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Best Free Drive Cloning Software

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Go to details...  Go straight to the Quick Selection Guide
 
Introduction

Notwithstanding claims of others, I cannot pretend to be entirely unbiased in my reviews; indeed, an “unbiased human” is an oxymoron. There are two points that I would like to mention: bells and whistles and the availability of reliable customer service.

Whatever else developers claim their programs are capable of, those programs must be able to accomplish their end; the importance of how they get there is most often a matter of personal preference. My bias dictates that, within the parameters chosen by the user, a disk imaging program ought to be able to faithfully create and restore the image. To me, factors like resources consumed, GUI, speed of operations, and others are a matter of personal choice or are influenced by the users’ hardware and operating system. Can we agree that, regardless of its features, if a program cannot consistently create and restore accurate images, it is useless? Simplicity and the conjunction of my and others’ experiences vis-à-vis reliability will greatly influence my reviews; comments are welcome.

Disk imaging has rapidly become a must have tool for most users because of its convenience, speed, and altogether ease of use. With disk imaging software 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 that time and accomplish the same thing while keeping all of your programs and important data. For many users this has made Windows backup and other file backup solutions redundant.

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 an alternative operating system such as MSDOS 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.

With the release of Windows 7 in October 2009, Microsoft provided us with some new and improved features. One of the more talked about features is the new enhanced Windows Backup and Restore application which now has the ability to create disk images. I myself do not use the built in backup because it does not have all of the features and extras that I require, but I have tested it thoroughly and have gotten to know how it handles for this review. I have to say that it is a very solid backup solution that is reliable and is able to create and restore backups in a reasonable time and faster than some of the other free options around. 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. The new Window 7 backup is much improved and while it does not include some of the bells and whistles that other programs may have, it is a solid and simple solution to drive imaging, although not quite as comprehensive as some other choices.

ToolTip: For any of you devoted disk imagers, there are two tools that you must have, and yes, I will be checking up on you! I can't devote the space I would like to here to discuss them, so if you have questions, please comment below, or go to the forums for more involved issues. 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 (sorry XPers, this only works with the newer OS), 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.

 
Discussion

 

Because Macrium has incrementally been improving their newest 5.0 release since it came out, ironing out a few bugs, making their recovery media adequately install drivers, I have gone back to them for the top spot, especially after finding out you can clone a working, running system with it, I think that is very new, and don’t recall anyone else doing that.

 


 

Macrium Reflect Free Edition is a very solid application that is great at what it does. The free version lacks some key features others have, notably differential/incremental and file/network file support.  

With Macrium you can create an XML definition file and save it to your desktop so that all you have to do anytime you want to create a backup is double click the file and the operation will start without anymore user input. You can also start a backup through the context menu when you right click on a partition in Windows Explorer. The application offers a convenient and easy way to schedule backups with the XML definitions files via the GUI.  

The program now has the capability, possibly unique feature amoung free imagers, of cloning your working and running system; very, very handy, and it's already made my life easier. Macrium didn’t include the file backup option in the free version, but the software can mount any backup image that you have created so you can explore and restore any individual files if the need arises.

Now in the new version 5.0, Macrium includes a PE recovery, eliminating  a major objection. The new PE recovery is quite nice, offering the same functionality as the installed version, most of their driver problems in creating the recovery media appear fixed. These improvements have lead me to place it just ahead of Paragon, by a small but not insignificant margin.

 

It was very hard to choose a top pick for this category. Any of the top three here should satisfy most,  the new Paragon Backup and Recovery (Advanced) Free edition now falls a bit behind Macrium.

This is a program that is very much improved over some of their older Drive Backup editions. Backup and Recovery 11 has some notable extras over some other free programs such as the ability to carry out some very basic partition editing, as well as full support for ext2, 3, and 4 Linux file systems. It was very fast in creating an image of an 8 GB partition, taking just over nine minutes and creating an image that was just over half the size of the partition with the default option for compression.

It is the only program that I reviewed with the option to create differential backups which will save a lot of time and space by backing up only the changes that have occurred since a full image was created. It restores seamlessly to smaller partitions, a very welcome, and sometimes desperately needed, ability few other free packages offer. 

The application also has a Linux based bootable CD that you can build in case something happens and your computer will not boot. It can schedule predefined backups to run automatically and the program also gives you the option to password protect your backup archives. Of note, is the ability to virtualize systems disks to facilitate migration to such an environment, though this only worked with Windows systems, and with Paragon offering the best support for Linux file systems, this oversight perplexes. 

An untested but interesting feature is its 'Backup Capsule' concept, where the backup is a hidden full system mirror that can take over should the original become damaged. 

Overall, Paragon Backup and Recovery Free is a reliable program with some great features that is well suited to handle the needs of most users.

