My WD Raptor system drive died the other day after about 4 years of great performance. Lesson One: when the SMART warning kicks in, it is already too late! One moment I run the WD diagnostic tool and SMART checks out fine, a mere two hours later Windows tells me the drive has failed and needs to be replaced asap, data throughput speed drops to something like a 1.44" floppy, and you know it's going to die on you any minute. Good thing I
heard it coming hours before SMART did and made a fresh image just in time. Lesson Two: listen to your hard drive! :-)
Lesson Three: system image is a wonderful thing.
It took me about an hour to go and buy a new drive and only a couple of minutes remove the bad drive and install the new one (yay for Antec cases, check the side view
But I was apprehensive about restoring the system image. Due to my specific setup of external drives, I once had a less-than-stellar experience restoring an XP system using ShadowProtect 3.5, described here
. All ended well, but it took some hair pulling and manual editing of MBR config. If anything, I expected 7 to be harder, since there are now two partitions to restore: the main bootable system partition, and the hidden one 7 setup creates.
Well, it would seem that when ShadowProtect went from 3.5 to version 4, those wrinkles I experienced were smoothed out. There is an option to restore the original disk layout exactly as stored in the image file, and it does precisely that. Restoring both partitions took under 20 minutes, and after one reboot I was back in business, with an image only a day old. Smooth sailing all the way!
The whole thing took maybe 90 minutes of my day, most of which was to go and buy a new drive. If I had a spare one on hand, the whole procedure would have taken under 30 minutes.
One weird thing though... you know when 7 boots, it displays the colored dancing balls and petal-like things? Well, after restoring the 7 image, the boot-up animation has reverted to the sickly green-ish progress bar that XP had. How come?