Best Free Drive Cloning Software



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: 
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: 
License: Free (Limited features)

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

Read full review...

DriveImage XML  

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

Our Rating: 
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...

Paragon Backup & Recovery Free Edition  

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

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

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

Read full review...

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.


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There were issues with Easeus and ToDo, foremost being their removing any link to their free software versions for anyone going to the site, and the removal of WinPE for the free version. While it's a fine product, the frequent spamming we got on their behalf gave the final impetus for removal and unlikely return anytime soon. Most comments we get similar to this one are ignored due to the volume, but since it's slacked off considerably, I decided to leave this one as a heads-up/FYI to help lessen any confusion for our visitors. Thank you for the comment, and I'm sorry I can't be more accommodating at this time.

i think you need to edit about Con's on Macrium Reflect Free coz the latest version support GPT now

jango, thank you for the heads-up, I was aware of this, but I have to say that I've become, well, jaded and down-right cranky about these claims, on a number of occasions, the developers of many of these programs have, for a series of updates, claimed 'GPT support', 'advanced format' support, etc, without having real, full support. I haven't fully tested all of these claims across all the various combinations, but I'm trying. There are difficulties in this, issues of hardware/software/BIOS/system interactions, with the added complication of the newness of these standards leading to an unfortunate, uh, fluidity let's say, in how they are handled. But again, I'm trying to get a handle on it all, please give me some time, the UEFI BIOS technical details have about lead me to test how well windows8 PCs work after getting chucked out of an 8th floor window. But, I haven't any issues with Macrium and will change that 'con'. They update their product regularly, much more than any of the others, and the update process is utterly simple, seamless, and quick. Kudos to Macrium on that, and one of the reasons they're #1. Thanks again for your comments, they are much appreciated.
Having problems with recovery media of Paragon Backup & Recovery 2013. When I reboot using the recovery media, it boots up fine, but it fails to detect any of the hard disks. I have two. One is 1TB Seagate, and the other is 160GB Seagate... both SATA. The same happens with recovery media of version 2012, which worked fine earlier with my older system. The current SATA mode as I checked in BIOS is IDE. Do I need to change to AHCI? Can that be the cause of the problem? I don't have much knowledge of AHCI mode, or, what effect will it have on changing to it. Also, during recovery media creation, it said about being able to create WinPE boot disk, but I did not see that in the options. Only creates a Linux based disk. I was able to create the image for the 160 GB HDD using Paragon BAR installed on the 1TB HDD. But, I want to be able to do that using the recovery media too. I have XP on the 160 GB HDD, and I intend to use it for testing, which will require putting the base image on it again after one round of test and that's better done with 1 TB HDD disconnected, and image restored via the pen drive, with recovery media running from the CD. I think it's time to try Macrium Reflect? :D
Hi Anupam, First off, you should most definitely be in AHCI mode, I'm a little rusty on setting a system to that that has been in IDE, you may need to change the msahci registry entry, google for details, I'm running late for something important or I would get the info together for you, sorry. AHCI has many many benefits, it's a system-disk-controller thing, has nothing to do with the bits on the disk. Paragon only offers the linux recovery, you have to get the paid version for winPE. Get this switched, then try building the recovery again, you may have to help with drivers if that doesn't work, but I think it should, it's worked fine for me. The linux version of the recovery is very good once you get it ggoing, pretty much exactly like the online windows environment, and it should do whatever you need from there. Good luck, if you still have issues, get back with me, I'll have more time before too long. Just a quick hint, this info is all over the tubez: Locate and then click one of the following registry subkeys: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\Msahci HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\IastorV In the pane on the right side, right-click Start in the Name column, and then click Modify. In the Value data box, type 0, and then click OK.
An update on the issue. Sorry to post late, but I got around to address this issue recently only. I haven't yet got around to changing to AHCI via registry entry. I haven't got the confidence yet. I will backup my data, and then try later. In case it turns out to be messy, I don't wanna try that right now. BTW, the registry entry for Windows 8 is different.. its storahci, and not msahci. About imaging issue, I installed Macrium Reflect, and found out that it can build a WinPE disc. I tried that, and the disc is able to see the drives on the computer. So, I think I will go with Macrium Reflect now, for my computer. For my old laptop though, which has a bad optical drive... I found that Paragon has the option to create a bootable rescue USB drive, whereas Macrium does not have any such option. So, I used Paragon B&R to make a bootable rescue flash drive, and then made an image of the laptop hard drive. So, both of them were useful in different situations. Thanks for all your help :). BTW, I noticed you changed the title of the review from imaging to cloning :D. When did that happen?
He didn't change the name but we (as in the Planning Group) did as part of our efforts to improve how Google the Great sees our pages for search results. MC
Ah! So, that's the reason. And here I was searching for the Best Free Drive Imaging :D.
Thanks for the reply crank :). I will try switching over to AHCI, it can be done via BIOS. I hope nothing breaks :D. I have worked with the Linux based recovery media before, and it works great. Have built image, and also restored using the recovery media. It's just that on this computer, it's not working. I think it's because of the current IDE mode. Thanks again :).

