Thursday 20 October 2016

Restore disk images across the network using AOMEI Image Deploy (free PXE-boot deployment system)

If you take disk backups using the free AOMEI Backupper software (from a bootable ampe.iso file), then you can use AOMEI Image Deploy to write that image to multiple PCs across the network using PXE booting.

There are instructions on their site here.

This allows you to restore a disk image to any system that has a PXE boot ROM (pretty much all systems do!) without needing to boot it from a USB drive or CD or any 'media'.

I found the restore rate to be about 40MB/s using a direct Ethernet connection between my PC and the target notebook, but only 12MB/s when going through my Huawei HG633 VADSL router.

However, here is an overview which you may find useful:

1. First make a complete disk backup by booting from the ampe.isoPE01 file which you have added to your E2B Removable USB flash drive (or convert to .imgPTN file).  This should make a large disk image backup file with the extension .adi.

2. Create a new folder on your PC and place the .adi backup file into it (e.g. C:\temp\SHARE)

3. Install AOMEI Image Deploy Free and run it, choose the auto setting and tick the DHCP option to create the PXE-bootable batpe.ISO file.

Note: I found that you cannot simply go back and change the DHCP tick box and try again. If you change the DHCP box, you need to quit Image Deploy and re-start it, otherwise the DHCP change did not seem to work.

4. If you are using a network router, go into it's settings (e.g. URL in any browser for many of them) and untick the DHCP checkbox (usually under LAN Settings) to stop it being a DHCP server. Note that this may now prevent new devices from using your router, so this is a temporary change only!

I suggest you save the router configuration settings to a file first!

If you don't want to change your router settings, connect an Ethernet cable directly from your PC to the target system - e.g. unplug the Ethernet cable from the PC to the router and connect it directly to the target system.

If you have a network which has a server which provides DHCP, you may have to run Image Deploy on that same server (untested).

5. Follow the instructions here. You need to specify which image file you are going to use.

To find what share credentials you need, right-click on C:\temp\SHARE folder in Windows Explorer and click Properties - Share. Note the Network Path will be something like \\mycomputername\share.  Click on the 'Share' button and you will see what user accounts have access rights.

For Image Deploy, I used my Microsoft account name email address ( and my Microsoft account login password to set up the share credentials in the AOMEI Image Deploy form.

6. Enable Network booting on the target system's BIOS settings and boot from the Network device in order to PXE boot. PXE should find a DHCP server (it may take a while) and then automatically start to boot from the batpe.ISO file provided by Image Deploy across the network.

7. Once all the target system(s) have booted to WinPE, each AOIMEI Image Deploy Client form on each target system will display a server IP address and it's own IP address. If no Server IP address is shown, it was unable to contact the host PC (could be a router configuration issue - but try PXE booting a few more times first, before fiddling with your router configuration settings! I found that sometimes I had to re-PXE-boot in order to get the Server IP address to show up).

You can select each target system in the Image Deploy form on your PC once they have all booted correctly to WinPE. Image Deploy will only do 3-5 systems at a time (but if you have more than this, it should image them in batches).

Finally, once the images have been deployed, don't forget to re-enable the DHCP setting on your router if you disabled it previously and quit Image Deploy to disable it's DHCP server. It might also be a good idea to reboot your PC too, once all imaging has finished and check you can connect to the internet correctly!

If you are interested in PXE booting but want a system which will work without a system needing to be the DHCP server, then try SERVA which can use a proxy-server and so the network DHCP server does not need to be touched.

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