I use Windows XP media center edition, SP3 and have some 18 applications I
use regularly. I did not receive original install discs with the PC. I take
complete backups regularly, but I’m afraid that if I lose my hard disk, I won’t
be able to use those backups. I’m really very happy with XP. I don’t want to
change. What should I do or is there anything I can do to be able to recover
from a hardware failure like a disk crash?
In this excerpt from
Answercast #12, I address the common situation of having no installation
discs for a computer and recommend a complete system image as a safety
Become a Patron of Ask Leo! and go ad-free!
The importance of backups
So, good for you for having backups!
What I don’t know (and I’m a little concerned based on your statements) is
exactly how much you’re backing up. If you’ve been doing true system
backups from day one, then those system backups should be able to restore your
Full system backups
Let’s assume that you’re not doing system backups; let’s assume you’ve been
backing up only your data:
- Thus, your operating system, the boot information, all your installed
programs have not been backed up.
My recommendation is that you should immediately take a full system image
backup of this hardware. This will substitute for installation media in the
sense that if your hard disk dies (which is the scenario you’re concerned about
and rightly so), you can then restore the PC to that disk image on a new hard
You will then be exactly where you were: installed programs and Windows and
everything as of the time you took that backup in the first place.
Managing full system backups
If that’s the kind of backup you’ve already been doing, then I think you’re
probably in great shape.
Keep the oldest one you can so that you can go back as far in time as
possible, if you need to. But for the most part, regular backups, regular
system image backups are the way to go and I would suggest that you start doing
that as soon as you can.