Most if not all hard drive makers have a freeware utility that will clone (image) your hard drive to a second one, a copy comes on CD or floppy with retail boxed versions and can be downloaded from their websites along with the how to for OEM versions
If you follow the link in this thread click here that I opened for the same reason you will be able to download Acronis 7 for free and create a single DVD Image of you OS and Necessary other programs that you install.
The Image can then be put back onto the HDD should you require a complete system restore and it only took 20min for my image to re-load.
No more XP Keys or setting up the PC. Drivers, Anti-Virus the lot, back in place after 20min.
I am wondering if cloning my drive is what I want. My initial thought was if I copied everything on C: drive I would then be able to access each and every folder in case I forgot to back something up before reformatting.
Am I right in thinking that cloning the drive would not let me do this?
If you reload the image made by Acronis or Ghost the hard drive will be back to exactly the way it was at the time of the backup. If you want to access files or folders on an individual basis Ghost Explorer lets you look inside a Ghost Image and select and retrieve individual files or folders. I haven't used Acronis so I don't know for sure, but I would think it has a similar feature.
As Peter says, cloning your C:\ drive on to another hard drive will allow you to format your C:\ drive and then replace everything just the way it was. Any Programs, folders or files not required after replacing can then be removed from the C:\ drive in the normal way. You will not be able to pick which programs to re-install or which to omit while replacing the system as programs require alterations to the registry and possibly other parts of the system files. To install programs in a random fashion will require the original program setup files or discs. I clone my C:\ drive every 10 to 14 days as a complete backup using the FREE XXCOPY (for Win 98SE) or XXCLONE (for Win XP) See click here Hope this helps.