How to Copy a Hard Drive to DVD

by Larry Amon

All of the data and files on your computer are stored on the hard disk drive. Hard drives can be fragile and do not last forever, so it's prudent to back up important data you don’t want to risk losing. DVDs are very portable, cheap and can hold a large amount of data – nearly 5 gigabytes – plus they're compact and convenient to store. For these reasons, copying your hard drive to DVDs makes good sense.

Disk Imaging

Step 1

Prepare your hard drive. Make sure all of the programs you want to back up are correctly installed and working. Resolve any technical problems so they won’t be copied to your backup disc. Delete any files on your hard drive that you don’t want. What's on your hard drive at the time you copy it is exactly what will be saved when you back up the drive.

Step 2

Download or purchase a disk-imaging program. Ghost is a widely used program, but various applications are available that can do the job. Disk-imaging programs essentially take a snapshot of the hard disk drive and copy it to the DVD or other backup media.

Close all running programs and then launch the disk-imaging program. You will be prompted for the destination drive where the backup image will be saved. Choose the "Write to DVD" option, and select "Span Disk" in the event that more than one DVD is required to back up your data. If the menu does not include a DVD writing option, you'll have to back up your files to a secondary hard drive or an external drive.

Saving Files

Step 1

Locate the specific files you want to back up.

Step 2

Organize the files you want to copy. Copy the files to one folder, and then organize them under sub-folders. Having all your files organized will save time when getting them off the DVD later.

Copy the main folder you organized, burning its contents to a DVD using the file commands in Windows Explorer, or using software such as Nero, which will allow you to choose the folders you copy. Select the type of CD or DVD you want to make. Choose the "Data DVD" option and then click “burn” to back up your files to the DVD.

About the Author

Larry Amon has been working in the computer field for more than 10 years and has experience writing scripts, instructional articles and political commentary. He has been published online, as well as in "NRB Magazine" and "Delmarva Youth & Family." He started a nonprofit media organization in 2000.

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