Best Free Drive Cloning Software

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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Comments

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. (

Remah,

I agree. I had to use my 2nd DVD/CD Burner to get a working bootable WinPE (3.1) CD with the Free version.

I also burn with Imgburn and I use Verbatim media. I also burn dedicated CD's for each PC so I have one for my Desktop PC and another on for my Laptop in addition to one for a family member.

All of mine are WinPE 3.1 CD's and I have verified 2 of the 3 PC's with a full-disk image and recovery to my spare HDD's.

My first attempt with the Linux CD didn't work out, wouldn't boot on either of my PC's but I tabled that for now since my WinPE CD's all boot up ok and have been tested.

The only issue that I'm having is that neither WinPE boot will recognize my SATA/USB Adapter Cable's HDD. I think that's due to the Adapter Cable being USB 3.0, even though USB is backward-compatible.

Since my USB 2.0 Enclosure does work with the Macrium WinPE CD on my Laptop, I'm wondering if that's the issue with that Adapter Cable.

I have version 5.2.6433 (x64) loaded on my PC at present. That's the version I used to create the WinPE 3.1 CD's on both PC's.

The thing I have noticed, on both PC',s is that the free version doesn't seem to load all of the drivers when building the ISO for the burn.

I asked some experienced Macrium Free users and they said that this isn't a problem and they have seen this as well when creating the WinPE Rescue media. As long as the ISO build contains the drivers necessary to communicate with the required interface items on the PC, then it should work, according to what I've read elsewhere about using the Free version's Rescue media.

Normally, and in this case, the version of USB cable makes no difference for a USB 2 enclosure. The 4 pins for USB 2 are the same whether the cable is USB 2 or 3. The USB 3 capability is provided by an additional set of 5 pins at the rear of the connector. Your problem will probably be because any SATA/USB combination cable or adapter is not officially supported by the SATA or USB standards. In fact it is officially excluded and discouraged. So you use them at your own risk. Personally, I wouldn't use one because troubleshooting becomes more difficult. Yes, WinPEReflect won't load all your Windows drivers. But you can add other drivers when the WinPE disk is running. WinPE Reflect can search disks and the Internet.

Remah,

Thanks for the info about the SATA/USB Adapter Cables. I ordered a 3.5 SATA Enclosure to use for my Desktop PC when testing and backing up with Macrium.

Hi all, new here and a basic "Cloner" for a couple of years. I've recently begun to use Macrium Free to learn the "imaging" part of the scene.

[Commercial reference removed]

Most of my HDD's are Seagate "Barracuda" product-line drives. I'm running Windows 7 x64 with a 1 Tb HDD on my Desktop PC.

I don't custom-partition. Both of my PC's, Desktop & Laptop are the standard 2-partition Windows install HDD, "Sys Reserved" and main partitions.

I recently downloaded Macrium Free 5.2.6433 and attempted to burn a bootable WinPE 3.1 CD. After a few attempts, I created a bootable CD. During the ISO build, the program queried me for drivers missing, need to add, etc. After seeking advice from some veteran Macrium users at the Win 7 forum, I chose the "continue without loading drivers" option. The missing driver was 1 USB driver but after booting up, that driver wasn't required for offline backup operations.

I processed a couple of full-disk images and tested the Recovery process on my Desktop PC without problems. My spare HDD accepted the image Restore and booted into Windows ok.

I've run an image on my Laptop but haven't tested the Restore process yet.

I tried to clone with Macrium by following a method in several YouTube tutorials by dragging/dropping both partitions into the "Destination" HDD. Since the MBR partition was included ("Sys Reserved"), I'd expected the resulting Target HDD to be bootable upon testing it after the cloning process completed.

The Target HDD didn't boot. I got the usual "System error, hardware change detected", etc, messages when booting. I checked the usual things, BIOS boot priority, HDD detection, etc.

I tried the cloning process again, this time ticking the "Entire Disk" box in the Macrium setup screen, instead of ticking the 2 partitions' boxes.

For the "Destination" HDD, I ticked the HDD icon located on the left-hand side of the setup screen.

After the cloning process completed, I tested my Target HDD and this time, success. It booted up Windows and I exercised it a little, launching apps, etc.

The confusing part of the Macrium cloning setup screen, for me, was that when I ticked the "Entire Disk" box, that automatically ticks the 2 partitions selection boxes.

That would seem to be identical as what I originally attempted, but apparently there's something in the Macrium program that requires the user (or in my case) to tick the "Entire Disk" box and let the program auto-select the partitions.

