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I'm looking at getting a netbook but I see that they don't come with the OS on cd/dvd. Is there a way for me to make a "backup" of the default install in case I get a virus or HD wipe and need to "re-install" the OS?

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I'd probably do a full image backup (such as what Acronis TrueImage or Norton Ghost would do) to media such as a couple DL-DVD's or even a memory stick, especially if the netbook has a SSD (with only 8-16GB). looks like a good summary of Windows-specific options for backup software.

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For starters, if the notebook doesn't come with a Recovery Disk, chances are you have the option to create one. Some vendors do this. Search a bit around your current installation for such a feature, or check Support on the vendor website.

In any case, you can use Norton Ghost to make a full bootable image of your installation, you can later use for restore purposes.

Norton Ghost here. A tutorial here.

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wrong version of ghost :) radified's guide is focused on Ghost 11 (aka Ghost Enterprise) – Molly7244 Sep 23 '09 at 14:37
Ah, my bad. :) Didn't even noticed. Just C/Ped from google search results list. – A Dwarf Sep 23 '09 at 15:20

The acer aspire has a hidden 8gb partition with the install files in it - you can run an installer or retrigger something in the bios to re-run this and give you a clean install.

Otherwise I would just driveimage the machine once i had removed all the crapware.

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most netbooks come with a System DVD.

ASUS netbooks (aka Eee PCs) can easily be restored by pressing F9 at the POST screen. most other manufacturers do have such a restore facility as well, since netbooks don't come with optical drives.

guides to create your own installation media by extracting the installation source from the System DVD are plenty. WinToFlash makes it a breeze to create a bootable USB stick to install Windows from USB.

in case there is NO restore option, you can always create your own rescue disc with BartPE & Drive Image XML, again, WinToFlash will move BartPE to a USB Stick or SD card in no time.

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There are a bazillion programs that will image the hard drive so that it can be restored in the event of a crash, kluge, etc. Here are some of them:

DriveImage XML, Acronis True Image, Norton Ghost, HDClone,

etc., etc.

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