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Ghost / Image Windows Server 2003 with RAID over network


davil
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Hi all,

I'm back asking questions again.

I'll keep this simple.

We have a load of Windows Server 2003 installations here on HP Servers. Some fool setup the C drive partitions with only 10GB!!!!!! so as you can guess they're running out of space.

My Plan is to re-partition on the fly using one of the following as we don't have time for a full reinstall (we're not allowed enough downtime by our managers):

EASEUS Partition Master Server Edition

http://www.partition-tool.com/

or

Acronis Disk Director Suite

http://www.acronis.com/homecomputing/produ...rtitioning.html

or similar

But obviously I want to 'ghost' / take an image of the entire Drive just in case something goes horribly wrong (which it usually does)

So I've been looking at a few different options for this:

1. Universal Network Bootdisk + the OLDer DOS based Ghost that we have (This is what we use for PCs but I have a feeling it won't work well on server 2003 with RAID) [not sure of version of ghost]

http://netbootdisk.com/

2. Acronis® Backup & Recovery™ 10 Advanced Server - doesn't work over the network

http://www.acronis.com/backup-recovery/advanced-server/

We have no external drives so we'd have to store the image of the drive somewhere on the network (so I think #2 is out)

There's probably a linux way to do this but I'm not great with linux command line stuff. maybe there's a live CD I can download which is already setup to do this??

So I'm wondering what's the easiest / most efficient way to do this job ?

Any help would be much appreciated.

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Have a look at some of the old Hak5 episodes. I don't know of anything specific but VM has some tools that you could use to convert a physical server to a VM, I belive this can run across a network and would at least give you some sort of backup :P

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a couple of suggestions if I may, I recently have been tinkering with a PXE server and found all kinds of great things I can do.

First, as far as making a virtual machine of each computer the program is VMWare vCenter Converter, I do not know and don't believe you can convert back from a virtual machine to a physical machine.

http://www.vmware.com/products/converter/

A suggestion that has been given to me before on this very forum is called FOG or Free Open Ghost.

It looks magnificent with a web interface to track what machines have been imaged, when, etc etc

http://www.fogproject.org/

as far as resizing partitions, I highly recommend gParted, to put quite simply it can be run from anything, CD, USB, and even Network boot. configuring it to run from USB or Network depending on your situation can be a little tricky. But I have it set up on a VM now and running over network boot very solidly.

http://gparted.sourceforge.net/

as far as if you wanted to go a solid VM route you can make one server and make it quite beefy, then run ESX or ESXi on it and manage the machines with VMware vCenter.

ESX

vSphere

The ESX page has some great benefits to help you convince your boss if you think it is a route you want to go.

One last thought I'd like to plant is with a VMware ESX/ESXi Server you can power off and on a machine easily, rather than having to remote into the machine etc, etc, etc and again you can turn on the machines from the vCenter Interface rather than setting up wake on lan configurations.

best of luck!

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Thanks BlueWyvern! There's a lot of great info there for me. I know a bit about VMs myself but to be honest I'm in an I.T. office with 5 other people and their knowledge is, lets just say "limited" so I'll be keeping all our servers physical for the moment. (they're not great spec servers anyhow and have trouble coping with the amount of Citrix users we have). That FOG project sounds interesting (taking a look now) - but if it uses DHCP that's not good as we already have many DHCP servers on our network / WAN that synchronise and I don't want to interfere with their operation. (if it can be setup without interfering that's great.) Somehow I have a feeling that DHCP will definitely be a no-no so PXE would be a no-no but if I'm wrong, please let me know. I've heard of gParted before but didn't know if I could use it on a windows server with RAID. Thanks again for your help

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ahah!

Modifying existing DHCP to work with FOG

http://www.fogproject.org/wiki/index.php?t...erGuide#Windows

This might do the trick!

just a side note, if you wanted to make a PXE boot menu using pxelinux.0 and having the default option boot the first hard drive after x number of seconds.

that would be the failsafe if a computer booted to network instead of to the hard drive first somehow.

Otherwise You could just select network boot from the boot device selection menu on each machine as needed.

as far as gParted i believe it depends if it's a software raid or a hardware raid. hardware raid you shouldn't have any issues with.

Also a BIG selling point about having virtual servers on one beefy box is you use less power, you need less cooling options (room wise) so there are budget reasons as well.

As far as your co-workers, I think they would love the fact of a ESX/ESXi Server. they don't need to sit at the computer directly for access, and they don't need to have 13 or however many Terminal server connections they would need to manage them all. Just access to the ESX/ESXi box and the vSphere software. I'm not certain but I believe you would be able to manage it through vSphere remotely when connecting through a VPN. (big concern there would be bandwith) and you can have virtual machines running any operating system you want.

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Also a BIG selling point about having virtual servers on one beefy box is you use less power, you need less cooling options (room wise) so there are budget reasons as well.

Hi BlueWyvern,

I understand the benefits of VM technology, I really do. However, we just can't afford a server good enough. We have about 20 or so physical servers ranging from Dual PIII servers to the latest Xeons but the more beefy servers that we have are already seriously overworked with 50 Citrix users a piece. Also there's just a general lack of I.T. Knowledge across my department nationally. They tend to stick with what they know... and buy a new server for every new app that comes in (I know!! - it's crazy!!!!) - I just can't change the way they do things. I'm almost like an intern here but I'm one of the few who keep up to date with emerging technologies - I'm just fighting a losing battle here. Thanks for all your help though. It should give me enough to get the job done

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Davil,

What I would recommend is approaching it via the TCO savings of consolidating servers with low levels of resource usage or those that are out of warranty. You could mention that a large proportion of the old servers could be migrated to a single piece of hardware, which reduces the cost to run the things dramatically. You will always have an issue with senior managers crying at the TCA when they should be considering the operational costs and how they can be reduced.

Knock up a business proposal, including costs. You will need to find out how much the servers cost to run (our comms room is about £10K a month) and see where you can make savings.

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