Drive Cloning Software Simplifies the Set-up
by Alan Zisman (c)
1999. First published
in Canadian Computer Wholesaler, January 1999
The word clones makes most of us a little
uncomfortable. Images of bad
science fiction novels. Movies like The Boys from Brazil, with its host
of identical little Hitlers. Or new stories of genetical
cloning fuzzy animals like sheep aren?t enough to make us feel at home
with the concept.
Despite that, software to clone entire systems can
prove useful in a
number of cases. Businesses, faced with setting up tens, hundreds, or
thousands of newly-purchased systems can appreciate the time saved in
to install the collection of software just once, then cloning it onto
many machines as needed.
Individuals may appreciate cloning software as a
replacement for traditional
backups, with some unique advantages.
And companies producing or distributing hardware may
find it an ideal
way to easily produce systems with just the configurations desired by
customers. Vendors or system OEMs can use them to create image disks to
distribute with new systems, allowing customers to restore their
to the original state.
We looked at two system clone utilities: Drive Image
2.0 from PowerQuest
Corporation (www.powerquest.com), and Ghost 5.0, originally produced by
New Zealand?s Binary Research, but now sold by utilities giant,
Both offer some many similar features?both are, at
heart, DOS programs.
Drive Image will happily add icons to your Windows Start Menu, but will
insist on running in single-tasking MS-DOS Mode. This is required
when multitasking, it becomes difficult to properly backup or
files that are in use by the operating system. Booting to DOS enables
program to create an image file of everything on your drive?including
long file names and Windows Registry items that are sometimes not
backed up by traditional backup utilities.
Both are really simple (in fact, Ghost ships on a
single floppy diskette?what
was the last program you bought that did that?). All that?s needed is
create an image file of everything on a computer?s hard disk, saving it
to some appropriate media.
Then, run the utility?s Restore function, creating a
clone of the original
machine on another one.
Both programs support cloning of multiple operating
DOS, Windows 3.x, Windows 9x, NT, Unix, Linux, Netware, and OS/2, and
support restores across a variety of connection methods.
Drive Image uses a Windows-like look and feel, even
though, like Ghost,
it is really operating under DOS. While Ghost doesn?t try to clone the
Win95 user interface, it offers both a usable graphical interface, and
a quick and dirty command-line mode.
Both support re-partitioning the target machine ?on
the fly??if the
target machine is not currently partitioned the same as the source,
can re-partition as needed. And both are smart enough to not try to
a partition larger than the existing hard drive! Both are faster than
backup/restore software because they do not work file by file, but
clone the total drive contents. In fact, creating a system from a drive
image can reduce setup time from several hours to five minutes or so.
Each program has a way to work around a potential
barrier to cloning:
NT uses a System ID #, which needs to be unique on each machine on a
Earlier versions of each program was unable to deal with this. The
versions, however, provide workarounds?single floppy Ghost, for
includes a second diskette, with Ghost-Walker, an NT SID-Changing
utility. Drive Image works with Microsoft?s new NT System Preparation
to resolve this potential problem.
Ghost, however, has a feature not currently supported
by Drive Image,
that may make it the product to buy for some situations. It supports
multicasting?a single drive image can be sent, at one time, to multiple
workstations, over a TCP/IP network. The company reports that it can
as little as 5 minutes or so to multicast a 300 meg image across a
to multiple machines. That?s not going to help an OEM preparing
systems one at a time, but could be a tremendous time-saver in a
Drive Image Pro costs US$695 for a license that allows
a single user
to work on an unlimited number of computers. The company also offers
US$69.95 Drive Image 2.0, with a license limited to a single user and a
single computer. Both products are available at a variety of retail and
software distribution sources, as well as directly from PowerQuest.
Ghost Professional 5.0 costs US$750, plus $3.50 to $15
per seat up to
10,000. Symantec has no plans to make it available via traditional
channels?they are distributing it in a plain brown box, only. To
Ghost, contact Binary Research at 1-888-GHOST-98 (1-888-446-7898) or
at firstname.lastname@example.org. A trial version is available for