Best Free Drive Cloning Software


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What I consider to be two of the most important factors when choosing drive imaging software is Ease of Use and Reliable Image Creation and Restoration. Quite simply the software has to be able to do its intended task without fail every time as if it can not then it defeats the whole objective of creating an image backup in the first place and believe it or not there is software out there that is great at performing the actual backup images and providing the ability to mount and explore them without problems, but lacking in any easy way to actually perform a recovery with said images. If the software is capable of reliably performing those tasks in a timely manor then all the better, if not then personally I have no problems with waiting a while longer and knowing for a fact that the backup or recovery process is going to be a success.

Drive / Disk imaging has now become a must have tool for the majority of users both novice and advanced alike mainly because of it's ease of use in most circumstances and the convenience it provides. For example a user can safely recover their computer from a system crash or a bad virus infection without having to worry about reformatting and reinstalling the operating system. With drive imaging there is almost no reason at all to have to reinstall Windows because it offers you the ability to restore an image to your hard drive in a fraction of the time it takes to reinstall your operating system along with all your programs and settings.

There are two different types of disk imaging programs, Online and Offline. Most imaging software nowadays are online programs, meaning that they can run and create images inside of Windows while the operating system is running. The offline type are the programs that run in alternative environments such as MSDOS, WinPE or Linux, to create and restore backup images while Windows is not running. Although most Windows users' love the normal GUI driven programs, there are advantages to using either type of this software.

Most applications offer different options for creating images. You have the option to back up only the used sectors on the disk, which will create an image of only those sectors on the hard disk that are in use by the file system. This option will make the backup much smaller than if you were to create a clone of the drive. A clone is exactly what it sounds like, an exact sector by sector mirror copy of the entire drive including the unused sectors. These images can be saved to an external hard drive, a USB flash drive, a separate partition on your internal hard drive, burned to a CD/DVD for safe keeping, or saved to a network share. Some applications can use image backups as a file backup and mount images to a drive in explorer so individual files can be restored. There are several other options that can be found within the different free programs available, but for most users the default options provided with any of the applications below should suffice.

Windows 7 now provides us a new enhanced Windows Backup and Restore application which now has the ability to create disk images, the program will create an image of any partition on the hard drive if it is formatted to use the NTFS file system but it always includes the system partition and does not let you opt out. The drive that you are saving the backup on must also be formatted to use the NTFS file system. However one interesting quirk is if your unable to boot into Windows normally and having to use the recovery CD / DVD and the start up repair process fails to find an existing Windows installation then you will not be able to restore your created backup image ! at times in this scenario even rebuilding the MBR / BCD etc from the command prompt can fail miserably all depending on how badly messed up your drive is you may or may not be able to recover it using the Windows Restore.

ToolTip: My advice pertaining to the above is if your not into experimenting with multi boot systems or doing things that could potentially mess up your system drive then the new Windows Image Backup is a good solid solution... Now if your like me and love to experiment with such things until its totally broken then you need to be looking to use one of the programs reviewed here along with adding either of these two essential tools to your arsenal. First is EasyBCD (free for non-commercial use), a GUI editor for the BCD store, the file that controls the overall booting process in Windows Vista and 7 (note this is not compatible with XP), but it can do so much more. For example, boot CD image files, the '.iso' files, stored on your HD, floppy images, '.img' raw format, it gives a GRUB/GRUB2 choice for multibooters, it can fix many boot errors/problems that plague so many while imaging/partitioning, and on and on - the website has extensive documentation to help get you going.

The second tool is Super GRUB2 Disk {SGD}, and though it sounds of interest to only Linux types, that isn't the case. If you do run into booting problems, and YOU WILL, booting into this CD/floppy/USB (yes all in one image file!), brings up a choice, the first is 'Detect any OS', which can often save you from even serious MBR/boot issues, and this does work for XP!!. The third menu item is to detect any bootable iso files in the folder 'boot-isos', where you can store your EasyBCD boot files, too. Booting isos is iffy, so it's good to have two methods to work with. But with EasyBCD you can have an image of the SGD, along with full access to a number of full LiveCD Linux distros, giving you the ability to boot a wide range of rescue and other boot environments without needing the CD.


Most of these programs now include both WinPE and Linux recovery environments the difference being in WinPE you usually have a GUI that looks the same and has all the same features and options you would see whilst running the program from within Windows itself. The Linix environment is somewhat limited whilst it looks the same generally you only have the backup and restore options available and in most cases in the event of HDD failure that is all you need.

