My laptop's current setup dual boots into Windows XP and Linux Mint. The harddrive seems to be going bad, so I want to backup all the data from the Windows partition.
This laptop was a loyal servant for my 5 years in college for Computer Science, and as you can imagine, I have a lot of development files spread across all parts of the filesystem, so picking and choosing directories to copy to my thumbdrive will be very time consuming.
My ideal solution would be to create an image of the partition on an external harddrive, in a way so that I can later browse the files, should i ever need to find some old code files I had written.
It seems that my two options are to either create a disk image that I can later restore on another machine (via Clonezilla, DriveImage XML, TrueImage, or Ghost) , or create a virtual image where I can later mount in a virtual machine (via VirtualBox, VMWare, Virtual PC).
My question is: Can I create a partition image in a way that I can simply browse and run file searches on the file structure, without having to reload/restore the entire OS on another machine, load the entire image in a virtual machine, or extract the entire .iso file in a program like MagicISO, each time I want to access it? I just want to jump right in to view the files. I do not expect to write to the image - only read from.
Thanks for reading!!
the path I have chosen thus far is to use the linux 'dd' tool (as recommended by Gilles). the reason is because I tried to install on my Windows partition Macrium Reflect and DriveImage XML or creating an image, and Disk2vhd for creating a virtual/mountable harddisk, but windows craps out on me when I do certain tasks related to explorer.exe and other processes. this is obviously due to the failing drive. the only downside is that I have to do this from a live Linux Mint disk, as the linux partition on the laptop won't even load because of corrupt/dirty disk sectors - a problem i once circumvented to obtain some files long ago, but don't have time to deal with now. which brings me to the task of having to monitor the two hour process each couple of minutes so the live cd screensaver doesn't come on and crap out the entire process... (oy vey!)
for anyone who wants to know, this is the command line process i put together:
create a mount location
sudo mkdir /mnt/usbdrive
find the location of my external usb harddrive (sdb1)
sudo fdisk -l
mount it as a drive
sudo mount /dev/sdb1 /mnt/usbdrive
perform the backup command, disregarding any errors
sudo dd if=/dev/sda2 of=/mnt/usbdrive/sda2.image bs=16M conv=noerror
in another terminal window, while 'dd' is working, we can trigger the process to spit out status updates every 2 minutes:
watch -n 120 sudo pkill -USR1 dd
Thanks for all the suggestions, and Happy Linux-ing! :)