Drive Image XML is another great free utility for drive imaging. I had only used this software one time before and it was a few years ago and other than the very long 28:30 minutes that it took to create an image of that same 8 GB partition, I thought the program was very solid.

I still do not like the GUI very much, but the program is easy enough to use. Runtime didn’t give very many options for creating an image mostly just the essentials, you can create a raw sector by sector image (clone), and you have two options for compression and neither are any good by default, but you can tweak them to be better via preferences.

The program also has a feature called ‘Drive to Drive’ which will create an image and restore it directly to a second drive without saving the image first. You can also explore backup archives and restore files from the archives in a similar fashion as is available with Macrium Reflect. You can also schedule backups but you have to manually set that up with task scheduler, just the same the program has support for Bart PE/Win PE and has plug-ins available on the website. But building the bootable media and installing the plug-in is left entirely up to the user even if they do include a short tutorial on the site about creating the Bart PE boot CD.

Drive Image XML feels is a little different than the other software in this category but it is certainly a reliable imaging program that has a very good feature set capable of covering the needs of most users.

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.

(New editors note:  With all due deference to my very able predecessor, the choices offered as you step through the procedure may easily confuse with nomenclature and concepts not used in typical Windows systems and environments.)  

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

Macrium Reflect Free
5
 
Gizmo's Freeware award as the best product in its class!

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. Best of category in frequency of updates.
No incremental or differential backups, no file/network support-only in non-free edition.
5.2.6433
2.2 MB
32 bit but 64 bit compatible
Feature limited freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
Windows XP/Vista /7 /8

v5.2.6427 released 22 October, 2013
View release notes here

Backup & Recovery 2013 Free
4
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Fast backup and restore, differential backups, basic partitioning capabilities, 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, no PE environment recovery, program requires registration for download.
10.1.19.16240
102MB
32 and 64 bit versions available
Feature limited freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
Windows 2000/XP/Vista/7/8

v10.1.19.16240 released 18 March, 2013
View the changelog here

Drive Image XML
3
 
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.
2.5
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
Clonezilla
3
 
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
http://clonezilla.org/
2.2.0-29
133.2 MB
32 and 64 bit versions available
Unrestricted freeware
All Windows and Linux, Intel based Mac OS

v2.2.0-16 released 29/10/2013

PING (PartImage Is Not Ghost)
2.5
 
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.
http://ping.windowsdream.com/
3.02
33.8MB
32 bit but 64 bit compatible
Unrestricted freeware
All Windows and Linux

 
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.

 
Tags

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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Comments

by greg101 (not verified) on 11. May 2012 - 6:04  (93340)

Hi Crank,
Firstly; where on my hard drive can I find my blood type.......?

It does sound complicated; probably because I am trying to do several different things, which I have not clearly separated or explained. And they overlap. And I am a bit confused too.

I want to backup my external (old laptop) xp drive, in case it got corrupted whilst creating an image of it. Lol. I will keep backing it up (cloning) until I can get an image of it that will work in a vm. I already have a hd copy - done with Macrium - but that is 1000 k's away; and needs a psu to use it

As I understand it a clone will give me an exact copy of my drive which would boot up and work - if I put it back into my old machine. An image is the whole drive in a file format - such as iso, or xml. Am I correct so far?

The issue with Macrium, is that it would NOT allow me to "select a different source" - such as my external hd - so it gave me NO option to image it at all. IF I want to clone it, which I did - reason given above - then I COULD choose "select another source", BUT (big but) it would then NOT allow me to clone it to a drive partition of my choice - e.g H: drive; which btw was bigger than the source drive. It would ONLY choose to write it to the 1st partition it saw, which is of course the system files partition; which - of course - I do not want to overwrite.

I did check this with Macrium, who confirmed that this is what would happen. So, as I said, it makes this option useless; unless of course I have missed, or misunderstood how to use it, OR that Macrium misunderstood what I asked them.
If someone can enlighten me about this, I would be very grateful.

So I tried Easeus 2.5, because grrrlgeek (below) said it had far more options, such as universal restore, which the current (even paid) version does not have.
ALSO Easeus is well aware of this problem (turning the source into RAW data) because they have it on their troubleshooting page!! As I showed. Now, I do not know when - or for which version - this was written, and it may well be that it is no longer an issue with the current version; but the page IS still there, AND I did get this problem with it. I don't wish to try it again.

I hope this has clarified what I was saying, and what I am trying to achieve.

Thanks for your input and suggestions to correct it, but since writing to you I had the thought to check it in "Computer" before I did anything, and it is now back to normal. Somehow it seems to have righted itself. Finally some good news. If I do have any further issue, I will use Testdisk. As you said, it was most likely a partition table error.

