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I recently got a job as a junior network administrator. Last week the senior admins did their yearly reinstall of server 2003, exchange, drivers etc on the main server.

I've been asked to back up the disc so that next year they can just copy over the pre-made image.

What tools can i use to achieve both the creation of the entire servers HDD image and loading it back on (id like to test it in the sandbox.)

To impress them, a program that is free is preferable. And maybe a tool that can do it all from booting the program off of a USB drive.

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So they backup all of the data, wipe out the server, reinstall the OS and all applications, and restore all of the data? Every year? Please pardon me for saying so but that's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. –  joeqwerty May 15 '10 at 3:53
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@joe: true dat! If I had to do that on my boxes I'd go off... Would take me months. –  squillman May 15 '10 at 3:59
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If I were a junior admin here I'd look real carefully at the practices of the "senior" admins before presuming they make sense –  Jim B May 15 '10 at 5:08
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::twitch twitch:: Wait... I'd answer this question but I need to go sandblast my car and do my yearly repainting. –  Wesley May 15 '10 at 6:30
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I'd go as far as suggesting that he shows his seniros this post, perhaps they may learn something this instant, instead of several years. –  Saif Khan May 15 '10 at 6:56
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7 Answers 7

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As a junior admin I can only hope you learn too much from those senior admins. If they do this annually why don't they already have images? Please, for your own sake and sanity, find somewhere else to work.

As for the actual question about imagine, there are quite a few products that will do what you want, provided they support the specific drive and/or RAID controllers. The tools I've been using for many years are Drive Image (I doubt it's still available) and Ghost. There are also a number of Open Source alternatives, such as Clonezilla.

The way I take images is to boot a CD containing my chosen imaging software and network or USB drivers that work on the hardware. The software will create an image and save it to either a network share or an external hard drive. Some will even create CDs or DVDs of the image. There are a lot of options available to you.

I recommend you do get some practice making images because it's the sort of thing admins find very useful, although I suspect none on this site would do it for reasons you've been asked to do it for.

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"yearly reinstall"?! WHY? Check out Acronis not free but worth checking out.

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"What tools can I use..."

  1. ResumesPlanet.com
  2. Dice.com

Done.

Be very clear on something. You are working with insane people. You will probably be used as a scapegoat at some point in the near future. Also, you will be the first to be feasted on when the zombies find that you're the only one with BRRAAAAIIINNNSSS!!!

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Instead of free, i'd recommend Acronis Server Imaging. It will cost a little but it does the job. With a production exchange server you really need something to count on, just like the users depend on emails. I've also use R-Drive and works excellent. Haven't they looked at Virtual Disks like Hyper V?

I am not going to ask about the data in your case as I am stilly mystified, admins re-installing every year. This is a post for thedailywtf.com...seriously.

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Very strange as noted by everyone else. We use Symantec Backup Exec System Recovery and it works well and will restore to different hardware. Has been handy when we power wash the servers each spring. (sorry)

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If this is a testing server environment the process does make sense. I'd recommend VMware ESX and it's snapshot feature. It saved me from 100+ re-installs while building an install wizard.

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If you have hardware disk mirroring (and if not, why not?) then simply remove one of the disks and put it in a cupboard.

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There is so much wrong with that answer I'm not sure where to start. –  John Gardeniers May 15 '10 at 6:21
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@John; in fairness it makes about as much sense as the original posters Senior Admin's plans... –  Antitribu May 15 '10 at 6:33
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@Antitribu - I certainly can't argue that point. –  John Gardeniers May 15 '10 at 22:26
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