Drive Image Professional 2.0

Since the introduction of Windows NT, IT administrators have been searching for ways to more easily deploy client operating environments across a network. PowerQuest Corp.’s Drive Image Professional, now in its second release, is designed to do just that.

We tested the program on two systems. The first system was a Pentium 100-MHz clone with a 1.2-GB hard drive and 16 MB of RAM. The second system was a Compaq 486 100-MHz, 245-MB hard drive and 16 MB of RAM.

Installation was simple, although during the process we were prompted to specify whether or not we wanted to install device drivers for external storage devices. We opted not to install the drivers for an Iomega Zip drive but ended up in a bind when we later wanted to install the drivers. Adding the drivers called for either reinstalling the entire program or installing the DOS drivers ourselves.

We replaced the hard drive in the Compaq 486 with a newer 1.2-GB hard drive. Using Drive Image Professional, we were presented with two options at this point: We could initiate a disk-to-disk transfer, essentially copying everything file-by-file from the Compaq’s old 245-MB drive to the new 1.2-GB drive, or we could create a bit-by-bit image of the hard disk environment. We chose to create an image on a network share and restore it to the new drive.

Because Drive Image Professional 2.0 is a DOS-based program, booting off the supplied startup disks is recommended. Of the three available options -- Create an Image, Restore an Image, and Disk to Disk Transfer -- we chose to create an image. At this point we were prompted to select which partition to back up, and where to back up to. We created the image to a network without any problems, and then powered down the machine and swapped hard drives. We started the program, and the image restored flawlessly, only prompting us for what to do with the extra space on the new drive. Next, we powered down the machine and restarted it with the restored drive, which also ran without a hitch. All of the applications worked as before, and all settings were intact. The process took less than an hour.

An interesting feature of Drive Image Professional 2.0 is password protection for a hard disk image. However, we would have liked a different icon or a flag on the restore screen indicating that the image we were about to restore was password-protected prior to the commencement of the restoration procedure proper. Instead, the software prompted us for a password once we started the restore.

Cloning NT workstation disk image environments presents another security concern: Windows NT’s Security Identifier (SID). In short, NT doesn’t like to have multiple machines with the same SID attached to the network. For this reason, PowerQuest has included a DOS program to rename the SID on a cloned image environment. Administrators can use Drive Image Professional 2.0’s SID changer program either in a batch file with the Drive Image software itself, or in standalone mode. In either case, the program allows the flexibility to overcome the SID security.

Once an image file is archived, you may not want to restore the entire image to a hard disk; you may want to restore only one or a number of files. This is where Drive Image Professional shines, by allowing you to take your image and selectively restore portions of it. The Drive Image File Editor, which enables this selectivity, can be used in native Windows 95 or Windows NT environments. Using this feature, we took our image, opened it, and were able to selectively restore files in an efficient manner.

Perhaps the best function of the program is the way it creates image files. Like its predecessor, Drive Image Professional 2.0 uses a technology called smart sector copying, which copies only clusters and sectors of a hard drive that contain data. This reduces the size of the created image -- even before any compression is applied. On our test machine, 520 MB of the 1.2-GB hard drive was used. The resulting image, using no compression, was only 413 MB in size; smart sector technology found more than 100 MB of unused data on the source hard disk. Using compression decreased the size of the image file even more. Low compression yielded an image size of 234 MB, and high compression yielded an image of 198 MB.

For administrators who need to clone workstations and deploy client machine operating environments across a network, Drive Image Professional 2.0 can be a valuable tool. Not only does it simplify the task, but it also enables the cloned drive to make more efficient use of disk space than the original.