How can i create a clone of a windows xp pc to another windows xp pc.

I have a clinet that has a windows xp pc with some critical software on it.  He recently had a problem with the pc and I was able to get it running within one day.  However, he is now worried that if it were to have been down for several days his production would be halted.  

He asked me to find a way to clone the software and data on the pc to a second one, and for it to automatically update the second one daily.

What do you guys recommend?
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DR backup plan.
 ACronis/Clonezilla/Symantec and make sure you have bare bones restore support where the backup can be restored to a system with different hardware.  The system (windows XP) will have to be reactivated in these cases.
Can this software run on another platform other than a workstation?
What was the problem with the PC, power, Harddrive failure? Network card failure, Mother board failure?
You would then need to keep a spare system on hand.  If the information is critical a single daily backup is likely not optimal i.e. the system crashes at the end of business, but before the daily backup ran. In this case you would need to find out what is the maximum amount of data loss that can be tolerated and setup full/inc/differential backups to cover that limit.
You of course could run full backups every hour.

If the software is database driven, see whether the database that is used is capable of replication/mirroring/log shipping.
Gerwin Jansen, EE MVETopic Advisor Commented:
I would transfer the XP machine to a VMware environment and backup that VMware environment daily.
rrinconesAuthor Commented:
The buisness is a pharmacy.  The pc in question is a small, but vital part of the production.  It is used for testing vials.  There are several com ports used for communicating with another piece of equipment that fill dosages.  I am not sure if that would work in a virtual environment.

The idea is to have another pc in place, with all the com cards installed, ready to replace the original one if needed. We need to clone the software and backup the reports and logs.  A backup is currently running every night.  We could have the pharmacists run a manual backup after each production.  However, if we could use a cloning software, that would update the second system throughout the day, or after new reports or logs are added, that would be optimal.
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To have a hot-standby, you would have to clone/replicate the data you can not clone the whole system.
Does the setup support two XP systems connected to the devices at the same time.

I don't think you are looking for a cloning software actually.
Cloning requires absolutely identical hardware on both systems and on top of that, the target computer's system may not be running in order to replace it.

Once the replacement computer is set up and proven to work, you basically only want to copy over the current data once, then replace/add the modified files on a daily basis. So it looks to me like a synchronizing software is what would serve you best.

Check out these tools, they are free:
Synkron: - has an inbuilt task scheduler
FreeFileSync: - will create a batch file to be fed to the Windows task manager
rrinconesAuthor Commented:
Arnold. No. The setup does not support two systems.
Does the Application that is used have a database backend?  Is it using MSSQL, MySQL, etc. this way you can check whether it can be replicated. I.e. data added on one gets replicated to the other.

Is XP the only system on which it will run?
What is the Maximum Downtime that can be tolerated?  What is the issue that brought the system down?

A backup/restore is likely the only option based on the information you've provided.  Having two identical system on hand would deal with hardware failure other than hard drive.
Another option is to setup a diskless client setup.  I.e. the hardware will have to meet the needs (com ports, etc.) but the system will boot of the network.
In this scenario the network will be the bottleneck/RAM.
Gerwin Jansen, EE MVETopic Advisor Commented:
As the setup does not support two systems, you have to create at a second system with the same hardware setup as the primary one. Can you install the necessary software on a second machine without (license) issues?

Then about the data, how is it stored? Does the software use a database or just store files in a data folder? When a data folder would exist, I would suggest that you move the data folder to a NAS/Raid device and configure the software to point there. NAS/Raid device with UPS attached and with its own (daily) backup. Availability of the NAS is high enough on its own, worse case you would need the NAS backup.

As you've spent a day getting the system up and running again, you know enough details of the setup, right? Would it be possible to create identical hardware setups and store data on a NAS device?
Lionel MMSmall Business IT ConsultantCommented:
This is what I suggest--clone the hard disk drive with Clonezilla--its free a relatively easy to use (I can get you instructions if needed). Then once you have it cloned and ready to go (tested that it works) you then need to setup a backup process to capture the data that is created each day--I suggest a external rive which can be transferred to the cloned system in the event you need it. This way you have a cloned drive ready and a backup and restore process in place so that if the main system crashes you have the data and a cloned system ready to go. I can help you with an automated backup of your data if you want that!
You can get rid of HW dependencies (on XP) with tools such as HP/Neoware/Qualystem UbiBoot.
Unfortunately, HP has discontinued the HP Image Manager product that embedded UbiBoot.
But you can find a distro of HP Image Manager here:
Run an "extract" type installkation, select only client/UbBoot and the user manual. ANd you should then be able to build a Win XP setup that can run on different hardware (as long as they are using IDE/PATA HDD for booting).
The process involves moving the system HDD from master PC to standby PC and to let Windows detect the HW in standby PC. Then use this HDD as the base for your environment.

rrinconesAuthor Commented:
We will be setting up a second system with all pertinent hardware and software installed, test the system to insure it works.  The system currently in place is backed up daily.  In the event that the original system has a hardware failure, we will then restore the most recent backup and use the second system.
With HP image Manager (again), you can use ActiveCloner to clone your XP system drive onto another drive. This "other drive" can be a network share (in your case, some HDD in the backup PC).
What I would do:
Boot your backup CD off something else than the HDD that will be used to operate it when it has to be used as a backup PC.
For instance:
- Use a LiveCD (for instance UBCD4Win) to boot your backup PC (so that you do not use the HDD to operate it) and customize this LiveCD so that it shares the HDD over the network
- Boot off USB (a WinPE or Linux environment and customize this environment so that it shares the HDD over the network

- Create a (startup) script on the source PC so that it regularly clones its C: drive (and potentially other partitions) onto the target drive(s) on the backup PC. ActiveCloner (from HP Image Manager) can do that for you. There are very few other tools that can actually clone the C: drive of a running Windows PC. Usually, you have to boot your PC under some other environment in order to be able to access what is stored on the C: drive. There are some other tools though, live shadow-copy: But Active cloner can perform a differential copy: copy only the non-existing/newer/different files to the target system

Then, when you have to use your backup PC, just boot it off its HDD (and not off the other environment used to operate it when it is not used as the "main PC" and you are done.

This automates things a little and makes it easier to switch from the main PC to the backup PC. Moreover, the main PC does not have to be made unavailable when it clones its HDD(s) onto the backup PC.
rrinconesAuthor Commented:
Thanks viviqatt,

I will investigate your solution a little further and run it by the client.  I will close this question and award points in the next couple of days.
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