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Now that Drive Image 4.0 is out, you can now burn directly to CDR, and CDRW media!
Drive Image 3.x is better and has more features than the 2.x version. I can't say enough about this product!
First, let me paint you a picture. You decide to wipe your hard drive and re-install Win9x. Now if that's all you do it'll take about 1-2 hours. But most people want to tweak or fine tune it as well, for example: wallpaper, sounds, shortcuts, and maybe organize the start menu. Now you're up to 3-6 hours (depending). And if you're like me, you also have some applications that you always want installed. At this point I've spent 8-10 hours and while it's all tweaked and patched (g) and ready to use, it still doesn't have any but the most needed applications and utilities installed.
At this point I'd be happy with my setup but an uncontrolled system decay would start. As I installed/uninstalled programs, DLL's were over-written, bits and pieces were left behind. The result would be that in 3-4 months I would always have to start over (an "average" user probably will get 6-12 months before Win9x gets too flaky). And of course you've most likely see or heard of an install completely hosing your system.
So I thought about different ways to backup this "perfect" install. (BTW I hate all things related to backup!) Tape was out. It's too slow, bulky, and unreliable. Floppies, ARE YOU KIDDING! (My average backup is between 800-1300 meg.) The long and short was it had to be either another hard drive or a CD. I felt that another hard drive was a little too spendy for just a backup, plus I have a CDR. (CD-ROM Recorder/burner) So now I had the media that I'd use to backup to. It was perfect, cheap, 650meg per CD, and pretty reliable as well.
At this point I had a plan, and I had the media, now I needed to figure out how to get it done. I tried XCOPY with a lot of switches (no fun) copying everything to another partition then doing the burn to CD. It took forever, and had a number of problems. I then tried MS backup (comes with Win9x ) and in Win98 you still have to reinstall Windows first, granted it'll be done with a script but still too much hassle and (call me paranoid) since the registry is a live file (being read and written to all the time), how accurate will the copy be from within Win9x?
Well I finally (call me slow) read about Drive Image 2.0 by PowerQuest. I was (and still am) a happy user of Partition Magic 3.0 and decided to give this a try. Quite simply... "THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT UTILITY I NOW OWN" I may not use it every day but it saves me so much time! It is very easy and safe to use. I have complete confidence in the backup I've made that I can trash my system any time I want knowing I can have it up and running in about 8-15 minutes.
The program runs in DOS mode only for safety. It can either be ran from the hard drive or (my choice) from a set of boot disks. It has a nice graphical interface (no command lines!). It can backup directly to floppies (g), zip disks, jazz drives, and hard drives (to any partition not being copied that's big enough). It has a program to create the boot disk set so that shouldn't be a problem.
So here's what I do... Boot the 'puter with disk1 of the set. Then insert disk2 and type PQDI hit enter. In a moment the program loads (floppies are slow). Choose create backup. Choose what partitions to backup (remember, D.I. does a perfect copy of the partition, it doesn't read the files). Choose were to write the backup to ( I use another empty partition). Tell it what compression to use (or none). Write a description of what the backup is. And press finish. With out using a stopwatch I think it took about 4-7 minutes to copy around 600 meg. Also in case you're doing a large backup it does disk spanning as well ( this means you tell it to not make a file larger than (say) 650meg).
So this is what I do to stay safe and happy. I do a fresh/pure install of Win9x with all of it's patches (g). No other drivers or software. I tweak it the way I like it. Then I make a backup with D.I. to a empty partition. Then I start adding drivers and "must have" programs. Then I make another backup with D.I.. At this point I burn these to boot-able CD's. Then I finish adding what I want and make another backup and burn. So now it I toast my OS I can either start from scratch with CD1(in case my hardware has changed or drivers are bad etc.. or CD2 if it's recent. Then when ever I'm going to try something drastic with my system (like Win98 Second Edition) I stop and burn a fresh backup to a CD. It costs about $2.00 for the CD and about 20 minutes of my time. But oh! what a comfortable feeling. Then sense of security that has been missing since the days of DOS (in DOS if you installed a program the worst thing you might have to do is type DELTREE "DIR NAME" hit enter and maybe copy backups of your config.sys and autoexec.bat back) So that even if the install bombs out you're only a few minute from complete recovery!
If you find yourself in any of the above situations then you owe it to yourself to go to PowerQuest's website and take a look. This program (as well as Partition Magic 3.0) are the only two programs that I say are the best. There are many imitators but none of them hold a candle to the above. There are other must have programs I love (like WinZip) but none I recommend as strongly.
Your hard drive blew up. You lost your tax spreadsheets. Your addresses. That critical business proposal. Not to mention your sanity. You had your whole life contained in a few gigs. Which is why it's a good thing you used Drive Image from PowerQuest®. In minutes, you were able to make a complete backup of your hard drive on a Zip®, JAZ®, or almost any other removable media. When disaster struck, you simply reloaded the copy of your hard drive and you were back in business. No hassles. No missing preferences, partitions or passwords. No problems. Just a click of a button and your computer was restored to its exact state before the crash. It's that simple.
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