I've been tinkering with multiple operating systems on my laptop. This is nothing new, but rather something I've been doing for going on four years now, with various OS's and laptops. Today, however, I achieved a new level of geekiness.
Today I restored my installation of Windows XP. Rather than reinstalling and reconfiguring the twenty-some-odd programs I use on a daily basis, I did the following:
1. Made a copy of the entire windows xp partition to an external harddrive (while in Linux, because Windows will get sticky about certain system files)
2. Reformatted the original harddrive, creating an empty partition for Windows to reside in, and installing the operating systems that required the reformatting of the hard disk.
3. Copied the entire windows partition back onto the blank partition.
4. Used my original windows installation disk to go into 'repair' mode to execute the following command: 'fixboot'
5. Voila, my windows xp works exactly as it did yesterday before I made the backup, in a fraction of the time it would take to reinstall everything.
But I bet right now you're wondering what sort of practical use this has for your life. Well, should you be one of the masses using Windows XP in your personal life, you can easily download a thumb drive version of linux (such as Puppy), install it on an old flash drive you have lying around, and then use it to make a backup of your entire hard drive. Then, should you ever get a virus, have a hard drive failure, or whatnot, you can have a new disk up and running with all of your old programs installed in a fraction of the time.
And believe me, hard drive failures happen to everyone. You don't want to spend your days looking for spare hard drive parts on ebay so that you can squeek one last read out of a dead harddrive.