5 Ways To Clone & Copy Your Hard Drive

clone06   5 Ways To Clone & Copy Your Hard Drive One of the most annoying things about owning a computer is the maintenance. It’s easily neglected. After all you don’t really notice the slow decline of your system’s performance, do you?

But then again it’s a delight to work on a freshly installed machine, where everything is smooth and responds quickly. But customization is tedious. And when your hard drive decides to break spontaneously, time is something you won’t have for sure.

For emergencies it’s better you have a data and a system backup available. Here are the 5 best tools to clone or copy your hard drive in no particular order.

EASEUS Todo Backup

easeus   5 Ways To Clone & Copy Your Hard Drive

Backing up your data is one of those things in life that you really won’t understand until disaster strikes, by which time it’s too late. For most people who haven’t experienced data-loss, the task of backing up just seems like such a good idea in theory, but so much effort in reality.

But take my advice, use this incredible free Easeus Todo Backup software and it’ll be so easy you won’t even have to think about it. And if the worst does come to the worst, and you do lose any data, then you will be covered.

Paragon’s Drive Backup Express (Windows)

clone01   5 Ways To Clone & Copy Your Hard Drive

This software is the easy solution to clone your hard drive . It’s comfortable to use with a sleek interface that guides you through the whole process of backing up and restoring step by step. And while a backup is running in the background you can even proceed using your system.

Both Drive Backup Express and DriveImage XML (described below) require a bootable CD, which the user has to create independently.

I have previously written about Drive Backup Express and thoroughly explained how it works here.

DriveImage XML (Windows)

clone05   5 Ways To Clone & Copy Your Hard Drive In contrast to Drive Backup Express, DriveImage XML is a visually very basic tool. However, it reliably creates images of logical drives and partitions and restores these to either the originating or a different hard disk.

Like Drive Backup Express, DriveImage XML applies a cloning technique that allows parallel use of the system while the backup is running. It can also do incremental backups, supplementing existing backups with what was changed in the meantime. Additionally, images can be restored without having to reboot.

CloneZilla (cross platform)

clone04   5 Ways To Clone & Copy Your Hard DriveCloneZilla is an open source and cross platform tool to make a copy of a hard drive and also to restore them afterwards.

It’s a tough tool for non nerds as it requires some background knowledge. First of all it’s not a software you install on your computer. You download CloneZilla in form of an ISO image or ZIP file and burn the image to a CD or load the files onto a USB flash drive or hard drive.

The next step is to reboot the computer from that medium you created, which may require going into the BIOS and allow booting from a CD or USB device.

Once the tool is running, it’s easy to use the simple interface to initiate or restore a backup. There also is sort of a screenshot walkthrough on the CloneZilla homepage, where you can view some of the options before running the tool.

XXCLONE (Windows)

clone03   5 Ways To Clone & Copy Your Hard DriveXXCLONE is Windows software. The tool can create a self-bootable clone of a Windows drive as well as full backups of non-system volumes. Basically, it can make a hard drive image.

The interface is basic and clear. When started, the tool scans for available volumes and you can then choose a source and target volume from these. A direct link to the Windows Disk Management is provided through the “diskmgmt” button. Under the “Tool Cools” tab you can make use of options such as making the target volume self-bootable, manage restore points or create a batch file to save your current settings for future re-use.

The download section of the website provides a thorough help file that contains screenshots and descriptions of all features.

EASEUS Disk Copy (cross platform)

clone02   5 Ways To Clone & Copy Your Hard DriveEASEUS Disk Copy creates sector by sector clones of partitions or hard disks, independent of operating system, file systems or partition scheme. It’s a versatile tool for both the novice and experienced user.

Just like CoolZilla, it’s not installed locally, rather the ISO image is burned to a bootable CD or DVD.

The website is probably the best of all tools described here. The information is thorough and very clear, including a very detailed help section that will walk you through every aspect of the program.

Do you clone and copy your hard drive? If so, which program do you use? Can you recommend any particular program to us? Let us know in the comments.

Picture credits: CraigPJ

The comments were closed because the article is more than 180 days old.

If you have any questions related to what's mentioned in the article or need help with any computer issue, ask it on MakeUseOf Answers—We and our community will be more than happy to help.

