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System recovery partition

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#1
worldy

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I need to create a partition (separate obviously), which will enable automatic recovery of Windows XP professional alongwith symantec antivirus.
How should i start in this, and enable the partition to provide this service. (or can i say, if I want to load a bootloader or something like that on that partition :unsure: ).

Also, It will be nice, If i can host the installation files in the recovery partition, so the user can re-format the old windows XP, and install the new one with ease!

How should i go about it?
Any links will get me going...Thanx


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#2
druiddk

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I am REALLY interested in doing this as well!
Any advice would be very welcome!
Please rate my post :)

#3
urie

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You can use Acronis Trueimage it will make a hidden partiton and you can access it by pressing F11 at boot to recover any selected partiton, also acronis is giving away Trueimage 7 for free i know its older version but it works

Register now and receive Acronis True Image 7.0 for Free!

http://www.acronis.com/mag/vnu-ati7

Filling in the form will get you an e-mail with a link to a page with your account password to the site. Going to the link will get you a serial number via e-mail. You can then log-in to your account and download the software.



#4
ideas

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i've seen this with sony vaio laptop its great to hav a feature like this to our partition especially if we could use wpi to install our apps

but am very interested in getting to work

#5
worldy

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Please what do u mean by F11 key, (Its either BIOS key to change partition (which i think is not possible) or to display Bootloader menu?)

But i dont want to mess up the nice Windows XP boot loader, which is present in MBR. (If there is something better than that, i definitly want to try it, tell me the bootloader name for the mentioned purpose).

What i want is, i want to avoid Loading my CD/DVD everytime i have to re-install Windows XP. For example, either
1. Windows Boot loader gets corrupt, or
2. Both Boot loader and Windows XP is corrupted.


I can boot from anything(windows / Linux) and then jump onto "Recovery Partition", to repair Windows Bootloader. And henceforth re-install windows XP, withought installer files.

It will be better, if on the hidden partition, i dont create any image, and put raw files/directory (i386) onto it.

#6
Oleg_II

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To make it working you should buy an imaging software like DeployCenter or Ghost (I don't know if other appz can do this).

I prefer Symantec DeployCenter (former PowerQuest DriveImage or DeployCenter depending on version). It has an utility called Virtual Boot Environment

Virtual Boot Environment (VBE) allows non-Windows programs to execute from off of the hard drive on Windows 9x, Windows Me, Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows XP, and Linux platforms as if they were running from a boot floppy or from a bootable CD.
The VBE operates by temporarily replacing the Master Boot Record (MBR) boot code on the primary hard drive. Upon rebooting the computer, the new boot code loads and runs the programs stored in the VBE image file.

To use it you don't even need to install the package. But you need to have at least two partitions or two hard disk for saving the image of your system (you can create special partition with this program too). You also can save images directly on CD or DVD if you want of course.

Here are the steps you need to follow (very generally):
1. Place these three files: vfinstnt.exe, vfloppy.sys and vflppyld.sys in a folder say BOOT somewhere on your disk.

2. Create with WinImage or other sofware a DOS floppy with DeployCenter files for DOS and save it as an image file on your hard disk under the name PQVF.VFD along with above three files. It could be an image of 1.40MB or 2.8MB floppy. Usually when you install DeployCenter there are two floppy disks created, you can merge them or create one manually.

3. Make shortcut to VFINSTNT.EXE on your Desktop or somewhere in Start Menu. You are ready to go.
When you click on it the utility will rewrite MBR (temporary! don't worry you'll get yours back soon ;) , close up all running applications and restart the computer. When the computer boots it will boot as if there is a floppy drive (even if you don't have it phisically) and loads the program on the floppy image you created before. DeployCenter GUI mode is VERY easy to understand: there are only three buttons on the screen "Create image", "Restore image" and "Copy disk". Running for the first time you may create a hidden partition and save the image of your ideal tweaked system on it. Next time when something goes wrong or when you just want to go back to the first "clean" image you just run this utility again and restore that image.

