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A not uncommon situation...

Although we'd never recommend it, we have heard that it's possible to use this kind of software to salvage an OEM operating system from a mass market type computer.

Some folks believe that the price of Windows was included when they bought their HP, Compaq, Gateway or whatever, and this type of software helps them move it to a new or rebuilt system.

We've heard, in fact, that it works extremely well for this, provided you first strip out the stuff that won't be needed (and the OEM followed the typical course of providing an options/cabs folder).

This capability is something of a problem for Microsoft, and one of the stated reasons for the XP activation process.

We can't imagine anyone wanting to do this with ME, but (technically at least) it ought to be no problem for a 98 or 2000 transfer.


PowerQuest Drive Image
Simple software for advanced system maintenance.

DriveImage version 7 is now out, adding "hot" imaging of system partitions under Windows 2000 and XP.  This enables backups of your C drive without delving into DOS or having to reboot- certainly a convenience, but one that has a price.  Like Partition Magic, DriveImage appears to be evolving into a "system locked" application.  Since version 7 includes the 2002 package, we'd recommend you get it while you can.  Future versions will likely lack the kind of flexibility you need for this kind of software.

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PowerQuest Drive Image
Indispensable utility for hard drive backups.  Version 2002 reviewed, included with version 7.

The retail consumer package of PowerQuest's current  version (Fall, 2002)  of their Drive Image software has support for very large hard drives, built-in partitioning tools, an automation option, (some) network functionality, and a redesigned user interface. 

It enables certain types of operations to be completed from the Windows interface, but for the main one (backing up your system drive) you'll still be spending time in DOS.  That's okay though.  We consider that a feature, and PowerQuest includes a working version of the old command interpreter for the DOS impaired (NT/ME/XP). 

Floppy boot recovery

Some reviewers talk as though the DOS requirement is some kind of problem, but we strongly disagree.  When it comes to the point of recovery from a failed hard drive, DOS is your best and oldest friend.  It enables you to accomplish something useful (run this software for example) when Windows is missing in action.  And nothing has to be installed to use it.  In our opinion, backup software that does not operate from this level is useless in a real emergency.

PowerQuest understands that increasing numbers of prospective customers will not have ever seen a DOS prompt, and the software requires no knowledge of the command line interface.  The boot disk (created in the Windows interface), automatically presents the user with a familiar "mouse and icon" environment sufficiently intuitive for anyone to operate.

Although it does a whole lot more, this software exists to make it easy for you to restore a backed up system to an otherwise blank hard drive, a job it does extremely well.  For that alone it's worth it's purchase price.

More about backups...

A spitting image...

Unlike other backup software, Drive Image does not deal primarily in selected files and folders.  Rather, it takes the far more inclusive (and far more reliable) approach of backing up your whole hard drive.  An "image" file contains every block and sector of the imaged drive, including information often left behind by other programs.

Drive Image's basic unit of manipulation is not the file or folder, nor even the drive itself- it's the hard drive partition, a section of the hard drive's disk that houses the information that comprises what we generally mean when we talk about a drive- the full logical structure of all the information it contains: software, application data, and most significantly, system data.

More about partitions...

This is a very simple, and extremely powerful, concept- one that reaches full utility with systems that have been partitioned into multiple logical drives.  Each of these may be imaged or restored independently of any others.  Properly thought out and arranged, these can greatly simplify and streamline computer maintenance and backup operations.  Not the least of considerations: an image can be restored to a new location, a different drive, even a different computer.  Think about that, and what it could mean for you.

For those times when you need only to restore a few files or folders, the package includes "Image Explorer".  As its name implies, this Explorer-like interface allows you to pick and choose specific items to pluck from an image file, rather than engage a full-scale restoration.

Although 2002 includes some useful partitioning tools, we'd recommend PowerQuest's PartitionMagic for advanced partitioning capabilities.

Source, destination...

Drive Image copies one partition to another, or to a file which may be stored on any kind of media.  This allows you a great deal of flexibility.  You can use it to copy an old hard drive to its new replacement, copy a data drive from one location to another, restore your system partition without disturbing others, and a lot of other nifty things.

Image files can be compressed, so they won't require as much space as the original, and split, so they'll fit onto CD's.  Drive Image 2002 can record directly to almost any modern CD writer, but with the size of modern hard drives, even DVD's can start stacking up. 

You can copy to CD, another partition, another hard drive, or to a mapped network drive.  The latter is very useful for a notebook system, though the customized boot disk required can be difficult to set up- you must identify and install a suitable DOS mode driver for your notebook's network card.

With multiple partitions or (especially) a network, you can schedule periodic automated images of any but your system's boot partition.  For a very structured, modular setup, this can be extremely useful.  We'll confess to not having reached that level of organization.  We're not sure whether we aspire to it.

In fact, we use a simple batch file to copy our current data to the network, but for a real, archival, recover-from-disaster type of backup, it needs to be stored offline- on something that will be removed from the system and kept safely from harm's way.

We've installed a removable hard drive rack, and temporarily insert a second physical drive for doing these kinds of backups.  This is much quicker, much more convenient, and in the long run less expensive than other storage options.  Removable hard drive racks are available online here...

Handily, when creating an image file on expansive media, Drive Image has an option to split it into multiple files, the size of which the user can determine.  We use this to provide the option of archival to CD from our secondary backup drive.

For the truly motivated, Drive Image 2002 includes a "virtual floppy" editor, which enables booting a recovery session directly from CD or a specially prepared partition on your hard drive.

Expertise optional...

Building on its previous releases, Drive Image 2002 has evolved into a tool that's easy enough for novices, yet advanced enough for experts- with some potentially extremely useful tools included.

The current version includes unobtrusive "wizards" and inline instructions, together with an excellent and informative help section- making it a good choice for beginner or intermediate users, as well as partitioning, automation, and network facilities for the more advanced.

The network support is limited- you can create an image on a mapped network drive, but you cannot capture a partition that resides outside your machine.  For that, you'll need the more expensive corporate edition, Drive Image Pro.

For the typical home or small office user, this is not a serious limitation.  Overall, this software receives our strongest recommendation.

More about Drive Image...
PowerQuest's web site.


Get PowerQuest Drive Image 2002
Direct Connect: PowerQuest Drive Image 2002
Deep discount while they last!

Get PowerQuest Drive Image 7
PowerQuest Drive Image 7.0 Backs up your C drive in the background, while you're using your computer! 

Difficult to believe as this may be, we've restored our XP Pro boot drive from one of these "hot" backups, and it was (as far as we could tell), absolutely flawless.  We're using the scheduling facility to image up our boot drive every night, automatically, while we experiment with new software- secure in the knowledge that a current image is available should things go awry.

The DriveImage 7 package includes the full 2002 version as well, and this may be your last chance to get the program in its full flexibility.

Direct Connect: PowerQuest Drive Image 7


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