Thanks for that info and tutorial, WHS...
I hope you can clarify some issues for me.
I used an early version of Ghost for years, but, perhaps through ignorance, I always simply "cloned" the appropriate drives to new hard drives. About once a month, I would make a new clone.
Whenever I would have a failure, virus, or other problem that I couldn't fix easily, I would simply replace the "problem drive" with the clone. That worked fine for years, and there were a number of times that the having the clone available "saved my bacon".
For some reason, my original Ghost software quit working, or would no longer perform on future XP machines.
When I built my first Media Center computer in 2005, It took me over a month to get all the bugs out of the overly-complex monster I had created and getting everything working together smoothly.
I had a massive failure to the operating system caused by an unfortunate Windows Update, and it took me more than a week the second time to do a fresh install and get everything working again with the complex machine I had built. (Part of the problem is that I'm old, slow, and entirely self-taught.)
I eventually bought a 750 gb One Touch 4 Plus and started doing automatic imaging of the drive with the operating system and software on a weekly basis. That thing was a life-saver on a number of occasions...
Unfortunately, that monster machine was destroyed by a lightning strike almost two years ago, and my insurance company, as part of a $20,000-plus damage claim for the electrical damage from that claim gave me $5000 to replace that computer on the condition that I furnish receipts for the replacement (and I figured out how to spend all that and a little more on my latest build).
The problem I've run into now is that my One-Touch 4 Plus is not compatible with my Vista Ultimate based system (I can't forgive Maxtor for that), so I'm looking for a new way to clone my "C" drive that now contains my software (exclusively) and one of the TB drives that contains irreplaceable business and financial records and some of my treasured personal photos and videos.
Hard drives have gotten so cheap, and so easy to swap with my esata external dock that it seems to make sense to simply go back to cloning the old fashioned way. (I've got over 7 TB of storage inside the case and another 3 of HD media on external drives, but only am concerned with backing up the two drives I mentioned, about 1.4 TB; the recorded TV isn't what I'd put in the "irreplaceable" category; if I have something I truly treasure, I move it to that 1TB drive I mentioned that I want to keep cloned as a backup, or a different drive that I keep in a separate location and update through the esata dock.
My question is this:
I downloaded Macrium Reflect free, but have yet to use it.
Will it make the byte-for-byte clone that I desire for those two important drives?
...and, if it will work to make those clones, is that an intelligent way to go about preserving my important files and backing up my operating system, programs and settings? ...or am I, through ignorance, missing out on a better way to achieve that security?
What advantage is there to going through the process requiring the "rescue cd" when it's so easy to just swap in a new drive?
I'd appreciate any help or comments.