When I have to install 10 personal computer with same hardware specification for Windows XP operating system, with AVG Antivirus, Firefox web browser, OpenOffice. That's easy, because I just have to boot the computer with the Windows XP CD and install the operating system, with the Pentium 4 above and 80G hardisk space, maybe I will need about 25 minutes to finishing install fresh copy of Windows XP.
Let's say I need about 5 minutes more to install additional driver for this computer. The last, I have to install all software that this computer need, start from AVG about 2 minutes, Firefox about 1 minute, and OpenOffice about 4 minutes. Total time for install 1 single computer is about 37 minutes without interference. How about with other 9 computer? If we install with the same way, we will take about 370 minutes or about 6 hours to finishing installation. I think I do not want to spend time for only repeating the same job process for 6 hours.
Using Ghost for cloning to others
Thank's to Symantec who create a very good cloning tools call Symantec Ghost, the lastest version is 11.5. Symantec Ghost is a software to clone a partition or a disk to file image. Also, this software can restore the file images to partition or disk with fast and easy way. This software can use for cloning harddisk with type of file system FAT32 and NTFS.
In this case above. What I have to do is creating file image first from the first finish install computer. To create the file images, I need about 10 minutes. Copy file images to USB flash disk or removeable USB harddisk about 3 minutes. Other think that I like from Symantec Ghost 11.5 is the ability to recognize USB drive, this is really help full. But I suggest when creating images, better save file images to other partition rather than save directly to removeable USB harddisk, because the writing speed for removeable USB harddisk is slower than reading speed. After finish creating file image, we can move with copy paste to removeable USB harddisk.
Next step is connect the removeable USB harddisk to other computer (one by one, this step can be repeat to next computer). Start Symantec Ghost 11.5, we can use boot cd such as Hiren or others. After Symantec Ghost ready, just run to create partition from images (restore the file images which saved at removeable USB harddisk, we don't need to move to local harddisk, because the reading speed of this USB can be acceptable. Time to restore is about 10 minutes, after finish every think is done, we don't have to install each software, because this step already done with the first computer, so restoring file image will create the computer identical all. We just have to resetting the computer name for identification.
For restoring until resetting, we need about 13 minutes for each computer. For all 9 computer, need about 117 minutes, or less than 2 hours. So, you already have the illustration between using installing one by one vs cloning with Symantec Ghost. Choose which is better for you.