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I am looking for a way to clone single disk drive to more than one disk drive at the same time.

I have prepared system images on 1TB disks, and it takes almost 2 hours to clone one disk to another, and then it goes up exponentially, in order to have say 30 disks cloned.

If it was possible to clone one disk to more than single target, it would simplify whole procedure a lot.

Update: It seems like that the only viable solution is to use network cloning via multicast, as each software referenced in answers works in similar fashion.

Update 2: Can I ask answerers to tell me more about pros'n'cons of given approach? Can multicast work on any kind of network equipment? How about Unicast? How about reliability?

Thanks!

P.S. This question is cross-post from superuser, I hope that nobody minds.

  • Re: single copies...it depends on your network infrastructure, for one. Can your network handle the traffic of one drive streaming to all those other systems without errors? Plus there's just throughput issues with the system being cloned out. In a gig network, it's not difficult to max the drive's capabilities if the drive, controller, etc. aren't high-speed, plus there's the seeking of data from different areas of the drive depending on where in the process different targets are. It's just more of a strain on the network and system. – Bart Silverstrim May 26 '10 at 14:36
  • Doesn't mean it can't be done, just that it's more of a resource problem. But many people use multicast and copying techniques to quickly image labs from centralized servers. – Bart Silverstrim May 26 '10 at 14:37
  • What OS is on the image? is it a server os? like windows server 2008? – Nick Kavadias May 26 '10 at 14:54
  • @Bart: thanks for in-depth analysis. – mr.b May 26 '10 at 14:59
  • @Nick: system to clone is Windows XP (or newer, say, vista, win7) – mr.b May 26 '10 at 14:59
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I would use ghost in this situation. There are alternatives that you may consider such as Clonezilla or Mass Clone at trinityhome.org.

  • Clonezilla looks promising, will look into it. Thanks! Just to ask question that I asked above, too: does multicasting work with plain network equipment (ie ordinary switches, hubs), or it requires something specific? Also, is there some kind of error correction (re-transmitting lost packets, for instance), during cloning? – mr.b May 26 '10 at 15:04
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Ghost can do multicasting of an image.

  • I am not sure about trying multicast cloning, but I am sure I had some issue with it. Does multicasting require special network equipment? Eg, plain network switches don't support it, or something like that? I know that I have tried unicast (I might be wrong, it's been a while), and computers have failed to clone properly due to lost packets, something like that.. – mr.b May 26 '10 at 15:02
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Have you checked in to a hardware solution? I've heard good things about Logicube OmniClone. Might be worth checking out...

Jes

  • Considered looking into: yes, considered purchasing: no, it's waaaay over my budget (which is virtually non-existing) – mr.b May 26 '10 at 15:00
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I think G4L and/or Clonezilla can do this.

  • Thanks for G4L reference. Seems like documentation is lacking, but it's best to learn by doing. Will give it a shot, thanks! – mr.b May 26 '10 at 15:08
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If your rolling out Windows OS' then you really need to look at Windows Deployment Services (WDS) which will let you take an image & then clone it to multiple machines via a multicast. You will unfortunately need a network of computers. The idea being that the image target is what will be running the OS long term.

Also remember that you'll need to run sysprep if you intend to clone windows OS's & have them all running together on the same domain in harmony.

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