spare drive in, clone.

Of course, before my linux days, we always used a copy of Ghost. Forget which version, but it was small enough to drop on a win98 boot floppy, so you could just boot from the floppy and run ghost. Never gave us any problems in our small little repair lab, and saved our butts on those 30-system custom-build orders.

Re:What he said (4, Informative)

chgros (690878) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455296)

If you've got a linux box, dd's the way to go
If you don't, you can use a Linux LiveCD []

Re:dd (1)

chef_raekwon (411401) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455222)

yup - as mentioned above - with Ghost,
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 (5, Informative)

crumley (12964) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455231)

I'd suggest a related method using netcat, sometimes called Ghetto Ghost [] .

Re:dd (2, Informative)

trentfoley (226635) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455287)

Even if you don't have a linux box handy to work with, there is always knoppix [] . Add your new drive to your windows box and boot with the knoppix cd, then dd away.

Use Ghost under a true DOS or Win98 DOS (0)

AnnCoulterTroll (722864) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455113)

Have you tried using a disk imager in true DOS mode? Not the psuedo-DOS mode that is part of Windows 2000/XP, which is only a NT command shell. I would use Norton Ghost for this. If you start it under DOS, it shouldn't run into any errors, unless the disk was too big or something along those lines. The image itself should work on the new hardware but with 2000 you may encounter hardware issues and with XP you may have to reactivate.

Skip hardware, go software (2, Interesting)

mixy1plik (113553) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455114)

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 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 [] . 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 within 2 days had all 25 machines up and running. Essentially, the single installation of XP I copied was duped bit by bit. Each drive took about 40-60 minutes to dupe. It's truly a process of plug in two drives and hit copy. The catch is, all XP installs were under the same serial number- however- we purchased a copy of XP for each system so I have a legit license for each instance.

Microsoft's policy with duping/copying is FUCKING INANE. I've switched PCI cards in my home PC only to have it flip out and require a repair install of XP on top of everything. It's just plain stupid. That poor Windows XP activation operator woman at midnight a few Saturdays ago...she got a piece of my mind.

Re:Skip hardware, go software (1)

phoebus1553 (522577) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455184)

You actually get people? I just got a recording that I had to talk back to... read 5 numbers, it repeats them, you say go on... lather, rinse, repeat.


Anyone working at MS Product Activation listening? (1, Offtopic)

forged (206127) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455238)

Come on don't be shy, we know there are lots of you out there... So how is it to be working at MS Product Activation Call Center ? Do you really get abused badly ?? Angry slashdot mob wants to know :o)

Re:Skip hardware, go software (1)

Mr Pippin (659094) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455260)

Microsoft's policy with duping/copying is FUCKING INANE. I've switched PCI cards in my home PC only to have it flip out and require a repair install of XP on top of everything. It's just plain stupid. That poor Windows XP activation operator woman at midnight a few Saturdays ago...she got a piece of my mind.

As if they care? The ONLY way to address this with Microsoft is financially. If consumers gripe, but keep buying; what motivation is there to remove the function?

On the other hand, I will also state that if you continue to treat your customers like criminals, they will begin to act like criminals.

dd (4, Informative)

paronomasia5 (567302) | more than 10 years ago | (#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 have none (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7455117)

but I do have experience getting first posts. This ain't one, however.

Symantec Ghost (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7455125)

I manage an environment of approximately 7000 workstations, and I use Symantec Ghost. Ghostcast is awesome to use, and I've had no problems multicasting images. It's never failed me in 5 years.

which program to stay away from? (1)

edrugtrader (442064) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455127)

how about windows 2000 and XP?

no, i am not trolling.

Re:which program to stay away from? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7455272)

Wow, thanks for nothing, asshole.

Make sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7455130)

Why would you want to reinstall the OS after it has gone through "OS degradation"? (or whatever you call what happens when a Windows installation gets slower and slower over time.)

slave it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7455131)

just slave the drive then make your backup.

Become a switcher (-1, Offtopic)

Alex Reynolds (102024) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455134)

Use a Mac -- you can just run Carbon Copy Cloner to put an image on a bootable, external FireWire drive and be done with all your image-related support issues!


Re:Become a switcher (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7455234)

oh god, here comes the mac fanboys, this guy needs advice on copying pc files!

Solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7455136)

don't use windows.

drive imaging software? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7455140)

you mean dd?
Works great!

One area where linux (unix) is worth the $699 :-) (2, Insightful)

Space cowboy (13680) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455141)

I mean, I've probably forgotten more ways of doing disk backups on Linux than Windows has available :-)


Ghost.. (1)

jakarta (617836) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455143)

I use ghost all the time and have never had a problem with XP or any other OS. Have you looked at your methods? Is something else going on that is throwing you off?

