Friday, 28 February 2014

Backup and Recovery: How to clone/capture and deploy Windows 7 with OpenSource software (Clonezilla) offline [Tutorial]

What Are We Going To Do?
In this tutorial, we are going to capture an existing a customised Windows 7 Computer 1 , then deploy to Computer 2 with the same identical hardware. When I mean identical hardware.
A identical deploy Microsoft Windows 7 to computers that have "identical" hardware, yes IDENTICAL means CPU, RAM, HDD size, motherboard etc... the hardware you can think of must be the same because when we clone the "Master" computer all the compatible drivers and software will be able to run on the identical machines without any issues.
The materials are required in this exercise will be fully listed out and most are linked. The reason of this tutorial is to show that how easy it is to deploy an operating system with cloning method, however I know that there are better tools out there like MDT (Microsoft Deployment Toolkit) is more suitable
when it comes to operating system deployment in mass for Enterprise because of the customisation, free, network/offline deployment and more.

So if you would like to know more about this and your in lucky because I have covered it as well with a step by step instruction of how to deploy Windows with MDT 2013. [Link]

When we say "customised" it means - modify (something) to suit a particular individual. For example: Windows 7 operating system with 300 updates patched and Microsoft office 2010 (Activated).

Preparation - What you need
In this tutorial the following components will be needed to complete the tutorial:
  • Two identical computer machines
  • Microsoft Windows 7 Installation Disc
  • Clonezilla - To clone and restore disk drive
  • UNetbootin - To create/burn Clonezilla to USB/CD
  • Third Party application software - Microsoft Office, Adobe Reader, Anti-virus
  • Portable flash drive (Prefferably 8GB or higher) - Storing captured image 
  • CD Disc / USB Stick (256/512MB) - Store Clonezilla
Lab Time

A. Preparing Computer 1

In this stage you should get Windows 7 installed, updates installed and any software you wanted they  installed on it.

Preparing a USB drive and create bootable CloneZilla USB

1) Format the USB Drive to FAT32 FileSystem

2) Launch UNetbootin, select "DiskImage",

and click the "..." button to browse CloneZilla ISO file.

3) Make sure you select the correct USB drive and drive name then click "OK" to make CloneZilla Bootable USB.

4) (Optional) After the process has finished, use Safety Removable Device to eject the USB , only proper technician nowadays who does it haha! Or just unplug it straight away after it's finished copied files over.

Now the USB drive should contains CloneZilla files and it's bootable from any bare machine.

B. Format the portable flash drive for capturing and storing the image

Format the drive with NTFS type file system. Other settings can keep it as default.

C. Boot CloneZilla and start the progress of capturing the computer image

I think CloneZilla have a good set of documentation of step by step for capturing computer image, so click the following link and just follow the guide.

CloneZilla - Save Disk Image

My Personal Note: When you got to the stage where you have to select your source to save the image to and source path you want it to capture. I think this is the stage where most people got confused, but I will clear it out for you!

The above screen should appeared after you have selected the "local_dev - us local device (E.g. : hard drive, USB drive)".

On this screen CloneZilla doesn't really explain what you need to do, well... I didn't get it lol. Anyway on this screen it basically tells you to select a device where the image is going to be saving it to, it will be your external USB flash drive or hard drive.

The second screen is asking where do you want the image saving it to? Just select "Top directory of the local device". That doesn't mean CloneZilla won't dump shed load of random files on top of the directory, later stage it will ask you to give a name to a folder, you can rename it to what ever you want and all the image files will be dumped in there. So don't worry!

You get to to the above screen, after you have chosen the name of the folder and this screen is basically ask you "Where is the image? Where do I get it from?". Select the Computer 1's hard drive that you have prepared for a long long time with all those Windows 7, software, updates installed and any customise settings!

Keep following the CloneZilla's guide and in fewer steps CloneZilla will start the capturing process.

Press Enter like it shown on the screen to finish the process of image capturing.

You can turn off Computer 1 for now.

*NOTE* To double check the image you have captured you can simply plug the USB flash/hard drive to any computer to see what are the files have been saved.

D. Restore/Deploy the captured image stored in external hard drive to Computer 2

Again CloneZilla provides a similar quality guide as the image capturing image process. Click the link below and follow it.

CloneZilla - Restore Disk Image 

Pretty much same process again, however when you have reached to the stage where CloneZilla asked you to select the drives from and deploy to should be 100% correct, so read on :)

After you have select to use the local drive to restore/save image, CloneZilla will ask you where the image and the clever part of CloneZilla it is that it can detect if the drives contains the any relevant CloneZilla images.

*Select the external drives where you have stored the CloneZilla backup image

The process is pretty much exactly the same as the capturing process, but if CloneZilla detected there are files on the External drives (Which stores the image files), CloneZilla will provide additional options to the user like it shown below screenshot.

*Chose - restoreddisk

Once you have selected the restoredisk option, CloneZilla will scans the External drive again for the folder's name that you have given in the capturing process and then next it's to dump the image file to the Computer 2 disk drive!

Let the restoring process to finish, once it is done then power off the computer, unplug the USB CloneZilla bootable drive and the External drive.

E. Double check Computer 2

Testing time!

Just fire up Computer 2, now things you should be checking are:

1) Does it even boot? - if you have BSOD (Blue Screen of Death) it means that it is not a good sign, the reason mainly are down to incompatible/different hardware, or the image files has already been corrupted.

2) Check OS/software licenses

3) Check OS updates and software that have installed to see if they are still working

F. Completed!

Congratualation! :) All working fine!

Now that you can deploy as many machines as you like across your Enterprise or even a small company, just one more note to remind you, it will only work with identical hardware! There are more settings you can try on CloneZilla such as saving and restoring image files from a network server.

Main benefit is that you have saved a lot of time in downloading/installing software and updates, and other customising settings that are required for the company.

Now take it out there and do something fun :)

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