AOMEI Backupper

Is ideal for both the novice and advanced user alike, with a very clean user friendly GUI. The primary backup options are Disk Backup, Partition Backup, System Backup and File and Folder Backup. We are also presented with some good options for all the backup modes, like the ability to create comments about the backup, select levels of compression, whether or not to encrypt, the ability to split large backups, whether or not to optimize sectors during backup and the option for Shadow Copying aka VSS,  support for UEFI boot and GPT disks, along with Incremental and Differential backup modes. 

The type of compression or encryption which uses AES is not optional but in my opinion that is not an important factor, unless your extremely short on drive space or work for some Government Agency.

Many of the essential functions that are missing in the free versions of other programs are included in AOMEI Backupper free edition without any "nag" screens to upgrade to pro either. Within a few clicks of the mouse you can have your system backup in progress, it is intuitive and detected my 100MB System Reserved partition no problem and offered to include it into the system backup, now that makes a refreshing change unlike some of the others that take it for granted you know what your doing.

Image Creation and Recovery

Both the backup and recovery process are very fast taking only about 9mins for my 8GB system partition ! the options are there also for where you want to recover the image to, NAS (network storage) is also supported, however there are no options pertaining to reinstating the MBR that could cause some major problems in a multi boot environment but this can be overcome by selecting not to do a system restore and just restore the actual partition that contains Windows itself, obviously I am thinking in terms of the more advanced user here. In my opinion AOMEI does not need those options as it handles them perfectly well by itself without user interaction in normal situations.

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Macrium Reflect Free Edition

After installation you will be presented with a registration pop up box that contains a serial key specific to your machine upon clicking "ok" an internet connection is required to authorize the serial before you can start using the program, also the WinPE recovery disk will not function correctly if the software is not registered... Now those are two major negative factors for me that can present problems if you come to do an emergency recovery and the software is not pre-installed.

Macrium also installs an Image Mounting Service set to Automatic run upon Windows start-up (like most others do) this can be safely set to "Manual" as the program itself will start this service if your intending to mount and explore an existing image you have created, there is no reason this should run on start up.

Image Creation

Creating a backup is pretty straightforward, Select the partition and click the icon with the folder and drive above it, you will then be presented with a pop up window where you can select backup location, now this can be another hard drive (or even the same hard drive but different partition other than the one you intend to back up for obvious reasons) across a Network or straight onto a CD/DVD burner. If you click on the advanced button you will then have the option to set compression level, Intelligent sector copy (This uses the Windows VSS) or an exact copy (clone) and also split file size.
Lastly there are check boxes to run the backup now and also create an XML file for scheduled or on-demand backups... On a 15GB partition with 8GB used for Windows 7 the backup process took 12mins to complete.

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Paragon Backup and Recovery (Advanced) Free

In this latest release 2014 they have gone for the "Metro" Windows 8 look for the GUI and you are presented with a series of little boxes that link straight to a wizard for the task you would like to perform along with thankfully a link to load up a more traditional GUI showing your hard drives.

It seems that they have now removed what little partitioning support there was in the previous free versions in favor of including what looks to be a full partitioning suite, though all these buttons are greyed out in the free version with a button stating "Unlock disabled features" and there is a lot of disabled features!, However the important items are still there such as Back Up, Restore, Differential Backup, and Check Archive Integrity. Interestingly there is options to back up to a Virtual Disk, Restore from a VD and also Incremental Backup to a VD, I can see that this would have it's uses in some corporate environments but for the average user if you use Virtual Disks at all then most of those programs have their own "System Snapshot" tools already.

Backup Image Creation

Another feature is the "Backup Capsule" this creates a reserved partition solely for the storage of backups managed by Paragon, now in the previous version this feature worked well but I found that if you removed an old backup you could not remove its entry in the backup capsule and eventually this could get messy if your working with lots of backups coupled with the fact it was difficult to figure out exactly what backup was the most recent one especially if you were working with differential one's rather then full. I was not able to test this aspect again in the new version due to the fact the program refused to install on my own virtual system. So any informative comments concerning the backup capsule in this new version would be welcomed, until such time I have the resources to test it again for myself.

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Drive Image XML

First impressions the GUI reminds me of some of the old MSDOS interfaces having said that don't be fooled this can be a very powerful program though it is very slow 34 mins to backup my test system of 8GB used space.

