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Windows 2003 Server Cloning


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#1 JimC

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Posted 28 April 2008 - 01:50 PM

Are there any products that are acceptable for cloning a Windows 2003 Server? The only option I see is $699 from Acronis. Is that the only one? Is cloning a 2003 Server more difficult because of AD, Shadow Copy, etc.?

Anyone have any practical alternatives to the Acronis product?

-Jim

#2 Nuno Brito

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Posted 28 April 2008 - 02:44 PM

Which sort of cloning are you looking for? :thumbup:

More details about what you need would be welcome to know which answer fits best.

- Is the cloning meant to backup a given server machine and allow to re-apply the image when required?
- Is the cloning meant to make your windows 2003 server OS movable to other hardware if necessary?
- Are you trying to create an OS image to deploy on other similar machines
- Is windows running on a RAID system or a single HDD?

-----

For basic cloning of a given file server I use DriveImageXML (it's freeware) and will allow to schedule timed images of the running OS (windows server 2003 Enterprise) which can later be restored if something strange happens to the running machine (weird viruses or suspect of security breach, bad administration configurations, etc).

Since DIXML runs fairly good from a boot disk I can bring back the server to a previous snapshot in a short period of time.

This cloning is done on a server that is tied to an AD and after restore it works without any additional steps. (for precaution I imagine you would also likely wish to remove the machine from the AD and then re-insert after applying the given image)


If you mean using windows 2003 inside an array of disks then I can't help you much - only had one experience to this date with a win2003 running on RAID5 and this machine never gave any issues or need to clone (it's working a DHCP server), if a disk in the array got broken it's quick to replace and rebuild data from the other disks so no need for server cloning.

:lol:

#3 JimC

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Posted 28 April 2008 - 03:14 PM

Which sort of cloning are you looking for? :thumbup:

More details about what you need would be welcome to know which answer fits best.

- Is the cloning meant to backup a given server machine and allow to re-apply the image when required?
- Is the cloning meant to make your windows 2003 server OS movable to other hardware if necessary?
- Are you trying to create an OS image to deploy on other similar machines
- Is windows running on a RAID system or a single HDD?

-----

For basic cloning of a given file server I use DriveImageXML (it's freeware) and will allow to schedule timed images of the running OS (windows server 2003 Enterprise) which can later be restored if something strange happens to the running machine (weird viruses or suspect of security breach, bad administration configurations, etc).

Since DIXML runs fairly good from a boot disk I can bring back the server to a previous snapshot in a short period of time.

This cloning is done on a server that is tied to an AD and after restore it works without any additional steps. (for precaution I imagine you would also likely wish to remove the machine from the AD and then re-insert after applying the given image)


If you mean using windows 2003 inside an array of disks then I can't help you much - only had one experience to this date with a win2003 running on RAID5 and this machine never gave any issues or need to clone (it's working a DHCP server), if a disk in the array got broken it's quick to replace and rebuild data from the other disks so no need for server cloning.

:lol:


Thank you for the DriveImageXML information.

I have one 36 GB drive in a Windows 2003 Server which is running as a DC, doing DHCP and DNS. The server is running out of room on the 36 GB hard drive and I would like to clone it to a 136 GB hard drive and then boot and utilize the 136 GB hard drive and remove the old 36 GB hard drive.

#4 Nuno Brito

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Posted 28 April 2008 - 03:38 PM

Good luck!

Better do this over the weekend or try with another machine to prevent any time loss with server downtime while you make your experiments.

:lol:

#5 JimC

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Posted 28 April 2008 - 03:51 PM

Good luck!

Better do this over the weekend or try with another machine to prevent any time loss with server downtime while you make your experiments.

:lol:


Therefore, you have not used DriveImageXML for this purpose? Any recommendations?

#6 Nuno Brito

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Posted 28 April 2008 - 05:15 PM

What I meant is that since this is the first time that you will attempt such an operation it would be wise to do some experiments of all the steps involved by yourself before you try to move everything definitively into the new HDD.

For this task I would recommend picking on a test machine rather than the working server so that you learn by yourself all the steps needed to take into account. If you make any mistakes as sometimes happens - let them happen on the test machine rather than the working server..


For example:

Install Windows Server 2003 on a test machine and add it as client on the AD domain or a brand new test domain (whatever you're more comfortable with)

- Configure this test machine as closely as possible like your real DC (along with features like DHCP, shadow copy, etc)
- Create a boot disk with DIXML included (easy - it comes by default on liveXP)
- Test the operation of creating an image of the OS and then reapplying it back to the same partition using your boot disk.
- If all goes well on the first try - test the same OS transference from the previously created image onto the bigger sized HDD
- Check back your Domain and see if everything is fine. (I don't know if you have additional DC's on your domain but usually if there are more DC's present they will refresh the cloned DC with the recent changes made on AD)


--------

You didn't mentioned how many client machines depend on the server that you are trying to transfer but I always recommend using a test machine to ensure that when you really need to work on the target server there will be no doubts on your side regarding what steps need to be done.


If no test machine is available - I mention the weekend because most people go home and won't be upset if the server doesn't work for a considerable period of time to complete the transition and this helps you take a lot of time to quietly solve any annoyance that decides to appear along the way. (otherwise people will bang several times at you door yelling: "why is the network down?!?".. :thumbup: )


I also recommend reading the DIXML FAQ:
http://www.runtime.o...veimage_faq.htm

You should be fine with it, don't worry.