You can also create a few images with different stages: just installed system, added drivers, added software, all tweaked, etc. Or you can make images for different operating systems and can reload from one to the other just in a 5 minutes (it may be a bit difficult with completely different OS but it works greate with different MS OS).

You'd better to create a boot CD using PQVF.VFD as a boot image also - just in case your system won't boot at all. Then you can use this CD to boot and have a look at your hard disk and if no partitions are lost restore the image with the system.

If you are an advanced user you can read the manual for DeployCenter and create some simple scripts for automatic restoring: imaging - you just clisk on your shortcut and go away, the computer will reboot into virtual floppy, automatically restores the partition and reboots again into a "clean" system.
Not all versions of DriveImage had this functionality. Only DriveImage Pro and DeployCenter.

CAUTION!
1. It's better to backup all your sencitive data before you start experimenting with such software!
2. When you restore an image on a partition all content of this partition will be lost. So choose carefully the partition to restore.
3. Keep all your documents and e-mail folder on other disk or partion because they will be lost after restoring image if they were on the same restoring partition. It's easy to do in programs settings or through reg-tweaks.
4. This method won't work on virtual computers.

I think something similar could be made also with Norton Ghost.

Edited by Oleg_II, 12 October 2006 - 09:49 AM.

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#7
urie

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Please what do u mean by F11 key, (Its either BIOS key to change partition (which i think is not possible) or to display Bootloader menu?)

But i dont want to mess up the nice Windows XP boot loader, which is present in MBR. (If there is something better than that, i definitly want to try it, tell me the bootloader name for the mentioned purpose).

What i want is, i want to avoid Loading my CD/DVD everytime i have to re-install Windows XP. For example, either
1. Windows Boot loader gets corrupt, or
2. Both Boot loader and Windows XP is corrupted.


I can boot from anything(windows / Linux) and then jump onto "Recovery Partition", to repair Windows Bootloader. And henceforth re-install windows XP, withought installer files.

It will be better, if on the hidden partition, i dont create any image, and put raw files/directory (i386) onto it.

I Know what you want iv'e been using Acronis Trueimage for a few years now and it is easy to use unlike what Oleg_II posted even though he is trying to help I think acronis is your best Bet considering i posted details about free version,
as reguard to F11 this appears once you have activated the secure zone which stores an image of your System partition it has nothing to do with the bios boot menu it comes up after the bios screen then you would press F11 it will bring up a menu asking do youwhat you want to restore also you can make a bootable recovery cd,
which you can boot with to give you access to the hidden partition i,e, secure zone then you can restore your system drive from the image file in the secure zone.


At least download free version while it lasts and give it a shot all other programs will cost you and may not suit you, ive uploaded trueimage7 pdf file so you can have a look and see how it works.

TrueImage7.pdf

#8
Oleg_II

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OK! Maybe it's a bit difficult to make a "rip" of a program B)

If you want an easy solution:

1. Install Symantec DeployCenter on your computer (full package is about 40MB).
2. There will be TaskBuilder in DeployCenter menu. Run it, it is a GUI, no super brain is needed ;)
3. Create a task to reboot in DOS version. There is a Wizard in a couple of steps, it's simple like formating a floppy.

It should appear like a shortcut or something in the menu. Run this task when you want to save or restore.
With TaskBuilder you can creat restore automatically task without learning script language too.

I can't find anything easier :)

By the way if you install full package you also get the Image Explore utility - you can use it to see inside the created images like they are on CD disks and can extract any file or folder from them like copying from CD.

Symantec DeployCenter 5.6 User Guide in PDF format

PS I agree that it will cost you some money. I think this piece of software is worth every penny you pay for it. No affilation with Symantec, just happy user since it was PowerQuest product like PartitionMagic.

Edited by Oleg_II, 12 October 2006 - 12:25 PM.

