Hello all,

Ive been building music PC's for friends for a while now and have been getting busier. I was wondering what is the best way to make a recovery CD... I know Norton Ghost is brilliant but i didn't want to use it for two reasons...1) I want to start using unattended setups and don't want to be having to register each copy and 2) the main reason...i don't want to pass to cost on to them.

The main thing is... would it be better to use a file-based back up or a sector based image? most free softwares seem to use sector-based but from what i can see it would take a lot of CD's to burn an image of a full drive even if it isn't all being used even with compression, i presume file-based takes less space and would do fine assuming the master boot sectors are still in place for recovery??

Any ideas of what's out there to allow me to do this fully automated file-based backup on to a bootable CD (no floppy drives)... assuming file-based is the way to go!

Im just a bit confused, not use to working at the level of disk sectors!! Thank you all for your time and hope to hear from you soon


Why not use Ghost?

You've got the best of both worlds there-- it does file-based when appropriate, and sector-based when it doesn't recognize the host computer's file system. It has excellent compression, too. Keep in mind that if we're just talking about the OS and installed programs, and no customer data, we might come in at around no more than 4-5 CDs. Ghost has the capability to burn the image straight to disc, too, so you could end up with a boot image, ala how HP makes their recovery CDs.

If you buy an enterprise/professional version of Ghost, you can put the ghost.exe executable on a floppy, use it on any computer you come across, and still be in good shape from a licensing standpoint.

When imaging Windows XP, you're always going to have to activate the product. I recommend you look over these links:


Don't laugh at my horrendously bad web skills, though-- I might have taken maybe 5 minutes to make this page. Those links discuss how to use sysprep to "seal" an image after including all of the customer's settings and software. Using sysprep, you have the ability to recreate the entire "out of box experience" of getting a new computer, but you can customize it to pre-include the CD key, configure networking settings, etc. There are TONs of things that you can do with sysprep to customize the booting process. Once that initial breaking of the software "seal" has been completed, your customized settings are deleted from the drive, and the customer is none the wiser. They just saw this really slick process, and know that you configured this brand-new computer just for them. :cool:

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