Image and backup


I'm asking for assistance with locating a product (if such a product exists). I'm a roving field technician which services numerous clients. I have a need to create a system image of a computer that will be reformatted/re-deployed or disposed of. And down the road I would like to sort of bring up this image in a virtual environment and basically access what is needed as thought it was a physical machine. It's somewhat difficult to explain my situation but basically I work for special education schools in which budget constraints are the norm and computers are re-used, re-deployed etc. And what happens down the road is sometimes it is decided that the "computer" might be needed again. Yes files and profiles can be copied and moved but bringing up the computer in a virtual environment and accessing it as a physical computer would be a nice feature. If anyone knows such a product or a method of doing this I would greatly appreciate it, All computers are either Dell or HPs
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
So a software program, that can image, but also deploy this image to a virtualisation product like VMware Workstation.

How about the following which will allow you to backup and image, and also convert your image to a virtual platform.

VMware Workstation
PPIHXJMAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the links. I'll look into it. My situation, if it helps is when say a person who was like the focal point for a particular department or job function and has his/her computer with like a million files, bookmarks, etc. I can move the files and such but what happens is the computer is needed elsewhere so I'm asked to back it up, reformat or clean it up and give it to another user. And then sometimes another person (usually the director or owner) would like the computer "back again" and only for a short time to access files and such or to retrieve something (I know. Don't get me started on trying to get people to understand network shares and such). So having an image and sort of "popping it up" in a virtual environment to have the "computer" accessible like it was a physical computer would be great
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Which OS, because you could also use Windows 7 and Windows 8 VHD techniques, where you install the OS, into a VHD image, and the OS is booted from a VHD, this could be stored and copies onto a USB external hard drive for restoration.

The image is virtual, but the actual OS, runs on the hardware, so it's not virtual.

see here
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
So you want a utility that:
*Can copy the drive to one large file not much bigger than the total amount of used space on the drive?  So a 500 GB drive with 80 GB used would only create one large 80 GB file?
*The file would be accesible via a simple free program like 7-Zip - you could simply open it in 7-Zip and extract whatever files you need
*You'd LOVE IT if the file that was created was a something easily restored to a VM
*It would be fantastic if it created this backup very quickly - that 80 GB file in a couple of hours or so.
*It should work on Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 8.1, Server 2003, 2008, 2008R2, 2012, 2012 R2
*It would be great if it could save the files to the SAME local hard drive it's making a copy of, a network share, or an external USB drive.
*It would be REALLY cool if Windows 7, 8, 8.1, 2008, 2008R2, 2012, and 2012 R2 could "mount" the file and show it simply as another physical drive?
*You'd fall over backward if the utility was FREE?

Good news - Microsoft loves you - check out DISK2VHD -

For the last 2-3 years, whenever an employee leaves one of my clients, we use DISK2VHD to create a copy of the hard drive and store it on a 2012 Server with Data Deduplication enabled (the Data Dedupe is optional but a GREAT way to store LOTS of these files in even less space).  If we ever need to actually BOOT UP the machine, we simply create a VM in Hyper-V and use the created VHD as the hard drive for the VM - yes, it goes through a new hardware process, but SO FAR, everyone one I've tried it with has booted fine after the fact (just be careful - the computer will still think it's on the domain and has it's original name).  And Windows 7 and later - if you go to Disk Management in Computer Management, you can "Attach VHD" and it will!  It looks like another hard drive has been installed on your system.
Bryant SchaperCommented:
I vote acronis too, very slick
David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
another vote for disk2vhd and using hyper-v and have data de-duplication on the vhd drive.. it is free Acronis is NOT and it works.

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