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Drive Imaging (DI) Made Easy

To save ourselves the hassle of having to clean-install an OS every time you need a fresh installation or need to test different setups of the same OS, we use a program called Drive Image from PowerQuest. It gives you the ability to create a snapshot of a partition or hard drive by saving it in a compressed format on another drive or partition for easy restoration. Installing an OS from scratch can take anywhere between 1 and 3 hours, depending on the OS and the speed of your machine. Restoring a drive image usually takes between 5 and 15 minutes for a partition with a basic OS install on it. Big difference, isn't it?

Below you'll find instructions on how to perform the most important operations of DI - creating and restoring images. If you are interested in learning more about its capabilities, please consult the manual for more information.

Creating Drive Images

Before you even think about creating the actual image, you should take a few minutes right now to verify the OS installation to make sure it is customized exactly the way you want it, has all the necessary drivers and service packs installed, etc. By taking the time beforehand you'll save yourself the annoyance of having to fix the same little annoyances every time you restore the image. Following is a list of things to check before creating your image.

  • Drivers - Ensure you have all the appropriate drivers installed, e.g. video, sound, modem.
  • Service Packs - Ensure you have the appropriate service pack installed.
  • Modem - Ensure you can access the Internet. If you have problems, verify that the modem driver is installed and working and that your dial-up connection is set up correctly.
  • Customizations - Ensure you tweaked everything you wanted or needed, e.g. screen resolution and color, Explorer view style, etc. But don't install customization software such as custom screen savers or TweakUI or X-Setup because you don't want to compromise the integrity of the clean OS install.

When you're satisfied with the setup, it's time to make the image.

  1. Shut down Windows and reboot the system.

  2. Select MS-DOS 6.22 from the System Commander boot menu to boot to DOS.

  3. When you're at the C:\ prompt, type pqdi to start Drive Image.

  4. From the Drive Image menu, select Create Image.

    This starts a wizard that guides you through the process. On the next screen you'll see a graphical layout of your hard drive as well as a table-style view. This looks similar to the Partition Magic screen you got when you created your partitions earlier. Drive Image is made by the same people as Partition Magic.

    Anyway - you'll see your partitions lined up. You should be able to easily identify which OS resides on which partition by the file system and the volume label.

  5. To select the name of the partition that contains the OS you want to make an image of, click its check box.

    I strongly advise against including multiple partitions in one image for several reasons (even though you'll have the option to do it): the most important reason is that it takes a lot longer to create and restore the image, because if the image file ends up getting corrupted or deleted somehow you lose more than one OS. It also makes it a lot harder to keep track of your image library.

  6. After selecting the desired partition, click Next.

  7. In the next window, first click the Browse button because you need to choose a location in which to store your image file.

  8. Use the drop-down menu labeled Drives to select the C: drive.

    Now you should see a list of folders in the box labeled Folders. One of the folders listed there is called IMAGES (where you store your images).

  9. Double-click the folder labeled IMAGES.

  10. Provide a name for the image file and type it in the File Name field.

    It is imperative that you use a naming scheme that makes sense to you and makes it easy to recognize three months down the road what you stored in this image file. Do not call it Windows; be organized and logical. For example, if you are imaging a Windows NT 4 partition that was patched with Service Pack 6, you could name the image file NT4SP6. Chances are you will easily recognize it in the distant future.

  11. Click OK.

    This will return you to the previous screen. In the Image File field you should now see something like C:\IMAGES\NT4SP6.PQI. Do NOT click Next yet!

  12. Click your cursor in the Image File Comments field.

    This field is invaluable; it is where you will record details and notes about the partition you're imaging. You can type up to 300 characters in this field. Here's an example of a good Image File Comment:

    Windows NT 4 Service Pack 6
    Created April 42nd 2025
    Created on PIII 500 desktop
    Installed Drivers:
    NVidia Detonator 3
    Intel Etherexpress Pro 2.57

    That is only 145 characters including spaces; all full of important information. When you are about to restore an image in the future, you can check out these comments with Drive Image before the actual restoration process and find out exactly what this image is all about.

