Partition imaging


We buy a new computer, all loaded with the latest software.  It is fast and does everything we seem to want it to do.  The set up of say a 200gb hard disk might be something like this. Partitions are a divisions of the hard disk (not folders):


C Partition  180gb

Manufacturers restore partition 20gb


All the programs that it comes with are in the C partition and as you add your own files, pictures music etc. Gradually it increases in size but still there is plenty of room.  It seems quite well organized windows has it divided into the main folders of - my documents, my pictures, my music and then these can be further subdivided.  It all appears well sorted but it is all in the C partition along with the programs.
There are a lot of reasons why this is a bad arrangement and the reasons below are disadvantages compared to the method of managing your hard disk I am going to show you.


If you catch a virus, trojan or down loader it can be a long tedious process to remove it,  then you might not be completely sure that there is nothing left that could download something more malicious.  Because it can take a time to remove it more damage could be happening to your existing programs and data

Often we install programs and then want to completely remove them.

Windows can become corrupt and produce strange effects

After a period of time most people find that their computer seems to be much slower than it was when they got it. This is often caused by programs they are not aware of running in the background. It could also be corruptions in programs

It can be difficult to know that when you uninstall a program that you donít want/ had a time trial/ no longer need that it is completely removed.

If you catch a virus or have a fault in an area of your hard disk it is likely to just affect the one partition.

Sometimes you could install a program that conflicts with your hardware or other programs.  Uninstalling works most of the time but sometimes bits are left behind that carry on giving a problem.


For the above problems the solution is likely to be to follow the manufacturers instructions to restore from the restore partition.  To get your computer back the way it was though after this you would need to reinstall your programs, download and install any updates. Copy back your data from its back up location. There are other individual solutions to the above problems but they can be a lot of work and the solution below can solve all of them.



My Method


Create partitions something like this


C Partition
For windows and programs  

D Partition for your own data

E Image partition
For image copies of C

F Original Manufacturers restore partition


When your computer is new you get your computer and desk top set up with all the programs and short cuts just the way you want it, this is all in your C partition.  You then take an image of it which is put into the E partition.  An image is an exact copy of the partition.  As time goes by you might install a new piece of software.  As soon as you do take another image.  So you build up several images of your C all held in E. All data (files/ email/ pictures/ music) you save to D.  If any of the problems listed 1 to 6 above occur all you do is use the last good image that you took to restore it to exactly the condition it was before the problem occurred.  You donít need to do any thing with your data as it is held in another partition untouched.  This has been the method I have used reliably for about 14 years and its got me out of a lot what other wise would have been really bad problems.



So how is this done?

There are many partition management utilities on the market that you can use. I used to use Powerquest software but the later versions of this I tried were atrocious.  There is also Acronis true image which seems to have a good reputation.  The one I use is Bootit NG or BING by Terabyte which is  the lowest cost and best in my opinion.  In one small program you can resize partitions, create partitions, slide partitions in the free space create and restore images.  It is also a boot manager.  Where you could have partitions set up with different operating systems or set ups and start which ever one you wanted.  If you were to change the first hard disk set up shown above to my method you would run BING then resize the C partition to 20 GB Free space would be left so in this space you would create a 20gb partition and a 160gb partition.  Then start windows normally and format the new partitions.  Then run BING again and create an image of C placing it in E.  BING can do a lot more but you can ignore these features.  Alternatively you could  set your hard disk up like this which is what I currently have.


C Programs

D Data

E Pictures
10 GB

F Music

G Web-sites

H Images

If you run out of space on any partition the partitions can be resized to move space to where it is needed.  You could also make backup images of any of your partitions but on line back up like MOZY is better for this.

This method also removes the need to be quite so reliant on anti-virus programs etc but Iíd still recommend that you have something like AVG installed (you might not be aware that you have picked up a virus and these might alert you).  In my experience even up to date definition files of anti-virus programs have failed to stop some.



If this is so good why does everyone not do it?


Software vendors like Microsoft donít like it because you can quite easily clone the hard disk of one computer to lots of computers.   Thirty-day trial software might never expire.  All you need to do is install it, after 30 days go back to a previous image then reinstall the software Ė new 30 day trial as the data recorded in the C partition is completely wiped and the software thinks it has never been installed to this hard disk before. So they won't promote this if they can help it

A lot of people donít want to make the effort and set things up better when things are going well for them.

Some people are frightened off by the thought of moving their data about and fear they could do damage, and you can if you are careless. Really though it is very easy if you take your time and put in a bit of effort. If you are really paranoid you could try it out on an old computer first


For detailed instructions on how to use BING I'd recommend the terabyte site there are links to video tutorials too. They give solutions for many complicated scenarios that only arise in a very few cases, ignore this and look for the tasks you want to achieve. I think its preferable to have BING on a boot CD rather than installing it on to your computer.


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