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O/S Deployment Thread, Suggestion for new imaging system in Technical; Just wanted to throw in my 2 cents in case anyone is in search of a new imaging system...sure PXE ...
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    Suggestion for new imaging system

    Just wanted to throw in my 2 cents in case anyone is in search of a new imaging system...sure PXE is great, but it's also slow and sucks up valuable bandwidth (whole computer suite?).

    Just take a USB external hard drive (non-powered is ideal!), and use Acronis True Image. Takes an image of a Windows 7 machine complete with a whole host of programs (you guys know how much software some schools use!) in around 10 minutes, and even less to restore the image.

    The golden feature of Acronis which I personally love as I've used it many times in 'Universal Restore'. The ability to restore an image to dis-similar hardware by injecting drivers at the time of restore.

    Sure it's not the easiest solution (PXE wins hands-down for that), but for pure speed and efficiency, it can't be beaten. Using 3-4 drives a whole suite can be cloned in around 2 hours...!

    What are your thoughts guys (and IT associated girls)?

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    glennda's Avatar
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    Used to do it and yes it worked but it was a Pita - The time taken to do it was to much.

    I have it setup now using Fog meaning I can image a whole suite/rename/join domain and install software without even going to a client desktop.

    With a decent back end network infrastructure Bandwidth shouldn't be an issue - I can do 30 pc's in about 3 hours without even moving

    Plus its free

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    mmoseley's Avatar
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    My two cents: by multi-casting I can do a entire IT Suite in <15 mins...FOG and PXE wins hands down everytime in my book, aslong as you have a solid base image...cant loose! I dont even need to waste 2 hours of my life by swapping external drives around each machine...multi-casting on an entire IT suite = brilliant!

    Just my 2 cents

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    Fair enough guys!

    I will definitely look into FOG for our next suite installation (looking after 30-odd schools in Devon!), and I'm sure as you will know not all schools can afford top of the range networking infrastructure (which we always try to lean them towards!).

    I will admit it's a bit of an old solution (we use it because it's foolproof), but it works! That being said, in the world of IT, everyone's always looking for new ways to do things and to use new ideas, right?

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    New ways which make life easier - I imaged 300 new machines over the summer was dead simple!

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    I will definitely suggest it to my colleagues (only a small business with a select few of us!)! If it works (and I've no doubt it doesn't - judging from testimonials in here!), then we may well be trialling it in some of our schools!

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    I've not found a solution that works with all my different hardware and because most of my machines are wireless, the USB hard drive method usually gives me the least grief (except when the machine is sol old it doesn't recognise that an exteranl USB drive is a valid boot device )

    I tried FOG for a while but it didn't play nicely with a couple of netbook models sos I abandoned it.

    I actually tried a free product called RedoBackup today on a Win7 machine but it couldn't find the server share (found plenty of printers it decided were up to the job of holding an image )

    Si

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    That's why I prefer doing my imaging personally (sitting at a machine), to make sure they work. With Acronis and Universal Restore, it's a bit trial and error, but eventually you will build an image that will work with every machine you put on it, without fail! At least that's how we do it!

    The problem with programs like Ghost (and maybe FOG), is that it is hard to restore an image to hardware which is different to what the image was made with - you can't specifically tell the program what computer uses which hardware, and to inject what drivers into what computer. Using a USB hard drive and flash drive (or CD) to boot - it's surprisingly efficient!

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    glennda's Avatar
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    Its alot harder with Laptops (as they are picky) but with desktops (especially with Win 7) drivers are not really have a problem - we have a folder on the local machine with a bunch of drivers in and Sysprep looks at these for drivers for the hardware.

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    Creating new machines
    Install Windows 7 via WDS, Inject drivers needed into WDS Windows 7 Image, Install Windows 7 via WDS = Done

    How I have it setup is

    Install Windows 7 via WDS (Because we have the MAC Addresses setup in AD on the computer accounts) this automatically names the machine, then GP to install third party software, then the third party software starts install all our packages MSI, MSU, Prism, etc. last thing it does is run a restart script and change Windows 7 logon wallpaper so I know itís all been done and completed.

    Completely all Unattended after the F12 boot into WDS

  11. 2 Thanks to SmithR:

    howartp (11th April 2012), mac_shinobi (14th January 2012)

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    aerospacemango's Avatar
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    Having just left a college, where I instigated the use of WDS instead of RIS, to a company where the images are on USB.....

    I know which I prefer!

    WDS wins hands down for ease AND speed!

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    It's unfortunate really, since we are a separate business looking after many schools ICT support, we rarely get the chance to experiment with new ways of doing things (apart from OS upgrades etc.) as we are always on the go!

    I've not discussed this with my colleagues yet, but I feel the need to experiment with technologies and to find a more efficient way of OS deployment. The downside is, this will be down on my own time... (so probably won't get done - as I like to have a slither of free time sometimes *shocking I know in IT!*)!

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    markcuk's Avatar
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    Surely a business selling soultions to schools should know this stuff or spend time learing new things.

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    Yeah I completely agree, and for the most part we do - but this time is spent learning new software or experimenting with new hardware etc. ...unfortunately I think our imaging system comes under 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it'. Like I said before, we do find it works really well, but I'm just toying with new ideas about how to image workstations that could make better use of our time (although it is unnecessary presently) and was asking this forum for their input. It is definitely not because we are generally 'behind the times'!

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    How do you use acronis without having a huge file that's like 20GB in size? Surely the image should be about 3-4gb max? However I've been unable to do this. Anyone have an idea?

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