There are a number of reasons why you might want to clone a harddrive, but the main one is likely for the creation of a backup.
Cloning a harddrive allows you to make a full and faithful copy of it, so that in the event that the original harddrive fails 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 harddrive, such as to one with a higher capacity, or to a different type entirely such as from a mechanical harddrive 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 therefore are the best we could find in disk cloning software.
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Best disk cloning software - at a glance
- Acronis Disk Director
- EaseUS Todo Backup
- Macrium Reflect
- Paragon Drive Copy Professional
- AOMEI Backupper
A Windows only disk cloning suite
Acronis Disk Director is a software solution that not only offers disk cloning duties, but also a comprehensive suite of disk management software, including creating, formatting and labeling partitions, splitting, resizing and merging of volumes, and also volume recovery.
Disks can also be formatted into virtually any format, including FAT16, FAT32, NTFS, Exts, Ext3, Reiser3, Linux, and SWAP. It supports all versions of Windows from Windows XP up to the latest Windows 10, but there is no support for Apple or Linux OS’.
There is a demo available, but it is limited in that it only works with a disk volume size of under 100MB’s, which is hobbled enough to prevent any serious use. The full version is available for a one time fee of $49.99 for a single PC license, or the better deal is $79.99 to cover three PC’s.
There is also a workstation license which provides with free upgrades and support for a year for $79.99.
The free disk imaging and cloning software
Clonezilla is a venerable freeware program, that makes those lists of the ‘Best Freeware Programs’ time and again. As it has been around for many years, providing reliable service for the lowest cost imaginable, that reputation is deserved, and TechRadar published a review of Clonezilla here.
Showing its Debian Linux roots, Clonezilla can be run from a Clonezilla Live CD, or thankfully from a more modern approach of a USB stick. In addition to disc cloning, Clonezilla offers additional functionality, including disc imaging, and disc partitioning duties.
If you can get past the clunky interface that looks too close to the ‘Blue Screen of Death’ as seen in the screenshot above, there is quite a bit of functionality at no cost.
A slick disk cloning program that offers more features than most
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 of $29.95 for one year, $39.95 for a two-year license, or $59.95 for one license for one computer with lifetime upgrades.
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. The Business tier is $39 for a single user license.
The free cloning software for home and business
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 for a cost of $69.95. 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.
The professional grade cloning software with advanced features
Paragon Drive Copy Professional 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 3.0.
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 from $49.95 for a single PC licence.