Best Free Drive Cloning Software

toggle-button

Introduction

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 or disk imaging has now become a must-have tool for the majority of users both novice and advanced alike mainly because of its ease of use in most circumstances and the convenience it provides.

[show-hide toggle]

 

Rated Products

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 Linux 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  

A fast and easy way to perform backups on a regular basis or on the fly.


Our Rating: 
5
License: Free (Limited features)

If you're looking for a fast and easy way to perform backups on a regular basis or even on the fly then AOMEI Backupper offers exactly that. If you like to get in and configure every setting possible pertaining to creating a drive image then you are better off choosing and alternative imaging program. May I say this is actually my imaging program of choice after using all the others off and on for years. Not that there is anything wrong with the others, it's just that with AOMEI I am not bombarded with multiple questions. I can just click a few times and be confident that it is going to do what I expect it to do without the possibility of me accidentally selecting the wrong crucial option during recovery (yes I have done that a few times in the past and even invited some new cuss words post broken system restore).

Read full review...

Macrium Reflect Free  

Offer nearly complete control over how you wish to re-instate your backup images.


Our Rating: 
4
License: Free (Limited features)

Overall the program does its intended job efficiently, however running into licensing validation issues can leave you with some serious problems in an emergency... The software on the face of it is user friendly enough but as I also stated in my test unless you fully understand what you are doing you may think you have a working system image but later come to find out you do not! Macirum in my opinion is for the more advanced user rather than the novice as it does offer you more or less complete control over how you wish to re-instate your backup images whilst still being user friendly.

Read full review...

Paragon Backup & Recovery Free Edition  

A user-friendly backup solution with wizards and fully featured recovery media.


Our Rating: 
3
License: Free (Private/Educational use)

Overall Paragon does its intended job differently to the others and left me kind of wondering what the outcome was going to be during the recovery process, having said that yes it completed without a hitch in a timely fashion. There is so many features in this program that you can see yet are unable to use in the free version, to me that just makes it all feel bloated. Is this for the novice or the advanced user? It is easy enough to use and the wizards provide plenty of instruction if needed, so yes it does appear to be novice user friendly. I do feel though that the more advanced user would get a little frustrated with having to use said wizards all the time.

Read full review...

DriveImage XML  

An easy to use and reliable program for imaging and backing up partitions and logical drives.


Our Rating: 
3
License: Free (Private/Educational use)

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 that 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.

Read full review...

Other Options

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.

  • PING (PartImage Is Not Ghost) is the choice that stands out above the rest for me. 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

You might want to check out these articles too:

 

Editor

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.

Back to the top of the article

 

Please rate this article: 

Your rating: None
4.209725
Average: 4.2 (329 votes)

Comments

George, Thanks for the info and link. I'd read about AMOEI several months ago but didn't download it at that time. I'll try this one out soon. That is impressive about the free version including incremental and differential backups as well as specific-item backups (folders, files).

The automated scheduler is a feature that's usually found on paid versions of backup tools but it's provided with this free version.

Aomei says 'Free Download'
Normally to me that means 'All Scots should immediately leave the building'
I have written to all world leaders trying to ban that term on the web. No luck so far.
Is it free ?
If so, why don't they say that ?

A wee bit confused,
Rob
PS Could you describe the hoops to go through to get the WinPE CD ?

PPS The Macrium web page had floating images of the software box, obscuring the comparison table. If one turns of style (called 'view as plain text' in some browsers) you can then read the table.

AOMEI Backupper Standard is freeware, there's another Professional version that's shareware. In the freeware downloads page of AOMEI, there are 2 versions, the bigger version includes Linux Bootable Disc Image. Here you've the info about creating Windows PE Bootable disc.

Rob, it's displaying this on the AMOEI page on my PC. It says:

Free AOMEI Backupper Standard 2.0

It's at this 'net site: http://www.backup-utility.com/

I was contemplating to install Clonezilla but I am glad to have come to Gizmo's FREEware site that recommends the Macrium Reflect. I will install and use Macrium instead and just hope that I can use a 128GB USB stick for the back up. Thank you Gizmo!