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#9
Oleg_II

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By the way I remember that some manufacturers create two primary partitions. One is used for installing the system. And the other is used like system recovery partition - that is what you are talking about :)

This recovery partition is need to be a primary partition, it is usually in FAT or maybe FAT32 and is hidden. There are also DOS version of Ghost or similar software on this partition (mostly Ghost). When booting and before OS loads you see something like "If you want to restore press....". I don't know how they add this line of words. I added this once in BOOT.INI with a small utility BootPart for NT. It gave me a choice to boot the system and to boot into recovery process. It worked the same way for me.

But then I found VFE ;)

Edited by Oleg_II, 12 October 2006 - 12:17 PM.

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#10
worldy

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By the way I remember that some manufacturers create two primary partitions. One is used for installing the system. And the other is used like system recovery partition - that is what you are talking about :)

This recovery partition is need to be a primary partition, it is usually in FAT or maybe FAT32 and is hidden. There are also DOS version of Ghost or similar software on this partition (mostly Ghost). When booting and before OS loads you see something like "If you want to restore press....". I don't know how they add this line of words. I added this once in BOOT.INI with a small utility BootPart for NT. It gave me a choice to boot the system and to boot into recovery process. It worked the same way for me.

But then I found VFE ;)

Thanx a lot friends, for the advice.
cool oleg, u got me right. I think symantec/VFE solution will work perfect, but think it will create mess (shortcuts and junk files on user system). I need the solution which u talked about (2 partitions). Now how do i go about it? AFAIK, A system cannot have 2 primary partitions! It just has 1 primary, and other logical(s) in extended partitions.
But yes, i want the solution which u talked about:
User will be given option to restore the OS (and he need t press any key to proceed..), else normal OS will start upon. Its similiar to one key reocovery solution as made available on Laptops.

I m still stuck upon, but no with a "defined" problem.
:thumbup to oleg_II

#11
Oleg_II

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NT systems can have up to 4 primary partitions if I'm not mistaken.

I don't remember exact steps with two partitions and it was not so easy. My method was a bit complicated too. In general:

1. Creat two primary partitions and as much logical as you want. One primary partition should be formated in say FAT32.

2. Make this FAT32 partition a system one (it can be donw with a DOS floppy).

3. Place DOS versions of DeployCenter/Ghost files on this partition.

4. Install NT OS on other primary partition.

5. Use BootPart from the link above to make a choice between NT and DOS during bootup.

6. Edit BOOT.INI so that PQImgCtr.exe/Ghost.exe run during DOS partition boot.

7. Make DOS partition invisible with a REG tweak (I don't remember if I made DOS partition hidden at all but it was inisible when in Windows).

I think you'd better look around for a ready solution. Don't remember names, something like RestoreIt, GoBack and so on. Most of them used Ghost images as restoring solution.
But be worned that they all will write themselves in your MBR if you want recovery partion is really hidden and they start from it.
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#12
Oleg_II

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There is a simpler solutions with VFE but you will need 4 files in one folder, one file on C:\, adding one line in BOOT.INI.

1. Get bootable floppy disk with DeployCenter (install the package on virtual computer first to get it) and make the image from this floppy called pqvf.vfd. There are two disks but it's easy to merge them in one 2.8MB image and a little correction of BAT files is needed. For your convinience the package includes an old version of WinImage for editing floppy image files.

2. Create BOOT folder say in %PROGRAMFILES% and place these files in it: vfinstnt.exe, vfloppy.sys, flppyld.sys and pqvf.vfd.

3. Edit your BOOT.INI: under [boot loader] make timeout=3, and under [operating systems] add this line

C:\vfd.bin="Restore system" /vfd

It will give you 3 seconds to choose loading the system or boot into recovery process.

