Windows XP forum: How to Create Your Own XP System Restore Disk Guide

by: victor-bailey September 26, 2008 8:42 AM PDT

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How to Create Your Own XP System Restore Disk Guide

by victor-bailey - 9/26/08 8:42 AM

In apreciaction for all the help I have received here on this issue, I want to offer this how to guide as my way of saying thanks.

How to Create Your Own XP System Restore Disk Guide + dual boot guide.

This guide is for XP users with home built systems. It may also work for others, but I have not tested it on any brand name systems.

Everybody knows that there is nothing sweeter then a fresh installation of XP. Your computer starts and runs faster. It almost never freezes up and crashes. Everybody also knows that as time goes by; your computer starts to slow to a crawl. You run the gambit of system utilities (defrag, registry cleaner, garbage cleaner etc), but your system never runs like it did when you first installed XP, and deep down you know that it never will until you do a complete reformat and reinstall of XP. So what is holding you back? Well, you also know that it will take a lot of time to reformat, reinstall windows, reinstall all of your favorite programs, and download the truck load of updates that have occurred since you first bought your system and your programs. And lets not forget about your system drivers. Now if you bought a brand name system, it most likely came with a set of restore disk or a restore partition on your hard drive. Or it may have a program that asked you to create the restore disk when you first started it up. In any case, you may already have your restore capabilities if you have a brand name system. But even then doing a system restore would only take you back to the original OEM created system. I personally hate brand name computers because of all of the proprietary junk on them and usually blow away their junk on the hard drive and install a raw copy of XP. But thats just me. Now back to the subject.

This guide will show you how to create a full system restore disk that will contain your, Operating System, Installed Software, Updates, and Drivers at the time the restore disk was created. In order to make a clean disk, I suggest that you do complete reformat and new installation of you OS, system drivers, updates and favorite programs. This way when you create the restore disk, it will be of the best state that your system can be and will restore your system to that point when you use it.

Assuming that you are at the point that and you want to create your restore disk, download and install Acronis True Image software. There are other programs that can do this but I have not used them and cannot give you a detailed walk through.

Creating your Restore Image File

1. Now run Acronis True Image.
2. Under Pick a Category click on Backup and Restore. Click on Backup, up pops the Create Backup Wizard. Click next.
3. Select MY COMPTURE and click next.
4. Select Disk and Partitions and click next.
5. In the Partition Selection windows, select the partition containing the your XP installation (this will almost always be the (C:) drive). Click Next. Click OK on the next window (Information pop up).
6. In the Backup Archive Location window select the drive where you wan to store the backup file. It really does not matter where you store the file if you are planning to burn it to a DVD later. If you dont plan to burn it to a DVD, I strongly suggest that you save it to a secondary hard drive. Once you have selected the folder save it to, type a name in the Folder box after the \ mark, (Example: D:\System Backup Folder\Full System Backup). Click next.
7. Select Full System Backup Archive and click next.
8. Select, Use Default Options and click next.
9. If want you to give your archive a detailed description you can do it in this next window, or you can leave it blank and click next.
10. And after clicking next for the 50th time you finally reach the end, and still need to click proceed. Depending on the speed of your system and the size of your backup, it could take a while to create you back up.

Now that you have your backup file, you can burn the file to a DVD. You dont need to do anything special here because you dont need for this disk to be bootable. Just burn it to a DVD like you would any data file like pictures or documents. Mark this disk XP Full System Restore Disk 2.

Creating Your Bootable Restore CD

1. Now reopen Acronis True Image. Under Choose a Category click on Disk Utilities in the top left corner you will see a light blue box named Tools. In this box you will see
Create Bootable Rescue Media. Click on it.
2. Click next on the next three screens until you get to the Bootable Media Selection screen. The easiest thing to do here is to burn the image straight to a CD. You can also burn an ISO file, but why would you do that since you would then have to burn that file to a CD.
3. Place a blank CD-R in your CD burner, select the drive in the window and click next. Yep, you guessed it, click proceed. After it finishes, mark this disk XP System Restore Disk 1.

