Disk imaging utility
October 31, 2006 8:19 AM   Subscribe

Is there an easy, cheap way to create an image of my hard drive and put it on DVD(s), without installing software that screws around with my hard drive or requires activation?

I'm looking for a software package that will let me create a DVD backup of my hard drive so that I can erase it and start over from scratch whenever I want, without having to reinstall all my software or reapply my settings. I've used Norton Ghost for this purpose at previous jobs, but the newer versions seem to require activation, and are based on a drastically different codebase (plus, they wussified the interface!). Can anyone suggest a disk imaging utility? I'm looking for a WinXP solution, preferrably one that can be run off of a bootable CD (not a floppy, since I don't have one!), without having to install anything, but if I need to install something to use the software, I don't want it to always be running in the background (so GoBack or any related scum are NOT an option). Bonus points if it's free or under $50.
posted by fvox13 to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
If you're familiar with Linux, you can use a boot CD like Knoppix to image your hard drive without touching it. The specific tool you'll use is Partimage, but it only works drive-to-image. It won't go from drive to drive or directly from drive to DVD, so to make it work you'd need some additional space (such as an external USB hard drive). Also, since you're booting off a CD, you'll to have a separate drive for writing the DVD.
So your process looks like: image drive into 4.7GB files onto scratch drive, burn files to DVDs. Maybe more complex than you want.

But, the good news is that it's Free. And if you really like it you can always add to the codebase to improve it.

In the not-quite-free category, you can try 7 tools Partition imager, which retails for $29.95. It seems to work.

Before doing any imaging, make sure that any imporant files that you really want to keep are saved somewhere else, to a CD or DVD. Even the best tools still go berserk sometimes.
posted by leapfrog at 8:46 AM on October 31, 2006


DrvImagerXP will create images (and span them over multiple discs). You would need a BartPE disc (comprehensive instructions) to restore them though.
posted by djb at 8:59 AM on October 31, 2006 [1 favorite]


I quite like Acronis TrueImage. No fuss, no muss interface really. At least it was in version 9, I can't vouch for v10. Very easy to create disk images (I personally saved to an external USB HD, which the recovery disk can then use) and recover them.
posted by antifuse at 9:12 AM on October 31, 2006


Acronis is giving away version 7 for free. I've not used it, but I've used 8 and 9 and they're both very good.

DSL Reports forum thread about the free giveaway.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 9:19 AM on October 31, 2006


FFS, the very first hit for googling free drive image software lists about a half dozen programs.
posted by Rhomboid at 10:07 AM on October 31, 2006


Thanks for the suggestions and the personal experience. I'll have to give some of these a try... it'll be a real time saver
posted by fvox13 at 11:28 AM on October 31, 2006


DriveImageXML

BartPE or similar boot disk needed to restore the image.

free.
posted by w.fugawe at 8:13 PM on October 31, 2006


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