You miss one thing - VFD.BIN. This is MBR backup from the computer ready to start recovery process.
In order to get it use the utility that can make such backups in Windows (look for MBRWizard for example, there is GUI for it too), then run VFINSTNT.EXE with switch /NRB - it saves your good MBR in a file, writes new MBR but doesn't reboot. Now it's time to make the backup of this new MBR and save it like VFD.BIN on C:\ (I recommend making it a hidden system file through Property menu).

Note: after you run VFINSTNT.EXE /NRB next time you computer will boot into recovery process. Just exit from it and it reboots into Windows. That will be only once.

If you want you can make a simple installer with WinRar that will place all files in their locations.

You can make ANY logical partition with ANY file system (FAT or NTFS) hidden to place your backup image.

If you make all this I can help you to write simple scripts to restore backuped system automatically.

Edited by Oleg_II, 13 October 2006 - 03:35 AM.

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#13
urie

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No need for floppy disks virtual computers editing boot.ini e.c.t just install Trueimage then run it it will make a hidden partiton and make an image there actvate recovery manager thats it when your computer boots you can press F11 and restore it . You can make a bootable recovery cd also in case you cant boot from C:.

worldy is looking for a simple sloution.

#14
Oleg_II

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Sorry but I introduced a simple solution too: install DeployCenter -

No need for floppy disks virtual computers editing boot.ini e.c.t just install...

Just have a look at previous postings ;)

He doesn't want to install anything on system partition in fact if you carefully look at his postings. So what's the difference - install TrueImage, RestoreIt, Norton Ghost or DeployCenter? I suggested a solution without installing anything just placing 5 files on hard disk and adding one line in BOOT.INI (adding total 2.82MB to the installation).
What will be your suggestions?

Edited by Oleg_II, 13 October 2006 - 04:23 AM.

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#15
jaclaz

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Just for the record:
1) There is no difference between NT based systems and other systems (apart the BSD type of slicing and Mac OS partitioning) the limit is 4 Partition ENTRIES in the MBR, these can be all primary or as much as three primary ones and one Extended one (in which you can make Logical Volumes)
2) The topic has been discussed many times already, if you search the board for topics with keyword "hidden partition" you will find some ideas and links to alternate programs/ways, also check these:
http://www.911cd.net...showtopic=18480
http://www.911cd.net...showtopic=12447
3) please note that there is a newish version (2.60) of bootpart on it's original page:
http://www.winimage.com/bootpart.htm



jaclaz

Edited by jaclaz, 13 October 2006 - 04:54 AM.


#16
Oleg_II

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jaclaz
Interesting reading. But it's not easier than using VFE ;)
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#17
jaclaz

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jaclaz
Interesting reading. But it's not easier than using VFE ;)


Well, no, the idea is similar, the difference is that you can make everything with freeware or Open Source Software.

jaclaz

#18
Oleg_II

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Confused :wacko: Both link are about using Ghost and it's not freeware or Open Source Software?

There is a need to have a separate primary DOS partition too.

No need for it using VFE - any partiton type, any file system can be used as a recovery place. No need for third party boot managers - using NT boot menu is enough (and still can use boot managers too).

I'm interested in free application of this kind but I don't know any :(

Have not heard about free software that at least can save NTFS partition images with high compression and restore images to choosen destinations automatically with a script. I guess there should be some in Linux world but I have not found yet.

Edited by Oleg_II, 14 October 2006 - 07:11 AM.