Since Macrium cannot do it it seems, and I don't want to use Easeus (any version) again - maybe it should be called Erroneus - I am back to square 1.

What then would you then recommend as the best backup program? Paragon? PartedMagic?
And as I want to set up a vhd, which image program would you suggest I use to create an image to mount in a VM. I will use either VM Player or Virtualbox.
Is an iso image any better an option than xml or vmdk?
.
Greg

2 minor corections

by crank on 11. May 2012 - 9:22  (93351)

First off, I recommend Paragon if you prefer the 'online' type programs, Partedmagic is a marvelous test/rescue disk and LiveCD operating system, it includes gParted-gnome Partition manager, and Clonezilla, these are excellent programs, but you of course need to use these in 'off line' mode'. Or, maybe better for what you are trying to do is to get the SystemInternals program, disk2vhd, which is extremely easy to use, and will work on your system disk in place. From the microsoft page:
"Disk2vhd is a utility that creates VHD (Virtual Hard Disk - Microsoft's Virtual Machine disk format) versions of physical disks for use in Microsoft Virtual PC or Microsoft Hyper-V virtual machines (VMs). " You can find it here:
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/ee656415

I made a vhd copy of a running system, and then used this vhd in Virtualbox and it booted right up [with a bit of hiccupping, but no crashes!!!] ISO images are for optical media, my preference is for vhd, mostly because you can mount those with windows DiskManager Console. You should check out this page as disk2vhd has a number of very useful features and should be in everyones toolbox [as should the whole SystemInternals suite] There are various programs that can turn image files of various types into vhd disks, and virtualbox, through the commandline virtualboxmanage command, can copy a disk to another format. If you are imaging a non-system disk, I wouldn't, you should just backup the files.

You're essentially correct about cloning and imaging, usually you call it cloning when you copy direct from one disk to another, and imaging when you create an image file that allows you to restore a working copy of a disk. Often, imaging will ignore unused disk space, and also temp files, the hibernation and the Page file, saving very significant space, and also compress the data further saving space.

I'm sorry I can't come up with anything about your Macrium problems, possibilities: problem with too many primary partitions, weirdness with extended partitions,trying to use a disk in GPT vs an MBR disk, ??? You call it an external drive, but is it a system drive from another system, maybe some kind of incompatibility there? Cloning sometimes will only clone to available space-unformatted, it won't overwrite an existing partition. There are too many possible gremlins to better zero in on what could be going on. I hope some of this at least helps, don't hesitate to get back with me if there is something else I've missed or needs clarification. Good luck.

by Selfless Gene (not verified) on 6. May 2012 - 14:21  (93116)

I just gave this article a 5-star rating because it led me to Macrium Reflect and delivered me from Dell Hell.

A word of explanation: "Dell Hell" is the lowest level of the dark underworld you enter when you buy your first Dell computer and try to deal with their software support tribe. As you might know, Dell computers come with a factory-fresh disk image in a seperate partition from which you can use the preinstalled Dell Datasafe Basic to restore your computer to its original state. You can even use it to create recovery USB flashdrives (optical disks aren't even worth mentioning) that hold the same disk image that is in the recovery partition and satisfy the no-brainer requirement that you need to be able to repair a severly crashed hard drive from EXTERNAL media.

So far so good. But, of course, what you really want to be able to do is restore your computer to the state it was in just before that malware took you down. That is, you need to be able to create NEW disk images. In order to accomplish this I shelled out $40 to upgrade to Dell Datasafe Premium which was touted as being able to do "full system backups". I had read in other forums that the problem with this program is that it can only write the new image file to the C: drive. I couldn't believe that anybody would bother to develop software that uses the device that's most likely to be in need of repair as the default location for the recovery file - but that's what they did! Ok, you can also save the disk image to an external hard drive (expensive) or a mile-high stack of DVDs. But the obvious place to put it is on a bootable USB flashdrive. I tried a 16 GB flashdrive and got the meassage that this was "unsuitable external media" so I bought a 32 GB flashdrive. I got the same message. I bought a 64 GB flashdrive. I got the same message.

In desperation I contacted Dell software technical support. I was informed that that for a "nominal fee" they could tell me how to get their program working with a USB flashdrive. I had to listen to a very long sales pitch in broken English. I still don't know how much the software support contract costs because when she said, "two hundred ..." that's when I started screaming.

Realizing that Dell Datasafe was a Dell Deadend I stated looking for an alternative. I found the above article and my life changed. I now have a bootable 64 GB USB flashdrive that on boot loads WinPE and Macrium Reflect. Reflect instantly recognizes that there's a complete disk image sitting right there on the flashdrive and offers to install it. That image not only includes the C: partition with all my installed apps and data but also the recovery partition that holds the factory image. My hard drive could be totally trashed and I could still completely restore it from this flashdrive!