76 Comments -

Grande

Drive Image XML running from a BartPe bootable disk is the best solution. I am an IT manager for a medium business with a few hundred computers. I run DIXML from local computers and pull images off of the network. It only takes about 10 minutes to have a fresh image loaded. Excellent tool.

Cloner

I love DXML too. Do you know where to find a BartPE ISO with Intel AHCI 9 support?

venkat

@Tina surprise to see Norton ghost and Acronis missing in your list ,these two are are top rated hard disk cloning programs,though Norton Ghost is difficult for the normal users to use Acronis is very easy to use.

Tina

Well, they are not free. MUO only covers free tools.

Bill

DriveImageXML is nice, but it won’t do the MBR. The tool I’ve switched to is Macrium Reflect. They have a free version that even creates it’s own bootable restore CD.

Windows Guy

Macrium Reflect Free is also a good one.

Mac Guyq

What about SuperDuper! for the MAC? It even makes the clon bootable. Great app for the mac. Windows could sure use something like this!

Tina

Thank you for suggesting SuperDuper, Mac!
As a Windows user I am not able to test Mac-specific software. However, our Mac writers may pick up the suggestion and review the tool in detail.

David

I agree with Mac Guyq, at least for Mac users, SuperDuper is the best app. I used SuperDuper on a 250GB HD yesterday, duplicated it onto a 1 TB drive, with system files and it works perfectly. Free app as long as you don’t need the extended features (scheduling and such).

TheMacThinker

How long did it take to copy your 250GB hard drive?
I have not tried SuperDuper but I am always surprise how the human nature is to go look somewhere else for something we have free in front of us.

The Mac OS X built-in Disk Utility application can backup and restore a hard drive into another. Any Mac can do it or you can also boot from the Mac OS X install DVD and restore one Hard Disk into Another (of a different size if needed).

All you have to do is select the source and destination. You can see an overview of the Disk Utility application here: mostofmymac.com/articles/disk-utility-overview

Jason

Mac: Carbon Copy Cloner- Creates bootable images on the fly. Can work on your machine while making the bootable image. I don’t think it will do incremental though. And it is free! Good GUI. bombich.com/ccc. He has a number of great free utilities for the IT in you.

Rob

What about fogproject.org/ ?

1369ic

How about downloading a Linux live CD (I recommend zenwalk.or), then use the softpanorama.org/Tools/dd.shtml command to clone the drive. I cloned a relative’s old laptop drive into a drive in an external usb case and it was this simple: dd if=/dev/sda of=/dev/sdb. It does a complete data dump from one drive to the other, if that’s what you’re looking for. You might need to change partition sizes and whatnot if the drives are different (I was going from a 6 GB drive to a 60 GB drive). But it copies everything over exactly. I’m guessing the Mac has it too, as it’s a Unix thing.

Todd Jolley

G4L is a great free, cross-platform program too..

sourceforge.net/projects/g4l

generic_idea_machine

How about the free alternative of —>
booting from a Linux Live CD (Knoppix) and then copying the contents over to another hard disk/burning to a dvd or dumping to a server via a samba share?

John

But will that copy the MBR? Or can you easily do that, too?

geebers

to copy the mbr…
dd if=/dev/hda of=boot.mbr bs=512 count=1

Sam

And you can use dd piped to nc if you wish to do this over the network.

koozehchian

thanks , good and useful article.

G

Acronis? Awesome backup, you can mount the image as a drive, and find a single file if needed.

Antony Jones

How is paying for or using any of these easier than booting a Linux live-cd and typing:

dd if=/dev/hda of=/dev/hdb

Ant

geebers

cuz it aints gots da clicky-poo button on it and noze clippy to helps u when it do not teh worky-poo.

Yea Right

dd if=/dev/hda of=/dev/hdb

Yea, that will only take about 3 hours for your 80GB drive.

onan

Why is that every article speaking of cloning drives always miss the obvious dd command ? dd is a basic *nix tool which has been ported to windows and still it is somehow overlooked.

Sam

After trialling almost everything out there (I have a lot of computers, do a lot of disk imaging and want it to be as painless as possible and free) I’d go for Macrium Reflect Free over anything else.

I have bought the commercial version for work now as well. Can’t recommend it enough, it’s so easy to use.

