: Workstation Imaging - Corporate Environment

2008-06-04, 08:43 AM
Looking for some opinions on drive imaging. I just received 4 new Dell Inspiron Desktops and have loaded OEM XP Pro SP3 on all of them. Since they will be going into an office that have systems controlled by group policy I am not too worried about rogue software going on them but I do have users complain that the systems slow down over time.

In short I would like to make images of these clean installs and have a very easy way to re-image the drives back to this clean state if I get more complaints. Basically I am trying to isolate some problems with the network over there. This is kind of a side story but would like some opinions.

These machines are joined to a domain (obviously) with exchange running. What software do you guys use in a corp. environment? I have Acronis running on my servers and find it runs well. I have not had to re-image any drives yet. I know about Acronis workstation as well but have not used it.

I would like to walk into the office with my External hard drive

Hook it up
run boot loader
re-image drive
leave :)

Ideally would like the user over at the office be able to do this when I am not available but that may be asking too much.


2008-06-04, 10:43 AM
We use Ghost and have been for almost 10 years and have never had an issue with it. I'll tell you what we do if it's any help to you.

Every new model of PC or laptop we get, I build a template using our corporate XP Pro version (never the one that comes with it) and install all our standard operating software. Once that's done I run "sysprep" and boot it up with a network supported Ghost boot CD (which supports all the network cards we have) and dump it on a workstation running GhostCast. That workstation holds all our images and gets backed up to tape weekly.

When a network connection isn't available or would be too slow to load an image it gets burned to a bootable DVD or we use an external IDE drive to host multiple images.

After an image gets loaded, it goes through the XP mini-setup, enter in our corporate XP key, name the PC and that's pretty much it. It's ready for the end user minus a few customizations like mail (Exchange) setup and crap from their old configuration or PC if they have any.

We would never let the end user do this on their own because yes, it is asking for too much.

2008-06-04, 11:34 AM
We pretty well do it the same way as Sleemo does. We have one image for each hardware type plus a couple of other images for developers that are a difficult build. I can have a computer from the box to a users desk in under an hour this way.

I would never trust a user to do any of this by the way.

2008-06-04, 11:51 AM
Drive Image is also worth a look. IIRC, they have a corporate version as well. It was much better than Ghost at one time. Ghost has changed significantly since I compared them so check them both out. Drive image is quite fast, especially with USB and SATA hard drives.

2008-06-04, 12:03 PM
Give acronis a look see it has done wonders for me.

2008-06-04, 12:20 PM
Ghost v.9 and above are based on Drive Image v.7 and Drive Image is no longer available (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DriveImage).

2008-06-04, 12:33 PM
Is Ghost still available? I used it years ago but have not looked into it lately.

How about if a drive has to be replaced do the images have problem's with new drives installed? Other than activation? That was a problem I thought was evident in the earlier products.

Thanks for the replies so far BTW

2008-06-05, 10:26 AM
Yes, Ghost is still available. Mind you we use the corporate version of Ghost and not the home version, they are slightly different from what I've heard, I really don't know much about the home version as I've never used it.

Anyways, the drive makes no difference to Ghost it can be any size or drive going to or from images. As long as the destination drive is large enough for the source image all is good to go. If the destination drive is larger and you have several partitions, you'll get the option to custom resize the new partitions. As for activation, we use XP Pro corporate which doesn't need activation so I've never run into that issue.

The one thing I like about Ghost is that if you get a computer that won't boot, for whatever reason, and if the HDD is still working you can Ghost it (image it) then open up that image file like a big zip file and pick out the end user's data. Or simply dump it on another same machine and have them back up and running in minutes. The only time I haven't been able to Ghost an HDD is when there was something physically wrong with it that was preventing it from accessing the disk. But I'm sure most of the other imaging products out there do the same thing.

2008-06-05, 10:42 AM
Thanks. Ghost looks promising. The site says they are on version 14. Wow the corporate version is based on a license per workstation. They call it the Ghost Solution Suite version 2.5. Is that how your licensing goes Sleemo?

2008-06-05, 11:38 AM
My apologies... I meant Acronis True Image. :eek:

Drive Image was a disaster for me. Support was non-existent and it did not work well, even when it worked at all. It wasn't any better after Symantec acquired it and changed the name to Ghost. It has probably improved since then. (It certainly couldn't get much worse.)

2008-06-05, 10:27 PM
Thanks. Ghost looks promising. The site says they are on version 14. Wow the corporate version is based on a license per workstation. They call it the Ghost Solution Suite version 2.5. Is that how your licensing goes Sleemo?
Ya, we pretty much have a license for every active computer we have. The licenses are transferrable so when you retire one PC, you can give it to a new one. We recently bought a chunk of Solution Suite 2.0 licenses but the majority of our licences are for version 7 which are still active since we're still on XP Pro. Ghost doesn't change much, just support for new O/Ses and sometimes new hardware.