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Backing up a Windows system

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Thank you,

And thanks to everyone else who posted replies. If nothing else, after reading what you wrote, and reading the links provided, I've learned a bit more than I knew. Which is always a good thing.

Talked to my friend. He said that he seems to remember that upon first boot he was asked to create a recovery disk. But, at that time, declined. Thinking that he could always do that later. As he'd been able to do under other versions of Windows and on other systems. But now, that he's gone back and looked for it he doesn't find the option anywhere.

I guess, possibly, it was a one shot deal? I'm guessing. As I stated before, this is not my area of knowledge. I do know my wife recently bought a new Compaq laptop (I gather Compaq is now owned by HP) and I did the initial startup and setup for her. As always. And I noted that it prompted me to make a series of recovery disks ... and made it clear that I must do it right then, or within 14 days ... OR it'd never allow it again.

Geez, talk about being pushy ! I did wonder why they'd limit an owners ability to both a one shot deal, and further limit you to a relatively small time frame in which to take the offer. Seems strange to me. In any event, on my own machines and machines in my household I make it a habit to make immediate recovery disks anyway if the machines do not come with them so I sat and ran that utility and made the 28 or so CD's that were needed.

So, as concerns my friend. I'd guess that making an image with something like Acronis True Image might be his best option?

I mention Acronis only because I've been meaning to buy an imaging application personally and when asking about I've had a number of people tell me that they thought Acronis to be the better product for casual (read that as inexperienced and not too demanding) users.

I checked, there is no copy of a recovery CD, or CD set, for his model HP available on their site.

Now, a another question. If we get Acronis, will it also image that "hidden" partition on his current hard drive. Which is where I'm guessing that HP keeps alternative hardware drivers. I'm thinking about the situation where my friend might has a hardware crash, and needed to replace a drive, a video card, etc.

No biggie if it won't, I could always do a lookup for him and find a driver on the Net at HP's site or elsewhere, in such an event. Just want to know and figured since you've worked with HP's you might know the answer.

As it stands, I told him to buy a largish box of blank CD's since it looks like we're gonna have to image EVERYTHING, even the misc junk that he'd not necessarily want to keep if he has to recover from a major crash/hardware failure.

The original thought I had was that'd be nice if he could just do a baseline re-install ... ie The system gets re-installed as it was when he bought the machine. I have local copies of every Win update for XP, that the average person would want and use, available. So we could just do a fast update of the original. Then he could load up and install his major apps that he absolutely needs (his work office is his home computer, and he has original app CD's). And he'd be good to go, with a relatively clean install.

Chuckle, he's had problems in the past. ie A daughter grown too big for pants who got on THAT computer, despite Dad's warning to NOT TOUCH under any circumstance. She has her own, but Dad's is faster, has better graphics and sound and so forth. Plus he has the CD burner. I gather she would use it when he wasn't home to visit site's she probably shouldn't (my opinion), and I know she was hanging around some sites where she could download music ... almost certainly illegally. Because he came up with a pretty serious virus infection on that machine. When he called me and I went over to take a look, saw traces of files downloaded of the sort I know HE wouldn't be downloading, and sites visited that aren't the sort he'd visit knowingly. Daughter had tried to erase evidence, but I found stuff she didn't know about so didn't delete. Took a while, and several searches of the Net for me to ID the several bugs he had and to get em removed.

Daughter got a good verbal dressing down. Good enough so I couldn't post exactly what was said to this forum without risk of offending a number of people. And was warned that a repeat would mean she'd be living on the street. (She confessed she'd looked over his shoulder while he typed in his password)

And the incident has put him in a sweat. He's very careful with THAT machine. Only places he connects to over the Net are business related, etc. Does keep all his important data files, that he needs for his work, backed up religiously. Has a separate puter (old one but serves the purpose) for entertainment browsing, IM, etc.

So now he's really regretting not doing that initial creation of recovery CD set, and is in a lather to take some sort of step to backup that machine as best he can at this point.

Thanks again ... to all.