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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey -


I have heard of people making a seperate small partition on their drive that they fill with a disk image once their system is all installed and configured. Sounds like a great backup.


Is there an easy way to do this? I think Ghost will do it, but I have never played with Ghost, and it looks less user friendly than other Norton products I am familiar with. I also remember an independant developer who had pretty lean freeware programs to do disk imaging... but I don't remember the site.


Can anyone who have sucessfully done this give me some pointers? How much space did you reserve (WindowsXP?), software, any pitfalls to avoid, etc.


Thanks a lot!

RDaneel
 

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I use a 10G partition (5 can get a little bit cramped) in which I store all my applications and system. Ghost is pretty good at creating an image of this partition... just follow the instructions (my advice is to create the image on a disk which is not on the same ATA cable... as this is way faster)
 

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Power Quest Drive Image is also very good.

Depending on the amount of apps you have installed, expect semi-compressed images to range from 1-2GB+. Depending on how many images you think you'll keep, allocate accordingly.

I usually image after a fresh install of an OS, with all patches and drivers.

(this is the smallest image, before you install other apps)

Then I image right before major driver changes, or even an app I'm unfamiliar with. Then if anything goes wrong, you can roll back to where you were before in about 10 minutes.

I don't know of any freeware utilities. PQDI and Ghost seem to be the most popular. You don't need to store images on the same drive either, in fact it should be faster (and safer in case of a drive failure) to have it on a different drive altogether (unless that drive fails...). I just stick images on a large drive somewhere, and keep certain ones like the first, and last few, deleting ones I know I won't need.

I think the latest versions of those mentioned also support burning images directly to a CD (with spanning).


S
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I don't think that I will be using the backup enough to justify buying a separate drive, so is it really bad to just use a different partition? Slower, I am ok with, but I still want it to work, of course.


This is all in prep for building a new primary machine, so I will have a 120gb HD or so, so spending 5 or 10 on an image with WinXP, Office, all the small utilities, etc. wouldn't be a problem (just the stuff that is rarely replaced).


I will check out ghost - that seems to be pretty popular and bug free.


One issue, though - to restore the image, do you have to have a bootable floppy? I am hoping to avoid having a floppy drive at all...


RDaneel
 

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Same drive separate partition is fine too.

I've always used a bootable floppy to create and restore (although a bootable CD with the Ghost or PQDI files on it should work too) - so you are not in windows at all, and all files can be copied. That's the way I've always done it, when an OS is involved. I know they have "windows" modes, where you can start the backup from windows, but I just don't think you can perfectly image a drive if files are in use on it. If you can, it would certainly require a reboot, with some kind of further copying being done outside windows, so overall, I'd guess the time would be about the same as if you had just done it from a floppy boot.


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I used the Windows XP backup tool to create a backup of my system on a separate hard drive once I got the operating system and basic programs installed. I haven't tried it yet. Won't this take care of anyones reinstall problems? It was pretty simple and you can do incremental backups too.
 

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For an 120 GB drive I would allocate about 10 GB for a partition to hold your image(s). Make sure you format it the same (NTFS-likely) as your primary partition. Like NoGodz said, image after the initial install of os and drivers and again after your core set of apps. PQ Drive Image is a great program and will allow you to easily create a script so that you can completely automate this process. I am sure ghost can do this as well. Nero makes nice bootable cds and you then can simply add the imaging software to the cd and you will not need a floppy drive.
 

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tawilson - I'd stay away from a Windows "built-in" solution unless you're SURE that it will work WITHOUT Windows having to run.


When I need a disk image is when Wintows is toast and won't load at all. I use Power Quest Drive Image 2002 and it works GREAT! I have a 10 gig partition on the C drive (E:), where I keep the latest backup, on the D drive (seperate drive) I keep the next latest. AND, I have about 8 CDs That are a little older (usually 6 months). See, sometimes you can waste the whole drive and it needs a "low-level" format to recover it. This will take out your partitions and your backup. Another drive will be safe. And the CDs are the slowest but safest. BTW, Drive Image will make 2 bootable floppies with the program so you can re-install without Windows. You could probably make a bootable CD too but it would be REAL easy to just move a floppy drive temporalily to your HTPC to recover with. I'm a heavy tweaker and sometimes lose Windows and my hard drive completely (usually Linux installs gone bad). It's MUCH easier to just load last weeks complete backup than spend hours trying to figure out why Windows is "blue screening" me at boot up. Disk image IS the way to go!
 

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I agree with not using the Window's built-in system. I've been using Drive Image since its inception, and I'm quite satisfied with it. Without too much effort you can create not just a backup, but a complete disaster recovery system. Although I create a hidden partition that I store images, Drive Image also allows you to 'break up' a backup image into CD-sized (or, now, DVD-sized) chunks. You can then burn a CD/DVD set that, using bootable Drive Image floppies and/or a CD, you can recover to a brand new disk if required.
 

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Ghost consumer editions can create a bootable CD.
 

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I have two systems, a Windows 2000 system with lots of application on it and my HTPC running XP. I have found Ghost to be very good, I ghost my XP to DVD-R and everything fits on one DVD so far.


To be safe, I made my system partition 20 GB so that I would not get squeezed on space in the future, but 10 GB is probably good enough. Software like Microsoft Office can use up a lot of space, I also do software development and the Integrated Development Environments take up a lot of space. I believe my Windows 2000 system is over the 10 GB size.


On my Windows 2000 system I ghost to a separate drive that has the exact same partition size (you can't ghost to a partition size smaller then the source partition, larger is OK) and is formated as a bootable system partition. I also make sure my page file is on the same drive (I have 1 GB or memory so usually I am not concerned about paging). This way if my primary drive fails, I can swap the IDE cable (or change the bios boot priority) to boot off the second drive.


I have found that it is helpful to have the swap file directly on my System partition to insure that on the ghost drive it is also mapped correctly so that I don't end up getting a "No Paging File" type error when booting off the backup drive, which happens to me if the drives do not map consistently. This may just be my ignorance, I could probably dig out of it if I booted up in safe mode and reassigned the paging file.


Also, I believe Ghost is smart in that when I ghost to a DVD it uses file compression and installs the self booting software, so 7 GB of system manage to fit on a 4.7 DVD. When I ghost to a separate equal size disk partition, it just mirrors exactly what was on the initial partition.


Ghost is certainly better then the dismal software that comes free with WD disk drives.
 
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