And thus I ascended from Dell Hell to Macrium Heaven. And not for two hundred and something dollars but for free! (I'm not counting the cost of the flashdrive - I love these things.)

by crank on 7. May 2012 - 5:37  (93154)

Thanks for charon. We like to think we help our visitors, but please, don't expect rides up The Styx everyday, the tolls can be a drain. I'm glad you managed to get around the ridiculous obstacles many OEMs put before their customers who only want to safeguard their data and fix their PCs without doing a factory refresh.

That's really unacceptable to make you buy a product that is useless in its basic design, then expect you to fork over even more to 'upgrade' to something that's actually usable. You might as well weld lifeboats to a ship--makes them quite handy and sure to be there when you need them, but ...

Thanks again for your comments. Good luck and please keep coming back.

by gggirlgeek (not verified) on 22. April 2012 - 13:25  (92422)

OK, sorry. Last post.

I just had a great experience with a Windows fresh-install that I hope will help others.

I decided to upgrade to 64bit -- the one scenario where image backups are no help. I was prepared for a horrendous ordeal trying to upgrade all of my software and drivers, and get my settings back to just the way I like them. But it wasn't bad at all.

Two things saved me:
1. I had made a Windows Easy Transfer backup of my settings a while ago, JIK -- and "just-in-case" happened! I didn't expect the recovery to go well at all, but surprisingly, all of my little tweaks, my Start Menu shortcuts, and even my Video Card settings were back to "normal." My speakers suddenly sounded good again too! Tip: Customize your W.E.T. backup. I didn't let it backup "My Documents," etc because I have those on other drives. But FORCE it to backup your AppData and your ProgramData folders. This is where all of your software settings are.

2. For a long time I have been installing the portable version of almost all of my software on a second hard drive (many programs can be forced into portable mode too -- like Firfox.) I did this for speed, and so that I could access what I needed in a triple-boot system without hassle. Well, side effect: When I restored my Start Menu shortcuts with W.E.T. the programs on my 2nd hard drive linked right up to them -- no re-install needed. And, thanks to saving the AppData folder, the other programs I re-installed needed no configuration.

I was truly surprised at how smoothly this went. But I was shocked when Windows was able to restore my Video and Sound card settings -- these weren't even the same drivers. Impressive.

So make a Windows Easy Transfer backup, and install your programs on a different partition. You'll live to smile about it when your imaging software fails you.

by crank on 24. April 2012 - 13:32  (92537)

Wow, thank you for taking so much time to post all of your suggestions and info, maybe you might think about becoming a Gizmo editor, we are always looking for talented, informed users. I have never used Windows Easy Transfer, it sounds quite useful in such situations. I've been fairly exclusively 64-bit for some time now, and get really annoyed that there are still as many issues hanging around, considering there's been a 64-bit version of windows since the XP days-so many millenia ago;) I start feeling cramped at 6GB of RAM in Windows, so 32 bit won't cut it. So how does Windows Easy Transfer deal with Start, and shortcuts etc when you've done a fresh install? Especially as many programs will be in the 'Program Files (x86)' folder now? Of course my SOP maximizes disorder and chaos, so it might not help me at all.

As to Easeus, and as you noticed, the last couple-4 or 5? of versions/sub-versions they added stuff, removed stuff, obfuscated stuff, just take the case of the PE environment, they added it, then removed it, within a very short period of time, the program is hidden from view from anyone going to their website without the exact URL to the free page, blocked even the forums from the users of the free versions, etc. With all of that, I don't care to keep them on our list as I have no confidence the product will have any support or updates in the future, and the volatility is a real turn-off. I am just wondering now what they plan for the Partition package, it too is very nice and it would be a shame if they gutted it too.

Thanks again for your contributions, please keep coming back.

by gggirlgeek (not verified) on 22. April 2012 - 12:06  (92416)

Compared to EaseUS Todo Backup all of these others (as far as I know) are missing on huge thing: "Universal Restore" or "Recover to dissimilar hardware" as they put it.

You know all of those Windows boot problems that require dropping to the Recovery Console, and hours of endless frustration? It happens with EVERY imaging product using Windows 7. If you change the slightest drive configuration it stops cold. Even a normal recovery with EaseUS will do this.

The "Universal Restore" option, only on the WinPE boot disk, will get Windows to boot on just about anything.

I built a new PC recently and didn't feel like going through the pain of a fresh Win7 install. Once the everything was up and running I plopped my EaseUS boot CD in, clicked "Universal Restore", browsed to the old computer's backup image, and was booted into my old Windows installation in literally 9 minutes!

