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I have upgraded from Vista to Win 7 Home Premium 32. I want to create a system image for recovery purposes in the event of disaster. Tried it several times on discs and it didn't work. Would it work better with an external hard drive? I looked at HP250GB Pocket Media Drive with USB cable for about $80. Would this work for creating the system image and for recovery? Does a recovery put the operating system back on my laptop? I know that sounds really dumb, but it's all pretty confusing to me.

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Yes it's really easy by using Norton Ghost.First take your system back-up with ghost and save it in your external drive.Whenever you need to recover the system,you can load your image to your disk by using norton ghost again.

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I'll look for more information about Ghost. Features, cost?, how-tos. – Gail Synsteby Jan 6 '10 at 18:07
you can find Ghost on sale for about 50 bucks, it will save the image to just about any media you might want to use, and you can set it up so that it will do a "self-extracting" restore from the media. – BBlake Jan 6 '10 at 18:32
Or you could do the same thing for free with PartImage on a live Linux CD (eg. SystemRescueCd) – kaerast Jan 6 '10 at 20:12

Would it work better with an external hard drive?

Yes, it's always better to keep a drive backup safe and sound on a external storage device.

I looked at HP250GB Pocket Media Drive with USB cable for about $80. Would this work for creating the system image and for recovery?

Most certainly, 250 GB goes a long way, most drive backup programs offer compression of up to 50%

Does a recovery put the operating system back on my laptop?

But of course.

My recommendation:

EASEUS Todo Backup, supporting Windows 2000/XP/Vista/Windows 7 and Windows Server 2000/2003/2008, is a potent FREE backup software providing system backup & restore, hard disk or partition backup & restore, disk clone to protect your system and disk. It can back up whole PC, including the operating system plus your data, applications, settings and everything!

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I would always recommend doing a full backup to either a USB flash drive or an external hard drive.

Windows built in backup utility is brilliant for a full image, but if you want another tool, look for ImageX in the WAIK (Microsoft Windows Automated Installation Kit).

It is a tiny tool. I personally made a custom WindowsPE disk with this on it (the WAIK guides you through this) but you can put it on a usb stick and run Windows setup from the dvd or BartPE. You can then create a full drive backup very easily

Read here for more information on the tool. You basically need the \mount and \capture flags.

Here is the direct link to information on creating images.

Here is the direct link to information on mounting images.

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I would partition the laptop's hard drive into a C:\ (system) and a D:\ (storage) type of layout. That way when you do use a system imaging tool you only image the actual operating system instead of a lot of data that changes often. Using a live CD might actually be a little easier to work with since you can have networking and internet access if need be. You can usually save off an image to just about anyplace such as a CD, DVD, external drive or network drive. If you're thinking about disaster recovery, you might also want to think about doing a nightly backup of your data so that you can also recover it if the laptop's hard drive fails.

Good luck, and hope this helps some.

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I keep pretty current on backup of personal files using USB flash drives, but want full recovery capability of both OS and personal data which can be updated periodically. A program named DriveClone Pro claims to do exactly this. I don't know if the HP250GB Pocket Media Drive can be used for this. There is a D: drive (Recovery) on my laptop, but I can't actually see what's in it or how to use it. – Gail Synsteby Jan 6 '10 at 18:05
d:\(Recovery) is probably an image created by the company that you bought your laptop through. Restoring your system through that will bring your laptop back to when you got it from the factory. – Chris Jan 6 '10 at 18:54

Tried it several times on discs and it didn't work.

What exactly did you try?

To add to NT's answer: You can't create an image of a system that is running, so you should create a bootable cd which contains ghost and boot with that to create the image. I can recommend BartPE to create such a disc.

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Went to Start > Backup and Restore > Create Sysem Image > Save on DVD+RW. It ran a long time (expected) but then said "Windows found errors on the media and cannot save further backup" It wanted a new disc labeled (same as before). It just repeated the problem over and over. That's why I wondered if an external hard drive would work better. – Gail Synsteby Jan 6 '10 at 17:55
Ow, didn't even know about that feature :) I guess maybe it's a problem with your dvd-drive, so yes, you'll have to try the other options then, being it an external harddrive (or a second partition on the internal one), or a network location (you don't have another pc lying around somewhere? ;-) – fretje Jan 7 '10 at 8:41
I think you can create an image of a running system with windows backup, as long as the output is saved to a non-imaged partition. – jiggunjer Jan 5 at 17:08

You can easily create a restorable image using Symantec Backup Exec System Recovery 2010. They have a 60 day demo that will allow a running system to create an image. That image can be restored to same or different hardware or even convert to an MS or VMware Virtual machine image.

I used this before I upgraded to Windows 7 anad have used it to back up numerous systems before as well.

Symantec BESR 2010

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