I've been using Macrium (free ver) for a while with successful repeatable results for cloning and full-HDD imaging. I use it on my 2 PC's at home and my Mom's Desktop PC. I think you'll like it. The user interface, my opinion, is very user-friendly.

I burned the Clonezilla ISO download for a backup clone/image freeware tool. I've only cloned with it once but it worked ok.

Much discussion above, including some from me, about the problems getting a bootable CD with Macrium reflect.

I simply do not have the time or inclination to research and test this, that, and the other workaround to get it solved. I moved on to updating the commercial backup program I had been using.

The purveyors of this product need to get a handle on this, quick, and fix it.

====> OOPS this is a reply to pseudoid <=====

You should be using a bootable CD
Sometimes one must instal the program, to create the CD, BUT from then on you should use the CD.
The only other use that should be made of the installed program, is to browse an earlier image, (say to extract a file).

The free Seagate DiscWizard, is made by/from Acronis.

I have not used Macrium, but if it can create an iso, then the following 'preaching' from me should be applied.
Surely ('Airplane') you'all should have by now settled on your favorite/reliable burning program.
If you have got your act together, then do NOT be allowing other programs to do burns for you.
Instead let them create an iso, and use your reliable program for the burns. And if it offers to Verify the burn, then verify.

Has anyone tried "Redo Backup" with cloning? I recently burned the ISO and booted up with the CD today to look at it and I don't see any option for cloning. I see the Image setup dialog and it appears to work (I didn't run an image yet) but I can't find any option for cloning the Source HDD to a Target HDD.

I looked at the DIsk Utility menu and Accessories, everything that was available but don't see any mention of cloning with this tool.

I have the redobackup-livecd-1.0.4 version CD.

thanks for the recommendation software, such Macrium how they look good, I used to use a commercial program to make backup drive system.

I did a complete system image copy with Macrium Reflect Free Edition of my W7 laptop about 18 months ago,

I tend to do a complete fresh install every 18 months or so. This week I wanted to do a complete factory restore of my laptop, But alas somehow my manufacturers recovery partition (Press F 11 and select restore to factory) has become corrupted.

Never mind I said, I got the option now to go down the Macrium Reflect route, I put in the 18 month previously created rescue disc and..........NOTHING.....ERROR MESSAGE DISC WONT LOAD.

The BKU files(BKU = Back Up)are safe and stored and I believe correctly copied on my external HDD, but I have no way of installing this snapshot out of the box 18 month ago clean fresh BKU including all partitions at the time.

Don't worry I am not asking for help, I have contacted my manufacturer, and they are going to post out some Factory Restore W7 Rescue Discs. (Basically what the recovery participation would of done).

The moral of the story....... if the rescue disc does not work when you want to restore a image then you are in big TROUBLE.

Irony of all Irony while I am waiting for the postman/postwoman I decided to experiment with other programs, The in-built W7 Create a system image and create a rescue disc..... WORKS

Paragon Backup & Recovery 2013 Free Create a rescue disc.....WORKS

PLEASE NOTE...In my tests I didn't actually restore anything and by...WORKS...I mean the Rescue Discs I created are recognised when I try to boot from the discs, and on both occasions when I removed my HDD (Imagine If I Am Installing A Copy To A New Drive) I can follow the instructions up to..........which image would you like to restore.

I get none of this with Macrium Reflect........Including after also RECENTLY burning a new rescue disc......with both options offered Linux and Windows PE 3.1

That's My Experience.....

I HAD the same problems; could not boot on bootable image DVD/CD's and flash drive. Yet, they booted fine on my other older machine. Yet it wouldn't boot on the very machine that created them. The solution - AHCI BIOS option. If this option is on, (which many OS's support) then these cd/dvd, flash bootable images will not work/boot. Check your bios, turn off AHCI (normally associated with SATA/IDE functions) and reboot your restore dvd/cd or flash. It should now work. Also, changing the bios allowed me to boot on flash drive.

ps 1. Don't forget to turn on the AHCI when your done restoring. If your system had it on at time of install, it needs it to run!

ps 2. Don't forget to turn off AHCI when doing off-line image backup as well.

