Unfortunately I have HP systems and they aren't all that friendly how they set up the HD. At the moment I have external USB drives and a USB docking station for storing backup images. I looked at some of the drive racks on newegg and I'm definitely in favor of tools-free R&R. I'm wondering though, since HP insists on putting the standard HD inside this internal cage that's pretty inaccessible, if it's possible to install the HD rack using the unoccupied optical drive bay?
On another board the guy who talked me into getting the docking station says he just plugs in a drive every so often and dupes his current system onto it. If he gets a failure just R&R the drive(he assembles his own systems so I assume he either has a rack or a setup that's very easy to get at the HDs.)
So for us unfortunate off-the-shelf customers, is there salvation?
afa physical drive failure, I've been relying on the fact that the PCs I buy aren't super high performance, so they become obsolete before the hw malfunctions. Unfortunately I don't have room to line them up in a network along a big work bench as I'd like to.
btw-afa image backup and restore to a physically ok HD that's just had the boot info or partition info hosed, my recommendation, if you are going to use the image backup method to a compressed file as Macrium Reflect type of deal, if at all possible download the fully functional trial, make a backup image and try to do the restore using the boot/rescue CD. Chances are if the driver for your disk controller is not on the rescue CD, when you enter the program you'll notice it right away. One example is Paragon Drive Backup. I booted the rescue CD, but when I entered the restore program, my video went screwy and I had to hard boot. I was able to restore using "compatibility mode" but an hour restore job took me 9 hours. I basically had to just let the thing run all night. This program worked fine on my machine with the vanilla Sata controller, but with HP's new AMD Raid, it couldn't see the HD except in super slow motion mode.
Don't assume because it says "raid support" or whatever in the ad copy that it will work with your controller. In this case I downloaded the Macrium Reflect Trial, went through the entire image creation and restore and it worked flawlessly, so I bought it. btw the new free version has the updated Linux Restore CD so that may be worth a look if you are lazy like me an buy your PCs to run OOTB.