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Windows 7: What free software is best to clone/image hard drive please?

03 Oct 2013   #1

Windows Vista Home Basic SP2 32 bit
 
 
What free software is best to clone/image hard drive please?

Good evening,

I got an old laptop running XP Pro for my sister and have managed to set it up so she has everything that she needs, programs etc and it is running nicely.

My question is, what do you guys use to clone/image your hard drives?
I ask this question because I know in the not too distant future that I will get it back because she has totally mucked it up.
When I do, what I would like to do then is just backup her my documents and re-clone/re-image the hard drive back as to how it is today, which includes the OS and all the programs, drivers etc and then just copy her my documents back.

The used disk size is 22GB and I have a 32GB Kingston USB which I have already formatted as NTFS.
I have searched the net and there are many different softwares that appear able to accomodate this task, but I wondered what the best free software that you guys recommend and use to achieve this.

Thanks in advance.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
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03 Oct 2013   #2

Windows 7 Professional SP1 64-bit
 
 

Hi Paul,

Many here use Macrium free. Imaging with free Macrium

You can burn the iso file to a CD or Create Bootable Rescue USB Drive.

Do let us know how it goes.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Oct 2013   #3

Windows Vista Home Basic SP2 32 bit
 
 

Thank you C-11, I will look into Macrium etc.

I assume that Macrium initially formats the C: drive first and then copies over the whole OS and additional programs, drivers etc?
That is probably what I would want to do first, format the C: drive and then copy everything back as it is now.

Thanks again.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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04 Oct 2013   #4

Win7 Pro 32-bit, Win8 Pro 32-bit
 
 

An image backup does not actually copy folders and files, instead, it copies sectors.

So, when you do a restore, it rewrites the entire partition that you imaged.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Oct 2013   #5

Windows Vista Home Basic SP2 32 bit
 
 

Thanks for the reply Mark,

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Mark Phelps View Post
An image backup does not actually copy folders and files, instead, it copies sectors.

So, when you do a restore, it rewrites the entire partition that you imaged.
Sorry, I am being a bit slow today, no change there then!
Are you saying that an image restore is just like formatting the C: drive and reinstalling the whole OS with updates, additional programs, settings etc, so an identical copy of how it is now?
Thanks in advance, Paul.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Oct 2013   #6

Windows 7 Professional x64 SP1
 
 

Hi Paul Black

Macrium free is by far the best backup application I have ever used and I have used quite a few, so try it I don't think you will be sorry you did
My System SpecsSystem Spec
05 Oct 2013   #7

Windows 7 Home Premium 32-Bit - Build 7600 SP1
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Paul Black View Post


Sorry, I am being a bit slow today, no change there then!
Are you saying that an image restore is just like formatting the C: drive and reinstalling the whole OS with updates, additional programs, settings etc, so an identical copy of how it is now?
Thanks in advance, Paul.
If you made an image of your system today and wanted to do a Restore next Thursday, it would restore the system to how it was today, not Thursday. You would lose a little, but not that much. I use Macrium and do an image every week so that I am never more that a week removed from a good image.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
05 Oct 2013   #8

Windows Vista Home Basic SP2 32 bit
 
 

Thanks for the reply bigmck,

I am I right in saying that this process is different to formatting the C: drive and doing an image restore. By that I mean, I can't format C: and then do an image restore because that wouldn't work?

Thanks in advance.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
05 Oct 2013   #9

Windows Vista Home Basic SP2 32 bit
 
 

I have just done some investigating and realised that I was getting cloning and imaging confused to a certain extent.

My understanding now of cloning is that once you have cloned an entire disk, that you can in fact format the C: drive and copy it back with everything including the OS, additional programs and settings etc. I don't think it can be done this way with just an image of the C:?
This is useful if I bought a new bigger HD and wanted everything that was on the old HD on the new HD. I could then disconnect the old HD and the computer would boot into Windows and it would be just like my computer before but with a bigger HD.

Edit: I suppose having a clone of your HD is always a good idea just in case you have a complete HD failure and there is nothing that can be done to retrieve it so you need to buy a new HD, then you can just use the cloned copy to reinstate your OS, additional programs and settings etc.
Can you clone the HD to a 32GB memory stick by the way?

My understanding now of imaging is that it will copy everything back as at the time the image was taken and deletes everything else?

I still find it confusing to a certain extent the subtle differences between the two, or am I just over complicating the situation?

Any advice would be gratefully appreciated!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
05 Oct 2013   #10

Windows 7 Home Premium 32-Bit - Build 7600 SP1
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Paul Black View Post
I have just done some investigating and realised that I was getting cloning and imaging confused to a certain extent.

My understanding now of cloning is that once you have cloned an entire disk, that you can in fact format the C: drive and copy it back with everything including the OS, additional programs and settings etc. I don't think it can be done this way with just an image of the C:?
This is useful if I bought a new bigger HD and wanted everything that was on the old HD on the new HD. I could then disconnect the old HD and the computer would boot into Windows and it would be just like my computer before but with a bigger HD.

Edit: I suppose having a clone of your HD is always a good idea just in case you have a complete HD failure and there is nothing that can be done to retrieve it so you need to buy a new HD, then you can just use the cloned copy to reinstate your OS, additional programs and settings etc.
Can you clone the HD to a 32GB memory stick by the way?

My understanding now of imaging is that it will copy everything back as at the time the image was taken and deletes everything else?

I still find it confusing to a certain extent the subtle differences between the two, or am I just over complicating the situation?

Any advice would be gratefully appreciated!
There is a difference but I am not sure exactly what they are. I have always used Macrium Refect Imaging. It does both. Macrium Reflect FREE Edition - Information and download I am sure it tells you somewhere in the link the difference. If you restore to a previous point it will make it just like it was previously. If you had added a program since the image was made, that program would not be in the image restored. That is why frequent backups are important. I do mine once a week as I do not add many things, if any, during a weeks time. == This tell you about Cloning vs Imaging. http://www.pcworld.com/article/2029832/backing-up-your-entire-drive-cloning-vs-imaging.html

In a nutshell, cloning makes copies of files exactly. Imaging compresses them so that the file is smaller, in the case of Macrium about half the size of the original file. When restored they expand to the original size. Either method gives you an identical copy of what you had.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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 What free software is best to clone/image hard drive please?




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