First you install required packages and make major tuning, then you start working and find all little adjustments you need to make like resizing tools windows, selecting a better font etc.
All those subtle changes here and there little by little transform a standard computing environment into a cozy place to work tailored to your needs and customs. It can easily take a week or more since you never have in mind the whole list of adjustments to do from the start but rather make them as you go.
Now imagine something disastrous happened – you installed some cool software just to check and it crashed you system to the state of complete mess. Or this could be a malicious virus or hard disk failure – you name it. The result is the same – you are facing a necessity of complete system re-installation.
Your personal data is safe cause you wisely copied your project files and documents to a backup disk or flash drive but the idea of setting up the whole system from the scratch drives you crazy.
Is there anything which can take the burden of complete system setup away or you need to repeat all these annoying steps again?
Many of you have heard of backup software capable to automate a routine process of saving your vital data and recovering them back should the worst happen. One of them, Microsoft Backup is built into Windows and ready to serve you. Is it a good tool or can you just copy all Windows files altogether as you did to your documents?
To understand the situation you have to realize three major complications arising when creating a reserve copy of your data.
First of all, the files you are going to copy must be available and consistent. Its fine when you are simply copying a Word document to another location when you are not using it. It will be a perfect copy which you can restore later if needed. But imagine, you are copying a document while Word is writing into it at the same time.
It might happen that while the data from the end of the file getting copied Word overwrites the beginning of the file with new version of data, making your copy a corrupted document which might not even open next time. The same but with higher probability can happen to the system files since Windows always updates its data.
Professional disk image software like Active@ Disk Image ( http://www.disk-image.net ) can overcome this problem by using so called shadow copy technique. File backup software is also able to use this technique. Unfortunately other complications exist. File backup software can save individual files but cannot make a working image of the whole system. In other words to be able to get your Windows back you need software making copy of all internal file system structures and hidden data and able to recreate them. This class of software is called disk image software and Active@ Disk Image is a good example of such a software.
When using Active@ Disk Image user selects a whole disk where Windows is installed and asks it to create an image (or disk backup). This image contains all the data necessary to restore the system as it was before the failure.
Restoring the system disk or partition is not trivial though. You cannot replace existing system files with Windows running. To overcome this problem Active@ Disk Image uses a proprietary software called Active@ Boot Disk ( http://www.livecd.com/ ) to boot from a CD/DVD or USB and restore data from an image over malfunctioning Windows partition. Active@ Boot Disk is based on a lightweight version of Windows and be able to boot directly from CD without any operating system installed and it is used for all kinds of data repairs when system Windows partition cannot be used.