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  • We use SCCM, I can have several images to install various software, install language packs depending on the first three letters of the computer name, and it always installs the latest version of any software we deploy.

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  • I don't actually feel like I can vote on this one because I am only familiar with one or two imaging solutions. Love to see the results, though.

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  • use Fog for tons of stuff! 

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  • We use SmartDeploy and well the $hit just works!

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  • Landscape server and MaaS for the deployment side

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  • Depends on your environment. Here, I'm not doing much imaging, maybe 8-10 computers a month, maybe a few more during the busy season. So Ghost is perfect.

    If you're in an enterprise or large educational institution, I'm sure there'll be more imaging, so you'd need a product that scales with that size. I'm guessing SCCM?

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  • MDT and WDS just because that's what I've used. I've used Ghost before but it was a challenge to keep so many different images. Sideloaded apps and drivers make MDT and WDS a time saver (Windows shop). I do need to look outside the box and see if something else could benefit.

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  • Fog works fantastically and can be used on recycled hardware which keeps drive imaging off-budget. Clonezilla for one-off imaging.

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  • We use SmartDeploy Enterprise.  The reality is we probably don't use it to it's potential but it is a great imaging software.  We create our images in vCenter and use Double Driver to pull drivers from the machines and then save them in SmartDeploy as a platform pack.  SmartDeploy does a great job of keeping up with drivers as well.  It's quick and easy to use.  What else can you ask for??

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  • My boss and predecessor formerly used Symantec Ghost but we quickly discovered that newer PC's with UEFI and OEM installs would not image properly.  Last year, I had the task of imaging and deploying 65 Windows 10 workstations.  We hadn't budgeted for new imaging software so I had to use the tools available to me.  I had never used WDS or MDT before so I went through the process of setting it up, creating my images, then deploying them to the PC's.  Once I got my golden image created, upkeep has been a breeze.  I will occasionally launch my golden image vm, update necessary applications and windows updates, then capture my WIM.  The best part?  It didn't cost my company any additional money.  

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  • CloneZilla -- because if it ain't broke... 

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  • Desktop Central comes with OS imaging and deployment. Free for 25 computers. Please give it a try if you are evaluating a disk imaging solution. 

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  • Have used Symantec Ghost Corporate back in the day (until 2.5 when it pretty much tanked), Clonezilla, Acronis, Macrium, and AOMEI BackUpper.

    All have pros and cons.  It depends on whether you're mass-deploying, or doing a rescue clone of a bad system (in which case, I highly recommend doing a sector-by-sector backup of the failing drive rather than a direct clone, as an intermediary step).

    I love Macrium for simple one-off cloning.  Drag and drop partitions, works amazingly well.

    For deployment, Clonezilla and FOG are hard to beat and free. This is on the condition that you're pretty much using the same drive/partition sizes across all of your systems, but if you are, you're golden.  Have done PXE boot to these.

    Used Symantec for mass cloning too, and it worked great until it fell behind the times, and the price was nuts. Not recommended currently, though it was great (still stupidly priced) going even back to when Ghost was a product of Binary Research, and we used it to clone DOS/Win3.x/Win9x systems (yep, it goes back into the mid-90s, when it was a unique product).

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  • Clonezilla, Acronis, SuperDuper! AKA the 2010 IT Starter pack.

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  • A bunch of good ones here. I have used Acronis, KACE, Veeam and Carbon Copy. Once you get used to them, they should all do the job. I'm struggling with imaging Macs right now. I was a big fan but their lack of enterprise support is troubling.

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  • We only do 10-15 builds a year, so an imaging solution isn't really justifiable for us.

    A good scripted build process is more than enough.  but anyone who is imaging should have that too i suppose.

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  • I had setup and utilized FOG at over a dozen sites over the past 8 years and just moved into a new position with SCCM. While I can see the pros and cons of both and I am still learning SCCM, it is by far the best for large environments or if you have many many different roles and models and such. 

    Macrium or ShadowProtect for one-off's. 

    Clonezilla for the travelling mass cloner.

    FOG for home, remote labs and community/non-profit. 

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  • Kenny8416 wrote:

    We only do 10-15 builds a year, so an imaging solution isn't really justifiable for us.

    A good scripted build process is more than enough.  but anyone who is imaging should have that too i suppose.

    Same here.

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  • I’ve used clonezilla more than others, also used Symantec Ghost successfully

    I’ve tried Acronis True Image 3-4 times and never got it to work


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  • Clonezilla and WDS. Clonezilla is used for special images.

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  • Just brought an MDT/WDS server up here, it's working great (after I manually had to add the EFI PXE response files); had an SCCM test server for awhile I was pushing images from, but they didn't want to go with a prod build because reasons. SCCM is pretty cool, but has too much hand holding for my taste. It's mostly the same as MDT (with the MDT scripts loaded) but harder to get things exactly how I want.

