is there an EASY way to make a bootable copy of my hard disk

keithbraithwaite used Ask the Experts™
I've already asked questions in this vein concerning Acronis, Ghost and other programs. I find the process too hard to understand.
I'd really like to be able to make a BOOTABLE copy - image or whatever of my hard disk to be able to start afresh with all my data and all my programs in case of a serious crash.
Maybe it isn't really possible.
Just hook up a new hard disk as slave, format it with XP and use a simple program to copy my entire hard disk. Take out the original hard disk and put the new hard disk in as Master, then start up with Windows opening as usual and all my programs functional...
Tell me I'm not dreaming of the moon or point me towards a really simple program for doing this please.
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Why don't you use  a raid ?
just need to buy a cheap raid controller and setup Mirroring

You can go with SOFTWARE MIRRORING solution, which is built-in. Using software mirroring, you might loose few % in write speed, but might also gain few % on read speed, so if both discs are healthy, you won't really notice the difference. But you will have 2 identical disks, both bootable!
To employ mirroring, go to DISK MANAGEMENT and convert your partitions to DYNAMIC type. Be aware that this is a one-way transformation - there is no way back. But if you are an average user and you do not intend to use more than few partitons, you have nothing to worry about - DYNAMIC disk is a good choice.
After converting to dynamic, attach 2nd hard disk, which might be unformatted, or if not, erase all partitions from it, so it will show up as raw disk space. Then you right-click on your PRIMARY (working) disk partition, and select "Make a mirror" (or something like this). Windows will ask you which empty space you would like to use as a mirrored copy, select "Disk 1" (Disk 0 is your 1st disk), and confirm.
Depending of the size od your disks, it might take few hours to mirror it.

When one of disks fail, you will see errors in Windows Event log. Check it from time to time.

TIP: Put a sticker mark on your hard disks, wrtiting on it "Disk 0" and "Disk 1". That way you will know which disk is bad, when you see some error in Event Log, saying something is wrong with "disk X".

FAILURE: When one of disks fail, windows "should" be smart enough to use only the healthy disk. But if not, depending when it failed, you may easily choose which disk is bootable by editing BOOT.INI file on working disk's primary partition:

[operating systems]

Just edit "disk(0)" or "disk(1)" to select which disk to boot.
as far as i Know a raid 1 (mirroring is not supported in Windows XP)

See the follwing article;en-us;307880

You cannot create mirrored volumes on computers that are running Windows XP Home Edition, Windows XP Professional or Windows XP 64-Bit Edition. However, you can use a computer that is running Windows XP Professional to create mirrored volumes on remote computers that are running Windows 2000 Server, Windows 2000 Advanced Server, or Windows 2000 Datacenter Server. You must have administrative privileges on the remote computer to do this.
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I'm a bit lost there...
Is WimBartels saying that the Labsy solution won't work?
Am I right in thinking that you are talking about a built-in Windows program?

What is a "raid" or a "raid controller"
Can you give me a program name or site?
noxchoIT Product Manager
Top Expert 2009

Look here:

For Windows 2000/2003 servers/XP (works for Vista\Win7 too, tested myself)

   1. Shutdown PC and Connect New Hard Disk
   2. Boot Windows from Old Hard Disk
   3. Run our program
   4. Select old system hard disk
   5. Choose "Copy Hard Disk" in "Hard Disk" Menu
   6. Perform the following actions in the appeared dialog:
          * Select New hard Disk (it is required if you have more than 2 disks simultaneously)
          * Mark "Resize Proportional" checkbox if you want to proportionally Enlarge/Shrink all Copied Partitions to a new hard disk
          * Mark "Without free blocks" checkbox to skip free space between copied partitions
          * Click OK
   7. If Virtual Operations are supported and enabled, press "Apply" button on toolbar and confirm the operation in the appeared dialog
   8. Confirm System Reboot (bluescreen mode) in appeared dialog to perform the disk copying
   9. Wait for copying will be succeeded in bluescreen mode
  10. After Windows Restart the program is running automatically. Drive letters are not assigned for partitions on new hard disk.
  11. Make sure that copied system partition of the New Hard Disk is "Active" and not "Hidden".
  12. Shutdown PC and remove Old Hard Disk.
  13. Boot PC. New System Copy will boot from New Hard Disk.

Attention: You should remove Old Hard Disk before booting from New one.
Top Expert 2012

What you want is a disk clone of the original - Acronis and Ghost both have options to do this, as well as a number of other products. I don't know why you think it's hard - you choose the disk clone operation, select the source and destination drives, and that's it. I have used both of these products and clone hard drives all the time - you don't even need to use the same size drives.

There is another easy method of duplicating your hard drive identically without any software.
Disk Jockey Pro Forensics edition.
With this device you connect the original and the destination drive to the disk jockey and press the button. It copies the entire hard drive anywhere from 15-45 min depending on how many files you have. You can also do this through a USB port without removing the original hard drive as well.

See  for more information if you want to purchase the device.  Select Products for all of the various types of imaging devices.  I use it here and works great for anything...Vista, XP, PS3, etc.


There's a lot of stuff there - many thanks.
Sorry to seem dumb, Callandor - I've even got an Acronis product which I paid for - but I persist in saying that it's too complicated. I could hardly work out which Acronis product I needed and when I bought one it turned out to be the wrong one.
For the moment I'm going to look into the Noxcho solution. He has listed the whole process and it looks to be within my scope. Having tried to understand which Acronis product to buy and then try to understand what to do, that's what I really needed.
Easy to say that I "just choose the disk clone" operation... I've been in computing for 30 years, but "disk clone" doesn't necessarily mean "bootable" to me. That's the sort of doubt all the "it's easy" instructions instills when trying to learn a new trick...
If you could tell me which Acronis program I should use, Callandor, I could try that again. For the moment  I'm off to see this paragon software...
Many thanks to you all


Which of these programs are you suggesting, noxcho?

In the list I found all these:
Exact Image 2009

In the 6 Drive Copy 8.5 Professional Edition,      8.5 Personal Edition,    9.0 Home,    9.0 Personal Edition English ,    

and a mass of programs in the 9 Drive Backup section...
Top Expert 2012
If you're backing up a single PC, Acronis Home 2009 is the one you want. When you install it, there will be icons which represent different options, and one of them is to clone a disk.

As an alternative, you could back up your entire drive as an image, and in the future you could boot from the CD and restore this image. It would be like having a time machine to the point when the backup was done. The important option to select in this case is to perform a disk image, as opposed to a partition image, because it will save the boot sector, which is needed for booting.


That certainly sounds easier. Acronis were willing to exchange my Snap deploy - bought in error - last year. I've written them to see if they'll let me have Acronis Home 2009 for a lower price... Worth a try...
In any case, at just under 50$ it's not as expensive as their other products. I'll follow that up; Thanks
noxchoIT Product Manager
Top Expert 2009

Frankly speaking I suggest using Drive Backup 9.0 Professional:
It is down these days to price of Personal Edition and it is worth of this price. Just talking on my own experience. It helped me where ATI2009 let me down and I am recommending it to friends.
Has both backup and cloning features. When compared to ATI2009 it has Dissimilar Hardware support for no additional pays (Acronis does for Universal Restore). This means that you will be able to migrate the OS to new hardware when needed.
Plus bootable USB flahs of both Linux and WinPE.


I decided to go along with the Acronis solution (Callandor) and they have let me have a copy of True image home 2009 very cheap.
Thanks to all of you for the help

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