The quickest way back after a crash?

Hi, everyone -

I have had a few random crashes since moving over to Vista. On two occasions, a System Restore or a Windows repair would not even work. So I had to do the dreaded and time consuming 'clean install' and then re-install all software, pics, MP3s, files, etc. I hate having to download everything again and move all my files over from aback-up DVD-RW.

Is there a better way? I wish there was a way to just re-image the PC or back EVERYTHING up so if a crash happened, I could just re-install Windows and then transfer all files back. I know basic files can be copied back with a DVD-RW or an external drive, but those are just the regular (e.g., pics, mp3s, office docs, etc.) files, right? Not installed software and games? I mean, it takes forever to re-download things like Logitech software, Picassa, Limewire, McAfee, Kodak software, Nero, Nvidia drivers, my Realtek Audio software, and a bunch more........... Then re-install games and re-set all the settings and mappings I prefer.

Is there a better way to get it all back quicker? Any help would be appreciated. I do not yet have an external hard drive, but I'm thinking about getting one.
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  1. Norton Ghost or better Acronis True Image. You would have to make regular incremental backups though. But I definitely think it is not normal to have 'a few' random crashes that require a new OS install. I suspect you could have some problems with virusses. Do you use decent anti virus software, router and firewall?
  2. I'm not 100% sure so don't quote me, but wouldn't an image of your drive be the best way? using one of the many programs available,an image of your system with main programs installed.

    Personally, I have 3 hard drives all my important stuff is on a seperate drive from windows, so if it jacks up i just reinstall Windows and start installing games and programs again. all my pics/music/docs are still in the same folder they were in before i re-installed.
  3. Quit thinking and get an external HDD.
    You can Clone your entire drive if thats what you want.
    Google "Clone Hard Drive"
  4. The only way to quickly recover from a system crash is to have a good disaster recovery plan in place. For my home systems I have a minimum of two hard drives. One is for the OS and applications, the other(s) for data (pictures, music, videos, douments, etc.)

    Preperation begins by making sure that any data (not applications) is backed up to another location. Another Hard Disk, DVD, Computer, anything that keeps that data seperate from the new installtion. If its another Hard Disk I do not install that disk until the OS and applications are installed. This will help to prevent a virus that may be present in the data from corrupting the new load.

    Once you have the data moved to an isolated location begin by removing all partitions and starting from scratch. Install the OS, Service Packs, and patches. Once you verify that the OS is running correctly immediately install your antivirus software, anti spyware software, and for good measure anti-adware software. Update all virus definations and configurations for these packages prior to moving on to updating drivers. Install your most critical software applications (Not games) first, install updates for those applications and make sure everything is running smoothly before installing the next piece of software. Often times a program may share the same files and compatibility issues are much easier to detect if you make sure the program you just installed did not break something else.

    Once all the software is running smoothly start installing the games and patching each after installation. Same as before check that the new installation didn't break something else. After all of your programs and games are installed make an image of the hard drive using whatever software you are most comfortable with. These images can be very large so I store them on my NAS but any external storage device with the capacity to hold this data will do. After you have made the image, then and only then, install the second hard disk with your data on it. Redirect your My Documents Folder to point to the data drive and your ready to go.

    If your machine crashes you can use the image you created to quickly restore back to when you made that image and as long as the data drive is intact you will be back to your new installation. You might want to periodically make a new image of the OS drive but do not destroy the original "clean" installation. I also strongly recommend making backups of your data drive in whatever manner you feel comfortable. Windows Backup will get the job done but there are much better products available.

    I tend to try new software and I do a lot of testing and tweaking of the registry so its not uncommon for me to mess up my OS. Using this process I can typically restore my OS, all applications, and games in 1-2 hours.
  5. @OP:
    The random crashes could be related to your RAM. Run Memtest86+ for 6hrs+ to check for RAM errors. Also list full specs.

    4700th Post!
  6. Like a previous poster has stated Acronis makes the best backup software to date. With options like full or partial backups. Variable compression levels and booting from the cdrom that the program makes is just brilliant.
  7. I think that Selkie Rescue Data Recovery ( is the best way to go when your computer crashes. I've used it on several occasions--I like it because it takes ALL your files off your computer without you having to find them, keeps them all in the same order they were originally in (great for when you transfer them all back) and doesn't require Windows to actually be operating (good for the blue screen of death) I definitely recommend it to others.
  8. ^Why bring up a dead thread???
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