    MDT is great once you get the hang of it; nobody else here knows it, and I'm about to leave this job, so I built it in a very simple and easy to maintain way. If I was sticking around to maintain it I could make it far mores streamlines and automated. It's nice because you can make it do pretty much whatever you want with it and it can be reached in various ways at various boot phases. It can be responsive to anything it can query and set a variable for from WinPE. Also all you need is a Windows server license.

    Side note, the first server I built was a 2008 WDS server; it's still chugging along with no issues 6 or so years later and pushing images out with no trouble. Probably hasn't even been rebooted since I left over a year ago. Once you get a hang of making Unattend files it's really simple from there; it lacks the robust features of MDT, but for simple instances of bare-metal imaging it's great.

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  • I've used Symantec Ghost to image 6 classrooms of 30 comps/2 servers each, but that was probably 10 years ago.  Worked as advertised with few issues.  Tested FOG and it worked as advertised as well.  FOG has a learning curve, but once it's up and running works flawlessly.

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  • Mark0923 wrote:

    Once I got my golden image created, upkeep has been a breeze.  I will occasionally launch my golden image vm, update necessary applications and windows updates, then capture my WIM.  The best part?  It didn't cost my company any additional money.  

    I don't do golden images any more.  Way too much work, especially for the number of variations in software installed per department.

    1. Make one image for Windows 10 Pro, and one image for Windows 10 Enterprise.

    2. Create silent installs of every application

    3. Create bundles of applications based on department

    4. Assign OS and appropriate application bundle(s) to each computer (using the Advanced Configuration - Database option).

    5. Deploy!

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  • I've used SCCM and found that a lot can go wrong depending on the TS, at the moment we use Acronis Snap Deploy and it's pretty easy to use, and seems to work well. I've had issues where it tries to find better drivers than the ones in the image for dissimilar hardware, but overall a positive experience.

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  • We use SCCM, it can be a bit p***y to set up with some things but it does work pretty well the way we use it. Different images for different departments and the software installed as part of the task sequence. Nice when it works, some bits of software on there too for the really crappy bits. When it bombs out half way through a build though you don't realise unless you're looking. That sucks

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  • Desktops - SmartDeploy

    Servers - Syspreped template in VMware

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  • MDT for me.  I used WDS before that (and now alongside MDT for PXE) and Ghost prior.  Both MDT and WDS have saved me a ton of time

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  • We use mainly fig because we can image both linux and Windows.  I also have MDT for some of our older workstations,

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  • The question is poorly definied:

    1. It seems to be leading to confusion between an imaging solution (which just copies hard drives) and an OS deployment solution, and an application software deployment solution. These processes have a ton of synergy and should be combined, but some of the solutions listed are imaging only, some are software deployment focused, and some are a hybrid. It's like comparing apples, oranges, and peaches all at once.
    2. The scoring criteria are not defined:
      1. Is price a consideration? For instance, there are some solutions I'd take all day long if budget were no object, but real life doesn't work that way.
      2. Does it have to include a solution for deploying more than the OS?
      3. Is ease of use and/or maintenance a consideration?

    What you have here is a popularity contest, not a 'best' comparison.

    P.S. Oranges are the best.

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  • Honestly have only used a few of these. I don't have the need to reimage very often, but I have just started using MDK for the next time it is needed. 

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  • for cloning a HDD i would only ever consider the linux method of DD

    for deployment We use Landscape tied to MaaS (landscape is like SCCm for Ubuntu and MaaS is the Metal as a Service allows for bare metal deployments of our preconfigured Ubuntu image.

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  • I've only used Acronis True Image and Ghost before but since we don't do that many images anymore, I use PDQ Deploy to push my software out. It becomes a breeze and I rather have a fresh instance of Windows 10 anyways before re-issuing a desktop/laptop.

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  • zachkoppolin wrote:

    for cloning a HDD i would only ever consider the linux method of DD

    for deployment We use Landscape tied to MaaS (landscape is like SCCm for Ubuntu and MaaS is the Metal as a Service allows for bare metal deployments of our preconfigured Ubuntu image.

    Metal-as-a-Service? Never heard that term.

    Brings to mind a System of a Down concert.


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  • We use Dell ImageAssist here at work and I have to say, it really is quite nice. Just for Windows and just Dell machines though, of course. I had lots of headaches with WDS, when I was labbing it on my own, but that could've been my fault. 

    At my last SysAdmin gig I would image old desktops with ThinStation Linux to repurpose them as "thin" clients. I setup FOG Imaging Server on Ubuntu 14 and it ran like a freakin TANK! Also worked super well for imaging Windows 7. So for multi-OS, I'd say FOG is an excellent choice....just don't update it or it will break (seriously!), lol 

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  • MDT for me. A right faff to get working but when you do its such a joy especially with a Hyper-V to capture with thin .wim files unlikes Ghost full sector based. Used Lazesoft Imaging too, 13GB file for entire drive, takes around 4 minutes to place new sysprep image to ssd (via WinPE) 

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  • Acronis True Image for the most part.  Does a great job, and the last few versions have run much faster.  Used CloneZilla a long time ago.  Useful for when Acronis does not want to play nice.  One of the more useful parts of an Acronis image, assuming you have the paid version installed on your laptop, is that you can browse through existing images and retrieve files.  Very handy when searching for a missing file, or transferring data for a user to a new PC.

