Pretend you’ve got 5 identical windows 2003 servers (or any server for that matter – cent os, windows 2003, 2008, and mac os even!) to setup in one work shift. Why break your back trying to install them one at a time on top of doing all the updates? You can just do one base install and ‘ghost’ the drive. “That’s expensive”, you might proclaim! Not so – in fact, I’ll let you in on a little secret – Gparted. Why spend $700 on cloning software when you can just do the same job for free? Yeah, free! Free as the air you’re breathing right now (unless you’re in space, reading from the ocean, or maybe reading from Mt. Everest).
First things first – you’ll need a copy of Gparted! That’s the iso version, burn it to a cd. Make sure you have the drive you want to clone and an empty drive connected to the same machine (the size of the drive does not matter, unless the data you’re cloning is larger than the space of the disc) and boot to your gparted cd. Before Gparted starts, you’ll need to choose a few options, I’ve personally found the defaults to work just fine every time I’ve used Gparted. Follow the on-screen directions. Once Gparted launches, you’ll see your master drive. Select it and choose the copy option. Switch to your secondary drive choose paste. You’ll be greeted with two warnings, click Ok through those and choose paste again. Apply your action. Once the data is copied over, you’ll need to mark the flag to ‘bootable’ (right click option). Bada-boom, bada-bing, you just cloned your drive. Remove the secondary drive and place it in another machine and watch it boot right up! Pat yourself on the back for saving a few hundred dollars! Now, of course, if you’re doing this with windows, you’ll need to use the same hardware if possible, to avoid a repair and you may need to re-register your copy with Microsoft. If you have a volume license key, and the same hardware, you’ll have no issues with ghosting the drive using gparted. All updates, accounts, settings, etc, etc will be copied over – it’s a true clone. Linux, as always, doesn’t really care, as long as the new hardware is supported.