Image Creation

You have two options for creating a backup image Drive to Drive as they call it (raw sector by sector clone in other words) or the standard backup that then gives you the option to either use "Volume Locking" or the "Volume Shadow Service" since it is the system drive I'm backing up from within Windows the default selection Volume Locking is not a good idea in this case, as it does what it say's "locks the volume" aka drive.

The process creates two files an XML that contains the drive info and a DAT file containing the actual binary data. After that you do have the ability to load the XML file and browse the backed up data much the same as the other programs offer, however in theory this XML file can be manipulated using other software, some of the Linux based imaging programs for example and in extreme cases that could very well have its uses.

Image Recovery

Now actually doing a system restore is the tricky part as it can not be performed within Windows (other drives and partitions can just not the system one) and the program does not offer to boot into a recovery environment for you to perform this task, what you need to do is create a BartPE boot CD and install the plugins for Drive Image XML and then boot from that, the only help for doing this can be found on the BartPE website, obviously this is quite a hurdle for the novice user and anyone else looking for an all in one recovery / backup solution for that matter.

There is support to run backups as scheduled tasks but you have to set this up yourself also using Windows task scheduler and command line parameters, they do provide you with an example though and a list of the valid command line parameters that can be used... then again if your not familiar with all this then it may as well be written in Chinese.


Despite those two.... "inconveniences" the program is very solid and in personal experience not so long ago it was the only program that was able to create an image of a failing 500GB HDD that had many bad sectors coupled with read/write arms that were "sticking", Windows refused to copy any data from it, the end result was 90% of the data contained in the image was usable after Drive Image XML completed its task... I won't tell you how long that took I will leave that to your imagination, but like I say it was the only program out of many that could work with that drive... So if you have a situation like that this is the software you need.

There are a few different options for users that are looking for a good free drive imaging solution and some of the most reliable options are offline programs. The choice that stands out above the rest for me is PING (PartImage Is Not Ghost).

Most offline solutions can be kind of intimidating and hard to figure out at first but PING is almost too easy as it leads you through the steps needed to create an image one by one and offers a short explanation of some of the options available.

The program can create incremental backup images and will save you significant time in doing so. It can also backup and restore the BIOS and it can create a bootable restoration disk to make restoring your backups that much easier. The software was developed to offer a free alternative to the very popular Norton Ghost and over the years it has gained a better set of features than Ghost making it a great choice for anybody.

Clonezilla is the other free offline software that stands out to me. Although it can be complicated upon first use it is a very good program and probably the most popular offline free drive imaging application.

It contains a beginners mode with all of the advanced options selected for you and all you have to choose is the partition or disk to backup and the location to save it which can be a USB drive, CD/DVD, or network share. The expert mode can be really confusing if you are not sure of what you are doing and generally the beginners mode should suffice for most users. The program can perform a disk to disk copy or just the regular disk or partition image backup but it is slow in doing this taking almost thirty minutes to create an image of an 8 GB partition.

However, Clonezilla does come in different packages, you can get it with the G-Parted boot CD or with UBCD (Ultimate Boot CD) which contains several other programs on one CD making the possibilities even greater.

Some hard drive manufacturers offer free software utilities to owners of their products to aid them in such tasks as diagnostics, disk management, and installing new hard drives. Of those tools made available a couple of manufacturers are offering free disk imaging software for users of their drives to use as long as they own the drive.

Owners of Seagate hard drives are eligible to download and use the Seagate Disk Wizard tools. Disk Wizard is essentially a slimmed down version of Acronis True Image that is available for free.

Owners of Western Digital hard drives also have a great option for disk imaging. Western Digital offers the Acronis True Image WD Edition which is much the same as what Seagate offers to its users.

Related Products and Links
Quick Selection Guide


Gizmo's Freeware award as the best product in its class!

Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Lots of features, supports GPT, System Restore, Incremental and Differential backup, AES Encryption
No user editable options for reinstating the MBR or not.
32 and 64 bit versions available
Unrestricted freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.

v2.8 Released 11th May 2015 View change log here

Macrium Reflect Free

Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Very easy to use and fast. can restore individual files, works with linux files systems, ability to clone hard drives including the working system partition, schedule backups easily, very stable and reliable, great compression of backup images, can convert to vhd virtual format, includes WindowsPE recovery.
No incremental or differential backups, recovery options can be confusing for the novice user.
32 bit but 64 bit compatible
Feature limited freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.

v6.0.545 released 31st March 2015 View release notes here

Windows XP/Vista /7 /8

Backup & Recovery 2014 Free

Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Differential backups, can restore individual files, cyclic backup, good compression options, can clone hard drives. Recovery media is full-featured, can do most of what the installed application can. Works with Windows 8 including Storage Spaces.
Some compatibility problems with Linux recovery media, program requires registration for download, many features disabled in the free version making it feel bloated.
32 and 64 bit versions available
Feature limited freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
v2014 released 17 February, 2014 View the changelog here
Windows 2000/XP/Vista/7/8

Drive Image XML

Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Drive to Drive image copy, restore individual files from images, ability to restore images to different drives. Provisions for incorporation into WinPE environments via plug-ins. Simple, basic, reliable.
No incremental or differential backup, backup process is very slow compared to others, not many options for creating backups, almost no default compression, has no recovery media included and users have to create their own XP-only based disk, users also have to schedule tasks manually with Windows Task Manager.
1.78 MB
32 bit but 64 bit compatible
Feature limited freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
Windows XP/2003/Vista/7


Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Supports a huge array of file systems, very reliable and stable, available on several different boot CD packages with many extra tools, and as a standalone liveCD, a very popular program
Offline only, can be difficult to use or complicated on first use, no incremental or differential backups, can not explore or restore files from images, not very fast
133.2 MB
32 and 64 bit versions available
Unrestricted freeware
v2.3.2-22 released 17th Feb 2015 View release notes here
All Windows and Linux, Intel based Mac OS

PING (PartImage Is Not Ghost)

Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Can create incremental backups, possibility to blank local admin password, can backup and restore the BIOS, can create bootable restoration CD, some basic partition editing available. Many rescue utilities included
Is an offline program, not many options for creating images, rescue utilities not nearly as extensive as PartedMagic.
32 bit but 64 bit compatible
Unrestricted freeware
All Windows and Linux

This software review is maintained by volunteer editor AndyR. Registered members can contact the editor with any comments or questions they might have by clicking here.


drive imaging, disk imaging, cloning, clone hard drives, copy hard drive, differential imaging, incremental imaging, hard drive imaging, image backups, drive backup.

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Average: 4.2 (265 votes)


I've been a fan of Aomei for quite a while, but the restoration process keeps disappointing me. Restored systems are never bootable (and yes, I know what I'm doing, it's not like I forgot to backup my bootloader partition or anything) and it even for some reason feels the need to change the flags on all my partitions after restoring. Before, there were several flags on several partitions, like ESP, boot and hidden, but after, all the partitions, even the ones it hadn't touched, were changed to "msftdata". No wonder stuff wouldn't boot anymore (though changing the flags alone didn't fix that).

I can honestly say I have never had this specific problem before, are you running a duel boot system by any chance with an older version of Linux or GRUB ? far as I recall the older versions used to use a filesystem that were very much the same as msftdata ones this is the only reason offhand I can think of as for why you're having problems and the partitions are getting incorrectly flagged...

I would like to see the new contender Veeam Endpoint Backup to be tested. It is some of the view that works with DiskCryptor encrypted disks (from within Windows, like Acronis). It has one of the more easy menus (it is straight forward I would say).

Sadly Macrium Reflect Free v6 still is not able to backup DiskCryptor encrypted drives from within Windows.

This one does look quite promising and a potential contender after reading the features etc.. I shall download a copy and use it for a while then see about writing a review.

EDIT: It appears you have to create an account first before you can download a copy, having to do things like that always puts me off right away.

After a long wait, Macrium Reflect free has finally been awaited to version 6.

Yes, and some very important features have been added, among which are:

- The ability to make Differential Backups.

- Option to add an entry to the Boot Menu which will allow you to restore a System image without using external Rescue Media.


Aomei provides a free Win PE CD/DVD that has backerupper, partitioning ETC, ETC.
(Lots of goodies, including the program reviewed above)
I have tried a couple of times to burn it, and boot into it
(Burned on Win 7 64bit, and then tried booting into it on that PC and also into an XP Pro PC 32bit)
Both PCs halt during the boot up
I get the black screen with white progress bar saying 'Windows is loading files'
Then I get a black screen saying - Starting Windows with the waving 4 colors flag.
Then I get a blue screen saying -
STOPc0000145: {Application Error}
The application was unable to start correctly (0x000000d). Click ok to close the applicaion.