  13. Click Next to continue.

    Now you need to choose a compression level. Drive Image can compress the information to make the image file as small as possible. I suggest selecting High compression, it offers a 50% compression ratio, meaning the image file will take up half the space of the actual data on the partition you're imaging.

    For example, if you installed Windows 98 and it took up 200 MB of disk space on the partition, you can expect the image file to be around 100 MB in size. Since the DOS partition where you're saving your image is almost 2 GB, you'll have room for quite a number of image files.

  14. Select High compression and click Next.

    Now you'll see a summary for the image file creation process you're about to start.

  15. Click the Advanced button.

    Here you'll find several useful options:

    Check for File System Errors checks the drive for bad sectors. Leave it selected (checked).

    Disable SmartSector Copying means that instead of just copying the part of the partition that contains data, it will copy both used and unused sectors. Leave it unselected.

    Disk Writes will verify the data after writing the image file and make sure it's readable. This adds extraneous time to the image creation process. Leave it unchecked.

    Password Protect Image File is another nice, but usually unnecessary, option. Leave it unselected.

    Split Image File Into Multiple Files is also not needed in our case. This option is only applicable if you are planning to burn the image file onto CD-ROM afterwards and need to ensure that it does not exceed the storage capacity of a CD-R. Leave it unchecked.

  16. Click OK to return to the wizard.

  17. Click Finish to start the process of creating the drive image.

  18. When it's done, click OK and Exit.

    You're finished.

Restoring Drive Images

  1. Reboot the system.

  2. Select MS-DOS 6.22 from the System Commander boot menu to boot to DOS.

  3. When you're at the C:\ prompt, type pqdi to start Drive Image.

  4. From the Drive Image menu, select Restore Image.

    This will start a wizard that will guide you through the process.

  5. Click the Browse button to locate the image file to restore.

  6. Use the Drives drop-down menu to select the C: drive.

    Now you should see a list of folders in the box labeled Folders. One of the folders listed there is called IMAGES.

  7. Double-click the folder called IMAGES (where your images should be located).

    In the box underneath the File Name field you will see a list of all available image files.

  8. To identify the image file you want to restore, click once on one of the image files and view the Image File Comments box below.

    You'll be able to view the comments for each image and easily identify the image you want to restore.

  9. Click the desired image file and click OK to return to the wizard, then click Next.

    Now you need to choose the partition to which to restore the image.

  10. Select the appropriate partition in the layout and click Next.

    If you restore the image to a partition that contains an OS, you'll get a warning message that whatever partition you selected as the restoration target will be erased, resulting in loss of all the data. Therefore ensure that you select the right partition, otherwise you might end up restoring more images than you originally planned.

  11. Click OK.

    Now you'll choose between two options: Fast Mode and Safe Mode.

    Fast mode restores the image quickly, but without any error checking; Safe Mode takes longer, but gives you the error checking option to look for bad sectors and verify disk writes to ensure that the image is being written correctly.

  12. Select the default, Fast Mode.

    If you get an error or if it doesn't seem to work, you can always give it another shot in Safe Mode.

  13. Click Next to continue.

    You'll see a summary of the operation you're about to perform.

  14. Click the Advanced button.

    You'll get some of the same options that you saw in the "Creating Drive Images" section, i.e, check for file system errors, skip bad sector check, and verify disk writes. Leave the last option unselected; it lets you hide the partition after restoring it, which doesn't apply in our situation because you want to be able to boot from the partition when you're done.

  15. Click OK.

  16. Now click Finish to restore the partition.

  17. When the process is finished, click OK and Exit.

Partition Magic

Partition Magic can be an invaluable tool because it allows you to manipulate partitions in many ways without losing data. With this tool you can move, resize, hide, format, create, delete partitions and more (carefully!).

In this guide some of the functions and capabilities of PM5 are explained in the appropriate context. Explaining all the options of PM5 is impossible, but if you're interested in learning more about them, please consult the manual for more information.

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