Greetings. I have an iMac (running OS X v.10.5.5), and I've never backed it up before. It has Parallels Desktop installed so that I could migrate my old Windows XP laptop onto my iMac and run it simultaneously. It's my understanding (although I could be wrong) that Parallels partitions the Mac hard drive for itself differently from the rest of the drive in order to be able to run. I need to back up my iMac (presumably with Time Machine, but I'll get whatever will work), but I'm afraid that Time Machine won't recognize that part of the hard drive (the part reserved for Windows XP) and therefore won't back up the Windows XP stuff.
What I really want to do is create a clone of the iMac's hard drive (including the XP part), so that if there's some kind of critical failure, I can just use the clone on the backup drive to recreate the iMac's hard drive in its current state. But I don't know if this is possible, and I recognize that I may have to perform the backup in a different way, but however it's done, I need to get the entire drive, not just the OS X part.
For the purposes of this backup, I bought a Seagate SATA Barracuda 3.5" internal hard drive kit (500 GB/16 MB cache), and I installed it inside an OWC Mercury Elite-AL Pro high-speed external hard drive, with a FireWire 400 cable. **I have not yet formatted this drive.** I have no idea how to do it, or in what format to do it, so I'll need for someone to explain that to me as well.
I've been avoiding this for a while because I'm a Mac novice and this all seems very overwhelming to me, but I'm moving cross-country in three weeks, and I better damn well have my computer backed up before I leave. I will be most grateful for any help, and please assume that I don't know *anything*.