Re:Ghost.. (1)

johndoesovich (691840) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455301)

The quickest and easiest method for a clone would be disk to disk when you are working on a single machine. Presently we run the latest version of Ghost and have never successfully cloned a machine using the disk to disk method.

PowerQuest USED to be good... (2, Insightful)

drywater (543888) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455146)

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.

dylan lainhart (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7455149)


DD ? (2, Informative)

Porag_Spliffing (66509) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455154)

Did you try booting knopix and using dd to take an image ? Simple, free, bit perfect copies.

Sector Specific Copy? (1)

d_force (249909) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455155)

This may be naive but... what about:

1) Boot from favorite UNIX-based OS-on-a-floppy.
2) Sector-by-sector copy the old HD to another new HD.
3) Grow/resize the new HD accordingly.. I don't think PartitionMagic has broken that. (And there are probably other utilities out there equally good)
4) Change the NT unique ID (if the old OS will remain on the old system).

Granted, it's not nice, nor really deployable.. but I don't see why it wouldn't work.

-- dforce

Reinstalling is usually better (1)

Brahmastra (685988) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455156)

Reimaging an existing harddrive copies everything that the OS screwed up too. Reinstallation works much better if what you want is a stable system again. That's the reality of windows.

Re:Reinstalling is usually better (2, Insightful)

BigFire (13822) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455240)

I ususally make milestone ghost image. That way, uninstalling software cleaning takes 2 minutes.

I use... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7455160)

Mac OSX.

Works like a charm! :D

Modboot + ghost (2, Informative)

SnowDeath (157414) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455161)

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 [] 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.

Windows? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7455163)

More like Gaydows if you ask me.

Re:Windows? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7455228)

So, you're saying that for at least ten percent of the population, Windows is the best choice?

Re:Windows? (0, Flamebait)

B3ryllium (571199) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455278)

*bzzt* sorry , wrong answer.

You obviously meant to say "Losedows".

My experience (1)

olympus_coder (471587) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455166)

I maintain several labs. We currently use Partimage [] off a gentoo live cd [] . This works great for windows 2000 machines in our labs. Previously I used ghost with no problems on windows NT, but 2000 might be different. I always used it from a "boot" disk not from a running system.


Two functional methods... (2, Interesting)

dmayle (200765) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455169)

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...

Remember! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7455171)

To make a perfectly operational copy of your mare, all you need is a stallion!

some wierd shit? /. glitches? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7455175)

about 40 minutes ago i came to /., saw this story, (with a submit time of 12:something), saw no comments so i hit reply, it just sent me to a page about active discussions i could comment on. i went back to the main page and the story was gone. i dont even have an account here, let alone a subscription. oh well, this happen to anyone else?

Re:some wierd shit? /. glitches? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7455323)

Happened to me too, and I do have an acct and was logged into it (I post as AC by default).

must use sysprep (1)

chawry (699690) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455177)

I don't think the article you referenced says that Microsoft does not support disk duplication. Quite to the contrary, they have their own tool to avoid problems with SIDs on cloned machines, and they certainly expect people to use it. I've always used Ghost for duplicating Windows installs with no real problems. True, their licensing is getting uglier, but they have the best product, hands down. So just prepare your build with all of your software and settings. If you have multiple hardware configurations you plan to run the build on, create a folder on the hard disk and save any special drivers you might need. Then run Microsoft's sysprep tool (there is documentation for using on the WinXP CD). Finally, create your ghost image, and you should be good to go.

Re:must use sysprep (5, Informative)

skroz (7870) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455307)

One important note regarding sysprep; don't sysprep a machine more than once. If you do, you'll likely not be able to boot a second time. As a result, we've always kept two images of each production load; one before sysprep and one after. That way, we can return to the non syspreped image if we need to make changes and still be able to run sysprep.

Ghost worked fine for us (3, Interesting)

Pike65 (454932) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455178)

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 . . .

hardware for me (1)

ActionPlant (721843) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455179)

I actually do just use hardware. I feel XP's hardware detection is decent enough that if I'm swapping among similar chipsets, I can just move physical drives around no problem. Of course, you have a good long wait while things are detected and installed, but if you're running proprietary file-server oriented boxes, bypassing this and manually enabling different driver sets isn't too tough. Yes, it's a nuisance, but it can be done.


Tom's Root Boot? (1)

Sheetrock (152993) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455186)

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?

what about partimage? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7455197)

dd and knoppix (4, Informative)

bats (8748) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455198)

I've had a lot of success using Knoppix [] 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.

Hardware drive ghoster (1)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455199)

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.

Er... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7455204)

Copying each sector of a hard drive bypasses Microsoft's copy protection by which Microsoft punishes all users, even if they are honest.

Silly Microsoft. Why didn't Microsoft just do this?

if (user_honesty == 1)
//copy protection disabled
//no copy for you!

