Do I have a Ghost of a chance?
November 6, 2006 4:28 PM   Subscribe

4 Bigshot users. Highly customized profiles. All getting new (different) hardware. How do I get the new machines "the way I had it before" for them without spending a week re-doing all the software customizing that they can't tell me how they did in the first place?

Okay, so I COULD just say Hey, I'm just responsible for installing the corporate programs - all that settings stuff inside them is your problem. But I need to level up from that kind of service, if at all possible. Also, they will MAKE it my problem, and I'll spend the next couple of weeks reinventing the wheel for them.

So I've got two users who are moving from Thinkpad R40s to R60s.
One moving from a box running XP, but built back in 2001, to a brand new HP desktop.
One is actually so beholden to her customizations, etc. that this is the step we're taking to pry her Windows 2000 machine out of her fingers and upgrade her to XP, also on a brand HP tower.

All these 4 new machines have their own XP OEMs.

So I know that if I had a batch of identical hardware and multi-user licences, I could set up one system correctly and just clone them using Norton Ghost or something (I'm unfamiliar with PC cloning & software - I've cloned a few OSX boxes using CarbonCopy, though). But I'm facing 4 installs each with different configurations, all moving to different hardware.

What's my best chance of copying as many user settings as possible from one set of hardware to another?
Would backing the drives up via "Ghost or something" and then "restoring" to the new machines do it?

There's got to be a way to do this that won't kill me. Please hope.
posted by bartleby to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
With new installs of XP, there is an app that ships with the OS that lets you migrate programs and settings to the new machine. I know on the mac, the app kicks in when you first turn on the machine and it does an amazing job of perfectly duplicating your last machine. I tried the windows one out a couple years ago and I seem to recall it worked pretty well for the most part.

I would google "windows xp install migration" and see what you come up with.
posted by mathowie at 4:49 PM on November 6, 2006

I just used "PC Mover" to transfer over the settings to a new PC. Kinda clunky but it did the job. Not free if that's an issue.
posted by richg at 5:20 PM on November 6, 2006

i am by no means an expert in this. however, i read recently that there is a way to get XP to re-install its hardware abstraction layer... it appears people successfully do this when upgrading motherboards on a whitebox PC.

i can't find the howto that i was reading, and google only yielded this, which seems to describe what i learned, but is not the same article.

if you were to go this route, you'd probably want to clone their hard disks first and then try it on a copy of the disk. the article above seems to advise against doing this to OEM installs, but i dont know if this is purely a licensing issue or there is some technical reason for it.

maybe someone else can chip in with the 'definitive' document on this HAL-replacement.
posted by joeblough at 5:37 PM on November 6, 2006

Ghost and SYSPREP.
posted by majick at 5:51 PM on November 6, 2006

The app Mathowie is referring to is the "Files and Settings Transfer Wizard" - located under the 'Accessories\System Tools' Start Menu group.

I've used it for my neighbours machine a few times - however I don't think it does actual programs. Just settings and anything in the profile from what I understand.

Me being a 'power user' - I prefer to set things up myself, I don't always want the same apps I had in the past.
posted by jkaczor at 6:25 PM on November 6, 2006

seconding sysprep + ghost.
posted by wearyaswater at 6:52 PM on November 6, 2006

Also, I've heard some good things about Aloha Bob - but can't vouch for it (obviously).
posted by wearyaswater at 6:55 PM on November 6, 2006

Copy Documents and Settings, install all of their programs, copy Documents and Settings to the new install. Keep a copy of their old partitions, because they probably have something stored in c:\windows\system32\Iamacorporatebutthole\someobscuredirectory.
posted by cellphone at 9:04 PM on November 6, 2006

And that should work for Windows 2000 as well, btw. At the very least move over copies of Application Data (both of them, the one in docs and settings\user\ and docs and settings\Local Settings).
posted by cellphone at 9:06 PM on November 6, 2006

Umm, note that just copying over documents and settings often won't do it. MANY applications are stupid, and store their settings in the registry (which drives me batty... the registry is already cluttered enough! Why can't you just put your settings in a flat file???)
posted by antifuse at 1:53 AM on November 7, 2006

Luckily, I rarely have to set up a machine for end users, but it wasn't always that way...

I wouldn't copy Docs & Settings to the new machines. Even if it worked smoothly, I'd be afraid of moving old quirks and problems to the new systems.

The Transfer Wizard would probably work, but not for the 2000 machine.

I'd be cautious of trying to use the same image for PCs and laptops. I've moved hard drives from one PC to another with some luck, but they had basically the same HAL. I'm not saying it definitely wouldn't work, but you would lose a lot of time if it didn't.

Personally, I would set up all 4 from scratch. Start each one, go through the mini-setup process and boot into Windows. Remove as much of the pre-installed crap as possible. Install all of the basic software and updates on all 4 machines at the same time so you don't miss any steps. Once they're all at basically the same place, install individual apps, log on as the user and change individual settings and move their Favorites folder from their old profile. I rarely have to get anything else from their old profile, but it depends on the apps they're running.

When setting up a machine for a non-techie user, I always try to make it look as much like their old system as possible by doing things like changing their Start menu to classic and the usual stuff like recreating desktop icons (because we all know that Word doesn't exist anywhere but the desktop) and setting their IE homepage.

On another note, I would force them (nicely of course) to upgrade to IE 7 (and turn the menu bar on for them) while they're already feeling some pain. Otherwise you'll have to fight that battle at a later date.
posted by bda1972 at 4:50 PM on November 7, 2006

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