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How to Create Bootable Restore CD/DVD/BD Discs from ImageAll Backups

Contributed by Mike Fitzhugh

This article will describe how to make a set of bootable CD or DVD discs in which you split image files so that you can fit as many files on each CD as possible, rather than using one disc per partition, as ImageAll allows by default. The article, How to Create a Bootable Restore DVD for Use with ImageAll, describes the one-disc-for-all approach.  You have to do things a bit differently if you want to split the files on your optical discs.

Here is an overview of the procedure: You have to use ImageAll to burn a set of images (using the "backall [target HD] [destination and base finlename path]" syntax), then you must set up a bootable floppy disk, then choose the option in Nero (or whatever program you use) to burn a bootable data disc with a floppy, and make it use your special floppy. The problem seems to be that when you split your files, either via the ;1 or ;2 switches during the backall procedure, or with a third-party file-splitter afterward, the directions in the other article become insufficient. This article rectifies that problem.

Note that with a third-party splitter you can split your files into any size you like; you aren't limited to the 698, etc. sizes that ImageAll provides with its switches, and ImageAll will still stitch the split files back together correctly as long as you rename the split files according to the schema that Image is programmed to use (for which see below). Caveat: the third-party splitter you use must align files at 512-byte boundaries.  The splitter, HJsplit, works fine for the process described here, but once again YOU MUST RENAME THEM CORRECTLY.

The details:

  1. First, if you use a third-party splitter, make sure to rename your images correctly. When Imageall itself splits image files by way of the ;1 switch, it does so in the following manner: the first chunk of the partition is normally named with the name you furnish and then the two-digit ending number, followed by the normal extension *.IMG. The subsequent chunks, however, do not have the *.IMG extension; the extension is replaced by a three-digit number beginning "001" and going up from there.


    • Example: let's say the third partition has lots of data files on it and weighs in at about 1600 MB. At the ImageAll command line when you make the image, you give it the name "HD0_" and use the ;1 switch. The image file for this partition ends up being split it into 3 chunks, viz: HD0_02.IMG, HD0_02.001, and HD0_02.002.


    As a result of this, Image/ImageAll looks for image chunks named in this fashion when restoring. If you use a third-party splitter for most efficient use of CD space, make very sure you rename your chunks according to the ImageAll scheme or the bootable CD will NOT work!

  2. To make your bootable floppy, copy the following files from a standard Win98 boot disk onto a new floppy (or make a Win98 disk and delete everything else):


    • Autoexec.bat
    • Config.sys
    • Himem.sys
    • Io.sys
    • Mscdex.exe (this must be extracted from the EBD.CAB cab file)
    • Msdos.sys
    • Oakcdrom.sys


    To these files, add...


    • Image for DOS 198.a or later
    • ImageAll 1.03 or later (earlier versions can't handle split files)
    • From Terabyte's Free Software | Third Party Software page, get the "DOS RAM Drive" download and extract just one file, xmsdsk.exe, onto your new floppy


  3. Now open Config.sys in a text editor and delete everything there. Once you have an empty file, add the following two lines, in this order...

    device=himem.sys /testmem:off
    ...then save the file.


  4. Now take a look at your PC's partitions and any peripherals (such as smartcard readers) that are assigned drive letters. Why? In the floppy's autoexec.bat file, you must assign drive letters to the CD and to the ram drive, and these should come after the drive letters already being used on your system so that there aren't any surprises. So decide what drive letters you want the CD and the ram drive to use in DOS. In this article, we'll assume that you have 7 or 8 partitions and a few peripherals that occupy drive letters, so you have to use drive letters very late in the alphabet--you're assigning V for the CD drive letter and W for the ram drive. (I don't think it matters whether the CD or ram drive comes first, but I'm not sure about that. I've always done it with the CD first, and I know that it works.)

  5. Open the Autoexec.bat file in a text editor and delete everything except the very first line, "@echo off". Then type two new lines:


    • "MSCDEX.EXE /D:MSCD001 /L:[DRIVELETTER]" directly below that "@echo off" line; replace "[DRIVELETTER]" with the drive letter you've decided you want the CD to use. So since you decided to use V for the CD drive, type "MSCDEX.EXE /D:MSCD001 /L:V" (no quotes, of course).
    • "XMSDSK [DRIVELETTER]: 2048 /t /y" directly below the MSCDEX.EXE line; replace "[DRIVELETTER]" with the drive letter you've decided you want the ram drive to use. So since you decided to use W for the ram drive, type "XMSDSK W: 2048 /t /y" (no quotes).