NOTE: You must have a full version of Acronis True Image to burn a functional bootable CD. If you try to use the trial, it will burn the CD and you can boot from it, but when you try to use it to restore your system, it will let you get all the way to the last step and then tell you that you can only perform a restore with the full version. True Image can cost as much as $50, but I found a way to buy it in a bundle with Disk Director, for $39.99. If you bought them both separate it could cost as much as $120. Here is the page that will tell you how to buy it for that low price: http://www.vnunet.com/vnunet/downloads/2157451/acronis-true-image-home

Congratulations! You now have a full system restore disk with all of the updates and your favorite software. Whats even better is that when you use this disk to restore your system, you wont have to deal with all those pesky activation reminders that come up every time you reinstall a program (even if you just uninstalled it five minutes before because it was crashing). Even the XP activation will not bother you if you install it on the same system it was made from, (even if you install it multiple times on different partitions). You can use this restore set on any computer (you will have to reactivate XP, but not any of the other software). Lets say you want to replace your current system with a new system with that Vista @#*$ on it. You have two options. Option A: Reformat the harddrive and use your restore disk set to make the system just like your old one was at it's best. Option B: Install a second harddrive and restore to it or create a new partition on the current HD and restore to the second partition (Note: you will have to get all the hardware drivers for the new system. Its best to do this first if you plan to reformat the drive using option A). Or lets say you want to dual boot your current system with two copies XP. Why in the heck would you want to do that? Well, lets say you want one for gaming and playing around, and another strictly for serious business. If you have a second drive or an extended partition you could just restore to it.

So as you can see, you have created a whole lot more then just a restore disk. You have simplified your life and can now rest at ease because you know that no matter what happens to your computer, whether it be something as simple as a slow down in performance, or your computer suddenly exploding, as long as you have your trusty restore disk set, you can have your system back up and running in a fraction of the time it would take to do it all step by step. And with a whole lot less headache.

One additional note I want to add before finishing this guide, is that if you plan to use this to dual boot, there are some additional steps you have to take to get it to dual boot. Since, when you do the restore as a dual boot option, you are not running the installation process, windows will not modify the boot.ini file to add the new XP installation as a boot option at start up. With out this, you will not be able to boot from the new XP system. In order to modify the boot.ini file you will need to go through several steps. I will give you two ways to do this below. The first one is the best and safest way to do it, the other is faster but there is some risk involved.

Option 1: This option uses the Windows Recovery Console. The simplest way to start the recovery console is to pop your XP CD into your CD drive and restart your computer. In most case you system should come with a black screen after the post process and say PPRESS ANY KEY TO BOOT FROM CD .. You really need to pay close attention during the restart process to catch this screen as it only stays up for a few seconds. Of course you need to press a key, any key on your key board while this screen is up. If you dont see this screen you need to do one of several things. Depending on your motherboard brand it may be as simple as pressing one of you F keys during the post process to bring up the boot menu screen, where you can choose to boot from the CDROM. On a Gigabyte board, pressing F12 will do this. At last resort you might have to edit your BIOS to boot from your CD first before booting from your harddrive. As there are to many BIOS configurations out there to cover, I will leave you to yourself to figure out how to do this if it come to it.

NOTE: If you have gold edition XP (before SP1) this recovery console option will not work. Dont worry, you can create your own up to date SP3 edition of XP using a method called Slipstreaming. Dont worry, its perfectly legal. In fact I am going to send you to the Microsoft website for instruction on how to do it. This link is on how to slip stream SP2 with XP: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/900871/. Microsoft has not yet created a guide for SP3. Here is a good guide for this: http://www.helpwithwindows.com/WindowsXP/Slipstreaming_Windows_XP_Service_Pack_3.html

Now you dont actually have to create a bootable CD to use the updated recovery console. Once you have integrated SP3 into the folder you copied the contents of your XP disk, you can install it from this folder: Here how.

1.Click Start, and then click Run.
2.In the Open box, type d:\i386\winnt32.exe /cmdcons , where d is the drive letter for the drive letter where you created you slipstreamed XP folder. For example: If the folder where you copied the contents of you XP disk is called XP Disk, and you created it on F drive, then the command would look like this: f:\XP disk\i386\winnt32.exe /cmdcons. Press enter.
3.A Windows Setup Dialog Box appears. The Windows Setup Dialog Box describes the Recovery Console option. To confirm the installation, click Yes.
4.Restart the computer. The next time that you start your computer, "Microsoft Windows Recovery Console" appears on the startup menu.

