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Free or Open Source Imaging Solutions


Many
of you are familiar with the concept of computer imaging. Essentially,
you take a system, configure it the way that you would like, and then
duplicate the hard drive to all of the other systems, saving yourself
all of the same steps that you did on the first system.

Now, there are a lot of great commercial software programs out there
that can do this for you. Acronis and Ghost come to mind. But, not
everyone can afford these options. For those of you find yourself in
this situation, I present you with a list of options that are available
for free or are open source. (All descriptions are copied from their
respective websites.)

Partimage

Partimage is a Linux utility which saves partitions having a supported filesystem
to an image file. Most Linux and Windows filesystems are supported. The
image file can be compressed with the gzip / bzip2 programs to save
disk space, and they can be splitted into multiple files to be copied
on CDs / DVDs, … Partitions can also be saved across the network
since version 0.6.0 using the partimage network support, or using Samba
/ NFS. If you don’t want to install Partimage, you can download and
burn SystemRescueCd.
It’s a livecd that allows to use Partimage immediately even if your
computer has no operating system installed (useful to restore an
image), and it allows to save an image on a DVD on the fly.

PING (Partimage Is Not Ghost)

PING is a live Linux ISO, based on the excellent Linux From Scratch (LFS) documentation. It can be burnt on a CD and booted, or integrated into a PXE / RIS environment. Several tools have been added and written, so to make this ISO the perfect choice to backup and restore whole partitions, an easy way. It sounds like Symantec Ghost(tm), but has even better features, and is totally free.

Clonezilla

Clonezilla, based on DRBL, Partition Image, ntfsclone, and udpcast, allows you to do bare metal backup and recovery. Two types of Clonezilla are available, Clonezilla live and Clonezilla server edition.
Clonezilla live is suitable for single machine backup and restore.
While Clonezilla server edition is for massive deployment, it can clone
many (40 plus!) computers simultaneously. Clonezilla saves and restores
only used blocks in the harddisk. This increases the clone efficiency.
At the NCHC’s Classroom C, Clonezilla server edition was used to clone
41 computers simultaneously. It took only about 10 minutes to clone a
5.6 GBytes system image to all 41 computers via multicasting!

IRestorer

Drive Snapshot (IRestorer) creates an exact drive image
of your system into a file, including the operating system, installed
programs, your data and all security attributes, while windows is
running and you continue to work. If disaster strikes (a virus, worm,
trojan, or hard disk crash), a complete and exact restoration of your
system will be possible in only few minutes. The image file can be
mounted as a virtual drive, so you can easily restore (or use) single
files or directories, using the Windows Explorer, or other programs.
Restart to DOS is only necessary, if you must restore your system
partition. Otherwise there is no need to reboot, not even during
installation. Drive Snapshot saves only the used disk space, compresses
the data and is extremely fast, a P4 – 3.0 GHz will save approx. 2.5
GB/Min on a modern hard disk!

Linbox Rescue Server

The Linbox Rescue Server is an asset management software including 5 modules :

  • system backup for emergency crash recovery, hard disk cloning or deployment using a
    PXE network boot. This module was fully developped by Linbox FAS.
  • file backup, based on the famous BackupPC, to which we have added a configuration interface,
  • inventory, based on ocs-inventory agents, and on an agent which runs during the PXE network boot,
  • Software deployment module which works with Linux, MacOS X and MS Windows clients, or any Un*x system running OpenSSH,
  • remote control, based on TightVNC.

HDClone

Copies smaller drives onto larger ones for migrating or
backing up complete installations as well as for data rescue. The
download package contains a program to easily create a bootable floppy
disk or CD/DVD under Windows with only few clicks. A floppy image, ISO
image, and manual as PDF are also enclosed.

DiscWizard

If you are setting up your new drive, you can use the
install instructions to assist in mounting the drive, then use the
tools built into your operating system to prepare the drive.

G4L

G4L is a hard disk and partition imaging and cloning
tool. The created images are optionally compressed and transferred to
an FTP server instead of cloning locally.

MaxBlast 5

If you are setting up your new drive, you can use the
install instructions to assist in mounting the drive, then use the
tools built into your operating system to prepare the drive.

DriveImage XML Backup Software

DriveImage XML is an easy to use and reliable program for imaging and backing up partitions and logical drives.

The program allows you to:

  • Backup logical drives and partitions to image files
  • Browse these images, view and extract files
  • Restore these images to the same or a different drive
  • Copy directly from drive to drive
  • Schedule automatic backups with your Task Scheduler
  • Image creation uses Microsoft’s Volume Shadow Services
    (VSS), allowing you to create safe “hot images” even from drives
    currently in use.Images are stored in XML files, allowing you to
    process them with 3rd party tools. Never again be stuck with a useless
    backup!

    Restore images to drives without having to reboot.

    DriveImage XML runs under Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 and
    Windows Vista only. The program will backup, image and restore drives
    formatted with FAT 12, 16, 32 and NTFS.