C'mon people, something as important as an image backup should be as simple as possible ('KISS').

Don't mess with Incremental backups.
Don't Create an image whilst Windows is running.
The reviews should boldly discuss (emphasize) the availability of bootable CD's, as any reader with any caution should be using that (CD) to -
- Create images,
- To verify images (important),
- And to restore images.

Up until now, I have been using the free Seagate DiscWizard (Acronis). You can install it, but you should then only use the installed program to create the bootable CD. If you choose to keep the program installed, it comes in handy if you ever wish to browse Folders or Files within your images.
I prefer the earlier versions of the DiscWizard, as the 'Verify' option is much easier to find.
However I have had poor success with Windows 7.
I don't like Windows 7, so don't use it much. That is why I have not rolled up my sleeves to get my Win 7 imaging reliable. In fact, that is why I am reading this article, to find an alternate program to image Win 7.

Which program (that has a bootable CD) have the readers found reliable for imaging Win 7 ?

Oh pshaw! That's too easy, the answer is 'none' if you are looking for a bullet-proof, never-fail solution. I've used all of these, some a lot more than others, and they all get 'throwed-off' at one time or another. That is why I keep emphasizing everyone should use two imaging programs and keep their images up to date and also to keep an old, early image in case they want to 'reinstall' without re-installing. Imaging a system off-line as you recommend might buy you a modicum of extra-assurance of getting a good image, but volume shadow copy is a very mature and robust technology, used widely in commercial environments, and it's unlikely to be the cause of an image going bad. For your concerns, I would get Partition Magic, a great all-around linux rescue system, it includes gParted, possibly the most reliable partitioning software. It wont give you the benefit of imaging software's capability of leaving out unneeded data like pagefiles, but for rock-steady results, that might be the way to go. Here, all of the non-off-line programs offer bootable media with a more or less complete version of the main program's features. I can say I've used Macrium to live-clone my system partition and had very good results, with the only problem being the very strange way windows uses it's BCD store/GUIDs/disk IDing etc, which can drive one to despair with any imaging system. If this happens, and it will believe me, the bootable winPE recovery-bootable CD/USB, supplied with even the free version, has an option 'Fix Windows boot problems' that fixes the problem, at least it has for me the 3 times I needed it. Hope this helps a little, good luck.

Thanks crank,
I downloaded the latest Seagate DiscWizard (free). After installing, I created it's bootable CD, and then booted into that.
Used it to create an image (into an external dock with a 3.5" Seagate drive in it), and then verified it.
Removed the main drive (the one with Win 7 in it) from the PC, and replaced it with a blank (formatted) drive. Restored the image into it, and it worked.
Looks like the DiscWizard can (simply) handle Win 7 now.
PS One review I found of Macrium, said the free version could not make a bootable CD. That was an earlier version, so perhaps they have relented and allowed it, in their more recent versions.

