If you do a full backup of all of the files on a hard drive, then if you had to restore from that backup all of your files and programs would work. Are you using Windows 7? The backup in Windows 7 will do what you want. I like to use Ghost for backups as you can restore individual files or the entire hard drive.
I've backed up my Windows, but as I understand it - or at least as I did it - I was only backing up Windows 7 (to restore Windows to its original configuration).
I'll try to look into this "Ghost."
Just in case I wasn't clear enough (for instance I said "programs" when maybe I should have said "software"), I would like to be able to retrieve a program in a way that does not involved reinstalling it to thus avoid "using up" my limited number of installs.
For the record, the reason I want to be able to do this is this is a new computer (an HPE-570t), and I already had to send one back due to a defect in the chipset. I'd hate to install these programs and then have to install them again. And if I just had it "backed up" on the same computer, and couldn't then transfer that backup to an auxilliary hard drive, I'd be in the same boat.
Just to be clear on this, the installation limit on Adobe products isn't a count of how many times you can run the install program, it's the number of copies you can have on various machines at any given time. As such, all you really need to to is to have a backup of the installation media and your license key.
If you get caught with an active installation that's no longer usable due to a hardware crash, then you might have an issue because you weren't able to "deactivate it" and reduce the install count to enable you to install it on another system. But if you contact Adobe and explain what happened they'll reset the install count so you can carry on.
But perhaps an even better way of handling this is to make sure you have an image backup of your OS drive so that you can restore Windows and all it's installed programs in the event of an OS drive failure. Windows 7 has this ability built-in to it's backup program, it's the "Create a System Image" option.
My situation isn't fear of a crash; it's fear of having to physically return my computer and end up with a new and different computer.
The Adobe customer support person may have misunderstood, but I actually talked to one on the phone, explained my situation (that I wanted to install the product, but had a defective computer and would need to reinstall it to a different computer). And there was no mention that they would "reset" anything.
If I could make this "image backup" of my OS, could I then put that on DVDs (or on my auxillary hard drive) such that I had the full Adobe Photoshop program sitting on it and would not need to reinstall it?