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Macrium Reflect: free hard disk imaging

An important part of your disaster recovery plan for your computer is having a disk image. This is a snapshot of your entire hard drive, including the operating system, programs, and data. If Windows suddenly stops booting, or your hard drive dies, you'll be able to restore the snapshot - just like going back in time (which is why Apple calls their drive imaging product Time Capsule).

Certain editions of Windows Vista and Windows 7 include Backup and Restore in the Control Panel, which you can use to create disk images (called System Images by Windows). If you're using XP or an edition of Vista or 7 that doesn't include it, you're not out of luck. There are plenty of paid options for disk imaging, like Norton Ghost and Acronis True Image. However, you can get a great imaging program for free: Macrium Reflect Free Edition.
  1. Download Macrium Reflect Free Edition.
  2. Install on XP or Vista, 32- or 64-bit.
  3. Copy your disk to a hard drive (internal, external, or network), to CD, or DVD.
  4. Create a Rescue CD based on Linux or BartPE.
I chose to use Macrium Reflect rather than DriveImage XML because it looked more user-friendly. I successfully used Macrium Reflect to back up and restore an XP machine. One minor issue: the Linux Rescue CD wouldn't boot until I connected my USB mouse to a PS/2 adapter.

For more detailed instructions, see the Macrium Tutorials and this Tucows tutorial: How To Create a Disk Image with Macrium Reflect.

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Sources
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