How to make EXACT image of hard drive?

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What is the best program to use to make an EXACT image of a hard drive? I have 3 pc's that are absoutely identical (hardware) and I would like to make an image of the first one so that I can install it on the 2nd & 3rd ones.

I have:
Nero 6
Nero 8
Easeus to do Pro v 2.5
Acronis true image home 2011

Or is something else better?

I'm not worried about the license keys for the O/S because we have MAK/KMS volume licensing from Microsoft so I use the exact same key with each install anyway. I am using XP Pro by the way.

Thank you.

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The easiest way, in my opinion, is to dupe the drive with a program made just for that. CopyWipe is the one I use most often.

Acronis should make an exact image file though, that you should be able to restore to a blank drive, giving you an exact copy. The advantage to that is you can keep the image file and use it over and over again if needed.

If you just want to copy drive 1 to drive 2 and then to drive 3 one time, use CopyWipe - it's faster and simpler. Well... I guess that depends on your opinion of drive removal. To do this you need drive 2 and drive 3 connected to the PC that has drive 1. With imaging software you could make the image on an external drive then take that external drive to PC 2 and PC 3 so you never need to remove the internal drives.

Now I can't decide which is simplest... I guess it depends on the cases the PCs are in. If drive removal is simple, use CopyWipe. If it's not, use an external drive and Acronis.

2nd for Acronis

Put in a 2nd HD & then just use Acronis copy. You get a perfect image & you can put that HD in your computer as a primary.

+1 for Acronis

if it was 1996, id say norton ghost

If you're an advanced user, have a look at "dd". "dd" is a free tool developed in part by the air force for forensics -- it's as exact as it gets and comes standard w/ every linux distro. You can boot a live linux distro, and mount the drive you want to write the image to, and unmount the drive you're reading. You can also use dd in combination with netcat to stream the bits over the network (a feature that you must pay an extra premium for with some of the commercial tools).

Because 'dd' is performing an exact bit for bit copy, it will copy any OS and filesystem, even Windows.

Clonezilla is my choice. It's free and you can copy the whole drive or individual partitions.

handyguy said:   Put in a 2nd HD & then just use Acronis copy. You get a perfect image & you can put that HD in your computer as a primary.

I did this and it worked GREAT!

Thanks.

You may want to run NewSID or similar to regenerate SIDs on the cloned systems.

pedror said:   You may want to run NewSID or similar to regenerate SIDs on the cloned systems.

Thank you for your post. I found this link that tells a bit about it:
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb897418

It looks like you can download it from here but I haven't tried to d/l yet:
http://www.softpedia.com/progDownload/NewSID-Download-41001.html

Not sure I'm going to do it though because the most computers we have in our largest location is only about 14 and we don't have them on a network. They are all stand alones.

Thanks though.

gargam3l said:   If you're an advanced user, have a look at "dd". "dd" is a free tool developed in part by the air force for forensics -- it's as exact as it gets and comes standard w/ every linux distro. You can boot a live linux distro, and mount the drive you want to write the image to, and unmount the drive you're reading. You can also use dd in combination with netcat to stream the bits over the network (a feature that you must pay an extra premium for with some of the commercial tools).

Because 'dd' is performing an exact bit for bit copy, it will copy any OS and filesystem, even Windows.


Actually I believe dcfldd (http://www.forensicswiki.org/wiki/Dcfldd) is the Air Force version of DD. DD is a Unix tool from way back and was not created for forensic purpose though it can be used for that.

Oh and the OP I use Acronis for imaging hard disk for the purpose you are looking for and dd/dcfldd/FTKImage when doing so for forensic purposes. Also note that while for your purposes Acronis and similar tools a fine, they are NOT strictly speaking making an exact copy of the drive. For example they do not copy unallocated space (makes the tool much faster and images smaller) but unallocated space can be critical for forensic purposes. So if you REALLY want an exact copy you'll need to use a tool that copies every bit.

secstate said:   Actually I believe dcfldd (http://www.forensicswiki.org/wiki/Dcfldd) is the Air Force version of DD. DD is a Unix tool from way back and was not created for forensic purpose though it can be used for that.
I was over-simplifying deliberately. If the USAF didn't develop dd, they certainly inspected the code and endorsed it.

The difference between the USAF version is insignificant according to an NSA worker (who shall remain unnamed). Looks to me like the USAF simply added hashing and splitting (normally these are separate commands).

secstate said:   For example they do not copy unallocated space (makes the tool much faster and images smaller) but unallocated space can be critical for forensic purposes. So if you REALLY want an exact copy you'll need to use a tool that copies every bit.
If you want a small image and can do away with the unused space, then just do a "dd if=/dev/zero of=delete.me bs=1k && rm delete.me" on the mounted volume prior to taking your image. Zeros compress quite nicely. You can then pipe the dd output to gzip when making the image.

I would only bring in the COTS tools if I needed to write the image to a smaller space than it was lifted from -- in which case the COTS tool must have awareness of the particular filesystem being moved.



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