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Practice advice for Ghost Images

Last response: in Business Computing
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August 13, 2012 10:23:38 PM

What are some good practice advice to follow when making ghost images of a Windows XP computer. I work in a large company that keeps expanding. I been using an existing image that already has Microsoft Office and anti-virus program as part of the image that they made. They set a local administrator account on the image so we could join the domain and sign in to the computer with the users active directory account. I noticed that I have to turn off remote restore, change the system for best performance, and adjust the virtual memory to system manage size to help the performance of the computer. I have to do this because once they have the computer the for awhile and if those settings are not adjusted, it begins to slow the users computer down. The system are never updated security wise and are never adjusted to defrag the computer itself. I noticed when I setup the administrator account with some rules like the settings for performance and I add a active directory user, I have to redo those settings again! Any tips and advice would be great!

Thanks
August 14, 2012 3:06:09 AM

I am not very familiar with ghost, i have only used it a few times back in the day, i would recommend you look at PING, its short for "partimage is not ghost" , its a linux based imaging tool that is quite excellent.

I have tested and used it at work for our servers and systems. I will tell you however, if you wish to make an image of a machine and want to deploy it to multiple computers you will have to run a tool which prepares the image for multiple computers. I believe its called sysprep or something similiar, you have to regenerate the unique identifier. I only dabbled with it in the past, essentially you can make a very customizable image that can even have parts of the setup run when you first boot it.

I have used it to back up remotely, locally to usb devices and to create images on the current system. The compression is very impressive, however the only problem i did come across is that it has some issues with certain raid devices. I have used it successfully with dell lsi sas controllers and 3ware raid controllers, but an adaptec 1200a and an amd fakeraid wouldnt properly initialize, however this make be fixed in later releases.

They have a very nice guide in several formats, check it out;

http://ping.windowsdream.com/cgi-bin/download.pl
August 14, 2012 3:10:54 AM

first off i would do an inv of the pc. find out the oldest one and what in it for cpu and ram. then find the info on the newest pc and it spec. a lot of times there a big pile of parts or off lease pc that need to be sent back. the pile of parts pc are good to steal ram and beter video cards for the older pc. i would sit down with the lead it guys and make a new updated image. want the newest anti virus plus you want to be able to patch all the pc at once every fri/sat at the same time. also want to show the company you save a lot on the power bill if you set the pc to sleep and shut off over the weekend. you also want to audit your pc for the software that on them. make sure there a oem number for windows and office for each pc. it a large fine if your company does not have oem number for there software.
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August 14, 2012 3:52:41 AM

+1 to what vegettonox said, you can't just make changes to a PC image it and then deploy it all over the place as you'll end up with a ton of conflicts and probably some drivers and compatibility problem if you do that. And yes sysprep is the tool to use once the PC is ready to be imaged with your new settings, doing so will make it possible to make a new ghost and deploy it on other machines, you should probably look into it.

It can also be customized to include all the drivers that are needed for your hardware, assuming they might not all be the same.

Start here,
http://www.symantec.com/business/support/index?page=content&id=TECH107324
and here
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/302577

Depending on the number of PC you have to maintain and your requirements you could also look into
"Remote Installation Services" as an alternative http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Remote_Installation_Services
August 14, 2012 4:24:16 PM

Thanks for the great info guys! We have 3 images for the computers that are here which are HP 5800, HP 6000, and HP 6200. We try to keep the computers in white uniform so we only deal with one company and three images. We don't use the HP 5800 and 6000 as much because all the new ones are pure 6200's.
August 14, 2012 4:48:12 PM

Use Group Policy to manage your pc's and you can easily make the changes you are manually doing. You can also create update packages to update your software and apply patches to the computers. Also there are some other tools depending on how large your company that may make sense. SCCM can manage software, patching, and inventory of systems. There is a cost of getting it and set-up so it really depends on budget and time constraints. Also there is a company http://www.uiu4you.com/ that has a product that makes one single image viable for the entire company. The other nice thing about their product is I can easily take a system, image it to a new machine and the user will not even notice any difference(all the users settings remain intact).
August 15, 2012 5:54:33 PM

In addition to what has been mentioned here like Group Policy and SCCM, you might want to consider using the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) and ImageX. MDT, Sysprep and ImageX can all be used in conjunction with each other. MDT acts as a common console that combines all deployment tasks into an easy to use interface and it’s free. MDT even allows you to create “universal images” by allowing you to easily add and remove drivers as well as applications to and from the deployment images.

While the current version of MDT is MDT 2012, there is still a great introductory video on TechNet here that walks you through the process of using the deployment workbench of MDT 2010. One more benefit of MDT is that it is compatible with Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows Server 2003, 2008, and 2008 R2 so you would only have to learn one utility to learn ALL of your deployments.

Also, you might want to watch the following videos to become more familiar with MDT and deploying Windows 7.

