Product Reviews

Mapping the PC Genome

Desktop DNA delivers enterprise-wide system migrations.

Anyone responsible for desktop administration will eventually be asked to perform the much-dreaded upgrade. Whether your company wants to move to the newest version of Windows or to the latest and greatest hardware platform, these changes are difficult enough to plan without worrying about users’ settings. Sure, you could just tell users to save what they need to a network share somewhere, but how many users really know what they need or even how to go about saving that information to a share? Thanks to Miramar Systems’ Desktop DNA Enterprise Edition, you’ll no longer have to spend late nights and long weekends trying to upgrade 3,000 users. Now all you have to do is copy the user’s DNA.

So just what is user DNA? Well, it’s much more than just Mighty Mouse wallpaper and an “I Love Ballroom Dancing” screensaver. Printer, network, application and desktop settings, along with files and folders, make up a computer’s DNA. Desktop DNA is a product that allows for the migration of this information from one computer to another.

When you start Desktop DNA, you’re presented with a wizard to configure the settings for the migration (see screenshot). There are two options for migrations: Real-time and deferred. With real-time, you have both the old and the new computers up and running at the same time. You first configure the old computer as the source and then point the new computer back at the old one. The migration process then proceeds to pull the pieces of DNA you specify over to the new machine.

In deferred migrations, you package the settings and data into a DNA file and place the file on a network share or some form of removable media. You can then later extract the DNA file to the target machine. Desktop DNA even supports Disk Spanning, so you could break out 1,396 floppy disks and spend the next 10 years sticking them in the drive and clicking OK. (Personally, I’d stick with the network or CD-R media method.) There are two options for loading the DNA file onto a new system: You can fire up Desktop DNA and run through the wizard to unpack the file or create the DNA file as a self-extracting executable. The deferred migration is also a great tool to back up user settings, just in case a computer experiences a catastrophic crash and you have to rebuild.

Miramar Systems Desktop DNA
The Wizard is used to configure all aspects of a migration, including which applications and settings to migrate. (Click image to view larger version.)

With a simple interface and powerful tool kit, Desktop DNA Enterprise Edition is bound to make the life of any administrator a lot easier. Now that you have the map of the PC genome at your fingertips, you can spend a little more time out on the golf course and a lot less time running through cubicle mazes. Your users will thank you, and your social life will improve.

About the Author

Eric Johnson, SQL Server MVP, is the owner of Consortio Services in Colorado Springs providing IT systems management and technology consulting. He is also the President of the Colorado Springs SQL Server User Group. He can be contacted at www.consortioservices.com.

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