The best disk cloning software will make it simple and easy to clone your hard drive to serve as a backup, and restore it if or when necessary.
While you can use backup software (opens in new tab) to save your work, this will only save your files and folders. If you also want to back up your applications and your computer registry, in order to restore a complete and working version of your operating system, you will need to use disk cloning software.
The ideal disk cloning software will allow you to easily copy your entire hard drive (opens in new tab), regardless as to whether it's a traditional SATA or more recent SSD, and make a full and faithful copy of it. That way, in the event that the original hard drive fails (opens in new tab) you can swap it out for the clone. This helps avoid the need to completely reinstall system software and copy across all data, allowing you to continue to work much more quickly.
A backup drive could be set up and cloned within your existing PC chassis, or you could set it up as an external drive to allow you to store it off-premises as needed.
It can also be useful when simply looking to upgrade your hard drive, such as to one with a higher capacity, or to a different type entirely such as from a mechanical hard drive to a solid state drive (SSD).
Either way, cloning software has its place, but to make regularly backups you'll need an application that is reliable and trustworthy and likely to preserve data integrity without leaving any gaps. Here are the best disk cloning software options currently available.
10TB iDrive cloud backup service (opens in new tab)
IDrive, the cloud storage veteran, delivers tons of storage online for an incredibly small outlay. 10TB for $3.98 for the first year is unmatched till now and so is the support for unlimited devices and the extensive file versioning system available.
Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office, formerly known as Acronis True Image, is a full featured backup solution that offers a variety of data and cyber protection features for users. It allows active disk imaging for Windows and Mac systems as well as offers world-class cloning and backup, plus new cyber protection features including vulnerability assessments and on-demand antivirus scans(opens in new tab)
The software simultaneously sends data to both a local drive and a cloud solution. It can also do cloning and mirror imaging duties for your rig’s system drive, in just two easy clicks.
Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office has an anti-ransomware feature that detects, and can even reverse the unauthorized encryption of a hard drive to keep data safe from this increasingly prevalent type of attack. It also offers support for mobile device backup. The downside is that all this backing up does use some system resources, and can even lengthen boot times.
A one-year subscription offers ransomware protection built in. For cloud-backups, you'll need to upgrade to the Advanced plan. A Premium plan offers 5TB of storage and electronic signatures.
Read our full Acronis Cyber Protect review.
EaseUS Todo Backup is a disk cloning program, that offers a great array of services- even on the free tier. For disk cloning it enables a wide range of cloning activities, including system cloning, hard drive cloning, and partition cloning. It also has an array of backup modes, including full, scheduled and incremental backups.
There is also a Home tier that adds email notifications, offsite copies and file exclusion. This tier can also do Outlook backup and recovery. The Home tier is available for a single user license for one year or for a two-year license. There's also a lifetime license options available for a single computer.
For business users, there is the top option of the Workstation tier. This adds to all the previous features above, command line backup, central management via the Backup Center, and a license that covers business usage.
Read our full EaseUs Todo Backup review (opens in new tab).
Macrium Reflect supports the essential task of direct disk cloning. The free tier features support for restoration of non-booting systems, scheduling backups with flexible templates, and creating live images of a running Windows OS. Notably, unlike most other free licenses, the Free edition is licensed for home and business use.
While there is a free tier to provide a basic service, there are paid-upgrades available to include more features,
The Home tier adds the option to encrypt backups, create incremental backups and has ransomware protection . There is also a Workstation tier that has the additional features of logging events in Windows, and central management using Macrium Site Manager, with volume discounts available.
Read our full Macrium Reflect review.
Paragon Hard Disk Manager covers the full range of disk duties, including disk cloning of the entire drive, and advanced activities such as cloning by the partition, and can even resize the partition while copying it, or copy a hard drive to another with a dissimilar sector size.
It also features some cool, additional features, such as being able to create a virtual clone of your PC to a USB drive, that can then run portably from another PC, or creating recovery media to be able to boot a non bootable PC with the included Recovery Media Builder.