  6. Now the other article, How to Create a Bootable Restore DVD for Use with ImageAll, is necessary. Open that article and copy its autoexec.bat code into your nearly-blank autoexec.bat on the floppy, below the three lines you already have.

  7. At the top of the autoexec.bat code are three important lines, each accompanied by REM comments: "set ramdrive=", "set desthd=", and "set filename=". These need to be altered as follows:


    • Change "set ramdrive=" to "set xmsdsk=[DRIVELETTER]" -- "[DRIVELETTER]" should be the letter you decided to assign the ram drive. In our case, that's W, so you'll end up with "set xmsdsk=W" (no quotes).
    • "set desthd=" -- This is optional: if you leave this blank, ImageAll is supposed to restore the image set to the same drive it was imaged from.
    • Add the CD drive letter and base filename to "set filename=" -- after its equals sign, put the CD drive letter and base filename of the images in the image set. If your base filename was "HD0_" and the CD drive letter is V, this line will end up being "set filename=V:\HD0_" (no quotes).


  8. Below these first three lines with equals signs, there's another set of line reading...   

    copy image*.exe %ramdrive%:

    ...and these must also be changed, since you've replaced the MS-DOS ram drive with the third-party xmsdsk ram drive. Simply replace the word "ramdrive" with "xmsdsk", ending up with:   

    copy image*.exe %xmsdsk%:
  9. Now go down to the line in the middle reading, "rem Modify/add parameters below, if needed." You need. The very next line, "imageall /r%desthd% %filename% >doimg.bat", needs an "s" at the end of "/r%desthd%". In other words, that particular portion should read "/r%desthd%s" and the entire line should be (no quotes):

    "imageall /r%desthd%s %filename% >doimg.bat"
  10. Next are the following three lines:   

    set ramdrive=
        set desthd=
        set filename=

    You should not need to change these at all. But if you find that you're having trouble and you can't figure out why (none of the potential mistakes mentioned below in step 13, for example), you might try changing these to mirror exactly what you have at the beginning of the batch file for those same lines. In our example, you'd end up with this:   

    set xmsdsk=W
        set desthd=
        set filename=V:\HD0_
  11. Save the autoexec.bat file.

  12. Your bootable floppy is done. Now open Nero, add the *.DIM file and the image file(s) or first chunk, choose "burn bootable data disc", and proceed with the burn.

  13. After that first disk is burned, check that everything's working. To do this, take the floppy out of the computer and then follow the other article's recommendation to boot up with the new CD and see the message,

    This will restore the "[CD path & base filename]" backup set. Press Ctrl+C to cancel or Press any key to continue...

    Use this message to see whether you made a mistake with the base filename of the image; for example, if you usually only image your first HD, HD0, but this time you're imaging HD1, you may have used "HD1_" (or whatever) as the base filename during the backall procedure but forgotten to open up the bootable floppy's autoexec.bat and change the "set filename" line accordingly. But this is not enough. For example, if you forgot to burn the *.DIM file along with your image files, this first message won't catch the problem. So to make sure you truly have a working bootable image set, you have to continue on. Press a key, then (hopefully) see the message:

    All data on HD0 [or whatever hard disk you're restoring to] will be deleted! Continue (Y/N)?

    If there's no *.DIM file you'll get an error instead of this message, so if you see the message, you know you have a *.DIM. Also use the message to ensure that the image set is targeted at the correct HD. Then press N to cancel out. At this point, you can be fairly sure that you have a working bootable image that will restore as it's supposed to, although if you failed to correctly rename images split with a third-party program, or if you copied image files out of sequence (for example, you copied "HD0_01.IMG" and "HD0_03.IMG" onto the first (bootable) disk, and "HD0_02.IMG" onto a second disk, your restoration would probably fail.

  14. Finally, boot back into Windows/Linux and burn the rest of the CDs, but don't use your bootable floppy. Only the first image needs to be bootable.

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