Bottom line is that I've successfully booted from the WinPE Rescue CD on both of my PC's and processed an image recovery and a cloning process with my Desktop PC.

I found the Macrium Gui screens to be user-friendly and a little easier, for me, to navigate vs Acronis with the exception of the cloning setup as I mentioned previously.

As with anything, once one successfully navigates a product's setup steps, future setup's will be no problem to process and complete successful results.

I began taking and restoring images with Norton's GhostPE. I used it frequently for some time, and it never let me down. For a long time I've been creating images with Macrium Reflect. I've never restored one but given the sterling reviews I felt comfortable knowing the images were there should things go wrong. It happened very recently that I did need to restore a saved image. First, the Macrium-created rescue disc failed to boot; I think checksum error was mentioned. That should have been sorted at the time the disc was burned. The disc was stored carefully, and was in pristine condition. Then, having been forced to reinstall Win 7 (just to the point of First Use for speed) - the only way I could get access to the program and with it restore my saved image, I ran Macrium and restored the image. It failed, too. It said it had done the business, and gave no errors, but after a reboot, Windows told me that a file was missing, and wouldn't let me boot. I had no choice but to do another reinstallation of Win7, along with the tedious necessities of changing personal settings, reinstalling all my software, and suffering the installation and annoying reboots of hundreds of huge Windows Update files - the very reasons I wanted an image restoration program. I do not trust Macrium - it let me down the one time I needed it. I'm still looking for a reliable program, and the only thing one can do, really, is read reviews, but that didn't help me with Macrium. I've just created a backup with Win 7's own routine, and created a rescue disc - I'll let you know. The only thing that Macrium was good for, and for which I am grateful, was the fact that I could, and did, trawl the image file and was able to recover several important-to-me files. Just saying.

crank, has Parted Magic become shareware? I visited the Parted Magic site, and found that there is a new version available now. I went to Downloads page, but I can't find anywhere to download the ISO from. Softpedia shows Parted Magic as shareware.
From the front page of the site: "Parted Magic is free software. To find out what that means, read this: http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.html." That said, see http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=MTQzNTI for the whole story. I'm not sure what to think about this. In short, after losing his job, the developer tried for some time to live off of what he could get in donations, unfortunately, it just wasn't working. With tens of thousands of downloads, he couldn't average his modest $1,200 a month minimum to live on. This, really, is even less than modest, it's embarrassing to me that the community doesn't support his incredibly useful package at even that low a level. On the other hand, it is also very unfortunate to lose the ability to download the CD form wherever you might find yourself in need of it. Plus, Looking at the latest updates, there are some v v nice additions, like working with windows secure boot now. I just purchased and downloaded the CD, I was given an email with a link that leads to a page at www.fatfreecartpro.com, no indication of how long it will remain available to me, and that isn't good. We'll have to see how this shakes out, I contributed to the program earlier, I'll continue downloading new updates as it's too useful a product not to have the latest versions in my toolkit, but some of its magic has parted I'm afraid, no matter how reasonable the asking price, no matter how worth it it is.
Thanks for that link, crank. It's sad to see a good free software now going payware. What's more sad was to read that people were selling copies of that free software on ebay, and the developer himself was not getting a dime for it. That's really sad indeed.

As a replacement for Microsoft SteadyState I prefer a reboot and restore to pristine each time approach to drive imaging so I don't have to do tons of security hoop jumping or bother with AV etc. My data is encrypted on another drive and I save anything I download to a USB stick and that badboy gets scanned before anything goes on my data partition. They can throw what the like at me (metaphorically) a quick reboot and I'm back to perfect. Of course you need to protect your MBR as there is a slight chance some cad or bounder will sneak in when you unfreeze to do updates).

So useful when the FBI come knocking at the door.

I now use Reboot Restore RX from Horizon DataSys, a leading developer of instant restore applications for Windows-based PCs. In March they released a fully-functional freeware version called Reboot Restore Rx. Using their patented RollBack technology, Reboot Restore Rx reduces PC maintenance costs and complexities associated with managing public access computers. Apologies I copy pasta'd that. But It's good news as it's slick and intuitive; I detest software from history and non intuitive GUIs. My first love was about 12 years ago and it was fantastic. Again it hardly took any longer than a normal boot time. It was called [edited out] I think but they have loads of different ones now but DriveClone is the only free one.

Another very well reviewed prog is ToolWiz Time Freeze, basically the same.

