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User Data Migration

Migrating to Windows 2000 can be a tricky business when it comes to user data. A wipe-and-load process has obvious risks for data loss, as does the manual process of copying local data files to the network. Fortunately, a product on the market can minimize data loss in a migration. In this article, Windows 2000 deployment expert Jeffrey Ferris discusses Miramar Systems' Desktop DNA.
Migrating to Windows 2000 can be a tricky business when it comes to user data. A wipe-and-load process has obvious risks for data loss, as does the manual process of copying local data files to the network. Fortunately, a product on the market can minimize data loss in a migration. In this article, Windows 2000 deployment expert Jeffrey Ferris discusses Miramar Systems' Desktop DNA.

Chances are, most anything in your desktop software environment can be replaced with relative ease, compared to unique user data. If your system crashes, applications can be reinstalled and program settings can be gradually reconfigured, but depending on the nature of the data, locally stored items may be unrecoverable once lost.

The majority of large-scale migrations from older operating systems to Windows 2000 are done via a wipe-and-load process. In a wipe-and-load migration, all files on a user's system are wiped out, and the new operating system is installed on a fresh drive. The potential for loss of user data is one of the greatest risks in this type of Windows 2000 migration. Imagine if an organization's sales force lost its customer contact lists, or if a developer had the only copy of source code to a critical project stored on his local drive. You can see the potential risk if you don't take proper precautions.

Many times, data migration is done via a manual process—a user or technician manually finds and copies all local data files up to the network, the new image is applied, and the user data is manually copied back down from the network. This is a risky process. User data, such as word-processing documents, spreadsheets, image files, and presentations, can be stored anywhere on your drive; it adds complexity to finding all of a user's files.

Fortunately, a product on the market can help minimize risk in user data migration: Desktop DNA, from Miramar Systems. I found it when I was preparing for my first large-scale corporate deployment for Windows 2000, and it has become a permanent part of my migration toolkit. I have had excellent luck with this tool, and I highly recommend it to anyone migrating to Windows 2000.

Miramar Systems' Desktop DNA

Miramar Systems' Desktop DNA is the only system migration application to selectively save and move user-critical system and application settings (such as desktop, network, printers, bookmarks, address books, macros, and so on), applications, and data files directly from one PC to another, or to a network share point as a DNA file, migrating the user's desktop identity. The flexibility of Desktop DNA's scripting language enables users to apply settings from older versions of applications to newer ones, as is necessary to take full advantage of Windows 2000's rich feature set. It also enables the user to move the selected DNA information between disparate Windows operating systems (such as Windows NT to Windows 2000), making it ideal for post-deployment system personalization. As a result, overall TCO is lowered by minimizing user downtime, decreasing IT help desk calls and time necessary to implement Windows 2000 rollouts. The DNA files also ensure consistency and act as an immediate backup tool for disaster recovery.

Beyond Desktop DNA's use as an operating system migration tool, it is an excellent tool for periodic data backup and is a great way to protect user data when upgrading user hardware. Desktop DNA has two functional models:

  • File-based migration

  • Direct network-based migration

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