Top 7 Free and Most Popular Hard Disk Drive Cloning Tools for Your PC
Image source - extremetech.com
No computer is 100% perfect! From the high-end IBM supercomputers to your low spec netbook, flaws exist in every system. A major flaw is hard drive failure. When your hard drive inevitably crashes or gets irrecoverably corrupted one fine day, are you going to risk losing all your data?
Only if you had created a clone image of the hard drive in the past could you have recovered the whole thing with no issues.
In this article, we will explore the possibility of creating such an image and review the Top 7 Free Tools available online to create such a hard drive image!
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Computers, as advanced as they may have become, still have bugs and vulnerabilities in their system. Some basic software vulnerabilities are fixable through a simple software update. But there might also be hardware vulnerabilities in your system has, and simply replacing hardware might not always fix them.
One such hardware vulnerability is the hard drive of your system.
A corrupted hard drive could potentially render your PC unusable and dead. This results in the hard drive either being irrecoverable or corrupting all the data. Replacing the corrupted hard drive is possible, but not only is it time-consuming, but you also end up losing a lot of important data. This is when a hard drive clone or an image would be handy.
In this article, we would be exploring 7 of the top and most popular Free Disk Cloning Software available in the market. It is to be noted that while most of these also have a paid available which offers more features, the freeware gets most of the job done without issue and should be more than enough for casual home users.
- Macrium Reflect
- AOMEI Backupper
- EaseUS Todo Backup
- DriveImage XML
- MiniTool Partition Wizard
- Iperius Backup
A hard drive clone is simply an image of your hard drive with all the data stored in it. It captures all data, settings, and installs made in the system by the user to work exactly like the original. This image can be loaded to a secondary drive and kept aside to use in case of a main drive failure.
The benefit of having a clone image of your PC is that it keeps all critical data and documents safe. It also eliminates the time it takes to install the entire operating system and drivers from scratch on a new hard drive. It can also come in handy if a user requires to upgrade to a higher capacity hard drive or even into a Solid-State drive.
Image Source – goodfirms.co
With advancements in technology and the easy availability of cloning and imaging software, the industry has also seen significant growth with a rise in market share. Cloning and Imaging tools are widely used in a corporate environment these days for the reasons mentioned above.
HDD cloning and Imaging tools are widely available in the market at a variety of prices. While the expensive ones have some exciting features, these are more suitable for a corporate setting. If you are looking to simply create a clone of your home PC, you can opt for one of the many free tools available in the market.
While the free tools might not have any flashy features like the pro versions, they can definitely get the job done. Below, we compare and review some of the best free tools to create a clone of your HDD.
Image Source – clonezilla.org
Clonezilla is a disk cloning and imaging software that helps you with the backup and recovery of your HDD in case of failure. It is a free and open-source software meaning knowledgeable users can even alter the software's source code to make it work to their requirements.
There are mainly 3 types of Clonezilla:
- Clonezilla Live – Suitable for single machines and best suited for personal use
- Clonezilla SE – Suitable when multiple systems require cloning or recovery and can work on more than 40 machines
- Clonezilla Lite Server – A lighter version of Clonezilla SE consuming fewer resources. Suitable for cloning multiple systems but can’t work on as many systems as Clonezilla SE
Clonezilla improves the efficiency of the cloning process and the clone by copying only used blocks in the HDD, thereby saving time.
Features of Clonezilla are as follows:
- Supports many file systems such as ext4, FAT32, NTFS, and more
- One image can be used to restore multiple devices
- The image file can be loaded on remote servers
- The entire process of cloning can be done through commands and don't require direct user presence
- Image can be encrypted to make it more secure
Image Source – macrium.com
Macrium Reflect is a disk cloning software that is free-to-use for personal or home uses. It also has a paid version for corporate use, but the free license can be safely used. It also allows you to create backups to USB drives.
Comes in 2 different editions, namely – Reflect Free edition and the Reflect 8 Home edition. The paid version obviously has more functionality than the free one and is usually meant for enterprise use.
Macrium is one of the most secure cloning tools. It can encrypt the created clone in the paid version along with Malware and Ransomware protection. However, unlike Clonezilla, Macrium isn't open-source, meaning users can't alter its source code
Features of Macrium include:
- Create images while Windows is running
- Use File Explorer to browse the backup content
- Schedule the backup process
- Restore images to systems with entirely different hardware
- Ransomware protection
Image Source – aptgadget.com
AOMEI Backupper is a free-to-use disk cloning and imaging tool that works with almost all versions of Windows – from Windows XP to Windows 10. It can create a clone of your entire HDD or just individual partitions as per requirement.
