Loading a clean system image on startup?
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Thread: Loading a clean system image on startup?

  1. #1
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    Question Loading a clean system image on startup?

    Hi everyone, I'm looking for a little advice! I've gotten rather tired of formatting my systems and reinstalling/configuring them all of the time and I'm sure there must be a better way! I've read a little about Norton Ghost and it sounds like it may be what I'm looking for; on the other hand I think virtualization through VMWare or something is another alternative.

    Idealy I would like to have a clean, "save state" of my hardrive that I can load on startup, so that I will never have to worry about malware contraction nor having to reconfigure and install my tools when I need to format. Has anybody here used a similar configuration? Could I use VMWare in a similar fassion and load a preconfigured system image on startup? Any tips or links would be greatly apreciated!

  2. #2
    AO übergeek phishphreek's Avatar
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    How much resources does your system have? VMWare has to run on top of your operating system... so you'll need a lot of resources. It is handy to take snapshots as you can easily revert. I have not tried to use on as my everday OS, but I have used it for testing. I actually just deployed my first two vmware sessions meant as everday servers. One for WUS (windows update services) and one for a OTRS (ticket request system). Neither of them require a LOT of resources so I figured I'd just load vmware on the base OS with nothing else installed. Works fine for those purposes.

    Ghost is also pretty nice. However, if you're like me... it'll be a pain to manage. I'm constantly installing/uninstalling programs for testing and playing around. You'll have to update your ghost image pretty often.

    How often do you find yourself formatting and reinstalling? I might do it once every one or two years. In my opinion, if you're doing it much more than that, you need to learn some better system maintenance.

    I loaded my fiancee's laptop up years ago. I hop on there once every couple of months and run ccleaner, scandisk and defrag if needed, check the startup list, make sure it has the latest updates and update antivirus. She has had no major problems. She doesn't do a lot on it though... surfing and office applications mostly, some image manipulation and manages her mp3 playlists.
    Last edited by phishphreek; February 7th, 2007 at 02:59 AM.
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  3. #3
    Dissident 4dm1n brokencrow's Avatar
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    I run Ghost 8 from a Bart PE cd. You can find such an animal via
    bitorrent (look for PE iso's), but it's emminently more satisfying to
    build the image yourself. And with Bart PE, I'm typically ghosting
    to an external hdd via a USB-to-IDE cable. PDQ.
    “Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects.” — Will Rogers

  4. #4
    AOs Resident Troll
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    I dont see anything wrong with a format\reinstall...
    I do it often...

    Best way to clean a system...IMHO

    MLF
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  5. #5
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    Hi

    While most ( ) of the above ideas are good suggestions, you may
    think along a completely different path: reborn cards[1].
    As Phish said - it all depends on your needs (How often do you
    find yourself formatting and reinstalling
    ?).

    The plus is that you can restore the clean state of your (real) machine at
    every restart, or each week, or each month, or at some user-defined time).
    This is in particular useful for public internet stations or crap-pcs (which are
    in use for testing purposes and too weak to run vm's reasonably).
    In addition, they are fairly cheap - accounting the time it takes to
    create/restore images, vm's, ..., they are a fair bargain.


    The minus is that you have to make sure to backup your data (same as
    with all the above approaches) before restoring the old state...

    Cheers

    [1] http://www.google.com/search?q=reborn+card
    If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.
    (Abraham Maslow, Psychologist, 1908-70)

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by phishphreek80
    How much resources does your system have? VMWare has to run on top of your operating system... so you'll need a lot of resources.
    Ahh, I didnt think about that... My laptop wouldnt handle the Virtual Machines so well, nor would the majority of my test machines, but this may still be an option on my main PC.

    Ghost is also pretty nice. However, if you're like me... it'll be a pain to manage. I'm constantly installing/uninstalling programs for testing and playing around. You'll have to update your ghost image pretty often.
    Intersting. I wonder if that would be more trouble than it is worth. Idealy I would test new software on a seperate machine before moving it over to my laptop for everyday use, at which point I would add it to my ghost image. I guess that is a configuration I will have to try before I know if it will work.


    Quote Originally Posted by brokencrow
    I run Ghost 8 from a Bart PE cd. You can find such an animal via
    bitorrent (look for PE iso's), but it's emminently more satisfying to
    build the image yourself. And with Bart PE, I'm typically ghosting
    to an external hdd via a USB-to-IDE cable. PDQ.
    That is a VERY interesting configuration... Let me make sure I understand you correctly. You boot off of a BartPE cd, then load a Ghost image(of Windows not Bart PE) from there? So you are essentially using a Ghosted image of Windows from a boot CD and saving to an external HDD? I think we have a Winner!

    Quote Originally Posted by morganlefay
    I dont see anything wrong with a format\reinstall...
    I do it often...

    Best way to clean a system...IMHO
    I agree.


    Quote Originally Posted by sec_ware
    While most ( ) of the above ideas are good suggestions, you may
    think along a completely different path: reborn cards[1].
    As Phish said - it all depends on your needs (How often do you
    find yourself formatting and reinstalling
    ?).

    The plus is that you can restore the clean state of your (real) machine at
    every restart, or each week, or each month, or at some user-defined time).
    This is in particular useful for public internet stations or crap-pcs (which are
    in use for testing purposes and too weak to run vm's reasonably).
    In addition, they are fairly cheap - accounting the time it takes to
    create/restore images, vm's, ..., they are a fair bargain.


    The minus is that you have to make sure to backup your data (same as
    with all the above approaches) before restoring the old state...
    Very cool! I have never heard of such a thing but I'm definatly going to pick up a few. This is the perfect solution for my old, test PC's and for my Public use computers. Not a viable solution for my laptop but I'm thinking Ghost/BartPE should do the trick.

    Thanks again to everyone for the suggestions!

  7. #7
    Dissident 4dm1n brokencrow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Liquid_Darkness
    That is a VERY interesting configuration... Let me make sure I understand you correctly. You boot off of a BartPE cd, then load a Ghost image(of Windows not Bart PE) from there? So you are essentially using a Ghosted image of Windows from a boot CD and saving to an external HDD?
    ..yebbo! You boot Bart PE in which Ghost is config'ed as a plug-in:

    http://www.nu2.nu/pebuilder/plugins/

    S-w-e-e-t, indeed.
    “Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects.” — Will Rogers

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