Before rebooting I installed my motherboard, network, and video drivers (it won't boot again otherwise,) then called Microsoft to tell them what I had done. They reactivated my copy without a problem.

by gggirlgeek (not verified) on 22. April 2012 - 12:03  (92415)

Here is another easy link to free EasUS Todo Backup and, more importantly, to their old versions! 2.5.1 was the last version that had all the great features missing now, even in the paid versions. With Windows AIK installed, version 2.0, if I remember correctly, allowed you to make a WinPE boot disk. However, 2.5.1's Linux disk has the all-important "Universal Restore" feature as well.

The entire version history can be found at the "Filehorse" website (Gizmo wouldn't allow the link, sorry. It's the first hit in Google though.)

by greg101 (not verified) on 1. May 2012 - 7:03  (92853)

Hi gggirlgeek
Where can I get a copy of Easeus 2.5.1, and is it a free version?

Also if I do an image of a hdd with W.E.T to a dvd, do I just keep putting in blank discs till they are filled?
What is the file format for this image, and is it compressed?
I tried to set it up to image an external hdd, but it also insisted on imaging (ticked and greyed out boxes) my active drive and "reserved" data as well. Any way to uncheck these?

Thanks

by George.J on 22. April 2012 - 12:02  (92414)

Worth mentioning?
1. XXClone
2. GImageX: Graphical interface for ImageX

by crank on 24. April 2012 - 12:27  (92522)

Thanks for your suggestions, I definitely like some features in each of these offerings, having a GUI for ImageX is great, but I'm afraid it's substantial, non-standard modes of operation will stymie typical users. CXXClone appears to be a nice package, and I am working with it right now. Some of its claims on their web site are fairly hype-laden, while that isn't a deal-breaker, it does disappoint somewhat. It too uses an interface that is atypical, but is very easy to use, though many desirable features are only available for the non-free version. Thanks again for the heads up, I should have more on this soon.

by gggirlgeek (not verified) on 22. April 2012 - 12:29  (92418)

These are some of the first in the industry, right? The old-school one's from the early 90's? Correct me if I'm wrong.

I used DriveImg XML, which is one of those, for years. I'm thinking of making an image with it now, just because it's so darn reliable. The thing is DriveImg XML is on every rescue CD you'll ever find. It might take a while, and there might be a hassle getting it to work, but the recovered image WILL eventually boot.

I'm spoiled now though. I want the fancy options! However, to avoid putting all my eggs in one basket, I think I'll save a backup with one of these oldy-but-goody apps.

by gggirlgeek (not verified) on 22. April 2012 - 11:40  (92413)

With EaseUS Todo Backup I prefer to stick with version 2.5.1. They have changed it drastically in later versions. Many features are gone, and the interface is now very confusing. Incremental backups are difficult; no "Backup Management" or notes; limited boot-disk options, and I could swear it's slower. I think converting images to VMware machines is gone too.

They say USB 3.0 is now supported in their latest version, but I did my new PC recovery, mentioned above, entirely over USB 3.0, so it's just fine in 2.5.1 as well.

The documentation on the Website has been over-hauled, and it makes no sense now! In addition they are no longer allowing free users to post questions in the forum. I actually don't mind paying a small fee for the amazing things this software does -- I'm going to. But I don't see why they would prevent free users from helping each other out. We can't even search through the old answers in that free forum because they deleted it -- leaving a few half-starved threads in the paid forum to pick through.

Unless someone tells me there's another option that provides "Universal Restore," encrypted folder backups that you can browse through, incremental backup, and virtual-machine conversion (not mandatory,) I am paying the fee for the support. Honestly, they deserve it. The program rocks!

by LVWelkin (not verified) on 10. April 2012 - 2:18  (91825)

The Drive Imaging review omits a couple of important issues that I belatedly discovered after having lost years of data less than two weeks ago. I have used Acronis (paid), Macrium Reflect (free), and EaseUS todo (free). All of them failed to image all of the contents of my hard drives but the discussion that follows relates to EaseUS 4.0.

I am not exactly sure why they failed to image all of my contents, but through experimentation, and a little knowledge I tracked the failure to two issues: Windows 7 has a 255 file path limit (some people ambiguously refer to this as a 255 character limit ) and Windows 7 has what I call an "administrator bug."

For example, I had a folder that contained 20 separate files labeled 0-XXXX through 20-XXXX (where XXXX represents the file name). Some of the file names were short resulting in a file path of less than 255 characters, e.g., C:\Users\John Doe\Desktop\Test File\12345, and other were very long. I did a Disk/Partition backup (not a File backup) using EaseUS Todo on 03/15/2012, and recovered this backup on 03/28/2012 after I did something stupid. I almost immediately sensed that something was wrong during the recovery, since "fail to recover" type messages starting appearing on the screen.

