We talk a lot on this Blog about how important it is to have a current backup of all of your critical data, and given the state of the Internet today with its epidemic of malware, there’s a good chance, that at some point, you may well need this backup.
If you’re not too worried about the malware threat to your data, then consider this. Just like death and taxes are a certainty, the fact that your computer’s Hard Drive will crash one day and refuse to respond, is every bit as certain.
What are you going to do then – if you don’t have a current backup of your critical data, system/device drivers (something many of us forget), and user operating system settings?
How are you going to recover your irreplaceable data; documents, digital photos, email messages, personal and business related work, and important private data?
So backups are important – critically important. Despite the importance of Hard Drive backups, most computer technicians will tell you that typically, computer users’ do not backup their irreplaceable data.
If you should suffer catastrophic Hard Drive failure and you are one of the few, out of the ordinary, computer users who regularly and faithfully backup, you will have a lot of work ahead of you, but you will recover.
If you do not have a backup plan, it’s time you thought seriously about developing one.
Yes, I know there is effort involved in learning how to protect your data by developing and implementing a backup plan. But without a plan, your data becomes a hostage to fortune. Your Hard Drive might be damaged by malware – it might not. Your Hard Drive might fail – it might not. But why take the risk?
The best backup strategy includes imaging your Hard Drives and partitions, since that allows you to restore your important data, your complete operating system, as well as your installed applications, user settings, etc.
There are loads of free applications out in the wild blue that, used properly and regularly, will speed to the rescue. One such free program, that I have no difficulty recommending, is DriveImage XML from Runtime Software.
DriveImage XML uses Microsoft’s Volume Shadow Services (VSS) to create images, allowing you to create safe “hot images”, even from drives currently in use. Images are then stored in XML files, which allows you to process those files with third party tools.
The real benefit in imaging your full drives and partitions is, you now have the ability to restore your complete operating system, as well as your installed applications, user settings, and the registry. Better yet, you can restore the image to a replacement drive.
An added feature of DriveImage XML is, the included image explorer that permits access to previously created backup images and the extraction of individual files.
Since this program is currently distributed as freeware, there is no technical support offered. Instead, refer to the program’s help file and documentation. If you need additional help, you can refer to the program’s frequently asked questions (FAQ).
Backup logical drives and partitions to image files
Browse these images, view and extract files
Restore these images to the same, or a different drive
Copy directly from drive to drive
Schedule automatic backups with Task Scheduler
Restore images to drives without rebooting
Free for home use only
Runs from a WinPE boot CD-ROM
Backup, image and restore on FAT 12, 16, 32 and NTFS drives
User comments – from CNET user reviews:
Pros: Easy to use; does a thorough job.
Cons: Nothing at all.
Summary: This utility is easy to use and does exactly what it claims. I imaged my Vista laptop, installed a new, larger HD and copied the imaged old drive to the new drive with absolutely no problems. No need to reinstall Vista.
Pros: Easy to use and very useful to save disk images and restore. Never had a problem in the past year.
Cons: None that I experienced.
Summary: Great for regular backups too.
I wouldn’t normally insert review comments from users, but backing up is so critically important that hopefully these comment will lend credibility to just how easy it is to back up.
System Requirements: Windows XP, 2003, Vista, or Windows 7.
Watch the DriveImage XML video tutorial on YouTube
Latest version: July 2010 – DriveImage XML V2.14
Download at: Runtime Software
Another terrific free application definitely worth checking out is Macrium Reflect. For a through understanding of the advantages of this free application check out Make An Exact Copy of Your Hard Drive, on Rick Robinette’s site. You’ll be glad you did.
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