Hot to Create your own restore disk?

By jungleexplorer ยท 16 replies
Sep 23, 2008
  1. How to Create your own restore disk?

    I know this question has been asked before, but I have yet to find the answer I am looking for.

    I want to create my own restore disk. Why? Well, we have all been there. You build a new system, install a fresh copy of Win XP and install all of the updates and your favorite programs. The system starts in 30 seconds and runs like a charm. As time goes on you install and uninstall a few hundred programs and games, and your system slows to a crawl and crashes all the time. You know that solution is to reformat your hard rive and start fresh, but you hesitate because you know that it will take you several days to reinstall and update all of your programs. You now wish you had a restore disk that would take you back to that point in time when your system was running like a charm with all of your favorite software installed, registered, activated and updated. That's why I want to create my own restore disk.

    I know that computer manufacturers have programs that allow you to create your own restore disk that will restore your system back to the state when you created the restore disk. Acer for example has a program called eRecovery that comes up when you turn the computer on for the first time. It ask you to create a restore disk. But Acer's eRecovery also allows you to create a complete restore disk after you have installed all of the updates and the programs you want. That's all fine and dandy if you buy an Acer computer, but what options exist if you build your own system likes I do? I have seen a lot of people suggest Acronis true image software to do this. Well, I just built a new system and got it all updated with all the software I want on it. It runs perfect right now. I downloaded a 15 day trial of Acronis True Image 11 to see if it would do what I want it to. But I have yet to find a way to create a restore disk with it. Before I go any further, let me clarify right here what I want to do.

    Okay, I have my win XP pro installation installed on a 126 GB primary partition. After I have installed all of the updates and initial programs I want, I have used only 5 GB of space on the primary partition. Acronis wants to create a full 126 GB partition image. I don't want to waste 121 GB of HD space when I all I need is the information stored on 5 GB. Now the Acer eRecovery program could do what I want and burn the image to multiple DVD-R disk, so I know it is possible to do what I want, but I need a program that can do it on a home built system. eRecovery only works on Acer built machines.

    So now that you understand what it is that I want to do. Maybe you could tell me if there is a program out there that can do it. I have also tried creating a slipstreamed disk with everything I want on it, but all attempts have failed.

    So I guess what I am asking is this; is there a third party program out there, like Acer's eRecovery, that can gather all of the current data on your HD (OS, Programs, Updates, Drivers) to create a set of restore disk that will bring your system back to the exact state that it was when you create the disk? Maybe Acronis true image can do this and I just don't know how yet. If so can you please give me the directions. Thanks.
  2. tuant

    tuant TS Booster Posts: 202

    Norton ghost will allow you to create an image of your hard disk which will (depending upon the amount of data you have) only take up couple gigs. Windows also has a built in program that will allow you to create an image under start=>programs=>accessories=>system tools=>backup. Follow the backup wizard, its pretty strait forward. I normally use Norton ghost and back up my PC once a month. Average image size is 5GB.
  3. jungleexplorer

    jungleexplorer TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 23

    Thanks. I don't have norton ghost so I tried to use the XP pro backup program. I will let me create a restore file of my system, but it would not let me burn it to a DVD. Can this be done?
  4. tuant

    tuant TS Booster Posts: 202

    To be honest, i rarely used to program but I assume you can. Can't you just use Nero or your favorite burning software and burn it on to a DVD?
  5. jungleexplorer

    jungleexplorer TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 23

    Well, I could do that but it would just be a dvd with a file on it, not a bootable restore disk. If windows crashes or my hard drive dies, it would be useless. My whole pioint is to create a set of system restore disk. The XP backup program creates a file on your harddrive and then creates a bootable floppy disk to start the restore process. Can you believe that? A Floppy disk! Do they still make those things? I don't even own a floppy drive. Well, for get the XP backup. Does anybody know a better way to do this?
  6. tuant

    tuant TS Booster Posts: 202

    I gave you two programs that will do what you need. A third one is Hiren's boot disc which is bootable disc that contains several cloning softwares such as norton ghost that allows you to create images of your hard disk. Secondly, you'll need a second partition in order to save the image file. There not point in saving the image on your primary HD because if that fails, there's no way for you to access the image file.
  7. jungleexplorer

    jungleexplorer TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 23

    Hum... I am not sure if we are understanding each other. I am taking about a program that will create a set of restore DVD's, not a harddrive clone. Acronis True Image can create a clone of my Harddrive, but the resulting image is the total size of the entire partition, not just the data on the partition. Unless I shrink my primary partition down to let's say 10GB, then I will waste a ton of space for nothing. I thought I was clear in my original post about that, but maybe I was not. Or maybe I am not understanding what you are saying. It sure does not seem that we are talking about the same thing. I already tried using XP's backup utility and it does not do what I want. It does create a system restore file that will bring the system back to where I want it to, but it will not burn that file to a bootable dvd that I can pop in and restore the system with. Plus, in order to use the restore file that the XP backup utility creates, you have to have a floppy drive, which no modern systems have. So it is useless. You did mention that you prefer Norton Ghost. I know that Ghost can clone a partition, but can it make bootable system restore DVD's. Just about every brand name computer comes with a proprietary program that can do this, but what I need to know is if there is a non proprietary program that can do it?
  8. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 14,523

