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Network Hard Drive Cloning/Imaging/Ghosting


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|DRC| psycheus






Saturday, April 25 2009, 11:51:41 #41535     Network Hard Drive Cloning/Imaging/Ghosting


Hey Guys,

I'm having a dilemma about a project I'm working on..

I have 100 laptops (all identical Lenovo's) that I need to make all the same. They come pre-installed with Vista. Setting up the initial computer is no big deal but replicating this on 100 systems seems a little tricky. I've been searching for solutions out there (have to be network based for speed) but they are all over $1000 which is way more then I want to spend on this project. Are there even Linux/Unix solutions for Windows images? The other thing I'm not sure of is licensing of the OS and other software installed such as MS Office. We have a legitimate keys but if I clone one system with a particular key how do I make sure they all have their correct keys?

Help!?!?
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|DRC| Blackshark






Saturday, April 25 2009, 14:22:18 #41549     


i can recommend Acronis True Image 2009. You can use it in a couple of ways. You can install it on your Windows machine and make a copy of the files. or you can create a bootable cd/dvd which will start a lightwight linux where you can clone your machines via external drive, ftp, windows shared folders... . works great in my case an i am so happy with acronis that i've bought 2 upgrades already started with 10->11-> now 2009.

but i don't know about you product keys. there is a simple cd key changer for all sorts of windows, but when you use a volume license it shouldn't be a problem at all.
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|DRC| psycheus






Saturday, April 25 2009, 14:26:56 #41550     


Acronis is one of the ones that I found. The product I found from them was like $1200 .. very steep price. With that version you use are you able to do like for example network cloning? So I could plug in like 10 laptops at a time and clone them at the same time?
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|DRC| Wartex






Saturday, April 25 2009, 14:29:10 #41551     


Use norton ghost and XP Key Changer to change keys later.
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|DRC| psycheus






Sunday, April 26 2009, 11:56:39 #41572     


Ok so I have Acronis and Norton for the top ones. Remember I need speed in this matter.. I've got to do this manually to 200 laptops. This 100 is the first batch. Now which one is better for this?
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|DRC| Zyprexa






Monday, April 27 2009, 03:35:08 #41581     


You could also use dd in a *nix environment. This is the manual way though and I would not really recommend it if you've got hundreds of laptops to work through. here's a link if you're still interested:

[url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dd_(Unix)]dd[/url]

p.s. it looks like I could not create the link. newb aboard!
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|DRC| Blackshark






Monday, April 27 2009, 06:42:10 #41584     


|DRC| Wartex wrote:
Use norton ghost and XP Key Changer to change keys later.


sofar i had only very bad experiences with noton ghost.

|DRC| psycheus wrote:
So I could plug in like 10 laptops at a time and clone them at the same time?

Sure but your host machine should have the needed I/O capacity. Meaning the machine should have a quick Raid 0 confuguration, becuase the more machines are in parallel transfer the lower the bandwith. But its possible. You even can setup lots of host machines to split up the I/O across them.
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|DRC| Marblecake






Tuesday, April 28 2009, 06:42:44 #41600     


I use ghost in any situation i have had.
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|DRC| psycheus






Tuesday, April 28 2009, 12:33:56 #41603     


Hey Blackshark, What bad experiences have you had with Norton Ghost?
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|DRC| Blackshark






Wednesday, April 29 2009, 05:16:02 #41609     


for example i had following scenario a COUPLE of times.

made a complete image of my partition. did a crc check on it (took lots of time).

when i tried to load it again norton complained about the image beeing corrupt. ARGHS

the first time i thought it was some kind of user error. but after the third time i just threw norton away.
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|DRC| psycheus






Wednesday, April 29 2009, 12:04:29 #41617     


So let me ask you this.. have you had anything like this happen with Acronis?
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|DRC| Blackshark






Wednesday, April 29 2009, 13:42:14 #41630     


nope. never. even when the image is broken somehow you can boot some other windows and copy most or all of the files with the image explorer, which i use when i forget to backup stuff i need before doing the image.
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|DRC| psycheus






Wednesday, April 29 2009, 13:55:29 #41631     


Which version do you use? I think I'm going to go with this one for the imaging. Now all I have to do is image the machine I have and figure out how to network image all 100 machines. How would you set it up in my senerio?
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|DRC| Blackshark






Thursday, April 30 2009, 04:33:11 #41638     


Well i my case i use Acronis True Image Home 2009.
Probably the most important thing is to have identical host and target machines.
Next i would take the time to think everything throu what you need on the machines, because it is a pain in the ass when you realize half way that you've forgoten one or two app's/drivers.

