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I'm looking for advice on which tool we should use to clone servers. In the short term, we will be cloning identical hardware but in the long run we may want to create one image and replicate that on a different class of machine. For example, as new servers are released from Dell, we will want to continue to use the same image we already made.

Right now our servers are Windows (Server 2008 & Server 2008 R2), but moving forward we may need Linux support as well.

Ghost Solution Suite 2.5 seems to be the canonical tool. Are there alternatives? Recommendations/reviews?

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5 Answers 5

For open source, Clonezilla is popular; heard good things about it.

http://clonezilla.org/

For commercial software, I'm a fan of Acronis Enterprise; I've used it to "ghost" machines to different hardware with success and to convert an image to a virtual machine as well:

http://www.acronis.com/

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+1 for Clonezilla. ive used it many times and like it. –  djangofan Jun 25 '10 at 21:34

Acronis is also a popular solution.

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Have a look at Backup Exec System Recovery 2010. It will clone to same hardware or even different. We have gone between quite different hardware quite easily. It will advise of driver issues during the restore to different hardware and allow the drivers to be loaded.There is a 60 day trial on their site. It is also handy to convert a physical system to a VM for VMware or MS Hyper-V. It can also do regular backups and FTP backups off site. It has saved us a great deal of time in a number of cases.

GHOST has an issue with different hardware as you probably know.

BESR2010

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BackupExec IDR also allows for bare metal restores to dissimilar hardware. –  joeqwerty May 5 '10 at 23:39
    
Does restoring an image using BackupExec require the use of the CDROM on the target machine? –  John Dibling May 6 '10 at 14:47
    
Yes it does. Not sure if the new management console allows for a PXE or other boot Have not used the central managemnt console in our environment –  Dave M May 6 '10 at 15:49

For windows: NONE. Use the imaging tools included (ImageX) - and then you can distribute them using WDS that is part of your windows setup. ALso does multicast deployments.

Great advantage: you can install drivers into the WDS server and upnon unpacking the image loads the drivers it needs from the server ;)

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Is ImageX compatible with Server2008 and Server2008 R2? The TechNet articles only mention 2003 and Vista. No mention of 2008 or Windows 7 (hence, 2008 R2) –  John Dibling May 5 '10 at 19:49
    
Also, ImageX isn't on either my servers or on the box I'm going to deploy from. What do I need to install? –  John Dibling May 5 '10 at 19:52
    
Imagex is part of the Win PBE boot for WDS - read it up in the documentation. It started being available with 2003 / WDS, and has hence not been replaced. –  TomTom May 5 '10 at 20:57
    
It's got some other benefits that I'm unsure the others can offer, for win-based deployments, such as plugging into your WSUS setup to keep images patched. –  Kara Marfia Jun 21 '10 at 19:52

Definitely take a look at Free Open-Source Ghost (http://www.fogproject.org/). Slightly more work to set up than Clonezilla, but the flexibility is well worth it. It's one of the best half-days I've spent configuring in terms of ROI. Plan to set it up in a VM with a few hundred gigs of storage. For huge desktop rollouts (its main use), you may want to install it on a physical machine.

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