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I've several laptops of different makes and models that I need to take a one time disk image of (not a clone), as a backup, prior to migrating the OS from Win XP to Win7.

At this point, what I'd like is to boot from a CD (or USB) into the tool/OS that does the imaging, start the imaging and be able to save it to a network drive easily because the laptop's NIC drivers are included on the CD. A bespoke CD, so to speak.

In fact, it'd be even better if I could boot into that CD and it need no intervention from me at all as it's already set up, but perhaps I'm wishing too much.

I've tried using Macrium Reflect, which uses Windows PE as the environment, but found it fiddly getting the NIC drivers installed if the standard env doesn't pick it up.

This question is very similar and gives good suggestions, but I'm particularly interested in being able to add the NIC drivers prior to running the CD.

I don't believe I can use a tool like FOG that uses PXE boot, because PXE is already used to get images from an SCCM server, and I don't know enough about PXE to make sure there wouldn't be clashes there.

Restoration isn't my main problem as the image will be a backup of last resort that will only last until the OS is migrated, it's taking the image and saving it quickly over the network.

Any help or suggestions will be much appreciated.

  • A Linux rescue CD and ntfsclone perhaps? – Michael Hampton Feb 20 '14 at 0:40
  • @MichaelHampton that looks really interesting, thanks. – Iain Feb 20 '14 at 0:53
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    "but found it fiddly getting the NIC drivers installed" - it's just a one-liner to inject drivers into a WinPE image: dism /image:C:\Path\To\WinPE_Image /Add-Driver /Driver:C:\Path\to\Driver.inf. WinPE is part of the WinADK (along with a variety of other deployment tools). The dism command also includes the ability to create, apply, and mount .wim (Windows IMage) files. Lots of ways to customize WinPE with scripting and all that jazz too. – Chris S Feb 20 '14 at 14:35
  • @ChrisS thanks for that. I tried most of the suggestions here and yours is the one that worked the best. If you could add it as an answer I'll give it the tick! – Iain Mar 18 '14 at 13:18
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I never had issues using Clonezilla in terms of network drivers. It always worked for me.

  • Do you mean adding them, or that it already has them? – Iain Feb 20 '14 at 0:47
  • It already "has them". I mean, it's linux, so generally, it works... I used it on many types of hardware - old, new, laptop, servers, PCs, you name it. Never had a networking issue. – ETL Feb 20 '14 at 0:49
  • I've used Linux for long enough to remember when, with respect to drivers, the phrase "it's linux, so generally, it works" couldn't be used. That aside, I'll definitely give this a try, thanks. – Iain Feb 20 '14 at 0:55
  • Clonezilla, if all you want is a last-resort image and you're not concerned about migrating to different hardware. – quadruplebucky Feb 20 '14 at 4:01
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Restoration isn't my main problem as the image will be a backup of last resort that will only last until the OS is migrated, it's taking the image and saving it quickly over the network.

All of the below operate or can operate as LiveCD's.

Clonezilla is popular, and SystemRescueCD has a variety of utilities and network drives, incluing PartImage for disk imaging.

PartedMagic is $5 for one download, and includes a variety of disk tools, including both PartImage and PartClone, and network drives (you need to manually start the network, or did awhile ago).

On the commercial side, you said WinXP and Win7, so you can use the cheaper desktop licenses (Windows Server support almost always has a price premium) of software like Paragon Hard Disk Manager or Acronis True Image.

If you continue to have trouble with network drives, you can either get a new NIC, or switch over to an second drive for the image target. USB3 external drives work quite well, also, if they operate at USB3 speeds on your machine. USB2 external drives, well, roughly 30MB/s is pretty slow, but I've done terabytes at a time at that speed; just let it run.

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Try G4U, you can boot from a CD and take an image of the drive straight to a FTP server on your network, on the fly compression of said image is also available. I've used this on and off for years now, it's very straight forward and won;t cost you a penny unless you want to donate, which I urge you to do :)

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Acronis True Image Workstation / B&R generally works well with networks OOTB because of being built on Linux. That said, I've basically started doing what you've specified either with Windows 7 backup, a Windows installed version of Acronis, or using USB because otherwise it was too fiddly in my opinion.

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