When you have your host complete you boot from the rescue disk and choose wo load the acronis app instead of the usual os.

Then you make a copy of the PARTITION(S).
Btw you can setup the rescue loader to use static ip's dhcp... just configure the options for your topologie and network.
And you can save the image inside a Windows shared folder, on the same machine but diffrent partition or ftp server. I stick most of the times with ftp or windows shared folder in a 1000 Mbit/s network which is faster than using some kind of external medium with USB.

When your image is ready you choose one or more distributing computers which will hold it during the procedure and then you simply boot yout target machines and simply overwrite the whole partition(s) with you previously created image.

Just in case i would do a sample first and see if it fits your demands.

feel free to shoot when you have questions left.
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|DRC| psycheus






Thursday, April 30 2009, 12:11:43 #41643     


Ok that sounds pretty strait forward except for one question... what about hidden partitions? This Lenovo comes with a bootable partition for recovery of the machine. Is there a way to copy this image that is created to that hidden partition so that the next time they try to use it they won't wipe out all the changes that I've made but rather just put it back to the state when I did the image?
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|DRC| Blackshark






Thursday, April 30 2009, 12:47:49 #41644     


I guess you can try it on one sample to extend the partition and copy the image to the hidden one. But to be honest i never did that before.
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|DRC| psycheus






Thursday, April 30 2009, 12:52:53 #41645     


There was also another question I was think of .. these a brand new laptops.. Does imaging the machine void any warranty?
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|DRC| Blackshark






Thursday, April 30 2009, 13:23:52 #41646     


Well i guess thats something you should ask the Lenovo support. In my opinion it doesn't. Wartex what do you mean?
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|DRC| psycheus






Thursday, April 30 2009, 13:34:17 #41647     


I talked to our vendor and as long as you aren't opening the machine it should still be under warranty.
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|DRC| Wartex






Wednesday, May 6 2009, 17:59:24 #41756     


Imaging hard drive is undetectable if you do it on per-sector level. You copy an image to each laptop and then after boot you change the XP key to whatever is on the sticker on the machine.
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|DRC| Marblecake






Thursday, May 7 2009, 07:05:02 #41762     


Only void is when opened. Stickers inside have a pull tab that says void. Thats why factory replaces then after computer has been ripped apart. Prime example sony. The little stickers will say void in red when peeled apart.
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|DRC| psycheus






Tuesday, June 2 2009, 20:32:31 #42039     


Ok we did it after A LOT of frustration and hard work. We ended up using a little gem called Clonezilla. You can find it here: http://clonezilla.org/. I actually found it on a random frustrated search on google. But it really saved our asses. It was still a huge PITA however taking about 2 hours per unit x 200 units. The main problem was the configuration of the HD on this particular laptop.

This is the laptop:
Lenovo G530 4446-24U
Pentium Dual Core T3400 / 2.16 GHz
RAM 3 GB
HDD 250 GB
15.4" Widescreen TFT
Built-in web cam/mic
Vista Home Premium

All in all it was a pretty nice unit and they worked well when they where done. But again the HD configuration was different then I have ever seen. I don't know if this is just Lenovo or a new trend.

It was laid out as follows:

Volume 1 (recovery+boot partition) Windows Volume letter S:
Volume 2 (recovery media) Windows Volume Q:
Volume 3 (main HDD) Windows Volume C:

We tried to use AIK (Microsoft's Automated Installation Kit) which works well for a computer with 1 partition, but you cannot use it for more than that. Believe me we tried over and over without success. We also had problems with SysPrep working properly so we didn't use that either.

Here's what we finally ended up doing:

We had a lab to work in with a 48 port switch connected to a few servers with RAID 1 HDD configurations and they have a windows domain and Active directory setup.

