I need a way to backup and restore a system after a crash. Windows backup allows me to save user files nicely like documents and emails but the problem is you still have to format and reinstall applications and then resetup accounts like outlook express. Is there another way to do imaging/backing up to make restoring easier?

EDIT: I would like to be able to send these backups to a remote and local server. Possible to keep size down?


Indeed. There are many software packages that will do this for you and more. Costs for most are less than $100.

I've used both ghost and acronis to create complete backups of systems (programs, registry, users, documents, etc).

You'll create an image, move it to your desired media, and you'll later use the software to restore the image to identical (sometimes not) hardware.


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    Acronis has the added ability to take a System A image and migrate it to System B. This means it will fix the drivers problem normally caused by this. Making sure this falls inline with a Windows license terms of service is entirely up to you, many of Microsoft's lincense allows for something like that, some do not. – Ramhound Aug 2 '12 at 17:59

Windows 7 is capable of taking full images of a machine and saving them in a handy .vhd file (so you can still get individual files if need be.) Unfortunately you'll need something else to image an XP machine.

There's plenty of commercial software out there you can find on Google. Clonezilla is a good free and open-source choice.

Ninite is also super handy for any fresh install.

As for remote backup and keeping size down, you would be looking for a feature called 'incremental backup' or 'differential backup'. This will back up only the changes made to the system, that way you're not sending 60Gb down the pipe every time you backup. The question How to incrementally backup whole HDD to external from Windows? might help you.

Last I heard, Clonezilla doesn't do incremental backup, but it does come in a client/server setup so you can automate the backup locally. Freebyte Backup does look like a good choice, but it's starting to sound like you could use a solid commercial product in this scenario.

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