Computer Lab

Computer Setup in the Microsoft Windows Based Computer Lab

Configure one computer precisely the way you want it. Simplify by uninstalling all non-essential applications, vendor adware, toolbars, and games. Remove un-needed menu items and desktop icons. Test all applications for functionality, map all drives, set preferences, tweak features, etc.

Ensure retention and quick restoral of those ideal settings by using a disk protection software such as Deep Freeze or Microsoft shared toolkit (Steady State). These disk protection softwares will ensure that any changes (deleting icons, changing backgrounds, etc.) to the configuration by users will be restored back to original condition with a simple reboot.

Duplicate that “ideal” computer setup to all the other lab computers of the same make and model.
To duplicate your standard desktop configuration you will “clone” or “image” one computer’s hard drive to all the other computers.

A beautiful computer lab in Iceland.

From Wikipedia: “Disk cloning is a category of software which copies the contents of one computer hard disk to another. Often, the contents of the first disk are written to an image file as an intermediate step, and the second disk is loaded from the image”.

The terms “cloning” and “imaging” are used somewhat interchangeably in the computer world despite the difference in the methods used. The end result is the same.

Here are some common ways of cloning and imaging computers:

  1. Directly cloning disk to disk.
    This method requires removal of the computer side panel to access the drive and cable. Often used by technicians who need to re-image a single machine or small number of machines.
  2. Creating an image from disk to USB external drive
  3. This method allows you to image lab computers or other campus computers by simply plugging in a USB drive. You start up the imaging / cloning program and create an image of the machine’s disk and send the image file to be stored on the USB drive. That image file can be used to make clones of the original computer. There’s no need to remove the computer case and no need for a network connection.

  4. Imaging / cloning computers across the network via a shared network folder. Convenient for imaging one or several machines in the computer lab at the same time or imaging campus classroom machines on the local area network (LAN). No need for USB drives or opening computer cases as in disk to disk cloning. Network imaging is commonly used by IT departments.
  5. Multicast imaging many computers simultaneously across the network.
    A preferred method of re-imaging a whole computer lab simultaneously. A roomful of computers will image in the same time as a single computer using other methods.