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Hey guys,

We recently got a couple of new staff computers over here, and I generally just pull the older HDs out, archive them in the tech closet, and throw new ones in there before reinstalling and redistributing them to less fortunate staff members. I keep the old ones in case some file(s) wasn't transferred correctly or at all.

Problems:
1) It's a hassle to then re-mount the hard drive, even with a docking station, and deal with the permissions issues that can come from accessing the administrator folder on the disk.
2) Hard disks don't come very cheap in Italy, so I'd like to save where possible.

Does anyone have best practices/recommendations as for how I could go about archiving (using minimal space) the usable information from these older hard drives so I can reuse them? I say old, but they've likely only been used for 20 months or so and still have some good life left in them.

Thanks!

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Last Post by Reverend Jim
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And now that I look at it, this likely could've been in PC Hardware > Storage. Whoops.

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1. Install cygwin or Windows Services For Unix (SFU)
2. Tar and compress the Windows file system (you can delete the a lot of cruft first, such as the Windows directory, swap file, etc), and store that on a network folder somewhere, or backup archive.

If someone decides they need to restore some data, you can access it easily enough from the stored file system image. No discs require. FWIW, you might want to do the tar/compress actions when the disc is still in the original system, just in case it has been encrypted and/or compressed. That way, the archive will be in unencrypted (but compresseed) form.

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Acronis makes a great backup/restore utility that offers pretty good compression. Image files can be mounted to examine/extract files.

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We use Acronis to image the drives onto a RAID6 storage server, when we do need to access the data or even software that needed to access them, we tranlate them into Virtual machines, as the storage server are part of the network, the working image once restored as a VM are just like their old workstations, works like a treat. this way, you just reuse the existing hard drive.

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Great answers, guys. Many thanks. Unfortunately, the IT budget at my company is pretty minimal, so I'm stuck with the low-tech solutions like the one offered by rubberman. Acronis does look good, though, so I'll definitely keep it in mind for the future.

Thanks again for the help!

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If you are looking for a cheaper alternative, try Image for Windows by Terabyte
http://www.terabyteunlimited.com/index.htm
We still use this as its a great way to create a bootable recovery CD/DVD, as well as allowing you to image drives to external or LAN drives, also allowing you to view/explore the image contents later.
If you only plan to image old computers, then you just need one licence and then create a bootable imaging CD to take snapshots of the harddrives, only downside is that unlike Acronis, the interface can be a bit daunting for new users.

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Acronis True Image is $50. If your IT department hasn't got the budget for that then it's time to start looking for another place to work.

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Acronis makes a great backup/restore utility that offers pretty good compression. Image files can be mounted to examine/extract files.

Another one for Acronis!

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My boss once refused to buy a piece of software that would make my life much easier (PrimalScript) so I just bought it out of my own pocket ($99). The next month he authorized $1300 for software to help one of my users. Go figure. I ended up billing for it another way so it worked out. I just couldn't convince him that if I could save an hour a day by spending $99 that he would get an extra hour of work out of me.

Edited by Reverend Jim: n/a

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