Is your organization planning on replacing Windows XP boxes with new systems running Windows 7? Or maybe you're planning on upgrading Windows 7 systems to Windows 8.1. Regardless of the scenario, as the tech responsible for making such a transition a reality, you know that you are facing a monumental task. But then again, maybe it won't be.
Fortunately, the folks at Zinstall had you in mind when they developed their Zinstall Migration Suite. This tool will allow you to quickly and easily transfer an entire user workspace -- including applications, settings, personalization, documents, domain settings, security policies, and data files -- from one system to another in a multitude of scenarios. For example, you can migrate from one computer to another, transfer from a physical machine to a virtual machine, perform an in-place upgrade, or simply transfer profiles, settings, and data. There are several other migration scenarios that the Zinstall Migration Suite can perform, but these are probably the most common.
In this article, I'll show you how the Zinstall Migration Suite works. As I do, I'll use the package to migrate an existing Windows 7 system over to a new Windows 8.1 installation.
Now, as you may know, I've previously written other articles about Zinstall products and shown you how to move Windows XP from a physical machine to a virtual machine in Windows 7 and how to rescue Windows XP installation from a hard disk that was removed from a dead computer. Zinstall XP7, the single-user product that I used in those articles, worked great in those situations, but I've been wondering about large-scale migrations -- the type that the companies hanging onto Windows XP are (or will be) facing.
Thus, I contacted my friends at Zinstall and asked about their Zinstall Migration Suite product. As the discussion progressed, they offered to provide me with access to their test lab using a VPN connection and explained that I could run the entire migration procedure remotely. In this way, not only could I test their enterprise-level product, but I could also test one of the ways in which techs in a large organization might choose to migrate a large number of PCs -- via a remote connection.
To connect to the systems in the Zinstall test lab, I used TeamViewer, a free software package for remote control, desktop sharing, online meetings, web conferencing, and file transfer between computers. I was able to connect to two systems simultaneously in TeamViewer's tabbed user interface and run the entire migration procedure remotely.
The Zinstall Migration Suite is an enterprise-level product and, as such, pricing varies. For specific pricing details, contact the Zinstall sales department (firstname.lastname@example.org) for a quote.
Before I get started, I want to point out a couple of things that you should take into consideration. First, some anti-virus and internet security software mistakenly consider Zinstall software to be a threat. So, you should disable the package or add Zinstall to the white list. In addition, you should close all running applications. There must be at least 1 GB free space on each system's hard drive.
Furthermore, when migrating between two computers in a domain environment, the target system must be joined to the domain prior to the migration in order to allow it to authenticate the transferred profiles. You'll then need to login as the same user on both systems.
For the machine-to-machine migration to be a successful venture, all the installed applications must be compatible with both operating systems. If you have older applications that are not compatible with the new operating system, you should consider the transfer from a physical machine to a virtual machine type of migration.
Of course, Zinstall Migration Suite must be installed on both the source and target systems. Installation is pretty straightforward and involves working through a Windows UAC and then a Zinstall activation procedure. Once you've performed the installation and activation procedure, you're ready to begin the migration.
As I mentioned in the introduction, the source computer for my test is an existing Windows 7 system with Microsoft Office and several other applications, such as Adobe Reader, iTunes, and Mozilla Firefox installed. The system had a host of data files on it as well, including audio, video, documents, and internet shortcuts.
Once the Zinstall Migration Suite is installed on the source system, the application will immediately display the Scenario selection screen (Figure A). As you can see, there are five scenarios to choose from on this screen. I selected Moving between two machines. After you make your selection, click Next.
The Scenario selection screen displays five scenarios to choose from.
From the Machine selection screen, highlight This is the source computer (Figure B), and then click Next.
Select This is the source computer on the Machine selection screen.
Once you've specified the source computer, Zinstall will advance to the Prerequisite check step where it will run through a series of items to make sure that the source computer is ready for the migration operation. Once the Prerequisite checks are complete, the progress bar will reach 100% and the title will display Success (Figure C). You can then click Next.
When the Prerequisite check is successful, you can click Next.
Zinstall will let you know that the source machine is ready to begin the migration (Figure D). At this point, Zinstall will announce over the network that it is waiting for a connection from a Target system.
Zinstall will announce over the network that the source system is ready and waiting to connect to a target system.
The target system for my test is a new computer with a fresh install of Windows 8.1. Once the Zinstall Migration Suite is installed on the Windows 8.1 target system, the application will immediately display the Scenario selection screen (Figure E). As you can see, I again chose Moving between two machines. After you make your selection, click Next.
On the target computer, I again chose Moving between two machines.
From the Machine selection screen, select This is the target computer (Figure F), and then,click Next.
Select This is the target computer on the Machine selection screen.
Once you've specified the target computer, Zinstall advances to the Prerequisite check step where it will run through a series of items to make sure that the target computer is ready for the migration operation. Once the Prerequisite checks are complete, the progress bar will reach 100%, and the title will display Success (Figure G). You can then click Next.
When the Prerequisite check is successful, you can click Next.
At this point, Zinstall scans the network, looking for a source machine advertising that it is ready for a migration procedure. It will then display the name, IP address, and hard disk of the source computer in the Source selection screen (Figure H).
Zinstall will display the source computer that it found on the network in the Source selection screen.
In a moment, you'll be prompted to choose the Target hard disk (Figure I). You'll see that there's an option here titled SSD Mode. This feature is designed for target systems that have both an SSD and a regular hard disk, and it will allow you to transfer your applications to the faster SSD and your data files to the hard disk.
If the target system has an SSD, you can select SSD Mode.
Once you click Next, the migration procedure will begin. Of course, this part of the operation is the most time-consuming, and it goes through a multitude of steps before it's complete (Figure J). In fact, this part of the procedure can take several hours. The amount of time required depends on a number of factors, such as the amount of information on the source hard disk and the speed of the hard disk itself.
The actual migration can take several hours to complete.
Once the migration is complete, you'll be prompted to restart the target computer (Figure K). While the restart is taking place, you can return to the source computer and exit Zinstall by pressing the Cancel button.
When the migration is finished, click the Restart button.
When the system restarts, you'll find that all of the applications from the source computer are now installed on the target computer, and you can launch that as you normally would. You'll also find all of your data and the majority of your settings are now available on the target computer, allowing you to get right back to work as if nothing has changed.
What's your take?
Are you looking at an enterprise-wide migration operation? Would you consider the Zinstall Migration Suite? Have you used Zinstall Migration Suite before? If so, what was your experience? Share your opinion(s) in the discussion thread below.
Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.