I do realize the lines are still very blurred between disc imaging, reboot and restore and virtual systems but they effectively achieve exactly the same thing. And one could, of course, use a reboot and restore in exactly the same way as disc imaging, just as and when one wanted. I think it's worth knowing what's out there and looking at the different features as we all want something different from our computer.

Thank you for the info, it's an interesting product. And Anupam, this isn't directed, as near as I can tell, at solely virtualized environments. It seems more akin to sandboxing, or even running with a LiveCD, you may think you are on a regular system, but reboot, and it's as if you were never there. It's aimed at too specialized an audience for this category. Without extensive testing, I don't know how easily you could make it work as an imager/cloner, other than re-baselining before every reboot/shut down, and that doesn't sound very practical to me. I do like the idea, it's just not a good fit here. I don't think we need to delete this comment, it's informative and helps broaden our visitors knowledge base about other technologies out there. I most definitely concur with your closing sentence, that is a good mind-set, but we do need to keep to not mentioning non-free products in general, that is who we are.
Thanks for your comment. But, I am afraid, it's not in the right section. You are talking about virtualization software, whereas this review is about disk imaging, and drive cloning software. Both are essentially different. Disk imaging/cloning software allow you to keep an image/copy of your system stored somewhere, which you can install that image later on anytime. On the other hand, virtualization software do not keep any copy, and so you cannot restore your system on demand. The only common thing you can say is that they both return system to a previous state, but otherwise, they are very different. So, I am afraid, your comment will be deleted from here in due time. Sorry. Also, we have strict rules that do not allow mention/suggestion/posting about commercial software, this being a freeware site. Please don't post about them, however good they might be.

Before reading my description of what I am doing/needing, this is the question that I will be asking -
Do all of the programs mentioned here (that have bootable CDs) suffer from the same Win 8 problem - “Selected boot image did not authenticate"

A friend has a new HP 650 Notebook PC which is running Win 8 (not 8.1) 64bit
They are hating all the popups (probably UAC), and wish me to prevent them.
It is my first contact with Win 8, and I am not liking it.
I managed to unintentionally remove the Desktop app choice large Metro button, and have not figured out how to put it back.
So I figured I better create an image before I mess up anything else.
I attempted to use the latest Seagate DiscWizard bootable CD, and came up against the "Selected boot image did not authenticate" preventing me from booting into the CD.
Did some Googling, and found that I have to get into the bios, and switch on Legacy mode.
Did that, and I am creating a backup now. I will then Validate it.
I slightly suspect that my next attempt to get back into Windows 8, may entail me switching Legacy off again.
I am nervous that using the image for a recovery one day, may not be as easy as I am used to ?
Do all of the programs mentioned here (that have bootable CDs) suffer from the same Win 8 problem - “Selected boot image did not authenticate"

Rob
PS Is my problem a HP problem OR a Win 8 problem OR a combination of both ?

Let me answer the PS first, that's easy, yes. The machinations and mechanisms behind your problem run deep, and are related to my belated revising of this review in light of Win8 changes. There are security measures built into the BIOS now, with the UEFI BIOS's that most PCs come with now, that aren't particularly transparent, and OEMs and MS, and etc are happy to confuse further to further their own interests. The culprit here is 'Secure Boot', and how and how well various OS's support it. Only some linux distros do at present, so most if not all current Rescue-type live-boot systems will not function if the UEFI BIOS is set to it's normal mode of operation. I don't want to tell the story of installing linux to dual-boot on my HP laptop, it might make my head explode to re-live the horror. If you want to experience the amazing boot-speeds that Win8 and UEFI offer, I think you have to NOT be in legacy mode, but to run non-UEFI aware OS's, you have to be in legacy mode. HP has done it's usual and mucked with it all in it's own special way and so makes it even harder to suss out what's up. And MS is possibly using secure-boot to lockout non-MS OS's as per SOP for monopolies. I'm moving to anew place soon, gonna raise me up a crop of mental floss, maybe it'll help me absorb all this new regime of BIOS we've entered and I'll be more helpful. If you aren't confused yet, you're not paying close enough attention. Hope this helps;)

would be nice to see a review of Redo Backup and Recovery
http://redobackup.org/

I looked at them quite a while back and wasn't all that impressed, but will check them out again, their page looks very promising. Products change, as do minds. Thanks for your input.

How do you get the free Macrium?
When I download it and run it it says "Standard, Professional, and Server".
No "Free" anywhere in installer.

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