Macintosh Disk Imaging

What is Disk Imaging?

If you are familiar with the PC you might have heard the terms “disk imaging” or “disk cloning” (sometimes it is called “ghosting”, referring to Norton Ghost, a software package from Symantec which allows you to create these images). These terms refer to a software-based process of making an exact duplicate of a hard drive. This copy is stored as a single compressed file that contains everything that was on the hard drive.

What is the benefit of Imaging?

If you’ve ever set up a computer from scratch, you know what a nightmare it can be. Even if there are no problems, there are so many factors and settings to worry about. In fact, if all of the computers in your office are similarly configured you probably have a checklist of all of the steps that you have to go through for every new computer, or every computer that has a bad crash and needs to be set up from scratch. We have a list like that here, and it is 15 pages long! What if you could run through that list just once, and then whenever you needed to setup a machine or recover a machine you could just load everything onto the computer with all of your applications and settings intact? That is the benefit of disk imaging!

What does Imaging entail?

Here is the process:

How often do I have to do this?

That is up to each person to decide for himself or herself. Our personal rule of thumb is that a new image should be created whenever there is a major system upgrade or if one or more of your critical applications is upgraded. For instance, you would have wanted a new image when Apple upgraded from 10.3 to 10.4. Or you probably would have wanted to create a new image when Adobe upgraded both PhotoShop and Illustrator within a few months of each other last year.

Remember - in the end you are trying to save yourself a significant amount of time when setting up new machines or fixing old machines. If you are spending hours applying patches and trashing things off of the image and loading new software, then you aren’t getting much of a benefit.

Will I need just one image for all of my computers?

That depends on how specific you want the image to be, and how much your setups differ from computer to computer.

We have found that you might want to create two different images - one for the “high-end” users (i.e., people who are using PhotoShop, Illustrator, Quark, etc.) and one for “low-end” users (i.e., the people who are just doing email and word processing). Additionally, if you have people who are using laptops you must have a separate image for them (Apple sneaks in several specific tweaks to the System for the laptops).

This doesn’t sound like rocket science - why should I pay you to do it?

Having worked on this process for a long time, we can tell you that it is in fact relatively simple, and that there are only a few tricks that you need to know. Actually, we’ll be happy to share these tips and tricks with any of our customers who care to learn more about the imaging process.

There are a couple of things to consider before trying to do this for yourself:

Imaging sounds like a good idea - what’s next?

Give us a call and we’ll set up a time to come out and discuss it with you. We will need to take a look at your computers and work with you to figure out how they are configured. From there we will work with you to determine how many images we are going to make and how they need to be configured. Finally, we will sit down with you for a long session and go through every control panel and application and determine your preference settings so that we can duplicate those on the final image.

If this seems time intensive and costly, consider the amount of time that you can save doing routine maintenance, or how quickly you can get a person back up and running if their computer crashes!