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Executive Summary:
You can automatically burn system state backups on Windows machines by using a Microsoft utility, freeware program, and a batch file. The Microsoft utility is Dvdburn, which is part of the Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Resource Kit. The freeware program, Mkisofs, is part of the Cdrecord freeware package, which is available for many different platforms, including Win32.

You can automatically burn system state backups or other crucial files to media by using two freeware utilities—Mkisofs and Dvdburn—and a short batch file. You use the Mkisofs utility to build ISO images of files. Mkisofs is part of the Cdrecord freeware package, which is available for many different platforms, including Win32. To download the Win32 version of Mkisofs, go to ftp://ftp.berlios.de/pub/cdrecord/alpha/win32/cdrtools-1.11a12-win32-bin.zip. (Alternatively, you can go to http://cdrecord.berlios.de/old/private/cdrecord.html, click the Cdrecord down-load is now on link next to the spinning CD-ROM image, open the alpha folder, open the win32 folder, and copy the cdrtools-1.11a12-win32-bin .zip file.) Extract mkisofs.exe, which is the only executable you need from Cdrecord.

You use the Dvdburn utility to burn that image to a medium, such as a DVD or CD-ROM. Dvdburn is part of the Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Resource Kit.

The batch file runs the two utilities. As Listing 1 shows, the first line of the batch file creates an ISO image of the specified folder (in this case, C:\Backup). The second line burns the newly created image to the specified drive for the DVD burner (in this case, the E drive).

Let's try a scenario: Suppose your PC is backed up everyday. The backup file is saved in the C:/Backup folder. Here are the steps you'd take to automatically burn that backup file to a DVD:

  1. Create a batch file like the one in Listing 1 and name it BurnBackup .bat. (You can also download this file from the Windows IT Pro Web site at http://www.windowsitpro.com.) If you have spaces in the names of folders, enclose the names between quotes (e.g., "C:\System State Backups" instead of C:\System State Backups).

  2. Put Mkisofs, Dvdburn, and BurnBackup.bat in the C:/Backup folder.

  3. Put a writable DVD in your DVD burner.

  4. Execute the batch file manually or schedule it using the Control Panel Scheduled Tasks applet.

With this solution, you don't need to take the time to burn your backups. Note that you can't burn files larger than 4.1GB; the Win32 version of the Mkisofs utility can't read files any larger because of a coding limitation.

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