After recovery finished, I immediately started going through my folders to see if all of my records were intact, especially the ones listed on the "fail to recover" screen (I used the Snipping Tool to take a screen shot of the messages). To my horror, of the 0-20 files in the folder mentioned earlier, I was missing about half of them. Almost all of the missing files had very long file paths, but some of the the missing files had short file paths--why were they not recovered? In addition, there was a disconnect between the records listed on the "fail to recover" screen shot and what I actually found: some files were missing that were not on the "fail to recover" screen shot.

Before I did the recovery on 03/28/2012, I had copied (not Disk/Partition or File backup) all of my personal files using Teracopy from the bad computer to a backup hard drive. I decided to compare these copied folders-files with the Disk/Partition recovery copied folder-files. Unfortunately, Teracpy also did not copy everything since I was missing all my files with long file paths. Further research revealed that Teracopy does not copy files where the file path is more than 255 characters, unless you manually change a setting so that it does--too little, too late for me (Teracopy is now uninstalled on my system since I now consider it junk).

However, I learned of the "administrator bug" while copying whatever missing files that Teracopy had and what EaseUS did not have from the backup drive drive to my recovered computer. Teracopy refused to copy certain files to the recovered computer. I then bypassed Teracopy and attempted to use Windows' copy/paste to copy the files, but every file generated a "do not have permission to access file" type message and I had to go through several steps to get the files to copy. This made no sense, since I am always signed in as the Administrator and all of the files are created as an Administrator. I then turned off UAC and restarted my system, and tried to copy the files again. I now was able to copy the files without any issues.

I then compared the file paths and names that EaseUS failed to recover earlier against those that Teracopy failed to copy before I turned off UAC (at least those for which I could compare, since neither fully contained all of my prior data). Sure enough, EaseUS failed to recover the exact same files that generated the earlier "do not have permission to access file" type message when I used Windows' copy/paste.

Thus, can someone recommend an imaging program (for which they ACTUALLY VERIFIED the before AND after data results) that images ALL data regardless of the length of the file path and irrespective of whether the file was created as an administrator? Can someone explain why folders-files created using an Administrator account become inaccessible when opened while logged in as an Administrator (the same Administrator at that) and why such files do not image or copy? If not, all of the recommended imaging programs are worthless. I wonder if the reviewers for this article actually verified that their data was copied instead of just commenting on program features and time to image. I used TreeSize free to do some comparisons after made the above discoveries, and determined that huge amounts of data were not copied. The bad thing about all of this is that I should have known about the 255 character limit and issues with imaging programs, since Acronis (paid) and Macrium (free) also failed me. Argh!

by gggirlgeek (not verified) on 21. April 2012 - 19:44  (92393)

Hello,

1. You can recover your files by opening the .PBD image (with EaseUS Todo backup installed) and going far enough down the folder tree to copy them before they are longer than 255 characters. Copy them to Windows, then move them to a new path that is a lot shorter. EaseUS also has a Search-by-file-type function in the recovery options if that is easier.

2. To prevent this in the future, get a little free program called Path Scanner http://www.parhelia-tools.com/products/pathscanner/PathScanner.aspx

The free (old) version is down at the bottom. It is buggy but it does the trick. You will have to close and re-open it between scans because it crashes. The only other option is paid, or a batch script.

Scan all of your drives for 235 characters and then scan external partitions for 195 characters. Win7 actually hates 235+ characters and Vista hates 195+ (don't worry about C:\ being 195+ characters.)

This is a good idea anyway because you would have run into other errors with the 255+ paths eventually. I found it also slows down my hard drive.

Here is a link of info about renaming/deleting 255+ folders. http://filext.com/faq/delete_or_rename_stubborn_file.php

by gggirlgeek (not verified) on 21. April 2012 - 20:00  (92396)

Can't find the source at Microsoft that said 235 characters for Win7. That number is stuck in my head for some reason, so I stay under it to be safe.

by crank on 10. April 2012 - 13:21  (91841)

I'm so sorry for your loss [it can be like a death in the family with some data, I hope yours wasn't quite of such importance]. Thanks you for your detailed account of the experience, this is very good to know. Let me ask first off if you tried to mount the image to see if the data got to the image, but was't accessible in recovery? It isn't quite clear if you tried this and it's possible the data may be there. Teracopy usually will inform you when it doesn't copy something in a large batch of files, did you see anything? These programs should at the very least copy the files with a truncated name, even an 8.3 name if nothing else. You should look for such, just in case, I don't know how obvious this would be in your situation, maybe they are there but you haven't recognized them.

