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VM or Imaging options for a computer

Ideally, I would like to be able to bring up an old computer as if I were in front of it, complete with all the information it had on it.

Once I have that image and a way to bring it up, I would want to wipe it out and give it to a friend of mine to use as their own.

What are the best options for making that happen today?

How much does it cost to make that happen?
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frugalmule
Asked:
frugalmule
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2 Solutions
 
Daniel ChecksumCommented:
If the computer is still bootable you can use Macrium Reflect Free edition to make an image of it, then you use Macrium viBoot to boot up that system in a virtual box.  check it all out at www.macrium.com

Edit:  It doesn't necessarily have to be bootable so long as the hard drive itself and the windows install is still 100% intact.  You can dock the hard drive and image it this way as well.

Edit 2:  Also, should be 100% free.  I just tested this process a couple weeks ago with the free version and it worked like a charm.
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frugalmuleAuthor Commented:
OK, so I like the idea of docking the hard drive and imaging from there.  That gives me the ability to either replace the drive and do the image later, or do the image now.

If we can make that work, that might be the best thing.

Once I have the image made, can I bring it up as if it were still a windows system, similar to the way vmware virtual machines worked back in the day?
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Daniel ChecksumCommented:
Almost identical to the way they worked back in the day.  It takes a bit to load up "new" drivers since it's not in its original hardware but it worked for my system a couple weeks ago.  You make the image and store it wherever you'd like, external HDD, internal HDD, network share, etc.  You can even encrypt it or compress it(the image file).  My favorite part of Macrium is if you install it on your host system, you can right click the file and "explore" the image -- aka get access to all the files on the PC whether you need it booted or not you still can pull data out of it.  In the past we've made a process of imaging crypto-walled computers so if a decrypt key came out later we could recover their data still.

edit:  Be sure you're selecting the right drive when making the image from a different PC.
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Create a virtual machine, but remember you need to have valid licenses for it.
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