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  • Beard of Knowledge wrote:

    1. The scoring criteria are not defined:
      1. Is price a consideration? For instance, there are some solutions I'd take all day long if budget were no object, but real life doesn't work that way.
      2. Does it have to include a solution for deploying more than the OS?
      3. Is ease of use and/or maintenance a consideration?

    Agreed. Plenty of considerations that play into this. I would also add:

    1. How many computers are you managing? Across how many locations?
    2. How many different computer models/manufacturers are you managing?
    3. Is tech support and support documentation important?
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  • We use to use Microsoft ImageX to image computers. Yep command line! We switched to WDS and MDT, it allows us a lot more flexability and we don't need to make or update master images anymore.

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  • The one that works. I find that each seems to work on some mobos and not on others.

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  • I think this all depends upon the environment as celtek put it.  At a smaller shop we used ghost and then switched to Acronis. Ever since I’ve been using Acronis at home about every 90 days as backup in case of any ransomware infection.

    At my last company we started with Ghost, messed with Clonzilla and eventually got SCCM working fairly well. SCCM was great for mass deployments. Since we already had an Enterprise Agreement with Microsoft it was in our best interest to get SCCM working. We were already spending a lot for it. With several sites to configure as distribution points it was a beast to configure and maintain. It allowed for driver and application package updates. Turned out to be a really good product once we got it tamed and under control.

    But I’ll say this about SCCM, too many cooks in the kitchen will spoil the meal. This is best handled with a very small group of well-trained administrators. All it takes is one or two wrong clicks here and there to really mess things up.

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  • I work at a centralized corporate IT office for a global manufacturing/repair company and we use SCCM.  It does great for our needs!  We currently have around 800 devices managed through SCCM and it's great for mass deployments.

    On the support side for everyday backups and cloning I use Macrium for the most part and sometimes Acronis.

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  • Why are there so many duplicates?!?!?
    FOG is on there twice
    SmartDeploy is on there twice...

    Look at the options people before you post. ...

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  • One word: MACRIUM. Macrium for desktops and laptops kicks ass!! haven't tried Its paid version for servers yet. We have some high end Dell Precisions running on RAID-1 and if I have to replace the raid card or a HDD goes bad, I just take a Macrium image and deploy it back. Takes 3 mins to make a 120 gb image and 20 mins to image back (All SSD). It plays with loading RAID, storage and network drivers extremely well. Love it every bit. Images can be mounted in Windows as a drive and explored as regular windows drives so this can be used as cheap (free) backup for desktops or laptops. 

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  • Is it possible to have a Golden image across different machines? ie different drivers and such?

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  • @Neil Bothma

    It is possible with MDT.  I have one Windows 10 image that I deploy to about 8 different models of Dell machines and 5 different models of Surface devices.  MDT allows you to store drivers for each model in your environment.  I have a new model coming in next week.  I am downloading the driver cab files from Dell and will import them into my MDT system.  When the machine gets here, I'll PXE boot (using WDS) and MDT will kick off deploying my Windows 10 OS image, the drivers appropriate for the computer model, install Windows updates from our WSUS server, install our primary software packages based on user role, run various configuration scripts based on the role the computer is assigned to.  Join it to the domain if required.

    I believe that there are some other imaging products that can do something similar, but I'm not familiar with them.   

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  • I love the flexibility of MDT.  I had to prepare 35 computers (three different models and two manufacturers) for a variety of different roles in a very limited time frame. I created assigned each computer to it's Role in the Advanced Configuration database.  Each role had various software and scripts to run.  Some computers needed Windows 10 and others Windows 7. Other than starting the PXE boot, it was basically a hands off process.

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  • dd is not getting enough love here. Best little *nix command ever.

    Still don't know what the d's represent though.

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  • In SCCM I have a HUGE image that we use in head office where we could be expected to build one of about 8 different models of computer. It's got up to date drivers for all the hardware in it, and about 12 language packs.

    For the regional Distribution Points, I have a smaller image with only the models they use, and the language packs needed in those countries. For example, the Mexico Office DP has drivers for the HP 840 G3, G4 and G5 laptops, and US English & Mexican Spanish LPs.

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  • IPFOUR wrote:

    dd is not getting enough love here. Best little *nix command ever.

    Still don't know what the d's represent though.

    Data Definition

    (per wiki at least: DD )

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  • Just moved from Altiris 6.9 to SmartDeploy.

    Loved Altiris but just fell into legacy category. 

    For OSD, went with SmartDeploy and it is a fine solution but I feel it is overpriced - and WDS should get a mention here because SmartDeploy needs WDS to do baremetal PXE.

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