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There is a very little chance that your PC would come with a restore disc or a CD with all drivers and programs that were installed on its hard drive. However, the great news is that this does not matter anymore. This is because Restore DVDs that are provided by the manufacturer are only designed for a single purpose, that is, to restore the PC to the same state as how you bought it. Thus, the restoration process only includes cleaning the hard drive and reinstalling Windows. In addition, the hardware drivers on the restore DVD would probably get out of date when you would use it. Thus, instead of fretting over the old DVD, take some time out to build your own. The ideal restore DVD would include safety features that would help protect the PC from all spyware, virus, corruption, crash, etc. A good restore DVD would help in reinstalling Windows and fixing all minor issues along with restoring backed-up data.
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Creating the DVD
Many a time’s manufacturers do not provide new PCs with an original Windows XP DVD. Instead, they pre-install the Windows XP. If this is the case, it is advisable to contact the manufacturer and ask for one. In majority of cases, the DVD would be provided for no extra charge.
To install any Microsoft service pack or reinstall Windows XP, one needs a valid product key. Failing to provide this, the restore DVD would be useless. The 25-digit product key can be found on the hologram – laden certificate that is displayed on the Windows XP CD sleeve or on a sticker on the PC. If you are not able to find this, contact the manufacturer for the product key. If you can provide the manufacturer a valid Windows permit, they would be able to help. Make sure this product key number is kept safe. It is advisable to write the number with a marker on the DVD that you are creating.
It is also possible to set up an answer file that enables one to enter the product key automatically. To do this, on the Windows XP CD: Professional Edition, go to \ Support \ Tools. Double click on DEPLOY.CAB, and then double-click again on Setupmgr.exe to open the Windows Setup Manager wizard. When asked, create a new answer file and a Windows Unattended Installation. For User Interaction, choose Provide when asked about the Distribution Folder, click on No. finally on the next window, select Providing the Product Key and type the number in the text field and save the unattend.txt file in the C:\xp folder.
Download the drivers from most used hardware devises. The drivers can be downloaded from the hardware manufacturer’s websites. In the C:\xp folder, create a folder by the name of Drivers. Also, create a sub-folder for each driver. Do not forget to download all drivers that would help the PC be connected to the Internet. Once connected to the Internet, the PC can download the less important drivers like that of the printer or audio card, etc. Also, make sure, all ZIP files or self-extracting files are expanded to access the individual driver files during the Windows setup. If there is space left on the DVD, make a folder for the backup software that would help get data off the backup media. Additionally, add the tape drive, FireWire drivers, SCSI, etc. to access the backup devices.
To make the restore DVD bootable, use IsoBuster (http://www.smart-projects.net/isobuster) to pull out the boot loader from the original Windows XP CD. Select the CD drive from the list of drivers available in IsoBuster and click on the Bootable CD folder. Further, pull the BootImage.img file to the hard drive.
Finally, to burn the DVD, a CD-burning software is needed. There are many options available. Some of them are Nero Burning (http://www.nero.com), Roxio (http://www.roxio.com), etc. This step is very simple. Drag all the contents of the C:\xp folder to the CD project and use the BootImage.img file. When this is done, get ready to burn the DVD.