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Best free Ghost alternative

I am looking for an alternative to Ghost for creating and deploying Windows XP drive images.  I have used Ghost a fair amount in my previous job, but my new employer does not want to spend that kind of money.  I know there are some freeware apps out there, but have never used anything but Ghost and don't know what is good or bad.  I wouldn't necessarily need to be able to roll out the image over the network, since I only manage around 100 PC's and they are all within a mile of my office.  A bootable DVD would be fine.  Also, for my situation it wouldn't need to support multiple partitions, since all the PC's ar built on one partition.  I am in a government situation and all data is saved directly to the SAN anyway.

Also, we have many different brands of machines and various hard drive sizes.  If possible, I would like somthing that creates a universal image that can be deployed on different hardware.  That would be a big bonus.
Thanks
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slobberknoceker
Asked:
slobberknoceker
1 Solution
 
MacNuttinCommented:
I've been testing Windows Deployment Services The WDS for Vista roll out. It's free with Windows Server 2003 SP2
It can do XP and network PXE boot and install. It seems to be more complicated than Ghost example I had to dowload and learn the AIK to customize the boot file for different machines and the required network drivers.
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Expert4XPCommented:
I know you said non-Ghost, but maybe you were/are concerned about the cost of Ghost Backup Exec or some of the other full blown packages.

Have you looked at Ghost Solution Suite 2.5?  It provides central management and deployment (but you can have your own cd/dvd).  I just looked at the website and for 100 PC's, the stated license cost is $23.80 per PC.  That's pretty cheap in my opinion, except freeware.

http://www.symantec.com/business/products/overview.jsp?pcid=pcat_infrastruct_op&pvid=865_1

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scrathcyboyCommented:
some free programs --  Freeware
    * DriveImage XML
    * IRestorer - Drive Image Backup & Disaster Recovery
    * Macrium Reflect Free Edition See Macrium Reflect
    * Maxblast Acronis based, for Maxtor or Seagate HDDs
    * Partition-saving
    * SelfImage
    * XXCLONE File based cloning, not low-level HDD clone

Some others --

www.freedownloadscenter.com/Best/free-disk-clone.html 
labnol.blogspot.com/2006/08/clone-hard-drive-with-free-disk.html
www.brothersoft.com/downloads/disk-image.html
www.thefreecountry.com/utilities/backupandimage.shtml
www.runtime.org/driveimage-xml.htm

You should look at all of these.  Depending on your needs, many work better than ghost, and are totally free, and there are LOTS of them out there now.  Not all will get the XP runnning system files.  For that, you need to look at software that boots from a floppy disk.
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slobberknocekerAuthor Commented:
I would definetely want something that will get all the system files.  With Ghost I would boot from a BartPE disk or flash drive.  That would be ideal.
I will check out some of these suggestions.  Thanks.
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scrathcyboyCommented:
Almost all of the modern free programs allow you to boot from either a floppy or a CD.  BartPE is not needed.  It is unlikely you will get a free program to preserve the system state while XP is running.  You asked for free, and I have given you about 50+ to look at, almost all of which use a simple boot disk or CD.  I have used many such programs, and most of them are just as good as ghost, if not more intuitive.  There is no "BEST" -- it totally depends on what you want.  e.g. I DO NOT want my backup in an image file, I want it as a file-by-file backup onto another disk.  Essentially NO programs do this, therefore NONE fit my needs, even ghost.  If you want an image, there are over 50 free programs that can now do this with a reboot.
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slobberknocekerAuthor Commented:
Obviously there are a lot of options out there, but I don't have time to try each of them out and decide what is best; my employer does not give me that freedom at this point.  I was looking for a specific reccomendation.  And $23.80 per machine may not be expensive for your employer, but it's completely out of the question for mine.
Macnuttin gave me the only real reccomendation here, so he gets the points.
Thanks
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