Norton Ghost will do... Next, create a new partition on your hard drive (we'll call it X). Now,uninstall all software not directly related to XP or your peripheral hardware; i.e., sound, video, cd/dvd writer; network card, etc. Reinstall your software (games, office apps, etc) on drive X. Make sure you have all your updates installed.
Now your main C drive will be less than 3 gigabytes (great if you have a dvd burner...) Run the defragmenter.
You are now set to run your backup program (be sure that you create boot disks, or make the cd bootable).
Now, when your pc is toasted by virus or malware, just boot with your backup cd's or dvd. It will restore your system completely and you won't have to reload any of your software, since all of the shortcuts to them are restored.
Just finished reading the "How to restore a hard drive" discussion, lots of good info, but I have been trying to figure out how to create a CD or CDs for a system I recently rebuilt for my kids. This is the 3rd time I have rebuilt the machine in less than a year (Kids web sites are notorious for sypware and can kill a machine's OS in weeks!). While I have all the software installing software and drivers is a pain. I was wondering how I could use...say Norton Ghost to create not only a set of restore CDs but make them idiot proof and automated. This way I could plop in a CD and basically walk away. Any suggestions?