Deployment Day Session 1: Introduction to MDT 2012
Deployment Day Session 2: MDT 2012 Advanced

Finally, I always recommend the following videos for anyone who is beginning a new deployment as the first video outlines how simple it is to not only manage your deployments but also greatly minimize the time it takes while the second video walks you through, step-by step, the process of doing so with the aforementioned tools.

Alphabet Soup Deployment: Understanding MDT, WDS, MAP, ACT, SCCM, and USMT
Deploy Windows 7 The Easy Way: Using WDS, MDT and AIK – Step-By-Step Video
Deployment Tools, Preparing an Image Using Sysprep and ImageX Video

One more thing that may be important to note, EOS for Windows XP is 600 days from today. It might be a good idea to begin planning your migration to Windows 7 as it typically takes 18 to 24 months to plan and deploy a new operating system. Should you decide to use MDT, again, it is compatible with both Windows XP and Windows 7 so learning it with your Windows XP deployments will be applicable to future deployments when it is time.

Jessica
Windows Outreach Team – IT Pro
August 17, 2012 9:26:49 PM

winoutreach5 said:
In addition to what has been mentioned here like Group Policy and SCCM, you might want to consider using the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) and ImageX. MDT, Sysprep and ImageX can all be used in conjunction with each other. MDT acts as a common console that combines all deployment tasks into an easy to use interface and it’s free. MDT even allows you to create “universal images” by allowing you to easily add and remove drivers as well as applications to and from the deployment images.

While the current version of MDT is MDT 2012, there is still a great introductory video on TechNet here that walks you through the process of using the deployment workbench of MDT 2010. One more benefit of MDT is that it is compatible with Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows Server 2003, 2008, and 2008 R2 so you would only have to learn one utility to learn ALL of your deployments.

Also, you might want to watch the following videos to become more familiar with MDT and deploying Windows 7.

Deployment Day Session 1: Introduction to MDT 2012
Deployment Day Session 2: MDT 2012 Advanced

Finally, I always recommend the following videos for anyone who is beginning a new deployment as the first video outlines how simple it is to not only manage your deployments but also greatly minimize the time it takes while the second video walks you through, step-by step, the process of doing so with the aforementioned tools.

Alphabet Soup Deployment: Understanding MDT, WDS, MAP, ACT, SCCM, and USMT
Deploy Windows 7 The Easy Way: Using WDS, MDT and AIK – Step-By-Step Video
Deployment Tools, Preparing an Image Using Sysprep and ImageX Video

One more thing that may be important to note, EOS for Windows XP is 600 days from today. It might be a good idea to begin planning your migration to Windows 7 as it typically takes 18 to 24 months to plan and deploy a new operating system. Should you decide to use MDT, again, it is compatible with both Windows XP and Windows 7 so learning it with your Windows XP deployments will be applicable to future deployments when it is time.

Jessica
Windows Outreach Team – IT Pro



Thank you soooo much for this great information. I know about the expiration date for Windows XP and been trying to notify the IT director know about the issue. Main issue is that they have a in-house software that was made for their business needs a long time ago and not ready for Windows 7. The whole company adapted around this in-house software so they keep pushing the issue under the rug.
August 20, 2012 10:27:11 PM

slayer91790 said:
Thank you soooo much for this great information. I know about the expiration date for Windows XP and been trying to notify the IT director know about the issue. Main issue is that they have a in-house software that was made for their business needs a long time ago and not ready for Windows 7. The whole company adapted around this in-house software so they keep pushing the issue under the rug.


You are welcome. Along the lines of the proprietary in-house software your company uses, have you considered installing it in compatibility mode or within Windows XP Mode via Windows Virtual PC?

You could install the company application with Windows XP Mode and add a shortcut for the application directly to the desktop. To add a shortcut to the application directly to the Windows 7 desktop you would first install Windows Virtual PC with Windows XP Mode. Next you would install the company application inside of windows XP mode. After installing you should be able to access the program from your Windows 7 Start Menu. If you click on the Start Menu, and click “All Programs”, find and click on the “Windows Virtual PC” folder, Click on “Windows XP Mode Applications”, click on the folder for the applications and find the application shortcut. You can then add this shortcut directly to the desktop of Windows 7.

If you opt to use Windows Virtual PC with Windows XP Mode you might want to check out the How To: Deploy Windows XP Mode video from TechNet.

Alternatively, your company may be interested in possibly using the shims provided in the Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT) to resolve most of the issues presented by legacy applications. Also, keep in mind the host of virtualization technologies such as App-V, and MED-V. App-v is a product of the MDOP (Microsoft Deployment Optimization Package) for Software Assurance customers. App-V transforms applications into centrally managed services that are never installed and do not conflict with other applications. With App-V you can fully customize the way an application accesses core operating system files which offers more control than Windows Virtual PC and Windows XP Mode. To learn more about Microsoft Application Virtualization, please see the TechNet article here.

Both of the above options may be able to help smooth the transition from Windows XP to Windows 7 even with the use of proprietary in-house applications.

Hope this helps!

Jessica
Windows Outreach Team – IT Pro
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