crombierob, thanks for the info, I like Acronis, the software used by Seagate, but since it requires you to own a particular piece of equipment, it isn't really free. I think the Western Digital version is identical, haven't really compared them in a long time. One FYI, if you have even one Seagate, or one WD, you can use that version on any drive. Macrium has had a very good winPE bootable media for a year at least, I'm really hoping they don't take it back like Easeus did. I just downloaded the Western Digital imaging app, thought I'd see how it's evolved of late. I was at their site due to a 3TB drive that is about a year old dying an ugly death. It ate a few files, but not too bad, there were backups. The 3TB was the first of a string of 3 drives dying in less than a month, stuff happens, but give me a break! Too many failures in a short time, especially for storage, and especially as TWO of them were SSDs, aren't they supposed to be MORE reliable? I put all that here to hopefully get folks to realize their drives need backing up, if they value their data.
I know and understand the situation you are in crank. I have been there. A failing hard disk is a nightmare, and add to that more and in quick succession, it's just unimaginable. Am glad you had backups and you were able to salvage most of the data... sometimes things are not so lucky. Lately, hard drives have become really unreliable. Maybe with the increase in demand, the quality has gone down? Maybe larger drives are more susceptible to early damage? Don't know. Problem is, what to trust, nothing is reliable today. I have now a 1TB Seagate hard drive in the new system. It does not have much of data, but there is still a lot, and to back it all up, I have a 1TB external hard drive. I intend to keep copies of important data on both. But really, even external hard drives are not that reliable, or are they? With so much of data now, it's really hard to maintain, and also backup.

Don't use enclosed external drive.
Get a couple of Docks (the type where you shove a 3.5" drive vertically into it). They are very cheap, and you can get one that has eSata or USB3 connectors.
The 3.5" Seagate 2TB now appears to be the 'sweet spot' for price versus capacity.
Ensure that your docks can handle 2TB as some only take 1.5TB
I have multiple docks, so that I am not frequently inserting/removing drives into the docks.

PS Don't get docks with additional USB Docks, card readers, etc.
Just keep it simple.

And @Anupam Thank you and Anupam for the comments. The sheer size of drives these days is daunting, it's really hard to imagine how massive an amount of data we're dealing with. The increasing 'areal density', how many bits packed per surface area, has necessitated vertical packing of bits, an increasing complexity in read/write functions with a concomitant decrease in margin of error for the machinery. Just a thought. Anupam, one level of data safety with identical drives like your 1TBs is to mirror them, a RAID 1 basically, that windows [7 or 8 i think] will do for you without having to deal with RAID. It's a really simple way to stay backed up, but doesn't help with, say, a meteor taking out your PC. I think the cloud is the inevitable direction everyone will come to, but there are still issues with that now, with privacy/security worries, and the time for restores at current net speeds. crombierob, what is a crombie? I'm a rob, what type of rob I'm still working on that. If you look back over the last almost 2 years of my comments, you'll find I've recommended such enclosures, I have 3 and they can be so so handy, just be mindful of heat, get some airflow on them if you're going to use for a significant amount of time. I have 2 eSATA and a USB 3, the eSATA will perform somewhat better, but I would still go with the USB 3, even though that spec isn't near as robust yet as USB2. USB 2 is at the 'toaster' level, whereas my experience with USB3 is mixed, with performance, and even functionality, all over the place when using a given drive on different PCs. Thanks again for the comments, I'm blithering incessantly again, so I'm going to cessant now.
Thanks for the suggestion crank, I will look into that option. But, I think it will require purchasing another 1 TB disk, but I can't afford that now :). I have external 1 TB hard drive, and I will be relying on that now, for the backups. I wouldn't consider cloud as an alternative, ever, I think. First, with my slow internet speed, it would be crazy to upload the data... plus, and most importantly, I wouldn't trust a third party ever with my personal files. Thanks for the suggestion about docks, will find out if it's available in the market here, and if it is, costs how much. I have had excellent experience with USB 3.0. It's definitely noticeably faster than USB 2.0.

Looks like Paragon Backup & Recovery 2013 Free is available now. It claims to have a new, faster engine. Does anyone have an opinion on if its an improvement or how its different?

Sorry for this post.

'I had to make a post in order to quit receiving updates on this thread.'

I have been getting email notifications for a year and a half (since March 2013) every time someone posts to this thread/review, which was great at first, but I have been trying to stop it for over a year. I have tried everything I could find. Finally, I saw that I was not the only one having the issue, as per this forum thread:

The solution there, as of Sept 2014, is to edit your original post and un-check the "Notify me when new comments are posted".

Unfortunately, I couldn't find any way to edit my original post. I tried logging on from Firefox and from IE, but there is no edit button anywhere on the page that I could find.

So now I am trying to create a new post and make sure the "Notify me when new comments are posted" checkbox is un-checked. Sorry for the extra "noise".

