Saturday, May 17, 2008

How to create a Hardrive Image or How to clone your Disk Partition

When your computer gets messed up, you think re-installation of operating system is the only way out. In most cases, it works but that cost lots of your time and you've to go through hassles of installing individual softwares and drivers for hardwares one by one.

There is an easy way to do this. Just take a snapshot of your entire operating system when it's healthy. I mean when everything is working perfectly, when all your softwares and drivers are working just fine. Your best move would be to take snapshot.

Then on one unfortunate day, your PC crashed or say your hard-drive went kaput, or say your operating system was infected with plethora of virus and malwares.... You think re-installation of OS is the only way left. Nope, just put the snapshot back to the hard drive that was taken when your system was healthy. And, you're all good to go. It will take just few minutes instead of hours while re-installing your Operating system off the Installation Setup CD.

So, this whole process of taking snapshot of(and putting back into) your harddrive is called Hard-drive imaging. To my understanding, Imaging is a process of archiving entire disk(storage) content into one file. Sometimes, it's also called as disk-cloning. If you take image of your CD/DVD media, it's often termed as ISO image. So, Imaging is a breakthrough technology for anyone who wants to have solid-rock backup of entire operating system or content.

I come across a new disk imaging software called "Acronis True Image". Mark my word, this is one hell of a easiest way to backup your entire system at one go and is the most fastest of all I've used before.

Just take an image of your harddrive, save it to some media(like I saved it to my both computers image on 500 GB Freeagent Seagate Drive), create a bootable CD off the software(very easy to do that too) and when there is time-critical situation, just load the boot CD, plug in the drive where Image file is located and it's all 1-2-3. Pretty easy.

It can create image while you're working on your system. So, no more booting off the CD and doing those things. You can call it Hot-Imaging as USB(or someother hardwares) is hot-swappable.

Once you have Acronis True Image and installed it, launch it. Following steps are easy enough to understand on how to create Harddrive IMAGE.

Since we are creating Image, Click 'Backup and Restore'

Select 'Backup'

Click NEXT

Select MY COMPUTER and click NEXT

Select "Disks and Partitions" and click NEXT

Now, on this screen, we've to make a decision which partition to create image from. Mostly it's C: where our primary Operating is installed. So, select only C:
but if you've two partitions with two different Operating systems just like mine in above screens, then, I'd select
both C: and D:.
In most cases, it's only C:

The above screenshot is showing my Primary Harddrive under "Disk 1" divided into 3 partitions. C: holds Vista, D: holds XP and E: holds Toshiba factory informations.
Under "Disk 2", it's my 500GB freeagent Seagate external harddrive
Under "Disk 3", it's my 80GB Seagate external pocket size drive.
It's nothing to do with imaging just in case you wanted to know why I've connected these drives but for backup purpose I'm using FreeAgent external drive. If you don't have external drive, you can save your image on other partition if you think you've enough space.

On this screen, don't select anything, Just click "NEXT"

The neat feature about this software is that it lets you update your image file overtime. That's called incremental or differential backup. Since this is our first time IMAGE backup, just ignore this message and click OK

Now, give location and name to your IMAGE backup. I've selected External 500 GB harddrive(F:) as destination file save location and gave my IMAGE backup name as 'laptopbackup'. (It saves file in .tlb format.)This is the most important part and we should preserve this file safely.

Select 'Create new full backup archive' and click Next

Select 'Use default options' and click Next

On this screen, you can give some informations about what this image is all about for future reference.
Since this is Image backup of my Laptop, I've written something relevant.

Now, this is the Create backup wizard. Just take a note how things are going on and click 'Proceed'>

Image Backup in progress(on mine it took some 20 minutes)

Finally, Image is created with this screen. Click Ok and you're done. You successfully created an Image backup of your drive.

Next post will be how to restore an Image file.

Thank you for reading.


waliz said...

thanks navin...u make it sound so easy but not so easy for me..i still need an IT expert to solve the problem for me if anythng happen to my computer...i guess i'm just 'BLIND'...hehehe

cldnails said...

Really good tips, but the price just seems a little higher than a free reinstall. ;)

I'm a lazy lazy person, but my laziness is only trumped by my stinginess.

deepa said...

Well I am not any technician and be frank you’re most of lines are out of my mind but its still a very good information and I am going to save and send this page to my friends. Thanks

sagun said...

Thats really a cool stuff can u put ur post of restoring an image file because i am interested in doing it bro.

Navin said...

Guys, sorry to reply you all late!!!

Waliz, there is nothing to get scare off.. it's just a simple action that you would need. Try it!!!

CldNails, you are right but It saves time and cost though.

Deepa, thanks a lot.

Sagun, I just did that.. would you please check this link

Ashish said...

Acronis Disk Director Suite 10.0 costs $49.99. Is there a free alternative ?

Navin said...

I've heard about Drive Image XML but haven't used it whatsoever because of it's certain limitations.

Anonymous said...

Easy Transfer, please! Details, in low technical words. Thanks.


PS: Long time no see. How's you? I got your Email. Stopped by to say Hello The "Bitter_Truth"

Have a wonderful time. Bye.

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