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#19
jaclaz

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What I use is Grub4dos as a boot manager, chainloaded by the normal NTLDR:
http://grub4dos.jot.com/WikiHome
this avoids the need of

There is a need to have a separate primary DOS partition too.

as it can boot an image file, but you can use a one-sector-only replacement MBR, like PARTITA:
http://www.pedrofrei...om/crea1_en.htm
or the newly revamped OS-BS, now renamed mbldr and Open Source:
http://sourceforge.n...group_id=162108

About freeware alternatives to Ghost, in my view, best options are:
Win32
SelfImage
http://selfimage.excelcia.org/
site is down at this moment, get it from here:
http://icculus.org/h...zner/selfimage/
http://icculus.org/h...lfImage-111.zip

DriveimageXL
http://www.runtime.org/dixml.htm

Linux
PARTIMAGE
http://www.partimage.org/Main_Page
Support for NTFS is still tagged as "experimental", but I never had a problem with it.

both following mini-distros use PARTIMAGE as the main tool:
SystemRescueCD
http://www.sysresccd.org/Main_Page

PING
http://ping.windowsdream.com/

However you hit the nail right on the head, it appears that all freeware apps are slower than Ghost:
http://www.911cd.net...showtopic=16534
though things have bettered, but of course if your time is precious, I guess you can pay for the Ghost license.


jaclaz

Edited by jaclaz, 14 October 2006 - 08:45 AM.


#20
jim0615

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Heres an idea, how about just a simple script to create the second partition when windows finishes. Then you use a boot manager that allows access with a hot key during bootup. Then have a copy of WinPE on the second partition run a reimaging script.

#21
Oleg_II

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jaclaz :thumbup
Thanx! That is very interesting info.

I have not visited all links but Grub4dos seems to do the same thing as I suggested with VFE at boot time: chainloading by the normal NTLDR.

But I have one more method of running VFE ;)
Well, it's probably covered by replacement MBR utilities - when running under Windows VFE tmporary replaces normal MBR with its own. I won't describe one more method using this as it'll be a bit difficult too :)

I agree that free software is good and I like using it (and using it a lot). Unfortunatelly I have not found the right utility for this purpose.

Frankly speaking I don't like Ghost either :no:
But I like DeployCenter (it was called DriveImage and ImageCenter too) :yes:
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#22
Oleg_II

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Maybe I understand it wrongly but Grub4dos can't work on NTFS partitions? Or have some bugs? I read on Chinese blog that NTFS support is going to be dropped because of bugs.

Replacement MBR utilities work one way - they replace MBR once and forewer and are just boot managers. They also can't be used to run image or an EXE on NTFS file system too.

Info from 911cd Forum is very interesting. Maybe usefull for me. The only issue that most programs there are Win32 and how to use them if there is no ready LiveCD nearby?

Unfortuanatelly I can't open some links but I'll definitelly do.
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#23
jaclaz

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Maybe I understand it wrongly but Grub4dos can't work on NTFS partitions? Or have some bugs? I read on Chinese blog that NTFS support is going to be dropped because of bugs.

At the moment, Grub4Dos does work on NTFS, it seems like that tests with Vista NTFS formatted partitions has led to finding some problems, so it has been suggested to NOT use Grub4Dos on NTFS partitions.
The dropping of NTFS support is planned, but not yet implemented, if in the meantime either MS releases some details of NTFS or independent projects like ReactOS will make progresses it is very possible that NTFS support won't be dropped.
However, since something like 12 years, I personally follow the GOOD advice from Gilles Vollant (the authour of Winimage and of BOOTPART) of always having a smallish First Active Primary Partition FAT16 and install NT based system on a Logical Volume inside Extended Partition, and this has saved my data more than once, as it makes MUCH easier to fix the boot "part" (pardon me the pun) when a problem arises. Moreover, as I continue telling everyone (mostly unlistened to ;) ) having the system and data on a Logical Volume is safer if a "dumb" virus strikes, see here:
http://www.msfn.org/...showtopic=22526
http://www.msfn.org/...showtopic=33964

Replacement MBR utilities work one way - they replace MBR once and forewer and are just boot managers. They also can't be used to run image or an EXE on NTFS file system too.

