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Switcher Hangout The place for switchers to discuss their new machines, and how to work with OS X. General support can be had here for newbie stuff, like "How do I restart my new iMac?" :)

Creating backups and bootable images...


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2kx2

 
Member Since: May 26, 2007
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I am seriously considering switching to mac. There are a few issues I need to work out prior to switching though. I need to be able to run Win XP for certain applications. I know this can be done with Bootcamp and Parrallels.

The real issues with doing this that I am unfamiliar with is how to load this and restore it for multiple computers.

First issue:being able to create an image of the OS X and the Win XP loads. I will have to load these on multiple machines as the baseline. This will be done very frequently. What is the best software to perform this and what hardware is needed?

Second issue is creating an image that can be saved onto a DVD or thumbdrive so that when users are on the road they can restore their computer with both OS's in the event of a catastrophic failure.

Can anyone give suggestions on what programs and hardware should be used in order to do this?
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kaidomac

 
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Sure. I'd suggest a backup hard drive for starters. In particular I'd recommend a 2.5" USB or Firewire enclosure with a 5400rpm drive since that can be powered by a laptop or desktop without the need for an additional A/C adapter. Note that Intel-based Macs can boot from a USB or Firewire connection while older PowerPC Macs can only boot from Firewire drives. I recommend the Firewire/USB2 enclosure because Macs like Firewire better while PCs like USB, especially for backup apps. As far as software goes, for Mac there is SuperDuper or CarbonCopyCloner. SuperDuper is a more professional app (free version & pay-for version); if you are going to use it in a business environment I would recommend that one.

For Windows, it depends on what you go with. Boot Camp gives you the real Windows experience since you're dual-booting, but the software is still in beta. Parallels is more than good enough for nearly everything and is out of beta now. The only big thing you can't do on Parallels is play 3D video games. If you decided to go with Boot Camp, you will need a BartPE disc with the DriveImageXML plugin. It is the only system that I've researched that has worked for cloning Boot Camp partitions. However, it's not a simple procedure and not something you'd want field users doing themselves in event of a catastrophe (again, Boot Camp is still in beta).

I would highly recommend going with Parallels. Backup is a simple procedure; you simply need to copy the operating system folder to a backup drive. Inside the folder is a configuration file and a virtual hard drive file. One of the neat features in Parallels is the way that virtual hard drive is handled. Let's say you want to make a 60gb Windows virtual hard drive under Parallels: they give you the choice of a set or expanding hard drive. If it's set it means the file is 60gb regardless of what's in it. The expanding hard drive is much better because even though the virtual hard drive is 60gb, in reality the file is only as big as what is in the virtual hard drive. So if you installs Windows, apps, and files and it only comes up to 8 gigs, then your virtual hard drive is only 8 gigs instead of 60 gigs. The end result is that you have a much smaller and more portable file to deal with, making backups easier. Oh and the latest release of Parallels (from March) has some pretty neat features; check out my mini review here:

Amazed at latest Parallels release

You can store the image on any drive or disc that has enough space for the current file size. Thumb drives are good, but big ones are expensive and small (16gb USB stick is over $100). DVDs are good but slow and also small (between 4.7 and 8.5 gigs each). You can buy rewritables, but again there's that speed issue. In my opinion, if you need portability the best backup device is a 2.5" hard drive in a Firewire/USB2 case. You can do a good backup drive system for around $100, here are some sample links:

$30 Firewire/USB2 case

$63 100gb 5400rpm hard drive

If you use SuperDuper, you can do a super-simple backup system. Assuming you keep the Parallels virtual machines on the primary hard drive of your systems, you can simply do a regular clone-to-file using SuperDuper. This will clone your OS X installation as well as all of the apps and files on the hard drive, including Parallels and your virtual machines. This gives you a full system backup of both Mac and Windows. It takes awhile, but you can do it on a lunchbreak or when you're asleep. Again SuperDuper is a good, commercially-supported application and Parallels isn't in beta like Boot Camp is. Another option, even better, is to clone the hard drive to the backup drive using SuperDuper. Macs have the ability to boot from a Firewire drive in addition to the internal IDE or SATA hard drive (note that they cannot boot from a USB hard drive). Here is a link to SuperDuper:

http://www.shirt-pocket.com/SuperDup...scription.html

Bottom line: For the simplest solution, use Parallels for Windows. For backup software, get SuperDuper. For backup hardware, get a Firewire hard drive that is equal to or bigger in size than the internal hard drive in your Mac. This will allow you to use SuperDuper to clone a bootable backup of your internal hard drive onto your external hard drive. Parallels will be copied over in that process, so you won't have to worry about backing up your Windows installation. In the event of a primary hard drive failure, you could simply boot up using your external Firewire drive as normal. SuperDuper also includes a feature called Smart Update that allows you to update an existing clone, so you don't have to completely clone the primary hard drive every time you want to make a full backup. Let me know if you have any questions.

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kaidomac

 
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Also if data is important, I would suggest getting a Mozy account. Mozy is a secure online backup service that automatically backs up your data in the background without interfering with the performance or network connection of your computer. Assuming your users are non-technical, you'll want to go with the least-hassle way of protecting your data and system images. Mozy is virtually invisible and automatically sends any updates to your online account after the initial backup; SuperDuper makes cloning and updating a full clone a simple procedure (it's basically 1-click after you do the initial clone). So if you took care of the initial clone and setup Mozy accounts on each machine, you would have both local and remote backups of your data. Here's a link to Mozy:

http://mozy.com/

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2kx2

 
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This information has been extremely helpful.

Is it also possible to load these machines via a network connection, like multicasting?

I would like to be able to create the initial baseline and save it to a MacPro, or a Win XP machine. Then load the image to the client machines via a local network connection in place of having an external HD.

Another ? Is it possible to run multiple OS's with Parrallels? i.e. OS X, Win XP, and Win 2K or is it limited to only one other instance?
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kaidomac

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2kx2 View Post
This information has been extremely helpful.

Is it also possible to load these machines via a network connection, like multicasting?

I would like to be able to create the initial baseline and save it to a MacPro, or a Win XP machine. Then load the image to the client machines via a local network connection in place of having an external HD.

Another ? Is it possible to run multiple OS's with Parrallels? i.e. OS X, Win XP, and Win 2K or is it limited to only one other instance?
I would imagine that you could load an image over a network, but unless you have Gigabit it would probably be fairly slow, and even then it would probably be pretty slow. Also, you would have to have one image per session since it would read and write to that image over the network. What you could do is put your baseline images on a file server and then have the users load the images over the network onto their machines and run them for there. If you wanted them to copy the updated image file back after a session, a simple script could handle that.

Yes, it is possible to run multiple operating systems with Parallels. Parallels does not support OS X as a virtual machine because OS X will only run on Apple hardware; however they do support various versions of Windows, Linux, FreeBSD, OS/2 and eComStation, Solaris, and MS-DOS 6.22. Here is a complete listing:

http://www.parallels.com/en/products/desktop/os/

Yes, you can run multiple instances of Parallels. It's only limited to how powerful your machine is. For example, if you had a 4-core Mac Pro with 4 gigs of ram, you could run 3 virtual machines (one per core) with a gig of ram each and not experience any lag. I believe you can run more than that, but I don't know how it would affect performance. Also, Parallels is currently limited to one core per virtual machine, but that will change with time so that you can run dual cores within a virtual machine for faster processing.

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