Hope this works for you

Ref:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advanced_Host_Controller_Interface

Hi people, I'm not dead yet! I had to leave as editor, but still want to participate. This is a great series of posts on the rescue media, this AHCI issue isn't something I'd thought of or heard about before. The performance boost going to AHCI is substantial, there are few reasons to NOT be using it, and it shouldn't be the issue with the Macrium rescue media, though it seems it could be. AHCI has no effect on the data on the disk, it's a standard, or protocol for the OS and the disk drive to talk to each other. Windows requires a Registry tweak to enable it, which is stupid, and is fixed in WIn8. Once you set the msahci key to '1', then windows can speak 'AHCI', and will still handle IDE, but if the BIOS is set to AHCI and windows hasn't been tweaked, in my experience, you get a crashed boot, usually BSODs pretty early in the boot process. I don't see why it could make a difference doing an off-line backup, assuming you've managed to boot to begin with. And Windows should do fine if the BIOS is set to IDE, you'll just suffer a big performance hit. Remah, that's great info on creating an ISO file, that is almost always how I created rescue media, but that was for convenience, it hadn't occurred to me that Macrium might not be doing good direct burns. It isn't that surprising because I concur with you about how often CD/DVD burns can go bad, it is definitely always a good idea to verify important disks you've burned. Thomas J Thomas, just an FYI, if you get into a desperate situation trying to use the rescue media to rescue your system, one option is to take the image file and the HD to another PC and burn it 'on-line'. And one last note, the built in imaging in Windows is great, works most of the time, MOST! being the important word to stress. You also need windows own created rescue disk, and that one isn't a sure thing either. I've been told by my PC while trying to boot from the rescue media I just created on that machine, that I was trying to use the wrong version of windows rescue media!!! And I've had numerous times where windows just refused to work with the image file it created. All of the programs can have their problems, Macrium has been, for me, the least problematic overall.

kenjur,

Thanks for the AHCI info. I'm running Win 7 x64. My HDD BIOS is set to IDE from the install. I was running a Raid 1 array and that was one reason I hadn't changed my BIOS to AHCI among other reasons.

I've read some articles about issues when the BIOS is changed, after the initial Windows install, from IDE to AHCI, that it can cause some issues with programs, etc. That's one reason I hadn't tried it yet.

That said, thanks again for this info as it explains why my bootable media works well.

Very interesting this comment about the rescue disk...
I did a Macrium Reflect image and that went smooth as glass.

But rescue disk to be able to restore it is a whole different matter. You can make either a linux version or a WinPE version. I first made a linux version because my (now very old) commercial imaging program used such. It booted into a black screen--then NOTHING. Bailed out of that and Windows would not start. It entered a Startup Repair mode FOR 45 MINUTES, then said it could not repair startup.

Fortunately, the computer booted into Windows, but more slowly than normal.

So, I made a WinPE rescue disk for Reflect. That one does not even boot the computer--it just proceeds into normal boot even though the WinPE rescue disk is in the DVD drive.

BOTTOM LINE: with Macrium, I can make an image fine, but if the computer is hosed, I cannot restore that file because I cannot make a working rescue disk. UNACCEPTABLE.

Thank you very much for your comment Movrshakr

I 100% agree with you.

At the very least creating a rescue disc from the linux option should work.

The way I understand it after you checked the Bios and told your computer to boot from DVD/CD Disc Drive first, hard drive second etc. etc

The disc is then suppose to tell the computer.....boot from this disc ignore any operating systems and follow the instructions on this disc please computer.

But after many many retry’s even thou Macrium says disc burned successfully I still get nothing while trying to boot off it.

I too believe this is UNACCEPTABLE.

However there is a update please see my reply to Remah directly below this one.

