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At work, I have multiple rooms with 10 to 20 PCs inside. They should all have the same image applied on their disks. In order to install such configurations, we usually clone one by one each of the computers, with Norton Ghost or Clonezilla, depending on which CD we have on hand. The process is kind of slow, because the source image is actually an hard drive from another operational PC. In order to make it faster, we first have to wait for the first PC to be cloned, then we got two hard drives containing the image, so we can use both of them for imaging two other PCs, and we keep going on until every PC is imaged.

Now, we want to make the process faster and easier. We first thought about broadcasting the image via the network, but we are still under a 100 megabits network. Is there any other ways to make the imaging process a little bit faster?

Note : the size of the image to restore is something about 35 GB.

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    Get one of the devices which can copy hard drives? Some let you copy to multiple drives at once. – Ron Maupin Feb 25 '16 at 22:58
  • Do you know some softwares that allows mutliple destination drives ? I'll do my personal research anyway. – DarkChipolata Feb 25 '16 at 23:01
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    Such recommendations are explicitly off-topic here, but I was referring to hardware devices which copy very quickly. "Some HDD duplicators can process more than 10 drives at a time. This could be a real time-saver for a high-volume job." – Ron Maupin Feb 25 '16 at 23:03
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The fastest way will be to use multicast imaging software. This will broadcast over the network, but send the data only once and send it to every computer at the same time (instead of sending it to each computer individually, which would be unbearably slow on a 100M network).

This should take about an hour or two in total to broadcast the image to every computer simultaneously. (More if other things are using the network at the same time).

If you're working with Windows and have a Windows Server 2008 or newer box, Windows Deployment Services can do this, and can also PXE-boot the the computers that are to be imaged over the network, I think (It's been a long time since I've done this, so there may be some other requirements, but this is the gist of it).

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  • I tried Clonezilla in multicast with a 1 Gbps 4 ports switch, but the bandwidth displayed on the clients seemed to be divided by 3 when having a server and three clients ... Am I wrong or did I misconfigured Clonezilla ? And also, Windows Server 2003, no deployment services :( – DarkChipolata Feb 25 '16 at 23:06
  • Again, it's been a long time, but my gut reaction would suspect a misconfigured Clonezilla-- You should be able to get the full bandwidth. Try sending with broadcast instead of multicast. It'll be less efficient, but it might fix the issue and result in higher bandwidth. – Darth Android Feb 25 '16 at 23:12

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