Please suggest a recovery strategy

Hi, I have a multiboot of XP, Vista64 and 7 (installed in that order) spread across 2 disks and although this isn't my "office" PC I should REALLY have a recovery strategy.

I guess the most important partition is the first one of disk 0 because this has MBR, (Vista) PBR, and bootmgr (with BCD) and, not so importantly, my initial XP install (plus its associated ntldr and boot.ini).

So if I back that up is that a good start? Thanks for any pointers.


Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
The most important thing to back up is your user files.
It might be a pain to lose the OS or the boot files, but you can always reinstall the OS, and we'll help you fix a broken boot in a few minutes.
Your photos, email, half-completed novel or soon-to-be chart-topper are unique and irreplacable. You should have a regular daily routine to make copies of all your changed user files to a separate device from your main HDD.
That way, if you are forced into a reinstall of the OS by a catastrophic failure of some kind, you can just copy back your documents, music, mail folders etc and be back to square-one without loss.

I can heartily recommend the freeware EZBackItUp for this purpose, which has preserved my data for years. I've never had to restore the whole lot (though I've sometimes done an elective re-install, which is made much easier), but it's saved the day a few times when an individual file has got accidentally deleted or corrupted. Because it preserves the entire folder/file structure, a restore is much easier than using the MS archiving system because you can simply drag it back from the backup folder to the live folder in 1 second, no special "restore" program needed to locate/decompress/retrieve the data.
(It doesn't mention Vista compatibility, the author abandoned development before Vista was born, but I can confirm it works just fine.)
As well as the daily backup to a separate HDD, I do a regular monthly run to an external HDD too, just for additional security.
There are many disk-imaging utilities too which you can use to backup your partitions or even the entire HDD provided that you have sufficient space for storage. I use a free copy of Paragon Drive Copy 9.0 which came with one of the PC mags, which I've used to clone my partitions when rearranging my HDDs, though I don't use it for routine backup purposes because I've always got the original Vista, XP, W7 and Ubuntu systems sitting in their boxes on DVD/CD if needed.
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