Caley

I have used GHOST on a relatives older drive that seemed ready to fail anyday and it worked like a charm.

On a side in the enterprise are running Altiris Deployment Solution from Symantec. On a gigabit network the imaging speed is super quick, I have a new image in 2 minutes and windows setup takes 10 and then its ready.

Amaury

Try CarbonCopyCloner!

Paul

Free for Mac Only & very easy to use: CarbonCopyCloner …

jh

dd

..

Samantha Smith

Drive Image XML works great! I have been using it for about a year and I have not had any problems with it.

mhinkle

Hi, I have only used the EASEUS Disk Copy product so far. I found it very easy to use to copy my old HD to a newer, larger HD at home. As the article says their website has very detailed and extensive help, so it’s simple to use and troubleshoot if needed.

Julian Bond

SystemRescue or Knoppix on a USB drive. Then dd, dd_rescue and partimage. One note here. Upgrading to a larger hard disk (or same size hard disk) is really easy. Put the new disk in a USB enclosure, dd_rescue the old disk across, use QTParted to expand the main partition, swap the disks. Going to a smaller disk can require considerably more work.

Bob

“After all you don’t really notice the slow decline of your system’s performance, do you?”

No, because there isn’t any. I use Linux.

JEBB

With a Mac you can create a bootable clone using Disk Utility which is included with OSX; no added expense. It couldn’t be easier. I make a bootable clone monthly for my backup.

With my PC I use Acronis True Image to create a bootable clone on an external hard drive. It’s much easier than the directions would have you believe but no where near as easy as the Mac.

Carlitos

Nice article. Even agree with most of the comments. I have an additional suggestion.
It has to do with Acronis.
IF YOU HAVE A SEAGATE OR MAXT0R HDD (At lest one of them in your system) – A SIMPLE VERSION OF Acronis can be had free. Go to the Seagate website and go to the disk tools. You need to find the DISCWIZARD. You have to “agree” to download it as they do have to license the software.
http://www.seagate.com/ww/v/index.jsp?locale=en-US&name=DiscWizard&vgnextoid=d9fd4a3cdde5c010VgnVCM100000dd04090aRCRD
this is the link – u choose ur language and then agree and then download.
It only does a complete image, no incremental or anything (unless they changed it since I used it last)
If you use Acronis, hands down the best.
If you do not have the above mentioned brands I stick with Diskimage XML.

Thanks for the article and all the comments.

Danny!

I LOVE TINA!

Callum

For SCSI : dd if=/dev/sda of=/dev/sdb
For IDE : dd if=/dev/hda of=/dev/sdb

These commands will work on any Mac/Linux install with the dd program installed.

Obviously make sure you are using the correct drives.

Callum

EDIT!

For IDE : dd if=/dev/hda of=/dev/hdb

ketahazure

dd is the best block clone tool hands down

dd if=/dev/sda of=/media/backup.bin

Callum

Just make sure /media/backup.bin isn’t on /dev/sda and you’ll be fine.

Otherwise DO NOT backup data from one hard drive into a file on the same hard drive.

facelovefinder.com

Interesting lol but if I have 320 GB hardrive?

Scott_T

Seagate has a free cloning tool that does resizing for free if either drive is a seagate (or maxtor?)

Tim

I’m just lowly Windows user with very little *nix experience whatsoever – I’d call myself an experienced windows user though.

I have to say I have tried all the programs except XXClone and they just didn’t measure up IMO to either Norton Ghost or Acronis Drive Image as far as imaging solutions go. Yes, they all have the same functionality – clone a disk – but everything else either falls short in ease-of-use, speed or additional functionality.

Of course I understand that these are free applications – not that I ever pay for any application mind you.

Of the two I believe that Drive Image is the better of the two, particuarly as Norton have been having problems with Ghost 9.xx and above – like not being able to restore images for example. :P

DD supporter

Just to reiterate: dd

Everything else just pales in comparision

Jay

I am responsible for about 800 computers in my network. I use Symentec ghost. It is problematic for me. I have to choose drivers for the network card of the computers im going to be imaging. I can not get the ghost boot cd to work. So i have to use the floppies and they take about 3 – 5 minutes to load ghost. The userinterface looks ancient. I have the barts pe cd. I Have not used the imaging tools mutch at all. I just downloaded acronis Im going to give that a shot. But I like the way macs have the net boot option so you just hold down the n key when it boots up and it locates the netboot drive on my mac server and then restores the image, and I have the macs mac address in the server so it automatically renames the computere to the corresponding name linked to the mac address.