    DuBaron DiskImage

    DiskImage is the ultimate tool to backup and restore
    partitions, entire harddisks, usb keys, floppy drives and (read-only)
    optical media. DiskImage features built-in zip compression, it’s own
    compression method for data
    > 2Gb, MD5 and SHA1 checksumming, a hex editor, and various tools like drive speed and seek testing.

    Dumping and restoring partitions, usb sticks, floppies, optical media, diskimage is the swiss army knife.

    WinDD – Disk Dump for Windows

    WinDD – Disk Dump for Windows! Windows XP version of
    Unix ‘dd’ command. Safe, effort-free backup for FAT, FAT32, NTFS, ext2,
    ext3 partitions.

    Partition Saving

    Partition Saving is a DOS and Windows program that is
    used to save, restore and copy hard-drive, partitions, floppy disk and
    DOS or Windows devices.

    With this program you could save all data on a partition to a file
    (such as you could save this file on a CD for example). Then if
    something goes wrong, you can completely restore the partition from the
    backup file. You no longer have to reinstall every piece of software
    from scratch. All you have to do is restore the partition from the
    backup file and then update any software that was modified since the
    backup was created.

    NFGDump

    nfgdump (Ntfs-Fat-Generic-dump) is a Win32/Linux tool
    that dumps/restores NTFS (including 3.1=XP), COMPRESSED NTFS, FAT16,
    FAT32 and arbitrary (generic) partitions. Dump files support
    compression, encryption, splits, page file content removal, etc.

    Forensic Acquisition Utilities


    This is a collection of utilities and libraries
    intended for forensic or forensic-related investigative use in a modern
    Microsoft Windows environment. The components in this collection are
    intended to permit the investigator to sterilize media for forensic
    duplication, discover where logical volume information is located and
    to collect the evidence from a running computer system while at the same time ensuring data integrity (e.g. with a cryptographic checksums) and while minimizing distortive alterations to the subject system. The components of this package are not
    intended to preclude changes to the subject system while the evidence
    collection process is under way. A third party hardware or software
    write blocker should be employed in those circumstances where it is
    deemed necessary to guarantee that no changes occur to the subject volume prior to and after the imaging process.

    Self Image

    SelfImage is the little hard drive utility with big aspirations.SelfImage
    is capable of making an image file of a hard disk or hard disk
    partition, and can restore an image back to any drive or partition that
    doesn’t have open files. Useful for making backups. Unlike dd for Windows (or cygwin), SelfImage is capable of creating an image of a partition that is currently in use.

    SelfImage can even create images of partitions
    that Windows doesn’t recognize (partitions that Windows doesn’t have
    mounted on a drive letter). This is perfect for the dual-boot system,
    you can create an image backup of a Linux partition directly from
    Windows.

    PC inspector clone maxx

    PC INSPECTOR™ clone maxx is
    the new professional hard drive copying program from CONVAR. Using the
    new direct DMA support, data can be copied from hard drives in high
    speed mode with speeds up to 3.3 GB per minute.This high speed is
    achieved by PC INSPECTOR™ clone maxx through
    intelligent inspection of the PC motherboard and the hard drive
    controller. The software independently determines the fastest data
    transmission rate and achieves these exceptional speeds through optimal
    utilization of the DMA chipset on the motherboard of your PC.

    PC INSPECTOR™ clone maxx can
    be started directly from a boot diskette. The copying process is always
    based on the physical drive and is independent of the file system (e.g.
    FAT12, FAT16, FAT32, HPFS, NTFS, Ext2, Reiser, etc.) or the number of
    partitions.

    g4u – Harddisk Image Cloning for PCs

    g4u (”ghosting for unix”) is a NetBSD-based
    bootfloppy/CD-ROM that allows easy cloning of PC harddisks to deploy a
    common setup on a number of PCs using FTP. The floppy/CD offers two
    functions. The first is to upload the compressed image of a local
    harddisk to a FTP server, the other is to restore that image via FTP,
    uncompress it and write it back to disk. Network configuration is
    fetched via DHCP. As the harddisk is processed as an image, any
    filesystem and operating system can be deployed using g4u. Easy cloning
    of local disks as well as partitions is also supported.

    FOG :: A Ghost-like Computer Cloning Solution

    Fog is a Linux-based, free and open source computer
    imaging solution for Windows XP and Vista that ties together a few
    open-source tools with a php-based web interface. Fog doesn’t use any
    boot disks, or CDs; everything is done via TFTP and PXE. Also with fog
    many drivers are built into the kernel, so you don’t really need to
    worry about drivers (unless there isn’t a linux kernel module for it).
    Fog also supports putting an image that came from a computer with a
    80GB partition onto a machine with a 40GB hard drive as long as the
    data is
    less than 40GB.

    Fog also includes a graphical Windows service that is used to change
    the hostname of the PC, restart the computer if a task is created for
    it, and auto import hosts into the FOG database. The service also
    installs printers, and does simple snap-ins.

    Each has its own pros and cons but all have a purpose. I am
    personally really liking FOG and am finding a lot of different places
    to put it to work.