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I have a HP desktop for development work that I picked up at local supermarket, its Quad core, 2gb RAM, onboard NVidia graphics etc.. pretty much run of the mill. I am running Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit RTM.

I created a boot/active/main partition c:\ with 80GB and this is where my windows, apps, settings sit. It would take days to get back to where I am now with all my registry hacks, development settings, and apps installed.

I want to do a full backup that I can if required I can restore onto a new system. This should handle the scenario of theft, fire and possibly I decide to go to a different country, sell the PC (after wiping) and buy a new PC on arrival somewhere else in Asia.

A few things I have concerns about: 1) The replacement system I buy will likely be different (as obviously specs and chipsets improve with time). I will stick with HP, Intel CPU, and Nvidia graphics if possible but as for everything else I cant say for sure (I dont work for HP).

Will I have any problems restoring the partition? I have a Technet subscription so activations should be okay or not (I belive I get 10 per key)?

Should I do a raw backup? Or is there another tool? What software do you suggest to do such a backup?

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3 Answers

You might want to look into Acronis True Image with the Universal Restore plugin. It's not a free tool (or a free plugin), but it does what you need it to do. It allows you to backup a machine into an image and then restore that image. The Universal Restore image allows one to restore it to different hardware.

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Acronis True Image also regenerates the SID, etc. –  Umar Farooq Khawaja Oct 30 '09 at 12:48
    
generally speaking, regenerating the SID doesn't matter (blogs.technet.com/b/markrussinovich/archive/2009/11/03/…) –  SnOrfus Jun 21 '10 at 21:22
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Before you make an image you can sysprep it http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sysprep

This will strip out the hardware-dependent drivers like the non-generic SATA drivers and replace it with the generic MS ones, which will allow it to work on new hardware. The HDD controller drivers are the biggest issue with moving to new hardware. It will also generate new SIDs on computers it is restored to, making it usuable if you have a test domain set up.

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From my experience, I would just image the partition, and if you have to restore to a different system, just hope it works. At least that's been my experience with similar situations and older versions of Windows. I'd hope that 7 handles hardware changes better than previous versions (not knocking those versions, just that things should get better over time).

If you decided to upgrade to a completely new system - while you still have the old system - I'd try the following:

  • Swap drives, if it works - great.
  • Restore your image to the drive in the original system.
  • Swap a few (or one) piece of hardware at a time.

Perhaps someone else has better tips? Maybe using a PXE tool?

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