Most problems of this sort are not due to the software but to the optical drive or the optical disk (CD/DVD/BD). But one way to get more information about what is causing the problem is to create an ISO file rather than burning directly to disk. Choose "Create ISO image file" when Macrium Reflect gives you the option to select DVD/CD burner. Then use another burner like ImgBurn to create the disk. Make sure that verification is turned on so the burner software will confirm that the file on your CD/DVD disk matches that on your hard disk. You can also compare that ISO file with the CD/DVD or compare the two CDs/DVDs to see if there are any differences.

Thank you very much for all your comments Remah.

I have read them all, but this is honestly my first chance to respond to you.

I can see you are making great efforts to help and identify any possible problems, and its obvious you believe in Macrium Reflect. I 100% admire you for this.

I had/have given up on Macrium Reflect, but because of you & Scoop's belief in the product I did decide to give your "Create ISO image file" a go.

After burning and trying to boot from that disc..........

In W7 Machine I get ......> ISOLINUX 3.07 2005-01-12 copyright 1994-2005 H. Peter Anvin <......
then a flashing "-" But then of course nothing happens.

In XP Machine....Now prepare yourself for a shock..........

I get a black screen then "Files Loading" then a "Green Macrium Reflect Background Screen", then
"Welcome To The Image Restore Wizard".

My conclusion since the rescue disc is NOT suppose to be operating system dependent,is that there's something about my W7 machine that Macrium Reflect doesnt like,..... Bios, Motherboard, Whatever. ( I haven't experimented on a machine with no HDD or empty HDD yet. )

Anyway since W7 is my principal machine I am done with Macrium. I will report later in the new year how the in-bulit W7 create system image/disc way gets on with me, as well as the separate Pargon way.

I can confirm the iso image way seems to work in actually creating the disc, but my W7 machine doesnt like that disc. It was a pleasure to actually see the Restore Wizard Page...albeit in XP.....I wasn't seeing it on any machine before.

Yes, I am trying to help. :) I've used lots of free imaging programs and liked them all. Even Windows backup. Reflect just suits me more than the others. I was also editor for best free CD/DVD burner so I've tested a lot of dedicated burning software and only had about a 40% success rate across all the computers, settings and media types I tested. So problems with burning are very common. I was hoping that you'd try again with the WinPE disk. I'm not so knowledgeable on the Linux disk. Although I have also had a similar problem, maybe it's the same issue, using the Linux disk on the PC it was created on. I never resolved it. I have also seen problems with using WinPE disks on different hardware than the platform the disk was created on.

Remah,

Good point about the burners. I recall now that I had problems burning the ISO with my external DVD Burner and when I tried the same ISO burn with my internal Desktop Tower burner (different product brand), all worked ok.

I also use ImgBurn for all my media burns.

Hiya Scoop I hope you are still following this post.(Smile)

Just to let you know, the postman arrived, I put Manufacturers Rescue Disc's in and WHAM my computer is back to day 1 out of the box clean install....Success

All I have to do now is when, my computer is set to how I like it, and all those windows updates and system files are created, and my chosen software installed. And when I know its 100% safe & secure.

Then I need to create a new system image, but I think we all know its not going be with Macrium...lol

I'll post here in the new year how the in-bulit W7 create system image/disc gets on with me.

(Note New Comments Are Also Above Since We Last Corresponded)

Hey Thomas :) Bummer about Macrium not working for you. Wish it had gone better but the good part is that there's more options, W7's backup option as well as the other freeware cloning/imaging tools.

Glad your PC is back to normal.

I'll be trying "Redo Backup" for my next clone and will post back about how that goes. That one looks appealing to me since it's an ISO download and no installation on the HDD.

I read your earlier post and it's my understanding that you're right, a Recover (ie, cloning/imaging tool's bootable media) should load to your RAM and should boot up without issues but I'm not an experienced user with this as much as other readers here.

Regarding Macrium, I have read posts elsewhere that mention some difficulties in creating their bootable media. From what I read, once the issues are resolved, the software/tool itself is reliable.