When reading your tale, it reminded of something I used to see routinely, getting messages about certain files not copying because of naming problems, I can't remember the exact verbiage, but I'm pretty sure 'length' got mentioned, it was in a directory with a huge number of subdirectories/files that maybe I might find a few useful at some point in the distant future, but wasn't worth the time to prune through the mass, disk space being so cheap [was, the tsunami in Japan is still having its say on HD prioes]. I really should have investigated it but the files that it mentioned were not needed. I also see such problems copying to CD/DVD, sometimes, the file system standards for optical media are confusing but isn't bumped up against often enough to make me learn it well enough to remember.

I don't know what to recommend to you, nothing I've seen mentions this problem that I recall, and they sure should have as far as I am concerned, why you got no warnings during imaging is quite worrisome, this is one reason why I think you should really try to mount those images and see if the files are there. One solution sure to work is a 'sector by sector' copy, this is a bit by bit copy of whatever is on the drive, but this will hugely increase imaging/restore times and space required. Please get back with us if you find those files, or if you find a better solution, I will certainly test this from here on out, this is one of those problems where a large user base finds those rare bugs most people won't ever encounter. Thanks again for taking so much of your time to info[NOTE: this is where my knee hit the reset button--aaarrrrrggghhhh, BUT--thank you Lazarus plug-in!!!!!!!!!!, it really can be a lifesaver! It just filled in all the above]] m us of all this, it is really appreciated.

by Anni (not verified) on 8. April 2012 - 17:37  (91774)

Any opinions on Karen's Replicator and Keriver One Click Restore?

by crank on 24. April 2012 - 13:03  (92530)

This is a woefully inadequate response time, my apologies, the continuing fight with the gremlins in my equipment, uh, continues, the carnage ain't pretty, but I think things have settled down into an uneasy truce. I really showed them what they were getting into with my virtuoso white-flag waving coupled with a one-two groveling maneuver that left everyone breathless [from laughing-ed.]

OK, thank you again for your suggestions, Keriver is very easy to use, but again, the interface is highly atypical and I need to work it a bit more. I goes so far as to install a boot loader/recovery console on your HD, this may put some people off and/or greatly confuse [it sure did me] They also have 'DiskSync', which is a more straightforward cloning program.

Karen's Replicator, as near as I can tell, is a file backup program, not a disk imaging system. It does say it can back up 'whole disks', but it will back up all the files on that disk, not make an image. It is also 3 years old, and for me that is worrisome, but for all you XPers out there it may seem really new.

Thank you again for taking the time to send in suggestions, I'm still plugging away at getting the best array of imaging programs for our lineup, even with letting ToDo go, the ones we have are quite good and should more than satisfy most folk.

by crank on 9. April 2012 - 1:20  (91782)

Thanks for the suggestions, I am currently giving Keriver a new going over, but haven't heard of Karen's. So you suggestions come at a good time as I make up for losing our top pick to commercial-dom. I apologize for my near-continental drift slowness, I'm slow, these things take up huge amounts of time to evaluate adequately, and as usual I have issues, I always have issues [I might rival the combined hoard of National Geographics nationwide in shear numbers ;)]

Thanks again for your comments, please keep tuned in

by charlieb (not verified) on 25. March 2012 - 15:33  (91127)

In your review of imaging programs you state:

The following offer their programs from restricted servers, i.e., download managers/resumable downloads are not permitted:

Macrium http://www.macrium.com/reflectfree.asp

However this is not so as I went to their webpage and was directed to c/net/ download.com when I clicked on the free version download. I was then able to use a download manager and resume an interrupted download. As a download manager I am using the free version of "Download Express"

Charlie

by crank on 25. March 2012 - 17:28  (91136)

Thank you for pointing that out, I will assimilate this new info and rework the review. In truth, I don't use a download manager, so it's hard for me to judge this issue, those comments are from the original editor who set up this category. I have a fairly fast and reliable connection to the series of tubes our late Alaskan senator harped on about so fortuitously for the farcical-tuned, neologism-loving mind.

Here again is evidence of how valuable our attentive and knowledgeable community of dedicated visitors is. I remember when a 1 MB file seemed huge and resisted the dl. Even working on such files could prove problematic, now I can snobbishly sneer at anything sub-GB, CD-iso files are too small to notice. But I am fortunate, many are still stuck behind phonelines and XP, and I continue to remind myself to remember this in reviews and discussions. So pipe up, if I am telling you to do something that isn't practical for you, tell me about it and I will try to devise other, less resource-intensive solutions. Most likely Monk's [original editor] and others complaining changed CNEts mind about being more accommodating about their customers needs.

by AnonymousPro (not verified) on 25. March 2012 - 11:11  (91115)

Difficult to find via their site (not good) but finding your way to Easus Todo Backup Free via alternative (standard?) way is simple:
Just google for "easeus todo backup free"...

Does that justice:
"Extra Extra, read all about it, Easeus todo the unthinkable, they have gone paid all the way, they offer a 2-week demo, but they no longer have a free version, at least not that I can find."?

