You've spent hours to set up your new computer, you don't want to do it again in case of system corruption. So, once you have everything going well, it is time to do a full system backup before it's too late. Or, you like to try the new Windows 8, you should do this first so you can go fully back in case things go wrong.
It is very easy and simple to do, all you need is a USB thumb drive, or a SD card in a card reader (see my other article for a good one for few dollars). For WinXP, 4GB is enough and 16GB for Win8, if you have not installed many large applications.
Plug in the USB drive into your PC, assuming it appears as "D:". If you run out of USB slots, you may use an USB hub as showing above. Download the clonezilla.zip file and extract it to D:
Then open D:\utils\win32, double click on "makeboot.bat" to make the USB drive bootable. Don't worry, there won't be any damage to your USB drive and the files on it.
Now turn your PC off. Turn it on, and go into boot menu. For most PCs, press F12; others use Esc, Del, F2 or F1. Make sure the USB drive is selected as the very 1st boot device. If you did it right, you'll see the Clonzilla screen:
Press enter for all selections to accept the defaults, except two. One is this:
Select the bottom one, i.e., "skip", this will put the backup files on the same USB drive. If your bootable USB drive does not have enough space, then you can plug in another large drive and select the default (local_dev). This is the most confusing part for newbies.
The second one is self explaining:
If you are backing up, then select the default "savedisk"; if you are restoring from an earlier backup, then select the 3rd option "restoredisk".
Once the process started, it'll take from 10 minutes to 2 hours, depending on how many files to save and how fast your PC and the USB drive are:
Once done, you may save the backup, found in D:\home\partimag, to somewhere else.
Why I use this method? Because it does not damage the USB drive and its files while making it bootable; so I can use the drive or SD card not just for this purpose but anything else as well such as digital cameras. Furthermore, it has not failed on me yet for years. Very handy.
If your PC has an AMD CPU or very old 486, above downloaded ZIP file won't work. You need to find the correct version on Clonezilla website. The procedure is exactly the same as described above.
My next article will be how to back up data.