Anyone solved this ?

The error code relates to there being some corrupt system files that obviously are failing to load. Within AOMEI Backupper itself if you select the option to "Create Bootable Media" and choose either a Win PE or Linux disk then either of those seem to work just fine.

I have never downloaded and tried their all in one Win PE disk before so I can only assume that maybe your download got corrupted somehow or during the burning process... are you using a good quality brand of recordable media ?

Hi Andy,
I replied a while ago, but it got rejected as spam.
I submitted it for investigation/approval, but got no reply.
Perhaps it was rejected because I included a link to a thread on the forum on their site.
Some others have the same problem.
I managed to dig out a W7 32bit pc, and that fixed the problem (Don't create the bootable PE, on a 64bit W7)

Yes generally posting links to other forums is spam related... however not in your case but its very difficult for the board to know the difference.

So their 64bit version does not work but the 32bit does, interesting like I say I have not had that problem before. However it is probably better to create 32bit recovery media anyway since it will work with both. I get handed quite a lot of laptop computers to repair and always use 32bit media regardless because I have found at times the 64bit versions do not work on all systems other than the one it was created on, I think in some cases though this is intentional both with 32 & 64bit. Macrium being one such example where it prompted me for a serial number upon booting with the recovery media when the actual software was not installed on the target system, essentially rendering it useless unless you happen to have the serial number written down in front of you (highly unlikely) I did eventually get round the problem but the solution was less than ideal and took far longer than anticipated.

Just a note: Version 6 of Macrium is the paid version. Version 6 as free version will be released "soon" (whenever that is). The latest free version is 5.3.7299.

AOMEI released version 2.5 of their software and it now supports restoring on different hardware (like Acronis universal restore):

Yes I am waiting for the next laptop to get handed to me for repair so I can test that new feature and therefore update the review.

It appears that Macrium 32 bit no longer works on 64 bit machines. However, there is a 64 bit version available.

Umm. I use Macrium Reflect Free - downloaded directly from the Macrium website - on a Windows 7 64-bit machine just fine.

That being said - I always do the following for each PC:

1. Download and install Macrium Reflect Free - including the PE data - and reboot.

2. Make a Windows PE bootable USB on the PC I am going to image. This is important because you will need to pick the right PE version for your machine. Additionally, you will need to check whether or not you need to enable UEFI support, etc.

3. Once you have made this USB - boot the PC off the USB.

4. Now - in the windows PE environment - use this to make an image of your drive.

I, personally, prefer this method as it means the drive I am making an image of is not in use at the time.

For your first image after a clean install it is better to do it this way in my opinion also, and then again after you have the 200+ Windows updates installed... after that I just set a schedule and let the system backup run twice a week making use of a batch file I made to clean up previous images whilst still retaining the initial one with all the updates and also the previous one just in case.

Where can I download the 64 bit version?

I got it from Snapfiles.

Click on the lighter blue "Download the 64 bit version" link.

DISCLAIMER: I have not checked it for malware or stowaware and anything else that might kill your computer.

I just got done wasting over 2 hours on the AOMEI Backupper. I am doing a simple task, taking my bootable C drive and migrating it to a bigger hard drive. In essence, according to the "Free" utility software, I was doing a system clone. Fair enough. But this is NOT a free feature of the software. It is lock out. I call that cripple-ware. If you want to have that feature, then you have to jump through a hoop. Post the text they provided you on a social media site. Again, I read the reviews and thought to myself, it's worth it, press on and just do it. Two hours later, that feature never did unlocked no matter what url social media site I choose. As you can imagine I do not have faith in cripple-ware software that doesn't un-cripple. I did submit an email to their support, but, I really think a simple task like this needs NOT to be crippled so a person can finish it in a day.