Okay, now that you have booted from your XP CD, choose the Repair option by pressing R when you get to the selection screen. If you installed the repair console to your boot menu, just select it at start up and press enter. Once the repair console has loaded, it will bring you to a command prompt screen and ask you to choose which windows installation to repair. You should see two installations here. Type the number 1 and press enter. It will then ask you for your administrators password. If you dont know what the administrators password is, try leaving it blank and pressing enter. If that does not work, try entering your user logon password. If that does not work, try using another users password that is on your system if one exists. If none of these works after three tries it will lock you out and you will have to restart your computer. Not to despair. The ULTIMATE BOOT CD to the rescue. Start you computer normally and type The Ultimate Boot CD into a google search. You will find multiple guides on how to create this disk. It has several utilities to change your administrators password.

Once you have your administrators password and successfully logged onto the recovery console using the above steps, you will come to the command prompt: C:\WINDOWS\.
Type the following command: bootcfg /add (Note: There is a space between the bootcfg and the / mark.) This command will cause the recovery console to search all of your harddrives for windows installations. It may take a few minute to complete. Once it completes, it will show you a list of the drives that contain windows operation systems, with corresponding numbers. The number 1 will be for your original installation on C drive and 2 will be for your new installation on whatever drive letter that might be. Type the letter 2 at the prompt and press enter. Now it will ask you to give this new OS a description. This is the description that you will see when you boot up your computer and see the dual boot option. You could put something like: Windows XP, or Windows XP business only, or Long live XP down with Vista. It really doesnt matter what you put here as long as it tells you what you need to know so you can choose the right OS at start up. Press enter. Next it will say ENTER OS LOAD OPTIONS just enter /fastdetect without the quotes, and press enter. Type the word EXIT and press enter to restart the system. Congragulations! You just created your fist dual boot system. You should see dual boot menu after the post process and be able to choose your second operations system.


Option 2: This is much faster but its a little risky in that you might cause your system not to be able to boot up at all if you do it wrong. It involves editing your boot.ini file directly. There is nothing but codes here, but it is not as bad as it looks. So before you start, MAKE SURE you create a SYSTEM RESTORE POINT! Okay, now that you have created a system restore point, here goes

1. Click Start, click Run, type sysdm.cpl, and then click OK.
2. On the Advanced tab, click Settings under Startup and Recovery.
3. Under System Startup, click Edit. This opens the file in Notepad ready for editing.

You should see something like this:

[boot loader]
timeout=30
default=multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /fastdetect /NoExecute=OptIn


Copy everything under [operating system], and paste it below the last line. It should look like this:

[boot loader]
timeout=30
default=multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /fastdetect /NoExecute=OptIn
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /fastdetect /NoExecute=OptIn


Now comes the hard part. Since I dont know on what drive you are going to install your second operation system, I cant tell you exactly how to modify the copied line of code that you pasted below the first one. But if you just installed the second OS on an extended partition then all you have to do is change partition number to the partition you installed it on. For example, if you only have one harddrive and it only has two partitions, then your first OS is installed on partition 1 and your second OS is installed on partition 2. In this case you would simply change the number 1 after partition to the number 2. Like this:

multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /fastdetect /NoExecute=OptIn

But lets say your system has two harddrives and your second harddrive has two partitions and you installed the OS on the first partition. Then you will have to change the drive number to number 1, but not the partition number. Rdisk is the drive number and 0 represents the first harddrive on the system. In this example the correct code would look like this:

multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(1)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /fastdetect /NoExecute=OptIn

But if you installed the OS on the second partition of the second drive, it would look like this:

multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(1)partition(2)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /fastdetect /NoExecute=OptIn


That should give you an idea of how to do it. But be careful not to change the original code. If you mess it up your system will not boot and you have to do a system roll back using the restore point I know you created. But even if you dont get the additional code (not the original, but the code you copied and pasted) right the first time, you will still be able to boot up to your fist OS.

Now as far as the description goes, which appears as, "Microsoft Windows XP Professional" in the above examples, you can change that to anything you want to show up when you boot your system up.

This method can save you a lot of time over using the recovery console, but you have to be courageous to try it.

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