I tested Macrium on a family member's PC a few days ago with a full-disk image and recover, and also tested the cloning option and both worked ok but after encountering difficulties with creating my own PC's bootable CD, I understand your decision to go with another tool.

Best for your imaging/cloning activity and have a great holiday season :)

movrshakr,

I recall having a little difficulty with the ISO build with Macruim Free, when creating the Rescue CD.

Once I got it to work, I created a dedicated CD for my 2 PC's and a family member's PC.

I've created, booted up on all 3 CD's, and restored full-disk images and have cloned via the boot CD's without problems.

I'm only guessing but it may be that the ISO builder with the Free version may not be robust across different PC's.

That's a bummer, what happened with your experience. It's hard to say what happened there but since these Rescue CD's boots to memory, you should be able to restore an image or process a clone to the Target HDD.

I ran a Macrium clone process on a family member's PC this morning and tested the cloned HDD. All worked ok.

I downloaded another freeware "Redo Backup" and booted the CD. It looks like a very simple tool with basic cloning and imaging options. I'll try that one the next time I clone.

Thomas,

That's a bummer to hear about your experience with Macrium Free recovery CD. When I read your post it reminded me of what I've read elsewhere about these Macrium (Free ver) WinPE Rescue builds. According to some experienced Macrium users, that part is the weak link of the recovery methodology.

I had to burn a couple of ISO builds before I was successful in creating a CD that would boot to my Laptop. The Linux version wouldn't boot and my first attempt with the WinPE version also had problems when I burned to a DVD. When I burned the same ISO build to a CD, it booted up on my Laptop. According to some experienced Macrium users, DVD burns can result in intermittent results regarding bootable media. I usually try to use CD media for Rescue and bootable requirements.

Whenever I install an Image/Cloning tool, I test the Rescue media and the imaging and cloning processes on my spare HDD. I'll process the image recovery or clone, then I boot up on the newly-imaged or cloned HDD and test it for a few minutes, browser, e-mail client, launch some apps, etc. Then I re-install my everyday "C" HDD and shelf the spare HDD for emergency or troubleshooting use. This way, I know that the process works if needed in the future.

I use one of 2 spare HDD's, for my Desktop and Laptop PC,s to maintain a shelf-ready clone in the event of any HDD failure or intrusion (malware, etc) where I don't want to spend time cleaning/recovering the affected HDD.

I use the 2nd spare HDD as a "test" platform HDD, to test imaging and cloning using freeware such as Macrium.

I installed Paragon Free on my Desktop but haven't tested it yet.

Basically, I like to have 2 known/verified with successful bootup's PC recovery tools for flexibility and as a safety net in the event my primary tool encounters problems.

I've only recently begun to image using the full-disc method. I'm storing a few of my Desktop and Laptop PC images as well as a family member's PC image on an external 4 tb HDD.

I'm a long time user of Reflect and the current WinPE procedure and recovery disks work very well compared to earlier versions. Many negative comments about this relate to the older versions particularly when we had to setup WinPE ourselves and Macrium support for it was limited - that was sufficient to put-off many users from using Reflect. While waiting for improvements in Macrium's WinPE support I concurrently used Acronis and Paragon free programs. They all had their issues when it comes to actually restoring images so as you say, test recovery procedures as far as you can to make sure they work when you really need them.

Hiya Scoop...Thank you very much for your reply,

I read it with great interest and I am somewhat amazed that the failing disc syndrome seems to be common with Macrium. But still, I have come to the conclusion that my big mistake was not testing and going thru the rescue disc process immediately at the creation time.

I myself am new to drive imaging. I have been Backing Up (BKU) my data with the excellent SyncBack Freeware for years now and with absolutely no problems, including restoring.

I got into drive imaging research after Laptop/Desktop manufacturers started, to stop selling their machines with a installation disc, and the new machines had the OS pre-installed on the machine inc the recovery section.

As a old school man who is

1]...use to upgrading the pre installed HDD capacity.

( My 1st XP Laptop had a 60 GB HDD.....Imagine that lol...the task was simple back then because of the XP installation disc )

2]...Also being a fan of a complete re-install every now and then.