Yes, correct, but you can use grldr.mbr instead of the ones I suggested.
The "problem" with grldr.mbr is that it is 6,144 bytes long, so it occupies apart from the MBR sector, also the following 11 "hidden" sectors, this makes it incompatible with a certain number of Commercial utilities that WITHOUT ACTUALLY TELLING YOU use these sectors for storing some data, if I recall correctly, Partition Magic and Acronis are two commonly used ones that have this behaviour.
The two bootmanagers I suggested, besides being Freeware, are contained in MBR 512 bytes.

@jim0615
Yep, that's actuallly the idea behind the WHOLE thread.
For the record, if you want to read the little experiments I did with the help of sisal, starting from here:
http://www.911cd.net...o...4181&st=603
You'll find an almost complete solution, that of course needs to be custom adapted to your particular setup.

jaclaz

#24
jim0615

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At the moment, Grub4Dos does work on NTFS, it seems like that tests with Vista NTFS formatted partitions has led to finding some problems, so it has been suggested to NOT use Grub4Dos on NTFS partitions.
The dropping of NTFS support is planned, but not yet implemented, if in the meantime either MS releases some details of NTFS or independent projects like ReactOS will make progresses it is very possible that NTFS support won't be dropped.
However, since something like 12 years, I personally follow the GOOD advice from Gilles Vollant (the authour of Winimage and of BOOTPART) of always having a smallish First Active Primary Partition FAT16 and install NT based system on a Logical Volume inside Extended Partition, and this has saved my data more than once, as it makes MUCH easier to fix the boot "part" (pardon me the pun) when a problem arises. Moreover, as I continue telling everyone (mostly unlistened to ;) ) having the system and data on a Logical Volume is safer if a "dumb" virus strikes, see here:
http://www.msfn.org/...showtopic=22526
http://www.msfn.org/...showtopic=33964


What about using a linux boot manager and have the rescue partition on a linux fs so that a virus can't corrupt/infect it. Also use an sd card to hold the partition with the MBR since they have a write protect switch.
Just my random thoughts.

http://www.addonics....r/adebidecf.asp

Edited by jim0615, 15 October 2006 - 01:58 PM.


#25
Oleg_II

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Not argueing, just my opinion.

I have a few partitions: one primary with my system and three logical on extended partition. My system and my data are on different partions. And I don't care about losing system as soon as I can restore it with nearly all programs and settings from a prepared image in 5 minutes or install it again with Unattended in only 30 minutes ;)

In fact I often restore the system partition from "ideal" image on purpose just to be sure there is no viruses and broken things on my system. As I said it takes only 5 minutes with DeployCenter from clicking on the shortcut in Start menu to reloading in restored Windows. It doesn't hurt because all personal data and even most program settings are on the other partition. Nothing changes, only the system is renewed/revived again.

(I don't even install antivirus software because of this but it's my personal opinion too.)

And of course I make regular backups of my sensitive data to CD or CD-RW using DeployCenter too: I make the image of the entire second partition with all my documents and photoes directly to CD. It takes a bit longer with high compression and image verification options enabled but not more then 15 minutes for 2Gb of data (documents, photoes, archieves).

I don't use Windows versions of DeployCenter and PartitionMagic (and I rarelly use PM at all). Both create boot floppy disks that can be used in VFE or from multiboot CD. So there is no MBR changes I'm not aware of. I admit that VFE change my MBR but only when I run it and this is a temporary change because it backups MBR before running and restores from backup after running (you can watch it yourself). And VFE is not installed in the system - no settings in Registry, no files in system folders, only a few files are placed anywhere on hard drive and a shortcut in the menu.

PS I aslo have a few different images with different Windows: Windows 98SE, Windows 2000 Professional "standard" (with IE and stuff) and W2k HFSLIPed and reduced. Not more then 5 minutes, no phisical boot disks involved and I'm in the OS of my choice ;)

Well, a boot disk image with imaging software is involved in fact :rolleyes:
And I forgot to mention that I use NTFS on all partitions as this file system is stable and reliable in my opinion.

Edited by Oleg_II, 15 October 2006 - 02:12 PM.

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