Disk imaging tools



  • Want to move a fair amount of desktops from HDDs to SSDs, everything Windows.

    Please note: I can't reinstall the hosts at this point because there is no software deployment or base image available and I don't have the time to build something myself at the moment. We use a lot of very specific scientific and engineering tools, which are not covered by any out of the box solution.

    What's everyone's favorite disk imaging / cloning tool? A plus would be a tool which is able to image to a smaller sized partition (e.g. 1TB disk that only uses 150GB, imaged to a 250GB SSD.



  • @thwr

    my thoughts for this is I have researched alot but I never really worked on enterprise big enough to justify this.
    Especially in this day age Windows installer can be created to USB drives, and if you select fast USB drive the installer will take 10 mins + you can do this on 10 laptops easily , and cost of 8GB USB drive is peanuts.

    that said partedmagic
    https://partedmagic.com/
    is awesome project, and it does support PXE booting, my advice is to play with that and get used to the tools there.

    DO note MBR + EFI will be pain if you have not set standard for your existing machines. also different hardware drivers (but to an extend, it is okay and realistic if you have different models)

    What you can do is install windows OS preferably in machine model that resembles others, theoretically in VM also. then install everything you want, but keep is light, like Pidgin + MS office 2013 + VLC + SumatraPDF whatever you want. you really want to make the C system drive as light as possible and preferably less than 20-25 GB. Then you will run sysprep with generalize option with shutdown option.

    The machine will shutdown, boot partedmagic on that machine, if you failed and entered the generalized environment you will need to run sysprep again. once you see parted magic you can run clonezilla in terminal and run options like disk to image then disk_local 2 disk_local then specify the source which is the windows C 25 GB with all your apps, and create image of that machine to target, and I advise dont use any compression, in the target which can be external drive or network share or whatever, it will have folder with many files worth of 10 GB.

    Theortically you can enter any other machine, load up partedmagic and delete the system partition or all paritions then restore using clone zilla then resize the parition from 25 GB to take the more space like 200 GB, then create flag to that partition that it is bootable, then if the machine was set to MBR boot mode it will boot up, and you will see the windows wizard and user creation and time selection + all of your apps.

    Extra points if you made the C partition without 100 MB boot partition and integrated them into one during the installer. + check option in clonezilla to remove pagefile sys and hibernate.sys

    That said I dont use this, I can create Windows USB installations with runnable scripts or you can make it more simple think how CM like salt does it, if you have NAS your all done, just create folder in the NAS and make it public accessible and create folder called after windows install and have aload of scripts and silent installers, and mainting this is much easier, you will just have to update the installer files without changing their names.

    partedmagic is not free but worth at, it is the best person to combine all those FOSS tools and make it work in easy way, for example gparted live standalone OS does not allow you to mount drives, clonzilla standalone OS will run in terminal mode and you wont be able to do any other tasks other than clonezilla, while partedmagic gives you a full experience and very mature.



  • We've bought Active Boot Disk in the past for our manual imaging needs.



  • Clonezilla (free & open source) has always worked well for me and sounds perfect for what you're trying to do. Going from smaller to larger disks is not a problem. If you can mount the target disk directly in the host or even via USB you can directly clone it from the source on the fly, or else you can clone the source HDD to a network share and then back to the SSD when ready.

    For more managed deployments, SmartDeploy is an amazing tool, but kind of overkill for what you need (driver injection, etc).



  • @thwr said in Disk imaging tools:

    Want to move a fair amount of desktops from HDDs to SSDs, everything Windows.

    Please note: I can't reinstall the hosts at this point because there is no software deployment or base image available and I don't have the time to build something myself at the moment. We use a lot of very specific scientific and engineering tools, which are not covered by any out of the box solution.

    What's everyone's favorite disk imaging / cloning tool? A plus would be a tool which is able to image to a smaller sized partition (e.g. 1TB disk that only uses 150GB, imaged to a 250GB SSD.

    I have been using Clonezilla for years but when it comes to big to smaller Drives I have been using Veeam Agent to backup fully the machine and restore to a new hard drive.



  • I've used Acronis True Image for this as well.



  • @dafyre said in Disk imaging tools:

    I've used Acronis True Image for this as well.