Read our full Paragon Hard Disk Manager review.
AOMEI Backupper is a disk cloning utility that's free to download and use. A key feature of the software is the ability to clone a large disk to a smaller SSD drive.
Sectors and partitions are copied over, along with key files such as boot.ini, NTLDR, BCD, winload.exe and MBR. There's also an intelligent cloning option, which only copies over used space on the harddrive.
The whole process means that you end up with a full copy of your harddrive and won't need to reinstall Windows when copying your clone over to a new harddrive. Although the software is Freeware, there's no adware bundled with the software. Instead, there's a paid-for version available for a single PC license.
However, do note that the free standard edition only supports a data disk clone. To clone a disk including a Windows system, the disk style (GPT/MBR) of the source disk and the destination disk must be the same.
Read our full AOMEI Backupper review (opens in new tab).
Which disk cloning software is best for you?
When deciding which disk cloning software to download and use, first try to determine how difficult the data might be to backup and recover. For example, not all will clone multiple partitions at the same time. Additionally, free or budget software options may have built-in limitations on how much data or how many files you can actually clone.
How we tested the best disk cloning software
To test for the best disk cloning software we first set up an account with the relevant software platform, whether as a download or as an online service. We then tested the service to see how the software could be used for cloning data from both a normal hardware as a well as an external hard drive. The aim was to push each software platform to see how useful its basic tools were and also how easy it was to get to grips with any more advanced tools.
Disk cloning guide: Clonezilla
Clonezilla (opens in new tab) is a popular open-source disk cloning software platform, and would easily have made our list for the fact that it's more targeted at advanced users who are familiar with command-line utilities.
However, to help out, we've put together a short guide below on how to use it. A longer version is available here: How to clone your hard drive with Clonezilla (opens in new tab).
1. Connect your blank backup drive to your machine, making sure it is larger than the internal hard drive. Remember that any files already on your backup drive will be lost if you clone your internal hard drive with Clonezilla.
2. Insert your Clonezilla Live USB or DVD and boot your computer. You may need to change the UEFI settings of your device to load from the external disk. When Clonezilla first loads, press 'Enter' to accept the default settings.
3. Select your language settings, then a choice of modes will appear: device-image or device-device. Select the second option if you want to make a full and complete backup of files and folders and the operating system, rather than an image.
4. Next, you will be asked to define parameters. If you simply want to make a direct copy of a partition or drive then choose 'Beginner Mode'. The 'Expert' mode allows you to define more advanced options such as running in text only mode, or cloning everything except the boot loader.
5. Next, Clonezilla will ask you to choose how you want to clone your disks. The first option will create an exact copy of the hard drive including partitions such as the bootloader and any others you've previously defined. This is the simplest and easiest way to make an exact copy of your hard drive. Choose the second option if you only want to copy one partition of the external hard drive to your list.
6. At this stage, Clonezilla will ask you to choose you the disk you want to clone, which most likely is your internal hard disk. For those people unused to Linux naming conventions, these are done alphabetically, therefore your first hard drive is named 'sda', the second 'sdb' and so on. If you're uncertain you also may be able to confirm which is the correct drive by checking its capacity on the left hand side. The local disk you want to copy must be smaller in size than the external drive.
7. Clonezilla will now ask you to choose the external drive into which the data will be cloned. If you only have one external drive connected, this will be the only option Clonezilla presents.
8. Once you've selected the target disk, you'll be asked to set extra parameters. In simplest terms, these are a way to interactively check and repair the local file system before cloning.
9. Clonezilla will next ask you what to do once the cloning process is complete. The first (default) option is to keep running and offer you the choice to reboot or shut down your machine. The other options are simply to reboot or shutdown respectively once the copy process is complete.
10. Clonezilla now starts to collect information about the drive partitions. After the process is complete, Clonezilla will either prompt you to shut down or restart or do it automatically depending on the settings you chose in the previous step. To restore your local disk from the backup you just made, simply follow the steps in this guide again, making sure to choose the local drive as your target disk instead of the cloned drive.
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