How to Image a Windows 7 Computer

I looked and could not find a proper place to ask this, but I just built a new computer (Upgraded the HDD's) and added ram, spend 3 days loading all the software, drivers, etc and I really don't want to go through all that again except for minor updates later on.

I heard about Norton Ghost, Ultra ISO, Power ISO, etc and want to know what people recommend for creating a HDD image of my hard drives as they are now so I can boot the computer say a year from now, press a few keys and have it write a clean working image to the the hardrive if I have some sort of catastrophic failure.

If anyone needs specifics, this is on an M17XR4 with 2 hard drives in raid and I want to do a full 1TB backup/ image to a NAS and then be able to write the image back to the M17XR4 if needed.
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More about image windows computer
  1. Acronis gets good marks. Think Easus ToDo works as well and is free.
  2. I am using Norton Ghost for that, with good results. If your Windows is higher edition (Ultimate, but probably available in Professional as well), built-in Backup utility can create an image as .VHD file, which can be used later on for recovery.
  3. Actually, home premium has a built in imager but have heard better things about the other two I listed (tho I've used built in without issue on my three).

    http://www.howtogeek.com/howto/4241/how-to-create-a-system-image-in-windows-7/
  4. I would recommend Acronis. They partner with Western Digital. I have restored my HDD a few times.

    Also a really nice trick, if you create your image as a VHD, you can setup a separate boot entry for the VHD file using EasyBCD (you can download the community edition for free from Neosmart's website) to make sure your image is in a workable, bootable state without having to restore it.
  5. I second the vote for Acronis. It can often be easily found for free or under $20, and works like a bloody charm. It's light enough I can run it in the background while gaming, and not notice.
  6. Clonezilla is the best by far!
    - http://clonezilla.org/

    Slap it on a CD-R and/or USB thumb drive.

    Even if it doesn't support a file system it can do it in RAW mode.
  7. if you have hdd's over 2tb e.g. i have a 3tb usb3 hdd

    then clonezilla, ghost etc cant see them

    unless you install drivers which is a pain.

    acronis trueimage on the other hand is as easy to work as ghost but just works


    (id recomend acronis or ghost for someone new to it as there quite simple to use)


    make sure to have a look at "Cold Boot Backup methods"

    otherwise it will take a long time.
  8. Macrium Reflect
    http://www.macrium.com/reflectfree.aspx

    You can go as far as making a isolated bootable partition on your HDD to store the backup image of your SSD and the bootable tool.
    Here are the steps to do so:

    1) Make a backup image of your whole SSD, don't skip system partition, you can select compress option in advanced menu just before proceeding with backup
    2) Create a small partition at the end of your HDD with Disk Management tool (right click Computer > Manage; Resize - pull the slider from the end, free up enough for the recovery image to fit with a GB or 2 extra)
    3) Create bootable rescue media > Windows PE (this is important)
    4) Run command prompt as administrator and type 'bootsect /nt60 R: /force /mbr' where R: is your backup partition's drive letter
    5) Type 'diskpart', 'list disk', here you'll see all your disks numbered, then type 'select disk 1' for example if 1 is your HDD with R: partition, 'list partition', same deal here 'select partition 3' and last thing you have to do is type 'active'
    6) Open your newly made .ISO and copy the contents to root of your R: partition, you can uninstall AIK afterwards

    To do a recovery, just hit the boot menu during POST (usually F11 key) and select your HDD
  9. Hi Everyone,

    Thank you for all the suggestions..... Work has been keeping me busy so sorry for the late reply.

    The Alienware laptop has 1 x 500gb HD's in raid for performance (not redundancy), I think I am going to go the Acronis route first and see how that goes since it looks like it has the most recommendations.

    I have not filled the full 1TB yet, so I am well under 2TB for special drivers at the moment. I was going to store a copy of the image on my NAS for later use.

    I will look into Macrium Reflect, but I don't want to fill the rest of the space on my hard drive on the laptop to store an image, as storage space is at a premium on laptops.

    My tower is a different story :-)
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