When I did a re-installation of my Windows box recently I figured that I should create a rescue disk containing all service packs, drivers and some tools. I searched around a bit to see what was available and found that most people recommended Nortot Ghost, but I didn’t want to pay $70 so I kept on looking and found out that Device Image could create a disk image of a partition (or complete disk) which was what I needed.
Basically what you do is that you boot up a Live CD (available from their web site) or if you happens to dual boot you machine with Linux you can use that. Then you mount your Windows partition and a partition where you have enough free space to hold the backups. Linux is not able to write to a NTFS partition so you should use any other partition for the backup images (for example Fat32, EXT3 or ReiserFS). Device Image can read NTFS so the Windows partition can use NTFS.
If you choose to backup a partition rather than the complete disk you should know that the MBR (Master Boot Record) on the disk is not stored on the partition and you must therefore use a tool (for example Ultimate Boot CD) to recreate the MBR when you restore the data.
Also note that when you create the images it copies the complete partition which means that the size of the images will probably be quite big. You also must have a partition that are at least equal in size as the partition you created the images on to restore the images later.
The documentation on the Device Image web site (as well as a Mini-HowTo) explains how you do to create the images and later restore the partition.
I have not yet tried to recover my system and I hope that I don’t need to in a year or two but I’ll update this post once it’s verified that it works. If anyone tries the recovery please post a comment in this post!
Update 070518: I have now recovered the partition from the images I created using Device Image and it worked like a charm. I highly recommend this tool!
Update 080627: I recently had to generate another image for another computer. I decided to try to use PartImage that is a tool like Device Image. It also worked fine so try any of them!