Desktop DNA takes migration personally

Cloning may be controversial in biology, but it's universally welcomed when migrating users to new systems and networks.

Standard cloning tools, however, don't bring along all the detailed settings that a user or workgroup needs to get right back to work. Cloning stamps an old image onto a new system, and is limited somewhat by the fact that the new system should have identical hardware to achieve identical results.

What if an agency is moving to an entirely new platform? It's easy enough to port most programs from one version of Microsoft Windows to the next, but personal macros and departmental preference settings often fail to make the jump.

Miramar Systems' Desktop DNA Enterprise Edition gives a personal touch to such migrations.

The GCN Lab tested Desktop DNA by migrating several old Windows 2000 test systems to Microsoft XP Professional. We had tons of customized settings to transfer to the factory-fresh systems.

Using Desktop DNA's easy wizard, we quickly recorded all the settings for network printers, e-mail, network interface cards and the like. We could store the profiles either as self-extracting files to run on the new clients or migrate them in real time via TCP/IP.

We tested both ways and found TCP/IP faster, but it did require us to have both computers set up and running at the same time'and that's not always feasible.

The Desktop DNA wizard had a script file for just about every program. But because we test so many products in the lab, we did run into a few programs that Desktop DNA did not support.

At that point, we had two options: Either write our own script files, which is fairly easy but not recommended, or do a so-called muscle migration, which forces nonscripted applications to transfer their DNA.

We tried muscle migration with two obscure programs, and both times it worked. That's helpful for agencies with lots of proprietary or stovepipe software.

Once a profile is stored, the file is still viewable with DNA Explorer. If you put multiple profiles in one location, you can figure out later which one goes with which system or simply check that all the information is intact.

Desktop DNA smooths out migration from one computer to another regardless of operating systems or hardware. You probably can live without it if you haven't customized applications, but remember that lost details such as printer settings can wreak havoc in setting up a new network.

About the Author

John Breeden II is a freelance technology writer for GCN.


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