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I recently bought a new netbook from Malasia. It doesn't have a brand name, or officially supporting drivers. It came with a version of windows, and working drivers for all the hardware - but I want to install Ubuntu on here.

Being a netbook, it has no CD/DVD drive.

I want some free easy to use software to image the entire drive onto a thumb drive, which I could later use to boot up a recovery program to reinstall windows, should I fail to get all the hardware supported on Linux.

I have already done some research and found driver backup/restore software in this thread, and will probably use that failing a more all-encompasing solution.

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6 Answers 6

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Since your planning on switching to an linux variant anyway just build your usb stick for your install then boot from it and before installing linux dd your existing disk to an external device and then install your new os.

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I'm now happily using Ubuntu. :D –  Dean Rather Sep 1 '09 at 6:05
Excellent, glad it all worked. –  Col Sep 1 '09 at 8:48

There are many solutions out there, this is just one of them. It is based around the free DriveImage XML software.

The backup is the easy part. As it uses shadow copy you can take the backup image from within Windows. Once completed, simply copy the image files onto a USB stick (or break them up with a file splitter and copy onto multiple sticks). Simply download the software from the link above and run it from within Windows.

The restore is a little more difficult. You need to create a bootable USB stick as you do not have a CD drive. Couple of good options I found:

  1. Follow the guide here to create the bootable Windows install. It will contain a trial version of Windows and the DriveImage XML software required to be able to restore the image again.

  2. Follow the alternative guide here to creating a WinPE bootable USB stick and then copy the DriveImage XML software into the folder specified by the guide.

Depending on the size of your USB stick, you might need more than one. If it's a big one then I guess there is nothing stopping you creating the live USB stick first and then copying the image files straight onto it somewhere that would be accessible from the live Windows install.

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here is all you need (and it's all free):


DriveImage XML plug-in for Bart Lagerwej's PE Builder

and Novicorp's WinToFlash

prepare a USB Flash Drive or SD Card with BartPE + DIxml, boot your netbook into BartPE (make sure you have another USB device with sufficient storage space connected), now you may backup the entire drive or partitions with Drive Image XML and restore if ever necessary. good luck.

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You could just get a CD/DVD drive that attaches via cable and then dual boot you current OS and the Linux you want to run. Then you could test the Linux to see if it works and if it does, you could later re-install it as the main operating system. If a CD/DVD drive is out of your price range, just download ISO file for the Linux you want to use, and use PowerISO to extract it.

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The best way is to take an image of the hard drive on an external USB disk (I don't know if your thumb drive is large enough for this).
A free program that you might use is You will need to create a rescue boot CD as .iso file on disk and then image it to the thumb drive. But first check if your BIOS can boot from the thumb drive and also try rebooting from it, before you wipe out the Windows partition. Also, don't resize the Windows partition if you wish to later use the image (has to be same size or larger).

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I'd advice Acronis software. It's capable of making live images: you don't need to reboot

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