Not sure what the future will bring but I have not seen any official statement about the free version not being available anymore.

by Warwick (not verified) on 8. April 2012 - 13:24  (91769)

For all those readers who think that EaseUS have dumped their free version of EaseUS Todo, you are not correct. However, they are now supplying it on a different website (or at least a different URL) it is at http://www.todo-backup.com/business/free-backup.htm. The free program is still being offered.

by George.J on 8. April 2012 - 14:00  (91770)

Well, tell me how do you get access to this page from http://www.todo-backup.com/business/ which is its parent page at Home->For Business

by Warwick (not verified) on 8. April 2012 - 23:26  (91779)

Sorry, I don't know how I got that link wrong. The correct link is http://www.todo-backup.com/products/home/free-backup-software.htm. It is also easily located with a google search 'easeus todo backup free'.

by crank on 9. April 2012 - 1:10  (91781)

We appreciate your input, as I pointed out earlier, it came as a surprise that they now hide the fact that they have a free version, and also, with the latest 'update', they removed the ability to make a Win7_PE recovery/bootable disk, this was one of my high-points for their imaging package, and a recent addition, it came and went in a couple of updates.

I am currently reviewing a number of other programs for inclusion in our review so as to have a wider range of choices after dropping our erstwhile top pick. And it's too bad, they were turning it into a very nice utility. We can hope Macrium and Paragon don't go that route, though I'm worried about how Macrium is hiding their free version. I have used Reflect for years, a free version has always shown up prominently on their main page, maybe it's this economy, they need money and us poor users need more free stuff. It's a catch-22.

by George.J on 26. March 2012 - 4:28  (91159)

I dont know what's going on in the minds of Easeus, hiding the free version and providing an "easy to find & download" their trial versions. This is because, if you navigate through their site, Home->Home & Office, you could only see Easeus Todo Backup workstation, which is actually commercial, though a mouse hover on the tab bar, shows you "Free Backup Software for home users", but the products listed here isn't free. This means that, Backup free may have been present here before, but currently that's not the case now. I wonder if they are playing stealth games and concealing their free version, because Easeus Todo Backup Free is present only at Home->Home & Office-> Free Edition, whilst there's no way to navigate to "Free Edition" page, from Home->Home & Office.

by crank on 25. March 2012 - 16:18  (91129)

Please let this post apply to all of the notifications that you can, indeed, still find the program at Easeus, if you already have the URL, or at some download sites. When responding to a comment about the product, I went to the Easeus site and could not find the free version anywhere and this troubled me, I tried harder, wending my way around all the interconnected pages of hype to no avail, and my puzzlement lead to an irking. I do not like that they so effectively conceal the existence of their free product, and find it really curious that the demo version, that is pushed with abandon, hasn't the PE recovery available for it, though the free version does.

Today, I find that Macrium makes it real hard to discover its free version, the only avenue I can find is when you go to the big 'Download' button visible on most of their pages, a dropdown menu item appears for 'Free Edition'.

%#&@#*!!!!!!!! OK, I am posting this realtime--you can see my actions and reactions as they occur, as I attempt to discover a good way to handle this situation, and I find that the 'Free Edition' dropdown is only visible if you have already visited that page, near as I can figure. Folks, I wish I had the time [and more importantly, the sanity reserves--a rapidly depleting resource of late] to pour over these sites routinely, and search all the day for new and better programs. Fortunately, we have a great bevy of followers who help us out in these regards, so please bear with me if I am not intimately familiar with every aspect of every program that images, partitions, slices or dices. I only by chance discovered this last little ruse, and irked is euphemistic. Does anyone know the thinking here? Why offer these and then hide them? Must be more evidence of my cluelessness, I can only assume it a kind of stealth beta testing program, with hopes of good PR for the users involved enough to come to sites like ours. Paragon even leaves a few roadblocks, but at least someone going to their site for the first time can find a link pointing to their free offerings. And these are free products afterall, there is still that to remember, the proverbial gift-horse, am I counting teeth?

Now I am flummoxed, nonplussed AND minused, near as I can recall, this wasn't done in the near past, if you visited their sites, the free versions were displayed relatively prominently. Please give me a day or so and I will rework the reviews and review my work, any comments are welcome, please tell us what you think of how Paragon, Easeus and Macrium treat their customers, or what you think of my [non]-handling of the situation, we are here for you after all, so please chime in--share your opinions.

by Ratzo on 3. April 2012 - 5:18  (91600)

Perhaps you might want to link to cnet http://download.cnet.com/Easeus-Todo-Backup-Free/3000-2242_4-10964460.html
I have just downloaded the free version from there .

Just another small thing DriveImage XML does have a portable version over at portablefreeware.com