.......................................................

I knew I had to up my game and find out what the modern way was now.

I soon researched and got into disk drive imaging, I like the idea and I know the theory behind the idea, and as of now I will certainly do what you do....TEST TEST TEST....and then TEST AGAIN

So I thank you for that, the thing that upset me with Macrium Reflect is when you create a rescue disc it says task completed successfully......but still that's no excuse I should have tested and checked.

Scoop when the postman/postwoman comes and I get everything to how I like it...In this household I will be creating system images for future re-installs & future HDD capacity upgrades, and of course any serious virus infestation.....

But I will do exactly as you did from start to finish with your spare drives and I aim to perfect it, the only thing is.....

I will be doing it with the in-built W7 system image feature and/or Paragon.....no offense Macrium but you had your chance

Thanks again Scoop.

Thomas,

No problem :) Hope the info helped.

I probably overkill the full-HDD backup scene but the cloning in particular has paid off a couple of times over the last 2-3 years with a couple of malware hits that got past my frontline AV walls.

Macrium: I got interested in it from reading over at the Windows 7 forum. There's a thread over there where Macrium users discuss that tool.

I've run into another minor detour with Macrium but this issue isn't limited to this tool. I bought a SATA/USB Adapter Cable to try and clone/image using the cable in conjunction with the Macrium boot CD. The CD (WinPE 3.1) won't recognize the SATA HDD when plugged into the USB port. This issue is also present when another cloning/imaging tool.

Macrium will recognize my external HDD when I use my Laptop 2.5 HDD SATA/USB Enclosure which I've been using it to clone for a couple of years.

There's a lot of discussion and diverse opinions on the "cloning vs Imaging" threads around the 'net. It depends on what one's goal is with both.

The main advantage that I like with maintaining a cloned HDD is that I can test it faster than recovering a full-HDD image file.

It's also faster (unless one is running scheduled incremental/differential images daily) to recover from a HDD failure or infection or a user error (making a mistake in the Registry or downloading something that's causing problems).

The advantage of imaging to me is that one can store multiple snapshots of the HDD on another device.

I have images of my Desktop PC, Laptop, and another family member's PC on my external HDD. The only downside is that full-disk images are not compressed that much, or not as much as I had expected when selecting the "medium" compression mode in the Macrium setup.

Since the free version doesn't include incremental or differential imaging options, I have to use the full-disk imaging method.

That's not too bad though, in my opinion, since I can test the full-disk image and not be concerned about an incremental chain image being corrupt or missing.

I'm not sure how valid the corruption probability is though, since I've not tried the Macrium Pro version.

When I was researching various imaging freeware's, I did read some posts elsewhere about that occurring, ie, running a long-standing image chain and then trying to restore to a HDD. If one of the chain images (incremental/differential) is corrupt, then the entire chain is rendered useless.

That's what I've read but I can't confirm it.

This is one reason I prefer staying with the Macrium free version since, for my needs, I'm only interested in storing a few snapshots of full-disk images.

It's a bit unfair to blame Macrium Reflect for problems that are common to all writable disks and are not necessarily produced by the program. Even dedicated CD/DVD writing software regularly have failures writing or copying disks. It is essential to check that your media works because defects in the media and disk writer hardware cause many problems. Disks written in one optical drive often do not read in others so if you are working with multiple CD/DVD drives than check they work in all of them. A major reason for problems is using cheaper disks. I almost exclusively use the cheapest disks I can find but I can only do this because I always use write verification, generally use ImgBurn which more clearly detects and indicates disk problems when writing, (Edit->) and it doesn't bother me if I have to throw many disks away. (<-Edit) I also try out all restore disks that I create because, as you have found out, it is a real problem if they don't work when you really need them. As to the latest versions of Macrium Reflect, I have had no problems creating many WinPE and Linux disks on many different system using both the 32-bit and 64-bit editions. When I help friends with their PC problems I generally setup their backup software, make the backups and ensure that they have working restore disks.

Pages