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Drive-imaging program that backs up your complete system—including all your data and applications—and can restore it all in minutes.

A drive-imaging program makes a byte-by-byte duplicate of your full hard drive (or of one or more partitions if you've divided your physical drive into multiple logical drives), maintaining the identical data structure.

Hence, if your drive fails, you can pop in a new drive and restore your system to exactly the state it was in when you made the drive image. Drive-imaging software, by contrast, always restores your system.

You can use the software to clone a single system to multiple computers. Some products let you make an image of your current Windows system and then transfer the whole system to a new computer that uses different hardware without installing Windows from scratch—something that's normally impossible when you upgrade to a new machine.

Backup Image ToolShadowProtect Desktop 3.1
This software provides the fastest and smoothest backups and restores of any drive-image utility on the market, and a Vista-based emergency disk guarantees compatibility with the widest range of backup hardware. ShadowProtect Desktop 3.1 is the best such product and worth ten times its price in terms of peace of mind and flexibility.

Boot Disk MenuParagon Drive Backup 8.5 Personal Edition
This is a flexible, advanced drive backup-and-restore utility. The help file can be opaque, however, and the interface could be daunting to casual users.

Acronis True Image 11 Home
This program's ability not just to perform drive imaging but also to back up and restore specific folders and settings makes it the most flexible backup utility I know. But users with complex systems should watch out for potential problems with the emergency restore CD.

BackupDriveImage XML
This application may have limited features, but it's solid drive-imaging software, and, best of all, it's free. You'll need to dust off your propeller beanie to implement it, though.


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