Can I create a system Image of just programs / applications?

If I have posted this in the wrong location feel free to move it or request me to move it.

Hello and thank you for taking the time to help me out, skip ahead to the next paragraph if you want to read my question(s). I've been using computers ever since Windows 3.1 and '95 and I have been plagued with dozens upon dozens of hdd crashes and similar occurrences which forced me to reformat and reinstall all the programs I use (and have to search and find them again...). I have learned a lot since '95. One method of keeping my apps and media safer is by keeping them on a separate larger internal hdd and running my OS on a smaller ~400gb hard drive. I have just gotten into creating full system images with Acronis that fill up 3+ blu ray discs, which is ok if I'm only making one ever, but my documents and programs consist of more than half of that data. It would be nice to make one full system image right after I reformat my computer and install all device drivers I'll be using; my questions below are in regards to making images of the programs to allow very simple install later. Let me say this as well: I know of the extreme difficulty of taking a system image created on 'PC A' and using it on 'PC B'. Basically unless PC A and B the same brand and model something is bound to not work correctly due to driver issues and hardware incompatibility.

Anyways, what I am interested in now is to get one of my computers installed with all the software and plugins I typically use and create a "system image" consisting of only my programs and the necessary files to have them run properly. I understand this may be unfeasible but I'd like to further my knowledge and hear from others their ideas to my problem. I say it may be unfeasible because, when installing a program, files are saved into many different directories, including various folders within "Users" and the hidden folder "ProgramData" (as well as possibly to the "Windows" folder and/or C: as well as the computer's registry).

I feel this may work if I get every file that was created at installation time as well as run windows 7 on all of my computers that I'll be using this "software-only system image" on.

Is there any software that will allow me to accomplish my goal or at least make my job easier?

If this is possible and assuming I'll only be using 64-bit versions of Win7, will I run into problems between, say, Home Premium and Ultimate? Is the structure or layout of the OS different in the ways / directories it installs programs into?

If the above fails or is impossible then...

I was considering another idea but with more work for me... In school, both high school and college we had computer labs and every computer had the same programs installed and there were many programs (say 20 programs * 100 computers in the larger labs). Albeit the computers were the same make/model, lets forget that fact for the purpose of this question, as well as the fact that all the computers were networked together which may allow little tricks here and there... Forget those facts and here is my last question: Instead of just having an image of already installed programs would there be a way for me to somehow install, say, 50 programs without launching each one individually? I would be very surprised if a program like this didn't already exist for IT people yet. For example, in a law firm, if someone in the office gets a virus do they call in the IT guys and they 1) reformat the computer 2) install OS 3) reinstall all required software one after the next? Seems a bit time consuming, in my example 20 apps * 100 computers, I couldn't imagine installing the same programs 2000 times...

Thank you, I very much appreciate everyone's help.

Adam Johnston
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More about create system image programs applications
  1. the problem with attemting to back up just programs is not easy (not sure a program exist) as it is not just the program files, but all the entries contained in the Registry.

    Not sure how you are configured, But the OS (with all drivers) is normally under 20 gigs. For a well managed system and window 7 an Image of the "C" drive normally only takes around 10->15 minutes and about the same to re-install the image.

    Taking a page from SSD installations, the most common size for a OS + Program drive is 120/128 gigs which equate to a max of about 90 gigs usable. In my 4 systems windows 7 + programs take about 35 gigs (Not a gamer so this does NOT include games). ALL user files are stored on "D" or higher drives. This includes moving "C\user\My docs" to D drive. The biggest problem I find is that may only use one partition (C) to store OS + Programs + all user generated files.

    Myself, I create a Image of my C drive and this image is stored on a 2nd Internal drive and BACKED UP to an external HDD. DVDs, Blu-ray over the counter disks are NOT a reliable back-up. Only M-class DVDs are a reliable media (not all DVD drives can write to M-Class media). Anyways I create this image right after OS install, windows updates, drivers and programs (then test). I only recreate this image after adding/deleting several programs (ie maybe every 6 months.

    A little on DVD/Blu-ray disks.
    1) They may die in as little as 6 Months. depends on temerature & RH
    2) If you ever analysed a DVD disk after coping ay a movie onto it and looked at the PIE/PIF errors, like WOW a good burn may contain 10,000 recoverable errors (should be 0 non-recoverable errors). However the recoverable errors can easily become NON-recoverable. In the case of a Movie - 10,000 recoverable errors is not a biggiy. But I've also seen where the errors have exceeded 100,000!!!

    This means all the data you thought was safely stored could be lost because the discs you used have an average lifespan of only about 3 to 5 years! Why would you risk your data based on an average; hundreds of discs taken into account in that average were corrupt and unreadable after only a few months
    End quote, Ref:
  2. RetiredChief said:

    A little on DVD/Blu-ray disks.
    1) They may die in as little as 6 Months. depends on temerature & RH
    2) If you ever analysed a DVD disk after coping ay a movie onto it and looked at the PIE/PIF errors, !


    Thanks for your quick response chef, I'm only on my phone now do I'll be brief, what does RH stand for in you "1)" on DVD/Blu-ray disks? And what type of program could I analyze these "PIE/PIF" errors with? That would be interesting to look at and compare different burns ive done.

    You've given me quite a lot to think about and given me some information to read up on, thank you. I will make a more formal post once I get back to a pc.

    Thank you. And please I encourage others to post and share their knowledge on the topics at hand.

    Adam Johnston
  3. RH = Relative Humidity

    Two programs:
    1) Plextor put out a great program called plex tools. it came with their DVD drives. But they quite making/selling their own DVD drives a number of years ago. I still have a couple, just no longer installed. At the time they were the Best DVD writers and they CHARGE a premium.
    Apprantely a free download, do not know if it works with non-plextor drives, but dought it.,com_jdownloads/Itemid,55/catid,86/cid,470/task,
    Some info on it with graph showing pie and pio erroers.:

    2) Nero had a program called CD-DVD speed that would worked on select drives. It would not work on the Samsusung drive I had, But it was a simple registry edit to UNBLOCK it.

    Latest plextor is 2010, Latest Nero seems to be 2007.

    Tried to google "measure pie disk errors" did not see any NEW programs.
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