Backup of Operating System Image

I have PC's with no floppy neither CD-ROM.
How is the best way to install Windows XP (and after OpenOffice) without that hardware?
Once both softwares installed I want to do a backup image of this starting point for in place quick restore. What software can I use?
Can I make and use network backups of this image for future installations?
Using a USB memory card is a choice?
How can I enter the Licence Key for new installations?
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WatzmanConnect With a Mentor Commented:

Actually, if you are doing a volume deployment -- and I did not catch that this was the case -- there are a number of Microsoft tools that you can use just for this purpose.

One technique is to prepare, on another system, cloned hard disks that have an incomplete installation on them.  These are then installed into the final systems in which they will reside for the final stage of the installation (which includes the product key entry).

Another technique it to boot the machines over the network (this requires a BIOS that can boot from a network, which, today, most machines do have, and also a special server on the network to support this).

These are all advanced techniques that are almost beyond description in a forum like this, and if you want to pursue these, the various MCSE exam books all go into great lengths on both disk-based and network-based volume deployment strategies.  But the bottom line is that Microsoft has several specific solutions to this, all intended for use when dozens to hundreds of machines are to be deployed at once.  They all involve some overhead, however, and are probably more trouble than they are worth for a small number of machines (a single digit number).
I would suggest that you buy a $20 drive and use it temporarily to install, because it will be a lot easier than trying to do it over a network, which is the only other way you are going to be able to get the installation image on that machine, unless you take the hard drive out and copy all the data to it from another machine.  Even then, you have to boot the system up with the OS on the installation CD.
I would agee with Callandor, but also you may want to invest a few $ more, and get a CDR-W, then you can keep your image on CD.  As for software to do your image, I use Norton Ghost.
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No floppy AND no CD?

Is the system currently working with any OS?  Is it on a network?  If it's on a network, you can copy the I386 folder from a Windows XP CD (placed into another computer that is on the same network) to an "I386" folder that you create on the target PC, then you can do the installation of XP from that folder without need for either a floppy or a CD.

If the computer is not currently running and has no OS on it currently, you will have to copy the I386 folder to some bootable USB storage device and then boot from that device.  You will then have to partition and format the hard drive, and copy the I386 folder to the now partitioned and formatted hard drive.  It's much more difficult, because it's somewhat tricky to make a bootable USB drive that has USB support and is large enough to hold the I386 folder (about 500 megabytes).

Once you get Windows installed, you should use Ghost or Drive Image or Acronis Trueimage to makea an image of the installed system, then you can transfer this (over a network) to another system and burn it onto a CD or DVD.

Frankly, while I can understand not having a floppy drive, when the best DVD burner made (Pioneer "09" from Newegg) is $63, I can't understand not having any optical drive.
jclobocarAuthor Commented:

It's not a cost question. It's just an option.
If you have access to a USB CD rom, that will work.  However, if you are not afraid to take the hard drive out and put it on another system, on the secondary controller (remove the CD on that system temporarily), then you can copy the 1386 directory from the XP CD onto the hard disk (including all directories under it) and then put the drive back in the original system.  Boot from a floppy, then do C:\   then Cd\i386   then winnt.exe
That is another way to get up and running.
sorry I meant, boot from the hard disk, not floppy.  I am assuming you have something running on this drive already, yes?  If there is absolutely nothing on it, you can "sys" it while in the other system, just to get a boot from hard disk, all you need is enough to actually run the winnt.exe file from the C:\i386 directory, nothing fancy...
sciwriterConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Aha -- reading your Q again, I now see you are trying to master a system setup for cloning to PCs without the right hardware.  I would not recommend that.  All XP installation like that should be done on a "master" working system, and when you clone to others, you need to have the SAME hardware in those too, not eliminate the CD or floppy drives.
I would sugest creating a hardware indapendent network share that you can push sysprep images out to your PC's, thats what i do where i work.  That way you never have to worry about what type of hardware is in the machine and you can just install it via the network, same thing with office or whatever else you need to install.. just use sysprep, and msi/mst for other microsoft apps.. here is a good site to learn about that.
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