Diabolic Preacher

does driveimagexml backup the mbr like drive backup express and how important is it to backup the mbr?

i need to clone a 80gb hard disk to 160gb wherein i want to use the 160gb hard disk as the windows xp boot drive/primary partition and convert the 80gb to a slave drive with just data on it.

Cloner

In theory, you can. To accomplish what you say, you must copy the MBR. Sometimes you have to set the partition in the target drive as “active” in order to boot, try Partition Magic or G-Parted. In very rare situations, I just can’t make it boot, no matter what.

joe

the heck with the pc : what kind of preacher would this happen to be,i sure would not want to listen to what “it” has to say with a face like that, thats not christian like…

MangelRuiz

I have used clonezilla in past and so far I don’t have any complaint. I could say that I like it and it is quiet easy to use.

Slot Cars

I will vouch for XXClone, I have been using it for years and it is simple and actually works.

Also check out killdisk for clearing your old drive.

obama – president

I totally needed this like 2 months ago. Oh well…

shokti

I tried DriveImageXML since I read about it in lifehacker and test it in virtual pc 2007, it works, and the only problem I encounter is it will not boot after the restore if the new drive is not set to active.

Tina

The things is I really do not know of any piece of software that will do this for you. Maybe someone else can help.

Kamran

hello sir,
i’ve a problem that i want to know from you, i need a software which can copy specially office files automatically in my usb drive, just insert the usb drive in port in any computer in my company or in my home it start automatically & find the office files & auto start copying in usb flash drive.
hope to hear ASAP from u.

best regards
Kamran

Tina

Dear Lady Kamran,
I’m afraid I’m not able to help you here.
Regards,
Tina

Kamran

plz madam Tina
dont be affraid, i m not going to steel data from anywhere actually i m in the medical transcription company they allow me to work at home as part time job & also its a task given by boss to me plz help us we are authorized & responsible company which is monitored by government just tell me the name of software we need it urgent

Kamran

Hi Kamran,

The fact you immediately supposed that Tina suspected you means that you are suspect from the get go.

Secondly if you can’t figure out how to do this using autorun then you are dangerous with this knowledge, so I will not be able to assist you.

Kaman

I’ve Found this software, if you need i can tell you, but there’s a problem it can not start automatically. dont worry i will found automatic software.

Ben

Macrium Reflect (Free) or Paid.

Is my pick =D

macrium.com/

Kamran

thanks dear,
actually i need a software which can copy specially office files automatically in my usb drive, just insert the usb drive in port in any computer in my company or at my home it start automatically & find the office files & auto start copying in usb flash drive.
hope to hear ASAP from u.

Kamran

is there any quick/fast solution for rar password removing

Renron

Kamran,

Excellent example of how to kill a valuable thread. Well done
drtbag.

John

XXClone will NOT work with XP SP3. The program hasn’t been updated since February 7, 2007. Probably a safe bet that it won’t work with Vista or Windows 7 either.

Kevin M

Does anyone know if any of these programs lets you restore to a smaller hard drive or partition? I have and love the paid version of Macrium Reflect, but it will only restore to an equal or larger size partition. My problem is this: my computer came with twin 500 GB HD set up in RaidO, so it looks like a single drive of about 930GB. I am only using about 100GB of the drive, and would like to switch to Raid1 for redundancy. So I would like to clone the existing Raid0 drive to an external HD, reset the twin drives to Raid1, and then restore the clone to the new 500GB drives. can any of these programs do that? (sorry for the length of this!)

Shane

Kevin M,

Well, if you have Vista or Win 7, there is an option in Disk Manager, I believe, to shrink the drive. You *COULD* shrink the original partition (backing up data first would be a good idea), and then clone it.

Kevin Maloney

You are correct, Shane! Thank you so much for the advice!

