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Thread: HD imaging/partition programs

  1. #1
    Automated Home Jr Member
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    Default HD imaging/partition programs

    The market is flooded and there seem to be loads of them out there, many of them free.

    I'm looking for a decent drive image program that will save the image as a file on a USB hard disk and then restore the image onto another hard disk (either the same size or larger).

    Ideally one that will work with Vista and XP images, I'm more than happy to download a CD-Rom ISO that boots into any OS to do the job, providing it works.

    I've got a friend who's got a PC with a 12Gb HD in it which is creaking at the seams. I've got plenty of HDs here but can't bear the idea of performing a complete re-install.

    With the activation nightmare that comes with Vista, I also want to install Vista, Office 2007, activate them both and then store an image in a secure location, as reinstalling now always ends in a call to India!

    Tim
    And in case anyone's wondering - I left the mailing list on principle in 2002, and have only just come back because in recent weeks whenever I've had a question I've had to ask Mark. I'm going through a series of major upgrades at the moment and I'm emailing him twice a week now, which is a little unfair.
    Last edited by TimMorris; 9th October 2007 at 12:24 PM.

  2. #2
    Moderator toscal's Avatar
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    One word Acronis.
    Acronis true image is what I've used. Works really well. Did have problems when I tried to use a USB drive though. This may have been the fault of the motherboard.
    What Arconis does is it reboots the PC then before it boots into windows it starts up, and clones the drive. There are all sorts of features you can do a bootable rescue disk.
    I recently used it to clone my drive when I upgraded my PC. Then did a repair XP once the drive was installed in the new machine. see this site for details on how to perform that http://www.michaelstevenstech.com/XP...install.htm#RI

    Depending how you have configured your router you may not be able to activate windows via the internet. Mine is configured to accept certain MAC addresses. I just called the number on the windows activation screen, typed in a code on the phone, that was in the window and a voice told me the code I should type in. The whole thing was fairly painless.
    Not too sure how the whole process would fair with Vista though.
    But the Acronis website might be able to help. http://eu.acronis.com/
    Good luck

  3. #3
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    Thanks, it isn't cheap, but I've found it isn't worth cutting corners with this sort of software. I use BackupExec on my server and pay an annual maintenance fee. It has saved my arse more than once already.

    I'll download the 15 day trial and play with it on a Vista machine I'm in the process of building to see if it does what I need.

    Tim

  4. #4
    Automated Home Legend TimH's Avatar
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    Tim,

    I'd recommend Norton/Symantec Ghost. I used it exclusively used in in a previous job to do pretty much what you want - the ability to reinstall a clean/fresh image onto PCs.

    The only caveats were: when I last used it there was no option to create a boot CD directly, only a boot floppy. You can get around this by making the floppy, putting those files on a CD and then making that bootable.
    The 2nd issue was not to start Ghost from within Windows. It's supposed to work like the description of Acronis above, but more often than not it got it's knickers in a twist and ended up in an endless boot cycle (at the time there were plenty of hits on Google for this).
    When booting via the floppy directly though I *never* had any problems.

    Ghost can back up to a 2nd partition, 2nd physical drive, USB device, 2nd computer over a network etc. it's really versatile. You also have the option to create an image of just the individual partions, or the whole physical disk.

    HTH, and "welcome back"

    Tim H.

  5. #5
    Moderator toscal's Avatar
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    Just one problem with making a boot floppy. Many new PCs don't come with a floppy drive.
    Sometimes Acronis do a special edition which comes free with a computer mag. Or when you buy a USB harddrive. Freecom used to supply it with some of their USB drives.

  6. #6

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    A USB floppy drive is a useful little item to have in the tool kit. It's helped me a couple of times in situations like this. 20 new off eBay a few years ago. Probably way less these days.

    M.

  7. #7
    Automated Home Legend TimH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by toscal View Post
    Just one problem with making a boot floppy. Many new PCs don't come with a floppy drive.
    It means that making the boot floppy could be a bit of a fiddle to start with (e.g. floppy drive temporarily installed in a PC case), but once made it can quickly be turned into a boot CD. You then only need the boot CD to run Ghost. Things may have changed now anyway as the version of Ghost I used was a couple of years old.

    Cheers,

    Tim.

  8. #8
    Automated Home Legend TimH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Otto-Mate View Post
    A USB floppy drive is a useful little item to have in the tool kit. It's helped me a couple of times in situations like this. 20 new off eBay a few years ago. Probably way less these days.

    M.
    Agreed

    I got one after a batch of PCs turned up from the mfr without floppy drives. They had negelected to tell me that they no longer installed them unless you specifically asked

    Cheers,

    Tim.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by TimH View Post
    Agreed

    I got one after a batch of PCs turned up from the mfr without floppy drives. They had negelected to tell me that they no longer installed them unless you specifically asked

    Cheers,

    Tim.
    I actually still put floppy drives in my PCs - usually a combined USB card reader and floppy drive for about 15 quid. The number of times I actually need to boot from floppy decreases every year, but it is handy to have from time to time, more so when I didn't have SATA drivers slipstreamed into my Windows XP install CD.

    I've had a look at the Acronis offering, it seems to be almost identical in feature set to the last version of Ghost I used. It's also cheaper than Ghost - the current "home version" which comes with re-partitioning software is about 23 quid. I haven't tried it yet but I think with most of my PCs I'll be able to boot from a USB key.

    Tim

  10. #10
    Moderator toscal's Avatar
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    Keep a look out at the Pc mags as they sometime have a special edition of Acronis. It gives you the basic stuff but this is normally enough to clone a hard drive. And then they offer you a good deal to upgrade to the full version.

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