Thanks for the heads-up, I'll give it a lookover. Lately, I've noticed an awful lot of 'new features' that are 'compatible' or 'ready' or 'supports' etc, and the same 'new' features pop up on a number of subsequent editions, and none really support what they say they do, at least not fully. We'll see how Paragon has done with this major new release. Just as a warning, with the new UEFI BIOS, with the GUID disk partitioning, with the new booting system(s) in win8, the range of possible combinations of motherboard/BIOS, windows version, and hard-drive implementations, as in HD/SSD, hybrids, RAIDs, advanced format or old school, it becomes ever more difficult to get test results meaningful, or even relevant, to a wide range of users. I will do my best to give these programs a good workout on a range of systems, but the CYA-caveat 'your mileage may vary' applies more and more these days. So reader, please, as Anupam requests [thanks Anupam], send us feedback on your experiences, the more infos we can gather and share, the better.
OK, here's my experience with the installation, and it hasn't been good. I started the installation, entered the serial etc, and proceeded with it, everything was normal. But, towards the end, when the progress bar showed that the installation was just about to be over, it just stuck there, and kept moving. I waited for many minutes, but it just stuck there. After my patience limit was over, I tried to cancel the setup. It asked if I was sure, and I clicked on yes, but even after that, nothing. I then killed the installer from the task manager. And after that, my computer went crazy. When I opened My Computer, out of my several hard drives, only two were showing, and one was partially showing, means, just the icon, but no size :/ ... I tried to shut down the computer, but no response. And after a few more tries, everything just started to sort of hang. Ultimately, I had to hard reboot the computer. Thankfully, after the hard reboot, everything was normal. Phew! Otherwise, I had thought that, that's it, either I will lose data, or maybe I will have to reinstall Windows 8 :/. Thankfully, all returned to normal. Paragon icon was there on the desktop, but not there in Add/Remove. I decided to install again. Started the installation, and it behaved weirdly... where it shows how much space it would occupy, it showed only 12kb, whereas before it had showed in several MBs. Also, some stuff previously seen on screens was not seen. Weird really. The installation was also pretty fast after that. Thankfully, it now appears to be installed fine. It shows in Add/Remove, and is also able to run normally from the shortcut. So, I think it's installed fine. Really gave me a scare though. From the interface, it does not look like anything has changed from the previous version. Looks all same to me. Will make an image of the system later to see how it goes. Right now, I will just recover from the scare it gave me :D. BTW, during installation, apart from the main program, it also shows to install hot core driver. It was unselected by default, but I had selected that option, since it said it was used to image locked volumes. It also said, it was needed for Windows 2000. Don't know if it's required for other versions of Windows too. Was it required for Windows 8?

I installed the program (Paragon Backup & Recovery 2013 Free). It also did the hanging behavior you mentioned, Anupam. I let it sit for a few minutes. It resolved itself and seemed to install OK. I have an old XP machine so hanging is a bit of a fact of life sometimes.

I saw the hot core/2000 (or whatever it was) reference, but did not understand it and skipped it. Anyone have an explanation?

Also, did they drop the "Advanced" from the title, and if so, does that mean anything?

Well, I have a new machine with Intel i-3 and 4GB RAM... I think those are enough resources for a program not to hang like this. Maybe it was doing something, but it was stuck for about 15 mins or so. Maybe it was waiting for some resource to be released or something, don't know. Maybe it was because of the hot core driver? Don't know. Maybe I will uninstall it, and give a go at installation again.

1. I have been using Paragon Backup & Recovery 2013 Free for several months. I have made several images off several computers / drives. All worked fine. I have restored 2 computers (1 twice) off these images, and all worked well. (Only surprise was after booting, windows noticed new hardware (the new drive it just booted off of--LOL) and installed a new driver automatically and asked me to reboot. Which i did, without incident. One computer was WXP SP3 one was WIN7.

2. I read about the Hot Core on the Paragon site (or in help, or somewhere). It is for Windows 2000 only and is a paragon solution for the equivalent of Volume Shadow Copy Service (also known as Volume Snapshot Service, or VSS). It is only used for W2K which does not have VSS. It should not be used for WXP, W7, W8 cuz all those have VSS.

