Like others, I use Acronis cloning for backups. I have some caveats to help people not learn the hard way about how to do it. Kinda long, sorry...
Example: I want to clone a system with a SATA drive C (system and data).
To make a clone backup, I add in a second drive (of the same or larger size, and acceptable speed to use as the system drive), usually by dropping it into a SATA removable rack, but on some systems by opening the case and connecting directly to another SATA port and power connector.
I then run the Acronis clone process. And here is the key part: I then remove the original drive and replace it with the second drive, and then re-boot the computer. That allows me to verify right away that the drive functions as an exact copy, and it prevent another issue I will warn you about below.
I forget for sure if Acronis verifies the clone. I think it does. On rebooting, I suppose there could be some errors in files not related to the basic operating system and boot files, so a successful re-boot does not prove the entire drive is OK. Nonetheless, I usually do not do any other verification if it boots and runs well for a while. But booting does not prove for sure all is well. Critical data could be verified by a Windows comparison program, even something as simple as SyncToy, if you need that extra assurance.
The IMPORTANT WARNING about Acronis disk cloning, though:
If you leave the new clone drive in the computer and simply reboot into Windows with both drives present, the second drive will PERMANENTLY become labeled as disk "D" (or another letter other than C) I think by the Acronis run-once startup process Acronis left behind on the drives (you see this program run when you are rebooting). After that, if you try to use the drive by itself, it will have become drive "D" or whatever letter it mapped to, and you will find that a lot of your shortcuts and programs that hard code path names no longer work properly, and it's such a general mess that it's unusable except as a data disk.
To avoid that mess here is what you do:
You can (1) pull the drive and store it with a prominent label and a big warning to ONLY boot with it when it is the only drive in the system if it is needed as a system restore disk;
(2) or else do what I do above, and re-boot right away with ONLY the new drive in the boot port, and no other drive in the system. Once I do that, I might as well leave it in the computer and use the new drive instead of the original drive, so basically I move refreshed drives into my computers on a regular basis. After you boot ONE TIME with the new drive by itself, all becomes normal. You can even add it as a "D" drive (or any letter) in the same system and keep your drive synchronized, and it will no longer be mis-named it you later boot with it.
If someone knows how to make Acronis behave itself, and not mess up that drive letter I would love to know, but in the meantime I have been at peace that my backup drives are ones that were working fine when I removed them, and that if I accidentally boot it in a computer with another former C drive present, the clone drive letter will not be messed up.
The best way to handle all this is to have as extra computer with Acronis installed with at least two open SATA ports. With that setup, you can clone drive-to-drive directly from Windows, and you do not have to buy extra copies of Acronis to keep your other computer's clones up to date.
Finally, this all will work the same way using USB connections to the drives, but it will take a LOT longer (and be less reliable) especially if you are doing USB to USB.
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