Enterprise Software

Five free disk cloning apps

DriveImage XML

DriveImage XML uses Microsoft VSS to create images and does so with reliability you might not expect in a free tool. With DriveImage XML you can create "hot" images from a disk already in use. Images are stored in XML files, so you can access them from any supporting third-party software.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

35 comments
omahamike
omahamike

None of these programs are free... the downloads may be, but the programs are NOT! I downloaded HDCLone, and the free version has been running for 24 hours and is only 47% done. In order to get any speed, you have to BUY! Also, 2 of the other programs make proprietary disk images rather than a CLONE of the original drive. This is something I will only use once, so I am not willing to pay over $25 for any of them. I used "Ghost" up to version 10, I believe it was, but it got so expensive and would not work with the next version of Windows... just like the anti-virus programs... always asking for more money. I'm a retired old person with limited income, not a business making money with their software. Give a little guy a break! What ever happened to FREEWARE (that works!)?

jonc2011
jonc2011

But I agree with others that there is really no point in the individual image approach. I hope Techrepublic will let it's writers ditch it completely. Looking for the blogpost link and clicking it is a waste of time and bandwidth (not much admitedly).

Alienwilly
Alienwilly

Are you catering to kids with attention deficit disorders?

DNottingham
DNottingham

The blog is faster to load and a LOT easier to read

aandruli
aandruli

The slideshow format is a royal pain. Information given in tiny piece a bit at a time -- not allowed to scan the whole document. Why do you people do this?

Dukhalion
Dukhalion

I have found that garlic and a wooden cross helps...

jk2001
jk2001

It's a nice system. The main negative is that it's a pretty steep learning curve, and the documentation is kind of hard to read, but if you take it step-by-step, it'll make sense. On the flipside, it's cloned over 100 computers for me, and hasn't failed. Some sysadmins will appreciate that both saving and restoring operations are single commands that can be saved as shell scripts. What we did is create a bunch of different scripts to save and restore the different models of computers we had. As each "master image" was created, the command was saved, so if a configuration was changed, the command could be run again to build a new image. I did the same for the restoration commands, also parameterizing the number of computers to clone during each run. Now, I don't even have to remember the CZ menu system: I just run the scripts. The full CZ package allows for single restores, or multicast network restores. It has basic support for using DHCP and MAC addresses to assist in customizing configurations, via a tool called Winroll. I found it kind of rudimentary, and not a good fit for what we needed, but I can also see being able to write an extension to Winroll to do what we need. Overall, that's the feeling I got from Clonezilla. It's hard to learn, but once you've learned it, it can be a good platform for managing "classroom" and "computer lab" networks. The entire system seems to be written in shell scripts and some Perl, bringing together programs for disk cloning, network booting servers, dhcp servers, tftp, and udp multicasting.

cm2
cm2

The slide style is a pain!! The blog is the best format to scan and read the stories in my opinion.

rod
rod

I'd prefer a PDF download

jschmidt27
jschmidt27

an additional good thing about these articles is the comments where the pool of knowledgeable users share the pitfalls and successes. Thanks people.

Cicuta2011
Cicuta2011

Jack is evident to me that you don't know what you're talking about and for sure you're not a UNIX person either. Any "good" and "experienced" UNIX administrator can clone the image of any disk. There are several ways to do it using the command line...Ah; I forgot...you're a Windows Guru clicking away the icons on a GUI. Also, don't forget mirroring (RAID 2 or 0+1) which has been used for more than 10 years so far and now we have ZFS. I think you should investigate before you come up with your articles. EMC, NetApps, and many other systems used in industry can do everything on the fly without the SysAdmin knowing about it...I been there and done that.

Gerry_z
Gerry_z

My wife and I have 7 computers, netbooks, laptops, etc between us. Four are used on a regular basis, three almost daily. I use Clonezilla to backup all to a usb 1TB external HD. The Hitachi drive in my wife's main computer failed immediately on reboot after the last full image backup I did (talk about timing and luck!) A quick trip to pick up a new HD, a quick restore of the image and by days end she couldn't even tell anything had happened.

papote2
papote2

Seems to me that an IT means a commercial interprise. At least two of the sample you show plainly state for home use not commercial use. Are you suggesting by passing the payment?

maxguut
maxguut

For clarity text goes a long way toward making the photos worth their thousand words. And the hot links are a very nice touch. I don't have much time for this, I like to read the short review of each product, so I can skip it instead of looking at screen shots, which don't tell me as much as i might need to know.

gpachello
gpachello

What tool can you suggest me for cloning an old HD to a new SSD drive ? Thanks in advance. Regards.

Rogbaker
Rogbaker

fevensen, One thing about creating an image is that there are three drives involved. Your good drive, the drive where you save the image, and you need a third drive on which to restore the image. You certainly don't want to try restoring back over your good drive. When you CLONE a drive to a second drive, you simply swap the drive with the one in your computer and viola, you are back in business. Easy to test and quick to get you back up.

fevensen
fevensen

Why not simply use Win7 Backup and Restore -> Create system image. When recently upgrading my Win7 to an SSD, this turned out by far to be the simplest and easiest solution. Unfortunately, I didn't go for that until after having wasted a few hours on some of these free tools as well as Norton Ghost that was included with the SSD.

hemophilic
hemophilic

I prefer the blog post to the image gallery. Thanks for listening!