I discovered another work around for this problem late last week. Maxtor and Seagate make available a free program on their website for users of their drives which, among other things, includes a backup/drive cloning program. It is called Max Blast, and it can be used as long as you have a Seagate or Maxtor drive somewhere on your system, including external HD’s. (There is even a work around for situations where the software does not recognize a Maxtor or Seagate drive on your system.) The key feature for me is that the backup/cloning program allows you to backup and restore to a smaller drive. In my case, I was able to back up my 1TB RAID 0 drive (consisting of twin 500GB drives) which I was only using about 50 GBs on, to my external Seagate HD. I then reset the drives to RAID 1, and used the software to repartition the resulting 500 GB drive into a 100 GB primary partition for the OS, with the remaining 400 GBs used for a data partition. I then used the Max Blast software to restore the image from the original drive onto the new primary partition. It worked beautifully, and I am very appreciative of Maxtor making the software available.

I also need to put in a plug for another cloning software that I discovered this weekend. R Drive makes a backup/cloning software that allowed me to remedy a second problem that I was having on a different computer where a primary drive was failing. I tried backing up the failing hard drive using several other programs unsuccessfully, including MaxBlast, Mimeo, Reflect and an older version of Ghost. All of the other programs had failed in the backup or cloning process due to a cyclical data redundancy problem. I finally tried R Drive, and it allowed me to ignore the data problems during the cloning process, and I was successful in transferring all the vital programs and data to a new drive. It saved me a ton of time and frustration in starting from scratch in reloading the OS and dozens of programs. I recommend it highly!

Thanks again, Shane.

schmac

but what if you had a hackintosh running, you wanted an image of your active os drive (equivalent of C: on pc) on a non hfs+ drive, you do not want to be forced to use a larger drive but just copy the USED space of the existing hackmac drive, and have a 10-15gb file that can then be imaged back to any (ANY) other drive making it hfs+ (because it was mirrored from a hfs+), which you can just attach to your pc and boot from it into osx and you want to do all that from an active partition and place the image on a ANY available usb drive. chew on that…

Lily

Apart from the above freeware, there is another one which can help you to copy drive but also resize the disk, format disk, convert disk and so on.

partition-tool.com/personal.htm

Rob

You don’t always get what you pay for either. I’ve used Acronis True Image for a few years, and most of the time it works great. Here are the two problems I have: 1) loading an image from a network share is more of a chore than it should be. The software likes to query the whole domain instead of using just the path I specify; which wastes a lot of time. 2) Support for RAID comtrollers and SATA drives is hit or miss. When a new model of computer comes out it may of may not work, requiring you to buy a newer version of Acronis to get support for the new hardware. They should use universal drivers to prevent this.

Asanga

I use Macrium Reflect Free Edition. Works great for me. Very easy to use.

Pablo

I used the dd tool above and it worked just fine, but there is a problem: My removable USB drive was 1 Therabite in size; after the cloning, is now the same size of the smaller one that I tried to copy, which is 152 GB. I need to run the command again with the right syntax.. any help??

mcmail99

why didn’t anyone had commented on the famous Paragon Drive Back Up suite? I have it but i havent tried it yet. pls comment ty!

ozzy

I have Western Digital USB External Hard Drive Cap 1000GB I begin noticing the problems after my son drop it while I was using it After that I was not being able to have access from my computer, but windows does recognize it on the device manager. I need to rescue my files 3 yrs of familiy fotos and videos. I tried to see maybe it would work on my laptop but I get 2 messages, one is: “Device I/O error” and the other is “Drive not formatted”, its asking me to format the drive I don’t want to do that. Can anybody help, Plese any suggestions.

Tina

Hello ozzy,
please resubmit your question to MakeUseOf Answers. A link is at the top of the page.

ozzy

I have Western Digital USB External Hard Drive Cap 1GB I begin noticing the problems after my son drop it while I was using it After that I was not being able to have access from my computer, but windows does recognize it on the device manager. I need to rescue my files 3 yrs of familiy fotos and videos. I tried to see maybe it would work on my laptop but I get 2 messages, one is: “Device I/O error” and the other is “Drive not formatted”, its asking me to format the drive I don’t want to do that. Can anybody help, Please any suggestions.
Ok the Question is; Is there a good software that I can use to fix my problem?, whats the name?