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I don't just want to back up my data. In case the hard drive comes back completely wiped I want to avoid the hassle of reinsalling everying OS X as well as a Bootcamped Windows install.

What tools can I use to backup/image my hard drive such that when I got my laptop back and if I needed to, I could just dump the image back onto the hard drive and be right back where I was last?

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Related since Linux and Unix have a lot of similarities. A dead simple way is dd which comes with OS X. – styfle Nov 4 '11 at 6:32
There has to be a way to not create a bit for bit copy 50% of the hard drive is empty. – mindless.panda Nov 4 '11 at 13:45

I would choose either SuperDuper or Carbon Copy Cloner. Make a clone of your hard drive that is a bit-perfect bootable copy. You can either use an external drive or one of those docks that you pop bare drive into.

SuperDuper costs just under $30. Carbon Copy Cloner is donationware. Either one is great. But I like CCC because it can schedule cloning sessions on a regular basis.

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Keep in mind that a wiped internal drive would then require booting from the external drive in order to use said software to restore the contents, whereas the in-built options of Time Machine are user friendly. – David Metcalfe Nov 4 '11 at 3:49

If you're running OS X 10.5 (Leopard) or higher, you could just run a Time Machine backup on the system. Restoring from that will return your system to the state at that time.

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Would that cover the entire drive? Including the windows partition? – mindless.panda Nov 4 '11 at 13:45

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