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

The phrase 'hard drive cloning' in the IT field usually means a making a compressed copy of a drive, often in a proprietary format, usually for disaster recovery or system duplication purposes. As long as you use the same tool to make the copy and then write it, what difference does the format make? I've successfully used the suggested 'Redo Backup and Recovery' tool a half a dozen times since this article appeared. I have neither sent any money nor been prompted to do so. What are you trying to accomplish? Maybe something besides a cloning tool would be better suited.

JCitizen
JCitizen

Where is their an app like this that DOESN"T use proprietary methods to compress the images or other coding? Macrium Reflect just works. It uses XML with compression, which works on ANY Windows machine. Just as long as you burn the Linux rescue disk so you can see the XML file in the pre boot environment, you should be able to use it for years without pay. None of my clients has had to pay one thin dime for use of Macrum Reflect, and it has been golden as a reliable backup image utility. It has never failed me yet! EASEUS is another utility that receives high marks on CNET user reviews.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Jack's a Windows troll? Now I've heard everything. Mirroring is absolutely useless if you want to deploy a disk image to multiple systems. It's also of no value if you need to make a copy of a older system that isn't configured for RAID.

jk2001
jk2001

I just cloned over 100 computers with Clonezilla. It was awesome. It was also pretty hard to learn for our specific purposes, but once you have practiced a few times, it's not that difficult.

JCitizen
JCitizen

I like the slides myself.

jk2001
jk2001

I've used backups, Windows Easy Transfer, and also used roaming profiles on a domain to move user data over to a new SSD. My feeling is that it's better to do a clean install if you have the time, rather than use these "easy" tools. You clean out a lot of old cruft.

Alienwilly
Alienwilly

Hook the drive in question to a windows 7 machine through a usb port and see if it will let you image that drive to another. then try your install to an ssd. Good Luck. It is free if you already have the necessary drives and adapters. You may be wasting your time but it shouldnt be more than a couple hours.

JCitizen
JCitizen

you have to use the original factory installation disk(s). I don't even know if the rescue disks, that are typically burned after receiving a new OEM PC, will work at all. All SSD manufacturers recommend this - I assume it is because of the traditional drive geometry information in the backup image - SSDs don't use the same metrics at all.

JCitizen
JCitizen

newbies need to know this.

JCitizen
JCitizen

I have Vista so am not privy to the new Win7 imaging utility; does it compress the backup image, or do you have to have a target drive larger than the source?

omahamike
omahamike

Perhaps I'm not using the term "cloning" correctly.... I was under the impression that a CLONE was a bit for bit copy of the original drive to another drive. In my case, I'm just trying to copy the drive that came in a laptop (320G) to a 1Tb drive to put into the machine, and put the original in a static bag on a shelf to put back in if I'm ever to get rid of the laptop. And, the Windows7 backup and restore comes up with an error every time and will save nothing to the backup drive. So, it looks like I must first make an image of the original onto a third hard drive, then restore that image to the new 1Tb drive. Just another unnecessary step and time consumed that doesn't need to be consumed, plus a third hard drive. Then I'd imagine that the new 1Tb drive will have the same problem creating a backup and restore from Win7 that the original drive does, but then I always have the image (compressed), don't I?. The original Ghost copied bit by bit, and that was what I called a clone... not a copy or an image, and certainly not compressed! This is where errors creep into things. I want an EXACT copy, bit for bit, errors and all!! (If there are any!) That's the way it came to me, and that's how I want the new drive to be: an EXACT copy... a clone! If it isn't, it's not a clone, it's an image, and compressed at that! But you're right, it makes no difference what proprietary format is used, as long as you restore it with the same program you made the backup with. That wasn't my point. My point was that MOST cloning programs are NOT CLONING programs at all. They are proprietary data compressing copiers. You may call it a clone, but *I* won't, sorry! A "clone" by definition is an exact copy

DGermantr@Real-World-Systems.com
DGermantr@Real-World-Systems.com

First: Did you backup your system today? This week? It's a good idea to collect SMART data before you clone or image. This rather complete system from http://PartedMagic.com/ has everything you need in one very nice package. Linux, MS Windows or Mac!

Alienwilly
Alienwilly

Image took up about 20 GB on a usb hard drive NOT COMPRESSED just for the win 7 O.S.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

at least as the term is used within IT support circles these days. Cloning nowadays usually implies creating an image with the intent of applying it to multiple systems. You can define the word as you wish, but don't expect anyone in an IT forum to understand your non-standard use. The good news is that any of these cloning tools will do what you want without buying a third drive. The bad news is you'll need to buy or borrow a USB hard drive enclosure (usually less than $50). You need one so you can have the both the original and replacement drives active at the same time. Here's how. 1) Install the replacement drive in the USB enclosure and connect it to your system 2) Use the cloning tool to make an image of the original drive and store the image on the replacement drive. 3) Move the finished image to the original drive. 4) Use the cloning tool to access the image file now stored on the original drive and apply it to the second drive. 5) If desired, delete the image from the original drive before storing it. Windows Backup is a lousy tool for copying entire drives. Older versions of Ghost would copy directly from one drive to another, but both drives will still have to be in the machine at the same time and no version of Ghost was ever legally free. There used to be several tools for direct drive-to-drive copying, including LapLink, FastLink, and others. They were useful back in the day when you couldn't put two drives in a machine, or when it was just easier to toss a parallel or serial cable between two systems. I haven't seen any of those apps in years.

JCitizen
JCitizen

Sorry it took me so long to respond - I had to move my network to a new location.