Image PC's over network

I'd like to image PCs over the network to a Raid storage area.
The machines are a mix of desktops/laptops of differing models and
have different contents like PSTs and My Documents/desktop as dumping ground.

Users cannot boot from USB/CD so the programme must run in windows
Also the users are not local admins or power users, so if it ran as a service that
an end user could use an app to interact with that would be handy

The image must also be browsable so that if hardware is replaced the My Docs
can be recovered rather than just dumping an image omnto different hardware.

Plus it must be cheap and work on XP & Win7

Any suggestions?
Who is Participating?
jmargrafConnect With a Mentor Commented:
I administer a small network (around 25 desktops/laptops) and have used a program called Backup for Workgroups in the past (  It can be run as a service and automated, or it can be kicked off by a non-admin user.  It does a complete backup and allows you to restore individual files or do a complete disaster recovery/restore.  The licenses were around $100 each, which seemed to be cheaper than most other enterprise solutions..
Have your tried Ghost Solution Suite by Symantec? Its reliable and tested. Support on various forums available too.
or Acronis True Image if you are looking for freewares,,,
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Aronis Truimage is the best option Ghost on steroids! i use it on a 500 node lan its bril you can ghost servers encluding AD servers to network file servers supports most raid cards absolutly briliant!
If you want a solution that is totally free and works very good. you should absolutely try
Open source software for deploying. When you want to see what fog can do (and it is a lot) then check the tab overview.
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
If this is for image based BACKUP, then WDS is not appropriate - if this is for image deployment (image capture to deploy) then you can use the FREE WDS tool (you could technically use it anyway, but you'd have to manually capture the image as a sysprep is required)

If this is a small network, you could add a Windows Home Server to the mix that does image based and de-dupe backups - the cost of a home server (when divided by 10 workstations) is typically LESS expensive than the cost of Acronis True Image or Ghost.  And you can get multiple Home Servers to handle more than 10 systems
If this is a larger (but still small) network, you could wait a small bit of time and migrate to Windows Small Business Server Essentials which has a 25 user limit
MajicthiseAuthor Commented:
I will havce allok at acronis Truimage
MajicthiseAuthor Commented:
Is TruImage not a home Product - and even then requires to be bought?
I have 2 sites with 150 machines or so.
Each site has a NAS box also.

I just want the user to click backup my machine and it puts a backup to the NASbox.

Anyone got a link
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
True Image (and Ghost) is going to require a license for every system.

Why are you backing up 150 machines?  In a client server setup, you should be storing all data on a server and backing up the server - the workstations don't matter (for the most part) - they can be rebuilt or replaced quickly.  If you have a few special workstations, use Home Server to automatically create periodic images (For example, a client of mine has a CNC machine that uses an XP workstation - that could be a huge pain if it went down, so that gets backed up, as do the CxO PCs.  The other users machines, we don't care about... we just replace/reload if there's a problem that takes more than 30 minutes to solve.
MajicthiseAuthor Commented:
i have many laptop users who store stuff in My Docs, as they're regularly out of contact from the office.
They cant always get a vpn connection to the office (who'd backup over GPRS anyway?)

Plus end users in the offiec store stuff in My Docs also and on Desktop
I know I can use a policy to force them to store on server but I dont want server full of their crappy holiday snaps
and other junk.

I cannot rely on an automated solutinn as users are frequently awayu from the offices.
I need something that a user can kick of, it'll work away in the background and dump a browsable back on some spare spaec.

Lee W, MVPConnect With a Mentor Technology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
One thing you should understand - the more flexibility you provide the MORE EXPENSIVE it is for your company.  In a typical client-server network, there is no need to spend $50 per computer on an imaging solution - and when you have 150 computers, thats going to add up to nearly $7500

Yes, you can use a policy to redirect documents - and you can use the File Server Management features to prevent them from storing things.  You can also use policies to enforce certain file types are not stored on the server.  And if you can (really should) have an acceptable use policy for company resources so that they don't do those things and there can be consequences when they do.  Finally, it's a lot cheaper to add 2TB of storage to accommodate those files than to buy a product that can do what you're asking (forget the implementation time of installing it on 150 PCs and how much that would cost the company...)

VPNs, Terminal Services, etc are ways to prevent problems and save money...
Majicthise, how was your experience with Acronis? did it help?
MajicthiseAuthor Commented:
I dont think there's a simple free solution. I'll need to look further.
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