AOMEI is my personal favourite it does not have the top spot here only because the reviews are none biest towards "favourites" and are ranked by features... I know the process you are speaking of what I did was copy and paste the text they provided and posted it on Google+ then within minutes the software checked the post and unlocked the Clone feature... Quite possibility if the text is not identical to to what they require then it will fail the check ? I did notice that after a re-install I had to post said text again on Google+ in order to unlock the feature again however... With all due respect Sir this is $50 software you are getting for free and drive "clone" is so rarely used having to post a "like" so to speak is a very small price to pay in able to use that feature... I would not class it as being "cripple ware" in the least there is many other "free" software out there that does not inform you of the fact until you come to re-instate said cloned drive ! leaving you truly up the creek without a paddle, unless you have a CC handy and some spare cash... If you send me a PM on here with your email address I can contact AOMEI on your behalf and question why said feature was not unlocked for you and quite possibly have them unlock it for you though I can not promise, however I can try :-) and thank you for your feedback by the way as what you mentioned is worthy of note here.

Why is Todo backup not on this list? It has more features in their free version than most of these ones listed here. The latest is version 8.0 now and I highly recommend it.

I remember it being a capable and easy to use product but I also remember that it was dropped two or three years ago. From memory, Easeus converted the then latest freeware beta to a trialware production release. They had earlier done something similar with their partition manager too, i.e. it was touted as free but was in fact time-limited or trialware. Anyway, whatever precisely happened there were many people who had to change to another freeware product after they lost continuity of Easeus Todo Backup features.

Windows Secrets has recently reviewed Imaging software and puts EaseUS Todo Backups (free) at the top, mentioning the only disadvantage is that it doesn't notify you if the backup drive is unplugged.

They also looked at AOMEI, noting it does notify you but doesn't purge old backups so will keep working until it fills your drive. And they mentioned Paragon.

The EaseUS web site now has a clear "Download Freeware" button. They then ask for your email address but allow you to uncheck being sent email. We'll see how polite they are about that.

Spot on with your observations Remah, plus they continually try to spam our site which is another good reason to use something else. :) MC - Site Manager.

First, thanks for your work on the reviews!

PING CAUTION: I was giving PING a first test by backing up a fresh Win 7 Pro install on a Dell Optiplex 330. I told PING to save both the System 100MB and C: (rest of 80GB drive) to a USB drive and to save NTFS details. It started, ran a few seconds, then shut down the PC. (Shutdown is the setting I used.) The PC THEN WOULD NOT BOOT. It said "Disk Read Error". I found it only wrote a few small files to the USB drive. I put the corrupt source drive in a USB adapter to look. I found it now has a 102MB raw partition, 74GB UNALLOCATED, and a 8GB raw healthy primary. I don't know if this was related to the hardware, the fact that I specified 2 partitions, that it was Win7, or something else. PING forums mentioned a few related items such as XP source corruption, that PING writes stuff to the source (maybe temp files?), and a mention of issues with certain Dell models. Does it really try to write to the source? Over the years, with other software, I have had a few bad images but never corrupted the source drive! (I am sure I selected the correct source and destination.)

Anyway, I think I should look for a safer free imaging solution for the non-profit I am supporting.

Were you running Windows when creating the image ?
If you held a gun to my head, I still would never create images, unless I was using a bootable CD (Windows NOT running)

PS Ditto for Partitioning, etc.

PING should always be ran from a Windows PE environment as you have found out it will write temp files to source drive / partition otherwise. Bear in mind PING is quite old now and lacks some of the advanced methods the modern software uses, however it is still very useful and effective if used in the correct environment.

Thanks AndyR. Please see my answer to previous reply. (I was using bootable CD to run it :-)

Thanks for the excellent post and comparisons. I downloaded Macrium Reflect Free in order to clone an entire 500 GB Windows 7 Pro internal SATA hard drive onto a 1 TB drive that was attached via USB external enclosure. It gave me the option to clone the disk onto the larger drive, I wanted it bootable in case the old 500 BG drive dies. It expanded one of the partitions to take up the difference in space available.
I have not tested it yet, but I am going to do this testing by trying to boot the computer ( a Sony Vaio all-in-one) from the USB external drive. The BIOS has the option to do this.
I tried Clonezilla, another excellent piece of software, but the computer would not boot from the cloned disk. Clonezilla has cloned entire bootable system disks for PC-BSD 10.1, but not Solaris 11.2.I have not tried Clonezilla on any LINUX systems.


Just to let you know, you can't boot a Windows PC from a USB HDD that is attached via USB (even though it's attached with a USB/SATA Enclosure or Adapter Cable). The Windows boot HDD has to be connected via your internal SATA PC port to boot into Windows.

I've cloned from a 500Gb HDD to a 1 Tb HDD in the past with successful results so your cloned HDD should be a complete bootable HDD when you connect it into your SATA port on your PC.