How can I back up multiple remote Windows XP profiles and data and add to local Windows 7 machines?

John March 18, 2011
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I’m the accidental IT/Desktop support for my company. We have a remote sales force with outdated Windows XP Professional laptops. Next month, I am going to purchase multiple new Windows 7 Professional machines.

I know enough to make a single image to deploy to all 10+ machines before I ship them out. But I’m not sure of the smoothest path to getting all the old data from the remote machines transferred to the new ones. Any suggestions?

I thought about using Dropbox, but there are reasons we don’t want to go that route.

  1. Mike
    March 19, 2011 at 9:58 am

    I don't really see the use or benefit of doing this remotely.

    For one it will be unnecessary transfer of massive data since everything is going back to the same location. The other reason is that something might go wrong, missing or corrupt.

    Depending on the amount of data it might take a day until you have everything from a single machine. And what is the user of each machine going to do until the new laptop arrives? I suppose you don't want them turn on the old machines and alter or add new data, right?

    What is your strategy if you get a call because some Outlook.pst is not working and your local copy of the file is corrupt? How do you access the old machine, maybe it's already shipping to your location — for data deletion and secure disposal (I hope you don't let them throw away Hard Drives with company data).

    If they are too remote you should consider consulting a local IT Service Provider for this.

    And since you are running a Windows environment with laptops I would also consider switching to Roaming Profiles for the future. You will have a centralized backup of all data in case a laptops Hard Drive crashes or the device gets stolen and replacing a machine only requires you to join the Domain, Login in with the Users credentials and all data will be downloaded from the Server - which would have been a bliss for your current operation

  2. FIDELIS
    March 19, 2011 at 9:11 am

    Hello, you do not need extra software to accomplish what you want to do. Microsoft and Windows versions already have to tool called sysprep. Go to the following link which will give you more information:
    http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/ee530017

    or, this link that provides all the steps with images:
    http://theitbros.com/sysprep-a-windows-7-machine-%E2%80%93-start-to-finish

  3. Anonymous
    March 19, 2011 at 7:21 am

    Hi

    Geek of All Trades: Windows 7 Deployment in 7 Easy Steps
    http://technet.microsoft.com/fr-fr/magazine/gg293118.aspx

    Preboot eXecution Environment
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Preboot_Execution_Environment
    This allows you to boot the PC directly from the BIOS to connect to a server which can send it a pre-configured OS to boot from, this OS can then be used to pull down and install a full local OS

    RIS-Remote Installation Services
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Remote_Installation_Services

    Symantec Ghost
    http://www.binaryresearch.net/products/ghost_solution_suite

    g4u - Harddisk Image Cloning for PCs
    http://www.feyrer.de/g4u/
    Set up a master image PC with all of your software and configurations, run sysprep with the option to shut down the PC. Boot up to a G4U CD (or floppy) and send the image up to an FTP server. Boot up the other PCs to a G4U disc and pull the image down. However, you will still have to touch the machines to start the imaging and to name them and join the domain afterwards.

    Altiris Deployment Solution
    http://www.symantec.com/business/deployment-solution

    Remote Application Installer
    http://valixsoft.com/?p=product_remoteapplicationinstaller

    an image based solution (this assumes that you have a volume license key and don't need to activate each copy of Office and Windows). Set aside one machine to be the master image that you make all of your changes to. Once it is setup as you like, you run sysprep on the system (which allows the Windows setup wizard to rerun upon next reboot) and than copy the entire hard drive to the server. From there, you distribute this image out to all the other machines, and when they first boot, they run through the simplified setup process (defined by the settings of sysprep) that asks the relevant local questsion (for example the name of the machine). You than need to go about some other automated way to handle the final special customizations for each machine.