MS sounds reasonable in this case... (1)

MMC Monster (602931) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455206)

(I'll probably be mod'ed down here...) MSFT is probably right here: Imaging your entire system and putting it on other hardware may not work because of differing in hardware that requires different software to be installed, even if it's just firmware revision differences in your BIOS of sound card, you may need to load a different driver.

Re:MS sounds reasonable in this case... (1)

chawry (699690) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455264)

sysprep can be made to remove the registry info about the hardware on the ghost image, forcing windows to redetect at boot time. just put all the drivers you might need on your ghost build, and make sure that you run sysprep before actually making the ghost image. this is really well-documented.

Re:MS sounds reasonable in this case... (1)

Cheeze (12756) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455275)

The operating system should adapt to hardware changes. That is part of it's job. having to reinstall a server from scratch because windows couldn't detect a driver for a sound card is a big waste of time.

Re:MS sounds reasonable in this case... (1)

nomadlogic (91566) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455276)

sorry this is crazy. in the Unix world this you have been able to do this for years. i see no reason why it would be a bad idea to have a full system image backup of any computer. hard drives *do* crash, and having a backup sometimes is really a matter of life or death.

Image backup of any harddrive partition (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7455212)

Boot KNOPPIX live from CD-ROM but copied to RAM, configure the CD burner of the system being backed up, use dd (or mkisofs or ...) to perform the copy.

dd to the rescue.... again! (1)

Fallen Kell (165468) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455214)

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 knoppix and then issue the dd command.

Overkill (1, Interesting)

GreatDave (620927) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455216)

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, I'm glad I stopped supporting Symantec. They've become dirty with their DRM, and they haven't updated many of the Norton SystemWorks tools for Windows XP.

At the risk of sounding arrogant... Ghost and friends have devolved into handholders for Unix-illiterate MCSEs. Phooey, Symantec.

Sysprep then image (1)

BagOBones (574735) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455218)

Use the Sysprep tool to remove workstation specific stuff ning/incremental/sysprep11.asp

Then use Symantec Ghost or PowerQuest Drive Image
As long as the hardware is not very differant it should work very well

I should point out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7455219)

I for one welcome our new unsupported and bug plagued drive imaging overlords..

g4u BEST ever (0)

ArCaNe50 (587961) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455223)

This is the best for disk imaging in my oppinion I use it all the time at my work.

Use Linux and VMWare to host XP (0)

masouds (451077) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455225)

you can copy vmware virtual machines around (as the host filesystem is in Linux). You can add storage, or hardware and it also supports (at least the version 3) USB and soud devices. Gives you solid network access, good recovery (in case of a crash you can opt to not to commit changes done to filesystem to the image). Runs pretty well too. I have it on a P3/800 system and I like it.
you also can run multiple copies of a virtual machine on a Linux host (after doing some manual tweaks like changing the MAC address per running copy). No need for a Windows XP/2000 terminal server!

My recommendation (3, Interesting)

djupedal (584558) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455229)

Chassis your Windows drive into a Mac and image/clone it via CarbonCopy Cloner [] , Retrospect [] , etc. 100% mirror, no problem.

dd (1)

Shagg (99693) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455230)

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.

Misleading... (1)

ericspinder (146776) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455233)

Basicly the microsoft link to a page which says "use Sysprep.exe, before you try to image a system". I am guessing that this removes the sid and puts the system in a state to generate new ones. The microsoft link about "problems with Ghost" says Ghost 2001 can't do NTFS try Ghost 2002. The power quest "problem" was that .NET needed to be installed. OK it uses C#. WOW that's a problem. The rest of the links are the same, i.e. generally about the product, but don't mention the problem the submitter indicated.

I would like to see a discussion about drive imaging software, but if you are going to make charges, at least back them up with links that makes your case!

use the software mirror (5, Informative)

Cheeze (12756) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455236)

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.

One silly thing (1)

ceeam (39911) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455244)

When I needed once to view some "wholly locked" file I finally did this: launch VMWare, connect host drive for the guest system, copy said locked file(s) from the guest system to your host system over virtual network. I said it's silly ;)

Sorta (3, Funny)

Anonvmous Coward (589068) | more than 10 years ago | (#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.

The biggest problem I've had with Win2K... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7455251)

... is the dreaded "Inaccessible Boot Device" message you get when swapping motherboards.

There are some solutions at erboard/problems.htm, but they're all either a pain in the ass or don't work.

Does XP have this problem, too, or is it smart enough to load the default IDE drivers when an incompatible chipset is detected during bootup?

Zenworks (2, Insightful)

Stile 65 (722451) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455252)

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).

FlashClone from Suredata (1)

HeyBob! (111243) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455262)

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.