1.) First of course we ripped the image from the Master Computer after we got it just the way we wanted it
2.) Once we distributed the image to a few different servers we were ready to deploy.
3.) We made a crap load of the Clonezilla boot disc's. popped them in the new laptops the started them up
4.) Ran through the whole restore image part of Clonezilla. Since Clonezilla doesn't support Multicast we used Unicast (this really slowed us down and is a down fall of their software) to download images over the network. The other problem is the image with all partitions was 30 GB!! I think we finally got it to around 12-13 GB when it was compressed.
5.) Once they where done anywhere from 45 mins to 2 1/2 hours depending on which server we used. It was really inconsistent and we think some of the servers had slower HDD's.
6.) Restarted, image was on the new laptop. Now we had to run NewSID (these laptops will be on the same network otherwise we wouldn't have done this).
7.) Changed the CD Key in Vista and we where done.

Now our next project is doing 1000 laptops. There are definitely some things we need to work out. This time we are doing volume license on the OS and we don't need to do SysPrep or NewSID because these laptops will not be on any network, only for home users. We are going to use AIK and blow out the old partitions with new volume OS install. We are going to setup Deployment Services to do Multicast and PXE boots so no boot CD's are required. I've been searching around and it seems the limitation is about 75/batch and it won't bog down the network.

Does anyone out there have experience with Deployment Services on Windows Server 2003 that could give me some pointers?
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|DRC| Wartex






Wednesday, June 3 2009, 10:02:27 #42044     


Psy, remember that if you are imaging many workstations at the same time, you are wasting a lot of bandwidth on overhead (in the switch) and collisions. Doing 10 PCs at a time will go faster than doing 100 at a time.
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|DRC| psycheus






Wednesday, June 3 2009, 11:41:10 #42046     


Even if I'm using multicasting? I know for sure it went slow as hell because of the unicase from Clonezilla downloading the imaging many times at the same time from a server. They have a gig backbone network to the switch with 100 based between.
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|DRC| Blackshark






Wednesday, June 3 2009, 13:46:27 #42047     


the network is for the most part NOT the bottlenack. the bootleneck is ALWAYS the hard drive.
even in a raid situation a double access on the same drive will cut its performance almost in half and this will increase with increasing connections/requests.
so the statement about doing a limited amount of machines at the same time is a FACT!
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|DRC| psycheus






Wednesday, June 3 2009, 14:09:45 #42048     


Ok but does anyone have information about mulitcast deployment? I was looking into using the Microsoft Deployment Services. Anyone know about this?
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|DRC| Blackshark






Wednesday, June 3 2009, 16:37:38 #42053     


nope sorry.
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|DRC| Wartex






Monday, June 15 2009, 22:15:28 #42183     


|DRC| Blackshark wrote:
the network is for the most part NOT the bottlenack.


100 Mbit is 9 MB/sec. My single SATA drive can do 40 MB/s write, and since I'm on RAID stripe I can do 70 MB/s sequential write. You are wrong.
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|DRC| Blackshark






Tuesday, June 16 2009, 02:12:36 #42184     


i am not talking about the clients hard drive. i am talking about the servers hdd which will cut its performance big time when someone tries to copy the same file to alot of clients. in that case the hard drive has to do insane work.
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|DRC| Wartex






Tuesday, June 16 2009, 20:27:34 #42192     


|DRC| Blackshark wrote:
i am not talking about the clients hard drive. i am talking about the servers hdd which will cut its performance big time when someone tries to copy the same file to alot of clients. in that case the hard drive has to do insane work.


Again, it all depends. I have 2-drive soft-raid and I can do 80 MB/s random read or 180 MB/s sequential. That, including overhead translates into 7 machines at the same time, IF the LAN will allow it. The network IS a bottleneck no matter how you put it. My new Mobo has SAS (6 Gbit or 560 MB/s) on it, so I can easily fill up a dual gigabit pipe with 10 FTP clients. Hard drives stopped being a bottleneck in 2003. The server that this forum is on has around 300 websites on it, some of which are huge warez archives. It has a quad SATA in it, and is doing just fine.
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