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This requires backup software with rescue media (a boot DVD or CD) that allows you to perform not only a restore, but an actual backup.

Is it really possible to get a "Bare Metal" image of a new PC system? That is, before even the install takes place? I've reinstalled systems many times but I've only taken the image after the install has been completed because the install gathers specific user related items such as time zone, language, etc. It's not really the factory new image. Is that the best that can be done?

In this excerpt from Answercast #60, I look at a way to use backup software to create a factory fresh image of a new machine.

Factory clean image

Actually, I had to think about this for a minute. But then it dawned on me that no, you can actually do better.

What you need is backup software such as (I believe) the Macrium Reflect rescue media disc: in fact, the PC version of the rescue media disc. This may work for backup software other than Macrium Reflect; it just happens to be the one that I'm familiar with and that I know you can do this with.

Before you install the machine, before you even boot the machine from its hard disk, when it arrives factory fresh - instead, immediately boot it from the rescue media.

Backup rescue media

Now, the rescue media we normally think of as being something that we use to restore a disk image onto a hard disk in the machine. But as it turns out, some of them (including like I said, the PC version of the Macrium Reflect rescue media) will actually allow you to take a backup at that point.

  • You would install your external hard drive onto which the backup would be placed;

  • But before you even boot the machine off of the hard drive, you would instead boot it from the rescue media disc;

  • Then you could image that hard drive before it's ever even run.

That would give you a true factory fresh image without any of the customizations that they might require when you start the machine. Like I said, the only thing that this requires is backup software whose rescue media (whose DVD or CD boot media) actually allows you to perform not only a restore, but an actual backup.

Next from Answercast #60 - How do I disable https?

Article C5903 - October 10, 2012 « »

Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

October 10, 2012 10:29 PM

Leo, do you know if the rescue media or the bootable CD for Acronis True Image Home (a backup software you had recommended at one time) will allow the user to also perform a backup of the hard disk? Thanks...

Unfortunately I don't know. Perhaps someone will chime in...

Dick R.
October 11, 2012 6:53 AM

1. Will Macrium's Boot Disc recognize an external USB drive on the "new" PC before it is is run? Don't we need the drivers on the hard drive?
2. Is making an image of the "new" PC's hard drive any violation of copyrights?

1) Typically, no. The majority of USB drives are simply recognized by the backup software's boot disk without needing additional drivers. 2) Making the image: no. It's what you do next that falls into legal problems. Give it to all your friends? That's a copyright violation. Use it to restore the same machine some day in the future? Seems legit. (As always, my "I am not a lawyer" caveat applies.)

October 12, 2012 8:24 AM

Use a Clonezilla Live CD:

I have done this with every new PC or laptop purchase in my family.

The only tricky part is getting the machine to boot from the CD drive on the very first power-up. If you miss it on the first try, you don't get a second chance.

You need to know (or find out) what key you need to press to get either the boot option menu or the CMOS setup. And then you need to press it at just the right time to intercept the normal boot.

It's a bit tricky.

October 13, 2012 1:25 AM

I'm wondering if you're off track, perhaps.

What I want is an image of my Acer W7 tablet without any "Add-on" software other than the Micro$oft Touch software. Then image that. I use Image for DOS myself.

Mark J
October 13, 2012 2:33 AM

This article is talking about an image to restore an original factory installation of a Windows system. It doesn't apply to tablets. I don't think there is any software to save a cloned image of a tablet.

October 17, 2012 2:07 AM

Thanks Mark. I agree, I'm the one that was off track.

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