:lol:

#7 JimC

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Posted 28 April 2008 - 06:12 PM

What I meant is that since this is the first time that you will attempt such an operation it would be wise to do some experiments of all the steps involved by yourself before you try to move everything definitively into the new HDD.

For this task I would recommend picking on a test machine rather than the working server so that you learn by yourself all the steps needed to take into account. If you make any mistakes as sometimes happens - let them happen on the test machine rather than the working server..


For example:

Install Windows Server 2003 on a test machine and add it as client on the AD domain or a brand new test domain (whatever you're more comfortable with)

- Configure this test machine as closely as possible like your real DC (along with features like DHCP, shadow copy, etc)
- Create a boot disk with DIXML included (easy - it comes by default on liveXP)
- Test the operation of creating an image of the OS and then reapplying it back to the same partition using your boot disk.
- If all goes well on the first try - test the same OS transference from the previously created image onto the bigger sized HDD
- Check back your Domain and see if everything is fine. (I don't know if you have additional DC's on your domain but usually if there are more DC's present they will refresh the cloned DC with the recent changes made on AD)


--------

You didn't mentioned how many client machines depend on the server that you are trying to transfer but I always recommend using a test machine to ensure that when you really need to work on the target server there will be no doubts on your side regarding what steps need to be done.


If no test machine is available - I mention the weekend because most people go home and won't be upset if the server doesn't work for a considerable period of time to complete the transition and this helps you take a lot of time to quietly solve any annoyance that decides to appear along the way. (otherwise people will bang several times at you door yelling: "why is the network down?!?".. :thumbup: )


I also recommend reading the DIXML FAQ:
http://www.runtime.o...veimage_faq.htm

You should be fine with it, don't worry.

:lol:


Thanks again. BTW while reading the FAQ's it seems to indicate that if I restore a DriveImageXML image to a larger partition the system will use the larger partition size even though it was imaged from a smaller partition. It did say that the receiving partition had to be created first. I would assume that I can create a 136 GB partition using a WIndows 98 recovery diskette?

-Jim

#8 Nuno Brito

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Posted 28 April 2008 - 06:43 PM

You probably can (even thought I think that you will need to tweak your DOS boot disk for that sort of feature) but for all that matters there are certainly more trusted (and recent) tools that were build for this sort of purpose.

Use a XP PE boot disk for that - I recommended LiveXP because it comes with both DIXML and MMC with Disk Manager that will allow to create partitions that suit your preferences.

One other option is using the initial setup screen of the Windows 2003 install CD to create your partitions on the disk or you can also plug it to another computer and make the partitions there.

There is an important detail: you should ensure that this new partition is marked as ACTIVE otherwise the OS won't know from where to boot in the first place.

---

If you're unsure about all of this explanations - just install Windows 2003 on the new disk and then overwrite the same partition with the image from your old 36Gb disk using the boot disk to get everything in place.

---------------------

Personally (if I'm allowed), I suggest to avoid using all available space just for a single partition - in most cases 30Gb~50Gb is reasonably enough to accommodate a server and using the extra space for another partition will allow you to periodically schedule OS image backups to the other partition or use as safe resort to place documents, drivers, etc.

Of course that I don't know how is it that the space on your hard disk is being filled, but if you're using your server also as a web or file server then it should definitively be placed outside the same partition as the OS just for safety.

Always good to keep the OS on it's own compartment in case things go wrong.

:lol:

#9 JimC

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Posted 28 April 2008 - 06:56 PM

You probably can (even thought I think that you will need to tweak your DOS boot disk for that sort of feature) but for all that matters there are certainly more trusted (and recent) tools that were build for this sort of purpose.

Use a XP PE boot disk for that - I recommended LiveXP because it comes with both DIXML and MMC with Disk Manager that will allow to create partitions that suit your preferences.

One other option is using the initial setup screen of the Windows 2003 install CD to create your partitions on the disk or you can also plug it to another computer and make the partitions there.

There is an important detail: you should ensure that this new partition is marked as ACTIVE otherwise the OS won't know from where to boot in the first place.

---

If you're unsure about all of this explanations - just install Windows 2003 on the new disk and then overwrite the same partition with the image from your old 36Gb disk using the boot disk to get everything in place.

---------------------

Personally (if I'm allowed), I suggest to avoid using all available space just for a single partition - in most cases 30Gb~50Gb is reasonably enough to accommodate a server and using the extra space for another partition will allow you to periodically schedule OS image backups to the other partition or use as safe resort to place documents, drivers, etc.

Of course that I don't know how is it that the space on your hard disk is being filled, but if you're using your server also as a web or file server then it should definitively be placed outside the same partition as the OS just for safety.

Always good to keep the OS on it's own compartment in case things go wrong.

:lol:


Thanks. I do agree with your comment (suggestion) and that is usually what I do. Unfortunately, I have inherited this server and the previous technician has insatlled everything including Exchange and user mailboxes in one partition.

-Jim

#10 enciktangankidal

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Posted 22 September 2011 - 02:55 AM

spammer comment, removed by admin



yup, that right.
I also use easeus to do backup server for my networking class. :good:

#11 Vortex

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Posted 22 September 2011 - 07:16 AM

Hi JimC,

If you are going to clone a Windows domain controller, it's extremely important to have system state backups in a safe location.




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