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I want to make an image of the C: drive on a particular windows xp machine, which I own. Then I want to restore this image to an identical drive. But the manufacturer has implemented measures to make this difficult.

The drive is an IDE 2.5 drive in a Panasonic tough book. When I mount the drive in a Windows 7 machine, Windows 7 does not recognize the drive, even though the drive must have a windows file system because the drive boots windows xp. (Right?) Since my windows machines to not recognize the file system, my usual disk imaging software is not able to image this drive.

Is there any cheap/free software which will do a low-level copy of a drive to another drive, independent of file system? I also have an Ubuntu machine available if there is a linux utility. But I suspect windows has such a utility application as well.

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there's a voltage issue with toughbook hard drives you may be running into it.. Do you have your toughbook laptop? Are you able to boot off the drive in the toughbook? –  barlop Nov 16 '11 at 4:39

4 Answers 4

Linux may be the simpler option.

You should be able to work out which is the correct partition from

fdisk -l

Usually, the recovery partition is first, followed by the system partition. So lets say it is /dev/sdb2

Then to create an image of the disk, use dd:

dd if=/dev/sdb2 of=windowsxp.img bs=1M

This will create a file in the current directory called windowsxp.img which is a byte for byte copy of the partition.

You can reverse the dd command above to write it to a new partition.

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Put the drive back in the toughbook (I assume it is bootable and working?)

Install ToDo backup, see if it can image the hard drive while in XP

If the toughbook is not bootable, install Todo on another PC and make the bootable rescue media, then boot the toughbook from this CD, see if it can image the drive.

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I recommend Acronis True Image but since you want free software then You can try the The Free and Open Source Software for Disk Imaging and Cloning: Clonezilla http://clonezilla.org/

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It'd be easiest to boot it from the Toughbook. There is an issue with the hard drives in some or all toughbooks. Putting new hard drives in a toughbook for example is an issue. Similarly perhaps, given that you run into a problem, there could be an issue putting a manufacturer's hard drive from there into a regular computer. It's related to how many volts it gets. It's a solvable issue and one can hack a cable or bend over a pin, I haven't done it myself, but it's an issue.

A workaround, would be, try to run the imaging software on the toughbook, booting off that drive, and put the image on an external drive connected to USB.

Windows isn't recognising the partition and your disk imaging software isn't imaging it, most likely because of the issue I speak of.. in which case, trying other imaging software won't help. Easiest thing is to run imaging software from the toughbook.

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