Gerrards Cross Computer Club

Backup Solutions - DriveImageXML

Return to support page home

Page updated 5 September 2008

Quick Links

What is this page for?

DriveImageXML is a drive backup program. It can backup the C drive, and any other drives, on a running system.

This page shows how to install the program, how to use it to backup a computer, and how to restore a computer to an earlier state from a backup. The instructions and screenshots are based on version 2.01.

Note that restoration may be more challenging, especially to a new disk drive, but even if you been professional assistance to restore a computer this will still be far more efficient than rebuilding from scratch. Any professional worthy of the name should be able to follow these instructions. If not try someone else!

Download Location

Here is the link to DriveImageXML home page

There are two versions of the program.

DriveImageXML Windows Installer

There is a Windows Installer version for installation on XP or Vista.

DriveImageXML - Bootable CD Package (BART's PE)

There is also a version packaged for inclusion in a version of Bart's PE (Ultimate Boot for Windows is a version of Bart's PE. This can be found at this URL Ultimate Boot download can be found at this URL

The Ultimate Boot version already contains a version of this package but it is out of date (at the time of writing this page 30 Aug 2008).

This would be needed to recover a drive to an empty disk without valid partitions or Operating System. Gerrards Cross Computer Club members may contact the author for assistance in creating this bootable disk. Note that it requires a valid XP license in order to create it. Your XP or Vista license should be sufficient.


Installation follows normal windows practice. Double click on downloaded file. Click on screenshot to show a full resolution image (resize window if necessary).

Installation Instructions Screenshot

The screenshot shows the initial screen after starting installation.

Click on Next to continue.

First screen

Click the checkbox to agree to license and then click Next

This will show this screen and shows the installation location.

Click Next to continue.

Accept Licence

The next stage is to confirm the program group. The default as shown is normally the one to use.

Click Next to continue

Confirm Group

Click Next to go to the final confirmation screen. 

Click Next to install.

The installation does not take long and the final screen is shown. Click Finish to complete installation

Final screen

Depending on the options selected an icon may appear on the desktop.

Running the Program - Backup Mode

Click on the Desktop icon or use the Start/run menu to start the program.

Runtime Instructions Screenshot

This is the initial screen. The left hand pane has buttons in the lower part to select the operation. The screenshot shows the Welcome screen.

Backup is what we will be doing first.

The other options are 

  • Restore to revert to an earlier date.
  • Drive to Drive will copy one drive to another
  • Browse will enable files or complete folders to be accessed (and copied) from an archive.
Initial runtime screen

We now choose a drive (volume) to backup. More than one can be selected and all selected drives will be backed up to the destination. the filenames will contain the drive letter from the source.

Click on the drive in the drive pane to select the drive. (Hold the CTRL key down to select more than one.)

Click on Next when you are ready.

Bacuk - initial window

We now see the drive backup wizard. this will list the drives selected for backup.

Click Next to continue.

Backup wizard starts

We now have some important choices to make.

Raw Mode - This creates a sector by sector copy of the drive including the unused parts of the disk. You can only restore to a drive/partition of exactly the same size. I do NOT recommend this option.

Split files - The amount of data to be copied is large. This option splits the file into 672 Mbyte sized chunks. The intention seems to be to be able to write each one to a CD. Seven chunks should fit onto a single sided DVD. I think it is a good idea to use this option rather than use a single very large file.

Compression - the default is None. You also have a choice of Fast, or Good (slow). The option will affect the amount of space taken by the backup. I would  recommend Good and expect it to take a longer time (see below for a comparison). 

See below for a description of  Hot Imaging Strategy

Confirm options

Finally we have to choose where to backup to. The default shown would almost certainly be a VERY BAD CHOICE. You need to select a folder on another drive e.g. another partition or preferably an external disk drive (USB or NAS). the screenshot shows that we can select the output folder and even create a new one.

I suggest creating a folder containing the date of the backup. I place this inside a folder identifying the computer being backed up but I have three real computers and several virtual computers (these screenshots were taken using a virtual machine for simplicity).

Select folder

Here we see that the folder name 20080829 has been created (being the date in yyyymmdd format - chosen because it collates correctly on a file listing sorted by name). This folder is contained within a folder VM-XP-PRO which is the computer name.

all that now remains is to click Next to start the backup

Change destination folder

This screenshot shows the initial start of the backup. You


can see that it is backing up the C drive. It tries Volume Locking first which failed - it is the C drive so this would never work. It tries Volume Shadow next which does work (it does take a while) and the backup commences.

The progress bar shows the progress of the backup.


The time it will take will depend on the size of the partition, how much is in use and the compression option chosen. It will also depend on the speed of the backup device and, if over a network, on the speed of the network.


initial log window

Finally the Finish button will be enabled and you can press it knowing that your data is now safe!

Note that this takes you back to DriveImageXML and you need to close it using the File Menu and the Exit item or use the close button on the top right of the title Bar.

Finish backup

Compression comparison

To illustrate the difference compression makes here are windows Explorer screen shots showing two backups, Taken one after the other, with no compression and good compression. 

Compression = None Compression = Good (Slow)
Uncompressed Compressed
Total size = 7.0 Gbyte
Time taken = 35 minutes approx
Total size = 4.57 Gbyte
Time taken = 45 minutes approx

The elapsed time shown is an approximation based on a sample of one in each case under not very strictly controlled conditions. It does not include writing the file list which occurs afterwards and takes 2-3 minutes and is the same in both cases.

Hot Imaging Strategy

This only applies to Windows XP or Vista using the NTFS filing system (as opposed to FAT). If you are using FAT it is strongly recommended that you convert your filing system to NTFS (after taking a backup of course). 

You are backing up a drive in order to cope with a disaster situation and hence might have to use the backup for recovery at some future date. If you are backing up a drive in a computer where the Operating System or applications running on the computer is making changes to the drive when it is being backed up it should be obvious that the state of the drive is indeterminate. This is NOT what is required from a backup.

There are two ways of preventing access. The older way (and one that will work with FAT) is to lock the drive. This totally prevents access to the drive and will not work for the C drive. It may or may not work for other drives depending on what programs are running. This is the option Try Volume Locking first.

the other method is to select Try Volume Shadow Services first. Volume Shadowing in essence will create a snapshot of the disk which is used for backing up. this represents an image at a moment in time. If a program tries to write to a file while the Volume shadow is in operation it writes instead to a different area of disk but this is handled by the Operating system transparently so that applications or the Operating System believe that the Finally the Finish button will be enabled and you can press it knowing that your data is now safe!file has been written to. This change however is not written to the backup. Once the backup is complete the shadow copy is removed. The disk now knows only about the current running state and if a new backup were to be taken immediately then it would incorporate the new changes.

If you have been paying attention you will have noticed the work first against each of the options. DriveImageXML will try both methods before giving up. All you are doing is influencing its choice.

If you are backing up using a bootable CD then Drive then Volume Locking will always work. If you are running DriveImageXML on the computer that you are backing up then the default should still be OK but I always tend to use Volume Shadow Service.


Note that you are unable to restore into the C drive from a program running in an Operating system running on that drive.

To restore to the C drive you need to use a bootable CD such as Ultimate Boot for Windows.

The main "gotcha" is that the partition must exist on the disk to where the partition is being restored to. this must be at least as large as the image that was backed up. Creating this partition can be done relatively easily using tools on the Ultimate Boot disk.