I’m installing a new PC from scratch, following system disk crash on my old one. Luckily, just about everything is on backup, so little or no data was lost. It helps that I keep my system and data on separate disks as well.
However, the re-install will take a few hours at least, and more likely a few days. I have quite a few programs and utilities installed, and setting them all up does take time.
Preparing for the future, I purchased two identical hard drives (Western Digital, 320GB). My plan is to have one installed as the system disk. The other one will be installed with the essential minimum (for me – still over a dozen or so proggies)., and will be placed as a backup out of the PC. In case of future system disk crash, all I will have to do is plug the backup instead of the main system disk, and continue working until the crash is fixed. In addition, I may backup data to this disk on a monthly basis (plug in, backup, plug out).
Anyway, here’s my question: I would prefer to install all the programs to one of the disks, and then image / ghost / mirror (not sure about the proper term) to the other one, so that after a (relative) short time, I’ll have two exact copies of the same disk. What is the best way to achieve it? Free programs get bonus points.
For reference: it’s a PC running XP SP2. Both disks are SATA2. I have a few more HDs (both SATA and IDE), but these are basically out of the picture until installation is finished.