Fast and simple disk image restore

I would like to be able to image an entire Windows XP hard drive (I'm not too picky about the imaging process as it would be done by a technical person).
Then, I want a non-technical person to be able to restore the image.
And, restoration shouldn't take but over night - which seems achievable.
Perhaps I'm asking a lot but it's a good objective.

Any suggestions:
- with what tool / tools?
- how? e.g. what process would the restore entail?
(I would prefer that there be a boot DVD that would do the whole thing).
I suspect that an external hard drive would be the storage location for the image but ..... ?
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Fred MarshallPrincipalAsked:
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JullezConnect With a Mentor Network EngineerCommented:
There are a couple of "FREE" versions of Acronis. If you have a WD, or a Seagate Drive - they are available to d/l from the manufacturers sites.

They are the same as the paid versions, with fewer functions.

Like the Macrium and Paragon , the "FREE" Acronis versions allow you to image and restore any partitions you like, and allow you to access the image to retrieve individual files and folders.

They also include a clone ( disk copy ) function - which you don't get in the other two. However , you do not get a scheduling function in the "FREE" Acronis.

Acronis can go quite fast on the High setting - 30% faster than Paragon ( which has no high speed setting). BUT the cpu usage averages 25% which is 3 times the Paragon cpu use.

Macrium is much faster than Acronis ( if that's important to you) and lower in cpu use.

You can see they fulfill broadly similar functions - but vary in the implementation and efficiency. Acronis is much higher in resource use than the others - that may not bother you.
JullezNetwork EngineerCommented:

In order to make it nice and easy you can use Acronis True Image, or "Norton Ghost".

Below are all the steps the tech person would need to create an image with Acronis. you can use cd's/DVD's, another disk on the same machine, external drive (the best option if you have one) or another machine.

In order to restore:
1. Insert the CD and boot up. Your BIOS must be configured to boot from CD. A screen will pop up, choose "Full Version". After TI loads click on Recovery. Click Next
2. Browse to your saved image in the left pane(other HD, external drive or the DVD's/CD's), highlight it by clicking on it once and click Next.
3.Choose Restore disks or partitions, click Next
4. Make the appropriate choice
5. Pick the drive you want to restore. Be sure you have choosen the right one! Please make sure the tech person who helps you with the image specifies which drive he is imaging. Click Next.
6. Full OS backups should choose Yes, I want to delete all... click Next
7. It will ask you if you want to restore other partitions or drives, choose "no".
8. Choose default
9. Double-check you got everything right. (If you were trying to do the drive XP is on you'll see the little reboot screen) Click Proceed. Should be all set after this.

I had good results with Acronis.

Good luck!
shahzoorConnect With a Mentor Commented:
you need paragon backup and recovery
its free

You can create a boot disk as well and its the best among free software
Lots of useful tutorials are available on youtube explaining the process
Fred MarshallPrincipalAuthor Commented:
Thanks all.
Juliez: The steps you describe would daunt a typical homeowner and training is out of the question.  So, I'm looking for something much simpler where few, if any, choices are necessary.  That said, I'd be willing to script something for their use.

I'm reasonably familiar with all those tools.  It's that experience that leads me to ask this question. How to make the restore very simple, perhaps automatic once started?
JullezNetwork EngineerCommented:
I have a question then - Win XP will be done on April 14th 2014, as you probably know.
Your home user will have to upgrade to Vista or Win7, which have Windows Imaging built in, and very easy to restore once in the "Repair your computer" Menu. Perhaps now is the time to upgrade? What type of machine usage are we talking about? Is it for school/lab that is it gets ruined they want to roll back to when it was working? You could consider "DeepFreeze" and storing files on an "uthawed" space... If something goes wrong, they will simply reboot and back to when it was working with all the applications.

Then again, if you provided a restore step by step with screenshots, they can't mess it up, and the screenshots will be from their system. Can't go wrong there!

I understand that you want something simple - one button solution, but I don't know if it exists.
Spin a hyper-v Win XP machine, take a snapshot and show user how to roll back?
nobusConnect With a Mentor Commented:
i also suggest to use the free Paragon B&R -  it is very easy to follow
you pick the function you want  -backup or restore; the disk or partition(s) you want) and where do you want to save it
it is very straightforward, and fast; i'm using it for years
noxchoConnect With a Mentor Global Support CoordinatorCommented:
Third vote for Paragon Backup & Recovery Free. It has all necessary features for backup and recovery. And at the same time it does not have many features and option which would puzzle the user. In other words it is easy to use.
You can start restore from Windows when you have your image on internal or USB drive. It will restart and perform restore in special recovery mode. After that it will boot itself back to Windows.
Fred MarshallPrincipalAuthor Commented:
I did the online tour of Paragon B&R Free.  
I'm sure that it works well and I'd be happy to use it myself.
But, it very much does not meet the stated objective.
Now, if it could be scripted then ......
But I can't see the "from Windows" restore interface...  is it any different.

Juliez: I appreciate the comment about XP.  But it's simply not correct that they *must* do anything at all.  Not the same as "recommended".
I believe conventional wisdom suggests that the issue with XP will be vulnerability to parasites.  And, I rather believe that.
Perhaps that's why I'm looking into easy restoration...?
I am planning to help those who will procrastinate.  I have no doubts there will be a need.
noxchoGlobal Support CoordinatorCommented:
Online touring will not give you much. Downloading and running through basic scenario you need is a right approach.
JullezNetwork EngineerCommented:
Deepfreeze the application and System part and leave documents/pics/music thawed?
>>  Now, if it could be scripted then ......  <<  you never asked for this, but why do you need it scripted? you can accompany if it with a paper on what knobs to click if you want to guide your users
Fred MarshallPrincipalAuthor Commented:
I said originally:
Then, I want a non-technical person to be able to restore the image.
Some responses suggest that a non-technical person *would* be willing, or in some cases be able, to follow technical instructions.   Believe me, they won't.....  Thus the notion of a script that could be launched from an icon and accomplish the entire job.  But selecting drives from a list of drive letters, etc. would be too much.
you can always ask paragon if it's possible :
use contact support :
noxchoGlobal Support CoordinatorCommented:
Then you need a customized script from Paragon. Which could be started via batch file and do everything via one single click on this batch file. But then you risk to get complaints that this restore (restore is override of existing system or partition) was not an intention and s\he clicked on this batch file or button by mistake and now his her data is gone cry cry cry.
I did work with endusers and have heard enough such stories. So forget about a single click restore. There must be at least three clicks. One click start. Second click set the check box in the warning message - it is going to be restored, This will erase your data bla bla bla. Third click - yes I understand and accept it.
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