Thanks for your feedback :)
crank, were you able to locate the changelog for Paragon 2013? I could not. Would be good to read the changelog to see what they changed, or fixed, or what's new. I also wanted to ask, since the newer hard drives have now different sector layout, how will this affect the imaging? I mean, will these imaging software will be able to image in accordance with the new sector layout? Also, if someone images an old hard drive and installs it over a newer hard drive, will it be OK, or will it cause problems because of the new sector layout in the newer hard drives? Thanks for any enlightenment on this subject. Have been wondering about it since long. I may give a test ride to Paragaon 2013 soon, since I have to install Windows XP on my older hard drive, for testing purposes, and it will require imaging. I don't think I will be trying imaging for Windows 8 any soon, but I may, after I finish up with Windows XP. Will share my experiences :).
Well, y'all have been busy. One can confidently assert that if your imaging software hasn't sometimes done weird things, confused you, wanted to take 10 hours to image a 5 GB disk, made a differential backup 10 times the size of the whole disk, destroyed the disk you're trying to protect, or other baffling behavior, then you haven't done a lot of imaging. The new version additions, as stated by Paragon, is the support for win8 and including its 'Storage Spaces' [wiki: Storage Spaces is a storage virtualization technology which succeeds Logical Disk Manager and allows the organization of physical disks into logical volumes similar to Logical Volume Manager (Linux), RAID1 or RAID5, but at a higher abstraction level." If this means nothing to you, it's a way to take space from any available disks/partitions and combine to create a virtual drive, with ability to include various speed and redundancy features as you may want to choose. I can see why this is a challenge to an imaging system. I could find only 'Release History"s of the paid versions of the imaging suite. I'm glad you were able to get the new version installed properly, I don't know what to tell you about the glitches, maybe it was sending all the data on your disk to DHS :). I didn't notice anything like the hot-core driver issue mentioned, but I wasn't watching too close when I installed the software, which I put on two PCs and had no glitches that I am aware of. The later releases of these programs are supposed to take care of alignment issues, and some drives themselves have built-in work-arounds/fixes. I saw such anomalous behavior early on with advanced format drives like higher performance when NOT aligned, that I quit worrying about it, I think the vast majority of newer software/hardware has it taken care of, I am always on the alert for such issues and have not noticed anything lately. If anyone thinks they may have a problem related to this, I'd love to hear about it. Restoring an old system to a new drive could be a problem, you have to check how the MBR and first partition were handled, if it starts at the typical sector 63, there is an aliggnment problem, whether this will affect your performance to any significant degree, that is up in the air. Anupam, ith a new machine and win8, have you looked at any of the UEFI issues? I'm just beginning to look into, my recent laptop has some very strange stuff going on in the interaction of the BIOS, Intel Rapid Storage Technology/SSD hybrid RAID drives. The boot-menu choices I an only now beginning to try to figure out what all is going on there, it ain't pretty! I managed to get Ubuntu installed, but broke the SSD hybrid cache thinggie and I want to understand what I am doing before I try to 'fix' it. i had to do some rework after upgrading to win8 right after I got the thing, and HP hasn't had the level of support I think it should. Too much info, I've been typing at this for hours as I'm trying to figure things out, and try out various programs etc. Good luck to all, happy imaging folks.
crank, the hot core driver is disabled by default, and you will have to check it to install it. If you installed with all default, then I don't think you would have noticed it. I am thinking that somehow it might have to do something with the issue. I can only guess. About alignment in newer drives, Seagate have some kind of working by which you do not have to align the drive manually, it takes care of that by itself. It's one of the reasons I bought a Seagate drive. Because, in WD, if you are installing Windows XP, then you have to manually align the drive first, by running their software. And I was unsure, whether I would be installing Win XP, or not. So, to avoid all that trouble with this alignment issue, I just bought Seagate. It's not an issue with the modern Windows like Vista and 7/8, but for XP, it is, atleast with WD drives. I don't know about UEFI issue. I will have to check if my motherboard supports BIOS, or UEFI :D. I don't use RAID, or SSD anyways, so I think I won't be running into the issues that you did? Hopefully so :P.
Thanks a lot for this notification :). Will download it soon. Will let you know if I install it, and give it a run. Can be a while. It comes with full Windows 8 support, and that's a good thing for me, as I am on Windows 8.

I also had all manner of problems with the two newest versions of Paragon.

Switching back to the 2012 version from June 2012 solved the problems. That version is still available at FileHippo.