The AOMEI Backupper comes in 6 different versions, as listed below. Each has its own perks and features, with the Technician Plus being the highest priced. The standard edition is the free version and can be used for most casual uses.
The versions are listed below:
- Technician Plus
Key features of the AOMEI Cloning tool are:
- Allows backup and automatic Sync to a USB drive or other storage
- Can create bootable media for Windows and Linux operating systems
- Can clone an HDD to an SSD
- Allows scheduled backups
- Backups can be browsed in File Explorer
Image Source – raymond.cc
An award-winning disk cloning utility, EaseUS, claims to have 20,000,000 satisfied users all over the globe.
Its basic free version performs most of the disk cloning and backup functions. In contrast, the paid version adds more features like Email backup, transfer to different PC, Smart backup, etc. Like many other similar tools, EaseUs also allows users to clone an HDD to an SSD during an upgrade.
EaseUS has an array of products suitable for different devices and for various functions. It has separate PC Transfer, Partition Management, Disk Copying, and even tools ideal for mobile devices such as iOS and Android Data recovery, Data Transfer, etc.
The main features available with the EaseUs Todo Backup software are listed below:
- Cloning entire Disk drives or individual partitions
- Works at the block level of the HDD while cloning
- Can recover deleted data
- Email recovery
- Allows cloning the HDD to entirely different hardware
Image Source – runtime.org
DriveImage XML is an entirely unique and different kind of cloning tool. It creates images of an HDD and stores them in an XML file allowing a user to recover quickly and without a reboot. This ability to create an image in XML format will enable it to be integrated with 3rd party apps.
It basically uses Microsoft’s own system services (Volume Shadow Services or VSS) to create the “hot images" making it relatively fast and efficient. The tool can even be used to image drives that are currently being used without a snag.
DriveImage XML comes in 2 different versions, the Private Edition and the Commercial Edition. As the name suggests, the private edition is meant for personal use and the commercial edition for commercial use, the former being free while the latter being paid.
Key features available with the DriveImage XML tool are as follows:
- Copy on HDD directly into another
- Restore backups without needing a reboot
- Examine files in an XML file
- Works in a variety of formats such as FAT12, FAT32, NTFS, etc
- Supports almost all versions of Windows, from Windows XP to Windows 10
Image Source – partitionwizard.com
Available freely, the MiniTool Partition Wizard is not only a cloning tool but can also be used to manage partitions on your PC. It can create, delete, copy, format, resize, merge, move, resize, wipe, and split partitions as necessary for the user. This avoids the user having to go through the tedious and time-consuming process of using the Windows built-in tool for creating and managing partitions.
The MiniTool Partition Wizard comes in a total of 7 different versions, with the Technician version being the most functional and expensive.
Various other versions of the tool are:
- Pro Deluxe
- Pro Ultimate
While each version has its own benefits and features, if all you are looking for is cloning and recovering an HDD, the Free version is more than sufficient.
A few of the key features of the MiniTool Partition Pro are given below:
- Can migrate entire operating systems to new hardware
- Space analyzer available to find what files occupy most storage
- Allow to move, resize, merge, and split partitions, among other operations
- Allows data restore to a variety of media such as USB, SD card, etc.
- Allows creation of bootable media
Image Source – windows-az.com
Iperius Backup is a disk cloning utility that offers cloud storage to store backups, allowing easy access to these backups from anywhere. The user can automatically send the backups to cloud storage such as Google Drive, OneDrive, Azure Storage, Dropbox, etc.
It also allows backup to external media such as USB drives and even FTP servers. Iperius employs the AES-256 encryption standard to protect all the user data from malicious attacks by any threat actors.
The Iperius Backup software comes in 8 versions, the most expensive of which is the Full Edition:
- Adv Tape
- Adv DB
- Adv VM
- Adv Exchange
4 of the versions specialized for different unique services, such as Databases, Virtual Machines, Exchange Servers, and Tape Drives. The full version supports all the features offered by the other versions.
Key features of the Iperius Backup tool are as below:
- Synchronization with Cloud Storage or FTP servers
- Automatic backup to Cloud services such as Google Drive, OneDrive, Dropbox, Azure Storage, etc
- Incremental backup possible
- It can be used to backups for popular databases such as Oracle, MySQL, SQL Server, etc
- AES-256 encryption
A disk cloning software can be used to create a copy or a clone of your HDD that can be used to recover your entire system in case of an HDD failure or corruption. This helps prevent data loss and minimizes set-up time for a new disk drive. While there are many paid solutions available, it is best to go with one of the free tools listed above in the article because as long as you aren't using it for a corporate setting, the freeware gets most of the job done.
Feel free to leave a message with us if you have any suggestions for any Hard Disk Cloning tool that we might have missed out on.