Did you actually READ the policy statement? (5, Informative)

gfecyk (117430) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455263)

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 (2, Informative)

Lester67 (218549) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455273)

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, and nothing else.)

(Off topic: pretty much any USB key can be made bootable if you image it with an existing bootable partition. Having to shut down and do this through DOS gets to be a pain. I was hoping Acronis would allow me to take a DOS6 partition and copy it to any number of USB keys connected to the system.) If anyone has any thoughts on that one, I'd love to hear them.

Symantec Ghost (1)

BladeRider (24966) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455277)

I've had very good experiences with the Ghost software. We build bootable CD's with a system image spanned over three CD's. Pop in the CD, boot from CD, goes straight to the Ghost app, restore image and 20 minutes later you have a fully restored system. We use this to clone laptops frequently and it has yet to cause a problem.

partimage (2, Informative)

gylle (531234) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455284)

I have successfully backed up and restored both windows and linux machines with partimage: [] . 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

Everybody uses Ghost. (4, Interesting)

Elwood P Dowd (16933) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455286)

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.

rembo works (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7455292)

rembo ( works extremely well for us. supports bsd, linux, windows.

"week or even more?" (3, Informative)

quakeroatz (242632) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455297)

"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!

Altiris (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7455299)

We used Altiris to reimage all 10,000 machines on our network with Windows XP... not an easy job but we were able to do it all remotely and even on different types with a single image.

One more for Ghost (1)

i.r.id10t (595143) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455302)

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.

Tried DD? (1)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455303)

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).
dd if=/backup/thatday/hda.raw of=/dev/hda

Another huge problem... (1)

HungWeiLo (250320) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455304)

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 [] , but the best we could do in the Windows world was to use PC-RDist [] , 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 and install the MS software (WindowsUpdate patches, Office, etc.) BEFORE we can download the updates from the master image. Plus, any updates to the registry would not be copied because of Windows Protection. Eventually, we just gathered up enough funding (it was hard) to get disk imaging software whenever we needed to hose down a machine and start from scratch. I'm glad I don't have to work in IT anymore. :-)

try Altiris (0)

thePredator (220152) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455305)

Try Altiris out,, it just sucks that it cant do disk to disk duplications, has to be done over a network.


Microsoft MAY have a point (1)

obsidianpreacher (316585) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455310)

As an anecdote, here at college, it's the M$ way or the highway (tongue only partially in cheek). The main way that the sysadmins monitor and successfully update/upgrade university-owned computers on campus is by a sector-by-sector disk image over the network. This results in horrendous problems because not all of the machines are identically hardware compatible -- it's caused problems with display adapters (no, the LCD monitor's native resolution in the Windows Lab in the science building is NOT 640x480x8 ...), inabilities of people to log onto machines because the machines have not been "verified as authentic" and numerous other problems. As much as I hate to say that Micro$haft may be right (there goes my karma), they do have a point that it's best for individual installs and then updates. Perhaps M$'s software is just too stupid to recognize that the $PROPRIETARY_HARDWARE_DISPLAY_ADAPTER is not available and should go with something else?

Why would you back up the OS anyway? (1)

pointbeing (701902) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455311)

True, you can't back up open files in Windows without a third-party program. I don't necessarily see this as a bad thing.

Most large corporate IT shops have a standardized software load and no requirement to image a running PC - for the times we do need to image a machine we use Symantec's Ghost and image the machine to one of five snap servers. Works every time.

The only time I've had Ghost balk at an image was when I tried to image a RAID5 array - and RAID support with Ghost is kinda hit and miss - it's officially unsupported.

My unsolicited thoughts on this issue are that one should backup data, not the OS. If things are screwed up enough to require a wipe and restore you probably don't want to restore the OS anyway :)

I don't back up the OS - I keep everything I need in my "My Documents" folder - and I have a batch that runs every night that copies my "My Documents" folder to my wife's computer and vice versa.

Power Quest - Drive Image (1)

hookedup (630460) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455314)

Here at work, we use Power Quest Drive image []

I have yet to have a problem with it, and ironically enough, i just re-imaged my workstation with it in a couple of minutes across the network before seeing this article. We can save disk images to the network, and pull them across that way, or simply put them on cd(s).

KNOPPIX + PartImage (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7455318)

Knoppix comes with PartImage, a ghost clone for linux. Here's the PartImage web page:

Also, you can resize partitions with knoppix using qtparted:

Download the ISO, burn, enjoy.

You also might want to check out this link here for a related discussion: pers/02/11/02 /1752208.shtml?tid=130

Disk cloning (0)

ThePlumber2 (525357) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455328)

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.

You can get an add-on program for linux that will mount http and ftp sites. This is then a network drive. It's called unbelievably enough "ftpmount".

The REAL reason that they do not allow backups. (1)

dr_db (202135) | more than 10 years ago | (#7455330)

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.
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