Three Best Software Tools for Drive Cloning
Today, drive cloning or imaging has become an absolutely crucial tool for technology users both advanced and novice, because of the convenience and utility it provides. With drive cloning , users could recover their computer after a terrible virus infection or system crash without having to deal with the stress of reinstalling the entire operating system. With an image, computer can be restored within a fraction of the time that it would take to installing OS and starting from scratch.
Many applications provide a range of different options for cloning and creating images. Usually, you will be offered the option to back-up only the sectors of the disk that have been used, creating an image only of the parts of the hard disk that have been used by the file system. This makes the backup image much smaller than if you were going to create a complete clone of the drive. However, a clone can be much more comprehensive. Cloning a drive is exactly what it sounds like – a process which provides a mirror copy of the complete drive, including your unused sectors.
There are a number of different options available today that are perfect for drive cloning and imaging. Here are three of the best solutions on the market.
- AOMEI Backupper
The name might not sound incredibly technologically advanced, but it does what it says on the tin. AOMEI is great for advanced and novice users alike, with a very easy-to-understand and user-friendly GUI. The primary options that are provided for backing up your system include disk backup, system backup, file and folder backup, and partition. There is also a wide range of options for all of the different models, including the ability to write comments about the backup and choose levels of compression. With this tool, you can decide whether the file should be encrypted, and whether large clones should be split into different partitions.
The type of encryption that is used by this tool is not optional, but that may not be a deal breaker, unless you are very worried about the amount of drive space that you have. AOMEI Backupper comes with a lot of the essential and helpful functions that do not exist within other free programs. Moreover, it doesn’t have any annoying screens popping up to prompt you to upgrade. It only takes a few clicks to have your system clone in progress. In general, both the cloning and recovery processes are quite fast.
This is a piece of online software which stands out among the crowd. It’s fair to say that Clonezilla can be quite complicated to understand when you’re first getting started, however it is a good program, and one of the most popular options in offline drive imaging.
If you use Clonezilla and find yourself quickly becoming overwhelmed, you can choose the beginners mode, which has all of the advanced options carefully selected for you. This way, all you have to do is choose the disk you would like to backup, and the location that you would like it to be saved to. Target location could be a USB drive, hard drive or CD/DVD. The expert mode can be somewhat confusing if you’re not sure about the cloning process, and most of the time, beginners’ mode should be enough for many users. The program is capable of performing disk or partition image backups or disk to disk copies, but it can be somewhat slow.
- Drive Image XML
With this software, there are two options for image cloning. You can either create a backup image drive to drive, in other words, a raw sector by sector clone, or you can choose a standard backup that will allow you to use the Volume locking or Volume shadow service. This process creates two files: the first is an XML which contains the drive information, and the second is a DAT file which contains the binary data.
Using this software to actually restore your system can be somewhat complicated, as a system restore can’t be performed within Window’s itself. Certain partitions and drives can be restored quite easily, but not the system itself. The program does not offer a solution for you to boot into an environment for recovery so that a system can be restored either. Because of this, you have to create a boot CD and install the plugins that are required for the XML Drive image. From that you, will need to boot up, and this can be quite a complicated hurdle for the more novice user. Unfortunately, this means that this software is not always the best choice for individuals who want an all in one backup and recovery solution.
Despite the complications, the software does deserve to be mentioned as one of the best software options, as it is incredibly powerful and a useful program to use. It enables you to run backups as a schedule task, however, you will need to set this task up yourself using the Windows task schedule. Fortunately, Drive Image does provide you with an example to follow, and a list of valid command parameters that you can use along the way. Because of this, the software can be educational and useful at the same time – you may find that you come out feeling more informed than when you started.
Author: Rahul Sharma
image courtesy: ddpavumba, freedigitalphotos.net