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Finding an unattended backup for users to do themselves

trpenner asked
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2008-02-01
We deploy a large number of XP computers regularly to our customers as well as re-image what they have.
We need a way for the user to be in complete control of this process and basically re-image or deploy themselves.

What is the best an all-in-one tool for such a process?  One where I could keep from having to learn how to program would be a big help.

The home office uses an SMS script whereby the pull info out of the registry to determine what a user uses without thier input.  I am hoping I can do it a little bit easier than that.

The other option suggested to me is to use NTbackup with a product called winbatch.

I really don't want to make this harder than it needs to be but am willing to go down any road that I need to

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Top Expert 2006
have you looked at symantec ghost?

not sure if this hits what you are looking for but it creates and deploys images to and from machines across the network or from a local source

might help you a bit.....


doesnt take to much to learn but as with anything alf decent it is $$$$

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Top Expert 2005

RIS (Remote Installation Services) will do this, however, you will need to use GPOs to deploy software after the initial load unless you use RIPREP to create the initial images.

RIS will work off PXE and allow a deployment to the workstation - it's pretty hands-off once the server has been setup properly.  I set it up at work and it's a very automated approach.  It took some time to fully develop an install for all platforms we have, but the end result is pretty slick.


Yes we use ghost but what we are interested in is a way to find data, backup, and restore ghost image and data without the technician present on only a handfull of machine models.  We have the images for each machine and they are kept up-to-date so what we really need to find is a way to ask the user what he or she does and have the data backed up and restored automatically.
Top Expert 2005
Have you looked at User State Migration Tool?  This should take care of the user's stuff.  Ghost should take care of the image.  A good set of documents outlining the steps should be all that's left.


If it's not too late, I think that Winbatch might be a good choice to do backups. Using this facility to do backups is a very common usage. However it does involve the use of a programming language. There are code snippets available that do such things. For a very simple function, just posting a question on their BBS is likely to produce a short program that you can modify a bit without really understanding it particularly. Or they may point you to a predone program or consultant. They actually have consultants listed on their site, so if you can afford to spend money on the matter, you can employ them.

I really do think however that as a backup you ought to have access to someone for money or on a volunteer basis who understands just a little tiny bit of programming for best results. If you have any interest in learning programming, this is one of the easier ones to learn for certain functions. There is even a third party book on Winbatch listed on their site I believe. www.winbatch.com

The third party book I mentioned is entitled, “Automate The Office To Be More Productive With Winbatch” (Plastic Comb) by Barbara Price Galvan.

They have two print manuals (a rarity today) and deliver them on CD-ROM in PDF format too.

The facility just floats on top of all your programs on your computer and all the web sites and web based facilities that you are entitled to access. It's "semantics" are as rich as the world of personal computing!

Here is an excerpt from a review of the above-mentioned book.

“Another very powerful feature in Automate The Office To Be More Productive With WinBatch is that keystrokes can be sent directly to other Window applications. This is the primary focus in Automate The Office To Be More Productive With WinBatch and the Sendkey Quick Guide, a reference guide with all the keystrokes mapped out so you do not have to rediscover them. This book will help eliminate repetitive task so you don’t have to worry about the mundane stuff.

Let’s say that every Monday you’ve got to file away all the work you did last week?
Here is the plan:
1. Make new directories for each type of files: spreadsheet, word processing, emails, etc.
2. Copy each file in the appropriate directory.
3. Copy each directory onto a floppy disk.
4. Then delete all old files.
We can do this by pressing on a hot key, wait to be prompted for the disk and then the system reads that the disk is present and finishes the job. That is an example of batch processing in action. “

Top Expert 2005

What are you providing here?  Your last posts really have nothing to do with what is being asked.

The poster wants to automate the redeployment of workstations in such a manner that the client can handle it on their own once it's setup.

Winbatch is not the appropriate tool for that.

Dear Netman66. See http://www.experts-exchange.com/Operating_Systems/WinNT/Q_10005750.html accepted answer by TimCaturaHouser.

Also, trpenner who started this thread said.

>>The other option suggested to me is to use NTbackup with a product called winbatch.<<

The only question as to suitability is whether NTBACKUP can do 're-imaging'?

You see in principle Winbatch can operate any Windows program. So if NTBACKUP or any other facility available on the machine that will be used to do the 're-imaging' can do the job, then Winbatch can automate it. Do you know Winbatch by the way? Proving that Winbatch CAN'T do something is where the burden of proof lies, since Winbatch relies on other Windows programs for most of its potential functionality.

To prove Winbatch can't do something on a Windows machine amounts to proving that either there is no Windows program that can do so or adducing some technical reason why Winbatch or one of its many 'extenders' cannot do so because it cannot operate any Windows program that may provide the desired function!
Top Expert 2006

just out of curiosity, forgive me if i have missed something, but are you suggesting that NTBACKUP can be used as an imaging tool?!?!?!

No, but it is a reinstallation tool. The person so posted this query was a little vague about the actual goal. That person waned to "image or redeploy". What is "redeploy?" I have never faced their particular situation of distributing computers with software. I have done either separately, but not together. This "reimaging" process is as I dimly understand it a bit for bit "reduplication." But if this process is used to make copies on different machines, it is more like a manufacturing process of making functionally equivalent copies and an exact bit for bit image may not be required as indeed is also not required for the restoration that may be performed from a backup facility.

I am also assuming that where there is a backup, there is a restore facility of course! So to make rough copy from a backup one clearly needs a restore. So if there is an NTBACKUP, there must be an NTRESTORE or that such a function is part of NTBACKUP. I surely don't know. Users of Winbatch exploit their particular application knowledge to make it do what they know best how to do.

The questioner seems to have the notion that at least a part of this application (not the reimaging part) can be accomplised with NTBACKUP which reestablihes a functional equivalent of a previous installation without the bit for bit duplicate requirement. A bit for bit copy will clearly achieve functional equivalence which as nearly as I can tell is the real requirement posed by this question.

The questioner wrote.

>>The other option suggested to me is to use NTbackup with a product called winbatch.<<

Comment to the Administrator: Without a clear definition of the problem is this option one that could achieve the goals of the thread originator or not? Do you know? How could you?

A little research indicates one application of "reimagin"

Warehouse technicians repair some computers by salvaging parts
from other PCs and EDS systems administrators reimage the computers, and then redeploy
them – fully optimizing the use of assets and the investment of our customer.

So 'reimaging' is used to recover data that might otherwise be lost.

But what what the first thrust of the question

>>We deploy a large number of XP computers regularly to our customers <<

Notice the deploying is the primary item. Redeploying is secondary. Recovery from the sundry forms of grief can take various forms and ordinary restoration from backups can account for a substantial fraction of these instances. So a restore from a backup may not be irrelevant to the questioners actual needs.

Notice also that the actual question is.

>>Finding an unattended backup for users to do themselves<<

So if the machines using NT operating systems, attended backups would be done using NTBACKUP I would suppose. Unattended backups could be accomplished with a variety of tools less powerful in fact than Winbatch. But with miscellaneous other items to be automated, perhaps a tool more powerful than one capable of scheduled command line invocations might be in order.

Courd "reimaging" REALLY be what the question is about?! I am familiar with "reimaging" as a synonym for "losing your data" by using an image of the ORIGINAL operating system configuration before software installation. Focussing on that part alone is fine if you are shipping iron, but then you have to put some complement of software on their that you have a right to use by the way. and then there is the little matter of the users application data and so much more.

My point is that reimaging is surely not the goal of the exercise. And remember the old saying, "There is more than one way to skin a cat" or to deploy and (if you must) redeploy whatever.
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