    Me too. In the past, there was often a free version of this included with the new drive making the upgrade seamless.



  • Acronis and Clonzilla have generally been what I've used as well. I was attempting to get the linux DD command to work, but the final result was not bootable.

    I didn't have a chance to figure out why though.



  • The only thing I haven't seen mentioned yet is FOG. Probably a good reason for that, it'll take so much longer to get running in any environment that you really need to know you'll be using it long-term.



  • Fog is great for bulk imaging, but for a few system migrations like this. Unless it's already setup I wouldn't consider it.



  • I use parted magic or clonezilla for this kind of work, but mainly just because I am comfortable with it.



  • I use clonezilla for this.

    I have no problems going to a smaller disk. Just have to use the right options.



  • @dbeato said in Disk imaging tools:

    @thwr said in Disk imaging tools:

    Want to move a fair amount of desktops from HDDs to SSDs, everything Windows.

    Please note: I can't reinstall the hosts at this point because there is no software deployment or base image available and I don't have the time to build something myself at the moment. We use a lot of very specific scientific and engineering tools, which are not covered by any out of the box solution.

    What's everyone's favorite disk imaging / cloning tool? A plus would be a tool which is able to image to a smaller sized partition (e.g. 1TB disk that only uses 150GB, imaged to a 250GB SSD.

    I have been using Clonezilla for years but when it comes to big to smaller Drives I have been using Veeam Agent to backup fully the machine and restore to a new hard drive.

    Veeam is the way to go. Especially if go from bigger drives to smaller.

    Steps I do to ensure a successful image to a smaller drive.
    1.) Disable virtual memory, the page file is often towards the end of the hard drive and is not movable.
    2.) Reboot computer go into disk management in Windows and right click on drive and shrink it as much as possible.
    3.) Use Veeam to image the computer.
    4.) Insert SSD and boot from Veeam CD/USB and restore



  • @jaredbusch said in Disk imaging tools:

    I use clonezilla for this.

    I have no problems going to a smaller disk. Just have to use the right options.

    That is true. If you know what options to use with Clonzilla it can shrink it as well.



  • I have used gparted here to do this when replacing hdd with ssd.
    plug in ssd
    Boot up gparted
    Reduce hdd partition size
    Copy partitions to ssd
    Reboot, may need to do a Automatic Repair.



  • Thanks guys. I was just looking for some opinions. Used gparted / clonezilla etc. in the past for.. what, decades? 🙂



  • @emad-r said in Disk imaging tools:

    @thwr

    my thoughts for this is I have researched alot but I never really worked on enterprise big enough to justify this.
    Especially in this day age Windows installer can be created to USB drives, and if you select fast USB drive the installer will take 10 mins + you can do this on 10 laptops easily , and cost of 8GB USB drive is peanuts.

    Thanks for your exhaustive post. I do have a very strong Unix / Linux / BSD background, so I'm probably more aware of most of your points than the average Windows admin. Heck, I build scripts on top of losetup and mount -o offset to alter an sdcard image just for fun 😉

    Like I said, a fresh installation at this point is not an option. It's not even worth discussing this. Just took the job over from someone who retired more than a year ago. My major goal is to stabilize the current situation, fight the largest fires and to implement a whole new system at the same time. The old system just needs to run until I've implemented that new system and all data and services have been migrated / reimplemented.



  • Have a look at Acronis True Image and Macrium Reflect.

    Clonezilla is probably where you’ll end up. Lots of people here seem to like like it.



  • @nadnerb said in Disk imaging tools:

    Macrium Reflect

    Ah, thank you. Macrium Reflect was the product I couldn't remember. It worked very well for someone I knew when he was in a similar situation.

    Anyway, I will probably use clonezilla again



  • @thwr said in Disk imaging tools:

    @nadnerb said in Disk imaging tools:

    Macrium Reflect

    Ah, thank you. Macrium Reflect was the product I couldn't remember. It worked very well for someone I knew when he was in a similar situation.

    Anyway, I will probably use clonezilla again

    +1 one for Macrium Reflect as the best easy way to go about it (I've had some unsuccessful Clonezilla attempts before). In my experience with Acronis, you can't cherry pick partitions (like the OEM recovery partition) at clone time, but you can with Macrium Reflect.


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