I recently had a hard disk begin to fail on me. I had had Windows XP on this machine for quite some time and because of the immenent failure I was afraid I had lost it for good (laptop didn’t come with any XP installation disk). So I booted up the install cd, mounted Windows, backup drive, cd’d to Windows, did a:
tar --exclude=Windows-XP.tar.gz -czvpf /mnt/backup/Windows-XP.tar.gz .
After I put in a new hard drive, I extracted it:
tar xvf Windows-XP.tar.gz -C /mnt/win
And all was golden. What surprised me was that on reboot, it booted straight into Windows. My previous hard drive had dual-booted so I thought I’d have to pull out the Window XP Recovery disk and do a fixmbr to test it, but it looks like without an MBR the BIOS is programmed to look for a ntldr file (the Windows bootloader). I guess a lot of BIOS’s are like this.
Anyways, getting everything put back together again with Arch and am pretty happy with it.