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HowTo EASILY create image backup?

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First I must remind you that I really am a total IT-illiteral. And because of this (yes, I am aware of it: the blame is on me, not on Bill Gates), my XP is getting more and more sick by the minute, so to speak, at least 'by the month'. So now I really need you to guide me to the easiest way to create an image of my harddisk, to USB harddrive. Gratis, not compressing, and not commandline, please. Something like: install and open image making program > click "create image now" > backup this drive (ALL of it) > from here to there, > options: make short but understable log ("don't ask any questions during backup process, but tell me about it next time"), and close pc when done > Start".

What program to get&use, please?  :tellme:

Oh, I forgot a very important detail: program must fully support Unicode!

I'm quite happy with DriveImage XML. Easy to use, freeware, and besides, it has a unique feature: browsing the images, view and extract individual files.

I have had that program for some time, but never cared to really try it out because the text said "Images are stored in XML files,", and I have no idea what a XML file is. But now I realize that the full text goes "Images are stored in XML files, allowing you to process them with 3rd party tools. Never again be stuck with a useless backup!". Of course I still have no idea what a XML file is, but at least now I will actually TRY it out. I will report back later on.


Please make a guess how long it will use to create a first time 100 GB image?
~USB 2.0

Well, it's actually an XML file with desription + metadata, and some binary files for the actualy image data... but you do still get huge XML files (~10meg for 1.7gig worth of system-drive backup).

Curt: XML is an "eXtensible Markup Language". That's a fancy name for "a structured text file that can be used for a lot of different stuff". The format is similar to HTML, but more strict, and it doesn't define tags like HTML does.

The idea behind XML is that it's more-or-less human readable, since it's stored in text format, but that it's also efficiently machine-readable (because it's structured). So instead of people using a zillion different file formats with custom parsers, you could use XML for basically everything, with your own Schema. The DriveImageXML .xml files actually have a description of the schema embedded in them, so if you find a DIXML backup 10 years from now, you have enough information to read the files...

The downside to XML is that it's a lot less efficient to read & parse than a binary file, so it's generally not so usable for huge data structures.

I regularly backup some 160 GB and this operation takes about 2 hours, or 6 hours when using compression (compressed to some 110 GB). But my backup is done on the internal SATA HD, if you're using external media it would be much slower (like any other application) and then the compression would pay off.


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