System Imaging – Cloning, Not Just For Sheep

Remember the last time you had to rebuild your computer ?

Worried about how long it would take to rebuild your server if something happened ?

How do large corporate enterprises save time on these issues ?

You know the answer to all of these questions.  System imaging is like cloning, it makes an exact copy of your computer’s hard disk at a certain point in time.  That way, no matter what happens in the future, you can always recover quickly without having to spend hours re-installing all the operating system files and updates as well as all the software application files and updates.  Not to mention all the data that has been saved since then as well.

For all of us, the longer we use our computers, the more valuable they are to us.  The more we create and save files and download attachments, the more any interruption in access to this data becomes extremely costly in terms of downtime.  Our president, Art, recently had to rebuild his laptop because he was doing some testing and wanted to go back to his previous configuration.  Of course, the rest of us knew that volunteering our machines to become test lab fodder was something we wanted our leader to try first.

Art thought he already had an image of his original laptop hard disk, but he could never find it quickly enough.  He spent almost an entire Saturday re-installing everything piece by piece, waiting for all the service packs and patches and updates from Microsoft for both Windows and Office.  This was eye-opening to him and he vows never to leave home without an up-to-date disk image again.

How does it work ?  Simple.

Any system or server “collects” bits and bytes onto its hard disk every time data is changed, either by a user or by the system automatically.  Every time you download and update your operating system, every time you download and update your copy of Microsoft Office or any other application program.  The hard disk is changed to reflect the new pointers and sectors of information on the platters, all that.  Over time, all these changes are a sequential process that takes forever to recreate if you have to re-install everything after a crash.  Since we all know hard disks fail when Murphy’s Law rears its ugly head, it’s best to be prepared to prevent the dreadful time-wasting process of rebuilding any critical system.

Disk imaging is a process that “clones” your hard disk so that it can simply be re-applied to another disk, in the event of a failure.  It’s like a photo-copier for paper documents.  No matter how many scribbles you might have added to the original document, you get an exact duplicate of your most recent page on the copier glass … almost instantly.

Every system is unique and requires a unique image.  So, the more you can standardize on systems, laptops, and even servers … the less unique images you have to keep.  It’s just like farm animals.  Sally has a sheep, Bob wants a pig, Tom prefers a horse.  If you only have a sheep’s DNA, you can’t help Bob or Tom, they have to go to market and buy new animals.  But if you could convince Bob and Tom to fall in love with the warm and wooly sheep like Sally did, then a single “clone” image would work to “recover” any animal loss of their own.

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Disaster Recovery Planning with Virtualization
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With computers, there are similar differences.  If Sally has a DELL Latitude laptop, and Bob wants the new HP Pavilion laptop, and Tom chooses the new Toshiba Satellite Pro laptop, they are all different animals.  And they all need different images created for each of them.  Convince your employees to standardize on the same desktop and laptop systems and the whole imaging process is much simpler and much more cost-effective long-term for both setup and recovery.

With servers, the concept is the same, but the time and cost savings are even greater.  It takes much longer to recover from a server crash and it’s more disruptive for your whole organization, so using imaging for servers is even more compelling.  If you have more than a single server, standardizing on the same brand and models really cuts down on time and cost for the whole project, not to mention complexity.

What does it cost ?  A lot less than rebuilding a whole system or server from scratch.

For a fixed fee calculated based on your individual system or server’s configuration, you receive a disk image that can be used to recover, anytime in the future.  It’s less than most clients pay to recover from a single incident.  It pays for itself after just a single crash, and it’s guaranteed to give you back a working system within an hour.  Taking disk images of servers is even more valuable, since server downtime is exponentially more expensive to any organization.  Imagine being able to bring a server back from a failed state within an hour, instead of hours or days of waiting and paying for repairs and rebuilds.



About Lanlogic

San Francisco Bay Area IT Consulting Firm. Network Support, IT Services, Computer Consulting, IT Outsourcing, Managed Services, Hosted/Online Solutions, IT Help Desk, Remote Monitoring, Small Business IT Support


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