    Norton Ghost (I use this one)
    Acronis True Image (most users like this one, images and backup incrementally)
    Acronis Migrate Easy (Just disk clone - quite good!)
    Drive Image (Basically an alternative)
    DriveImage XML (This one is free!)
    MaxBlast (I haven't used this, but it's free)
    pc-disk-clone(Home Edition: Up to 2GB/min, Pro Edition: Up to 7GB/min)

    Imaging: Backs up your entire system, including Windows and data, plus your partition as well. The image can be stored on removable media, such as DVD. And usually takes under an hour (depending on size of image) to fully recover to a blank HardDrive.
  9. jungleexplorer

    jungleexplorer TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 23

    Okay, I have done it. But the questions is, does it work? I used Acronis to make a full backup of my system. Even though it said it needed 126GB, in the end, the backup image was just 4GB. But I have no way to know if what I have done will actually work to restore my system. I am not willing to cross my fingers and hope it is right. I am also not willing to try to restore the the system I made the backup of with out knowing if it works, have it fail, and spend the next 3 days reformatting and reinstalling. Here is what I am thinking. I have another XP pro system with 3 hard drives. I was thinking of creating a partition on one of the harddrives to test the restore file. So, I went ahead and did that. The restore went smoothly and all of the files appear on the partition. Now the only problem is that I can't test it because I can't boot off of it. I need to edit the boot process so it will know that there is another operating system on a different drive. Is there a program to do this? I did a search for the boot.ini file. I found two of them. One on the C drive and one on the F drive where I did the restore. They both say the exact same thing (see below). I guess I need to add another line, but I am not sure what it should say. Any Ideas?

    [boot loader]
    [operating systems]
    multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /fastdetect /NoExecute=OptIn"
  10. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 14,523

    I always make a bootCD (or DVD actually) in the process of creating the image, I don't know exactly the steps on Acronis how to do that (but I'm sure it's easily found in help or some website) Basically I use Ghost.

    But to test your unknown image, you just need a blank HardDrive (no Partition neccessary) Once you work out how to boot and recover your image to it
  11. CCT

    CCT TS Evangelist Posts: 2,653   +6

    'you know that it will take you several days to reinstall and update all of your programs.'


    If you make a practice of downloading to the My Downloads folder and saving in Individual Named Folders and then backing that up on a second HD or RW CD, and if you made a streamlined SP2 or SP3 CD, getting back up in XP Pro is about 5 hours tops (allowing time for some wine and cheese).

    If you are adding the loads of crap most people that come here with problems have, then, maybe, several days, but it serves you right!

  12. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 14,523

    Mine's about 30minutes with a Ghost restore image
    And all I do is press ok, then wait, then restart

    Imaging is better, but making backups of your data to external media, is always a good idea (actually I never image including data, seeming it's already backed up)
  13. jungleexplorer

    jungleexplorer TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 23

    Hey CCT! what program did you use to make your slipstream DVD with? I used that nLite program and I all I got was a bunch of coffee coasters.
  14. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 11,138   +985

    Acronis will create the bootable CD with an image of the system at the time taken.

    CAVEAT EMPTOR: If used, it will replace the MBR and repartition the HD to that
    moment in time the CD was created. (GRR) Seems very excessive to me.

    If the hardware is sound but there's no other choice, then at least this gets you a running system.

    (A)From that point, you could use System State backups and/or Restore Points copies
    to bring you forward
    (but you need to copy them off your HD periodically to secondary media).

    In addition, notice that (A) is system stuff and you still need to address some backups
    origined from \Documents and Settings\ to collect User Data
  15. jungleexplorer

    jungleexplorer TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 23

    Thanks Kimsland. I am going to try Ghost next. From what you said, it looks like what I have been looking for.
  16. CCT

    CCT TS Evangelist Posts: 2,653   +6

    I used a CD, not a DVD.

    This is generally what I followed - if you have SP2 the instructions work well for slipstreaming SP3;
  17. jungleexplorer

    jungleexplorer TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 23

    Thanks CCT. I will give that a try.
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