Your Favorite Imaging Software?

Here is a question for you guys: what is your favorite imaging software, and why?

I have a pile of old laptops that should be imaged. These machines are from 5 or 6 different dell models in there – each with different hardware. Some have win2k and some have WinXP OEM licenses on them. So obviously a single image is not going to cut it.

I need to figure out a good setup and tools for doing this efficiently. Any recommendations? I used Norton Ghost in the past, but that was a while ago. I just wanted to get a feel for what people use out there.

[tags]imaging, drive image, norton ghost, ghost, clone, backup[/tags]

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13 Responses to Your Favorite Imaging Software?

  1. Wikke BELGIUM Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Norton Ghost does it for me.
    I use it regularly on a professional base and it works fine.

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  2. Miloš UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    I use Ghost and Acronis True Image – both work great.

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  3. Craig Betts UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Mac OS Terminalist says:

    For Windows, it would be Ghost, hands down. For the price, you just can’t beat it. I use it at work to deploy desktops and quick reloads. It also has come in handy at home. I pretty much always image my WIndows system before load
    For Linux, I used Ghost until ext3 came out. I typically use the dump command now and send the image to a server via netcat.

    With Solaris, it really depends on how it is deployed. Most of the time I use ufsdump because it is the most flexible. For vxfs, I have been using flar (since ufsdump is only for ufs filesystems). I have not yet had a need to clone a zfs filesystem, but I imagine I will use flar first.

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  4. Luke UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    I bet we still have an older Ghost CD at work somewhere. I just need to find it. :)

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  5. Matt` UNITED KINGDOM Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    Is there any program that could take a bunch of installers for programs and run them one after the other? Automating that process would make recovering my pc after Windows murders itself much quicker and wouldn’t use as much disk space as making a complete disk image.

    I suppose the parts in installers where it prompts you to enter information could be difficult.. although the normal install process is just “next, next, agree, next, install, finish” and the few things that dont follow the straight click-through pattern could just be left out of the process.

    Or some process whereby it runs each installer that you add in some kind of sandbox mode and gets you to answer all the questions so it knows the answers/input to give when it comes round to restore it.

    If I had more (read as “any”) programming knowledge I could be making that by now….

    Then to finish the backup making, add support for “reinstate all these folders and the files in them” although that would make the size of the backup swell rapidly. The Application Data folders might be more useful and less space-filling.

    Now I think about it, if it made a backup of all the Program files, Application data files and the System registry then what’s left to make any difference between the original and the backup in terms of installed programs.

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  6. Luke UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Matt – did you try Install Pad. You essentially create a simple XML file specifying where to download installation files, and then the app does the rest.

    Btw, most applications out there have a silent installation mode – you have to run the installer with -s or -quiet or something else like that. InstallPad tries to do it for you by default. Not all installers allow this, but at least you get it to download them for you and prompt to install when ready.

    Major downside of InstallPad is that it requires .NET Framework 2.0 – so if you don’t have it you still need to go through some manual installation process.

    Other than that, I think it’s just better to image. You make a complete copy of the whole disk. Then when you want to restore you just copy it back, and you get a pristine clean Windows installation with all the installed software remaining in the same state as they were at the time you took the image.

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  7. Matt` UNITED KINGDOM Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    To be honest I hadn’t looked, but that sounds like the kind of thing I’m after
    It would simplify the “fix self-borked pc” routine from “Run Dell’s reset thing, uninstall crapware, download installers/restore them from backup, install programs, restore files”
    to “Run Dell’s reset thing, uninstall crapware, run program, restore files”

    Not a massive reduction in the number of list items but it does remove the most time consuming steps

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  8. Luke UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    I can save you one more step:

    PC Decrapifier

    It removes all the unwanted junk that Dell loves to put on new machines.

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  9. Matt` UNITED KINGDOM Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    you’re good at finding useful stuff…
    is there a program that would write essays/coursework for me? :wink:

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  10. Luke UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Well, if you are Computer Science student then yes, there is:

    SciGen – an automatic Computer Science research paper generator.

    Of course the algorithm they used simply creates english like sentences using impressive array of buzzwords and jargon terms. Here is an example [PDF]. Of course this did not stop that paper from being accepted and presented at WMSCI conference in 2005. So much for peer review, eh…

    The auto generation feature doesn’t seem to work for me right now, but it might just be a temporary glitch.

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  11. Fr3d UNITED KINGDOM Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Is there any program that could take a bunch of installers for programs and run them one after the other?

    Take a look here:

    I’ve used the guides on that site and they do work :)

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  12. Luke UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux says:

    Ok, I think I figured this out.

    These are laptops so there is not easy way to connect 2nd drive. So I resized the windows partition and created a smaller Fat32 partition on the laptop.

    I dug out an old Ghost floppy and imaged the NTFS partition to the Fat32 on high compression. It ended up 1.2 GB for a Win2k install. I moved the image to a network share.

    Now all the laptops of that type will get a 2GB Fat32 partition, and a copy of the image file. Then I make them hidden files to that the dummies won’t accidentally delete them.

    If I get this laptop back from the user 3 weeks from now, I’ll just boot it from the floppy and roll it back from the image.

    All set! Now I just need to image the 4 remaining models. :P

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  13. Dan Geiser UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    I use Acronis True Image and it is awesome.

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