You can make a bootable copy of your hard drive disk with Acronis True Image software.
Acronis True Image 2010 produces a perfect duplicate copy of your hard drive that is 100 percent bootable in case your present hard drive crashes. Currently available for immediate download and use for around $70, Acronis True Image is extremely intuitive and easy to use, making it a “PC World” award winner. True Image will permit you to not just create a “boot disk,” but a completely functioning mirrored hard disk image of all your settings, Windows system files, software title and personal data.
1. Make sure your system is compatible with Acronis. You’ll need to be running Windows XP Service Pack 3 (Home or Professional), Windows XP Professional 64 bit Edition, any Vista version or any version of Windows 7. Acronis will not work on Windows 2000 or lower. You’ll also need at least 256 gigs of RAM and a 1-GHz or higher processor.
2. Pick your preferred backup media. You can use a CD-RW drive, DVD-RW drive, or for best results, a second hard drive installed either as a slave drive inside your desktop computer or in a USB external hard drive enclosure (full size or laptop size). If your present hard drive ever crashes, you can simply install the Acronis hard drive in its place and continue as if the crash never occurred if you create a full hard drive copy.
3. Set up your backup media. If you want to make an Acronis True Image copy on a disk, insert the disk in the optical drive tray. If you want to make a True Image to a hard drive, attach the new drive to your present computer, either by adding it as a Slave drive on the IDE or SATA cable, or as a USB external drive. Make sure your computer can detect this drive.
4. Turn off your screen saver and set any Power Options to “Never” in Control Panel.
5. Start the Acronis True Image program. Select “Back Up” and then “My Computer,” if you want to make a complete copy of everything on your computer. You can also choose lesser backup options like “My Data,” “System State,” “Email” or “Applications.” The “My Computer” choice will cover all these components.
6. Choose which “source” or hard drive (or partition on a divided hard drive) you want to copy. Think of the Source as a memo “from” you. If you want to copy your hard drive, this would normally be detected as your “C:” drive. If you want to copy a partition on a hard drive, that drive letter will usually show up as the “D:” drive unless you assigned a different letter to the partition.
7. Select which “target” you want to copy to: in the memo analogy, this would be the “to” location, your second hard drive or the optical drive.
8. Set the backup schedule option if you would like to repeat this backup process regularly. If you just want to create one bootable mirror copy, leave the schedule set at the default option.
9. Choose to have Acronis “validate” the progress of the creation of the bootable drive as it goes. This means that Acronis will check to make sure all the data that is copied is in good condition, free of corruptions or defects. Choosing validation will make Acronis run slower, but it is a good idea to validate the copy.
10. Proceed with the process when you are ready. A Summary page will pop up, reviewing what you asked Acronis to do. Click “Cancel” to make a correction, or “Proceed” to actually begin the process. Acronis will take control of the computer and begin creating the bootable copy. If something on your computer is not set correctly, a warning box will pop up, advising you what to do.
11. Allow Acronis to complete the work without interruption. If you are backing up a laptop, be sure it is running on AC power, not battery. Don’t permit anyone to stop the program. The Acronis process takes some time depending on the size of the hard drive that is being imaged.