How can I clone an unused Dell Vista drive?

Discussion in 'Acronis True Image Product Line' started by pshooper, Jun 18, 2007.

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  1. pshooper

    pshooper Registered Member

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    I need to make a clone of a Dell drive that was just delivered in a new machine from Dell. This machine has never been turned on. The cloned drive must be able to go through the initial setup that the Dell runs when started for the first time. In other words, it must be exactly the same as the drive is in the Dell before the Dell is ever started for the first time.

    As to why I would do this, it is because I need to test a piece of software multiple times with different users and they must have exactly the same experience from the first boot of the new Dell for the tests to be useful. I plan to make an image of the drive and use that image to clone a couple of other drives that I can swap into the Dell quickly between user tests to get the machine back to its "never used" state.

    I plan to use a second machine just for the cloning operation, the (Dell) source and clone would be attached to this machine just for the cloning operation and then the cloned disk would be placed in the Dell for my test. The drives will be SATA and can be connected directly to the motherboard of the cloning machine.

    Would someone be willing to give me some assistance on what I need to do to be successful? I have read a few of the threads here on the issues with cloning Vista disks. I would assume that these issues will come up with my plans. I have a fair amount of ability with computers, so I am capable of following any well documented procedure for making a clone of the Dell disk, but the Vista issues have made me concerned my XP experience is no longer valid. I appreciate any help. Thank you.
     
  2. Brian K

    Brian K Imaging Specialist

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    pshooper,

    I'd create an image rather than a clone of the Dell. Do this from the boot CD and write the image to an external HD. Whenever you want to go back to the "on arrival" state, restore the image using the boot CD.
     
  3. pshooper

    pshooper Registered Member

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    I had thought that the words clone and image were interchangeable. When creating an image are there no problems with Vista and getting a identical working disk?
     
  4. DwnNdrty

    DwnNdrty Registered Member

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    The way Acronis uses the terms Clone and Image, they are entirely different.

    When a drive is cloned, that drive is immediately bootable just like the original.
    When you make an image of a drive, that image has to go through the Recover process on to another drive in order to be bootable like the original. So like Brian suggested, use the bootable True Image cd to make an image of the virgin Dell on to an external usb drive.

    The way to get the bootable TI cd, if your version of TI is not itself a bootable CD, you have to install TI and from the menu of the installed software you will see how to make it. This cd has all the basic Clone, Backup (Image) and Recovery features on it and can be used on any computer.

    Be sure to test Recover the Image on a spare drive to make sure it will work.
     
  5. shieber

    shieber Registered Member

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    Clone is making one dirve look jsut like the other. With one target drive you can make one clone.

    Image backup is a file you can put on any drive, in any directory jsut like an ordinary file except that it holds the entire contents of of the used portion of the source drive. So you can put many image backup files on a target drive.

    A clone can be used "as is" (except for a slight bit of work when it's a vista OS) and an image file must be restored. Cloning has limited applicability and is mainly prescribed when chaning form one drive to another--like when you get a bigger system drive. As a general backup routine, image files make much more sense. Read the manual to find out more or search in these forums.
     
  6. pshooper

    pshooper Registered Member

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    Thank you both for the clarification. Will the drive restored from an image run exactly as the original, or will I run into Vista repair issues before the drive is functional?
     
  7. seekforever

    seekforever Registered Member

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    I think that neither will do exactly what you want it to. Cloning should be the one that gives you an identical disk but there is the reported Vista issue that I really don't know anything about. An image does not put the disk back exactly as it was; it relies on TI reading the image and then doing whatever it does to restore the disk which means the sector layout can be changed and any swapfile or hibernation file that existed is replaced by a small few byte placeholder. However, the disk is the same in terms of operation.

    In practice these considerations may not have any impact on what you are trying to do but you should be aware that the disk is not absolutely identical in layout to the original Dell disk.
     
  8. pshooper

    pshooper Registered Member

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    I understand that the image made by TI is not bit for bit. If the user of the recovered disk cannot tell the difference, and most importantly, that the disk runs just as the original would have without any repairs, then this would be very satisfactory. I am currently preparing to try this method to see the outcome.

    However, if it should fail, I also understand that there are forensic programs and possibly a Linux app that will make bit for bit copies of a disk to an identical size disk. Can anyone point me at one or more of these apps so I have an alternative plan? Of course, a Linux app would be preferred, I suspect a forensic program will be out of my price range.
     
  9. dantz

    dantz Registered Member

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    You might find this article by Ed Bott helpful, as he used Acronis True Image Home to do pretty much what you are after:
    http://blogs.zdnet.com/Bott/?p=252

    Also, I'm not aware of any special qualities to the first boot of a Dell computer that can't be recreated by using the Dell "system restore" feature. Have you considered just doing that?

    Be aware that with Vista everything has changed. Here are some technical articles that will give you an idea of some of the differences:

    http://www.multibooters.co.uk/partitions.html
    http://www.multibooters.co.uk/bootmgr.html
    http://www.goodells.net/dellrestore/vista.htm
     
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