How do I know if my backup includes the operating system as well as the data?

by on February 19, 2009

Q: When I backup to my hard drive (complete hard drive), does the backup contain my OS or is it just data files? If it does include the OS can I restore it on a complete new hard drive? If so how would I do it?

3 Responses to “How do I know if my backup includes the operating system as well as the data?”

    Which are you running, Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, or something else? The answer to your question depends upon which operating system you are running. Thanks!


    I am running Windows Xp pro


    Sadly, copying the contents of your hard drive is not enough to let you move Windows XP Pro to a new hard drive (at least not with good results). Microsoft and I have somewhat different opinions on the best backup method for Windows XP. is a description of and procedure for Microsoft’s suggested Windows XP backup method. Do not backup to your current hard drive. Instead, backup to recordable CD/DVD, external hard drive, etc.

    I believe that there are some problems with Microsoft’s preferred method, including but not limited to: some data might be missed, virus/malware might be transferred to the new hard drive, performance on the new hard drive might be really slow, etc. Note, some manufactures include a program in their computers that is similar to Microsoft’s backup utility — allows you to create your own system recovery discs. Discs created by such software have the same problems as Microsoft’s method.

    In my opinion, it is best to manually backup your My Documents and other important data to an external hard drive. Then use the Windows installation disc (or system recovery disc/utility) that came with your computer to manually reinstall Windows. You will then manually reinstall your programs, bring the backups to your new hard drive, etc. This may seem tedious, but your new hard drive will be faster and more stable as a result.

    PS: Some computer companies will send a Windows installation disc and/or a system recovery disc to you upon request.

    Does this help?