8 free software to image/backup/ghost your computer (free alternatives to Acronis True Image, Norton Ghost, etc.).

Lately I have been running into a lot of backup programs. Each time I see a backup program, I think “Acronis True Image” or “Norton Ghost”. However both Acronis and Norton are commercial products that can be had for five simple payments of $19.95! Okay okay I exaggerate a bit – they are not that expensive. The point is every time I think of Acronis or Norton I think there must be viable free alternatives; there are always viable free alternatives. So I did the research, the testing, and have put together a list of 7 free programs that you can use to image/backup/ghost your partitions or hard drives like you can with Acronis True Image or Norton Ghost or any other similar commercial software.

Before I show the list of program, let me clarify something. Quite a few people have asked me “should I replaced X backup software with Y backup software”. Often times X and Y are two different types of backup software. What I mean is in the category of “backup software”, there are two subcategories:

  • Software that is intended to backup whole partitions/operating systems or hard drives. Usually software that can do this refer to the task as “creating an image” or “disk imaging” or something similar.
  • Software that is intended to backup individual files and documents.

Now every backup software does not have to be either or; one software may be able to do both tasks. The software I am about to show you are intended for full backup of partitions/operating systems or hard drives. They are not intended for individual files and documents. For a free backup software that is intended for files/documents check out Titan Backup.

Okay so here goes:

Clonezilla

2009-04-10_172933

NOTE: Screenshot for Clonezilla was taken from the developer’s website.

PING

pingimage

NOTE: Screenshot for PING was taken from the developer’s website.

DriveImage XML

2009-04-10_173721

Paragon Drive Backup Express

2009-04-10_184742

Paragon Hard Disk Manager 8.5 SE

paragonharddiskmanager85se

Seagate DiscWizard (by Acronis)

2009-04-10_175429

NOTE: Seagate DiscWizard is for Seagate hard drives only. For those people that don’t know, “Seagate” is a company that manufactures hard drives. You can try to use DiscWizard on a different hard drive brand at your own risk (some people say it works but I cannot verify that).

Acronis True Image WD Edition

Acronis for WD HDDs

NOTE: Acronis True Image WD Edition is for Western Digital hard drives only.For those people that don’t know, “Western Digital” is a company that manufactures hard drives. You can try to use this on a different hard drive brand at your own risk (some people say it works but I cannot verify that).

NOTE2: Seagate DiscWizard and Acronis True Image WD Edition are both the same software but for different hard drive brands. They are both “watered down” versions of Arconis True Image.

Macrium Reflect (Free Edition)

2009-04-10_175552

Before I start my “analysis” let me say that Paragon Hard Disk Manager 8.5 SE is one of my favorite freebies of all times. However, unfortunately, it does not really impress me in the category of partition/hard drive imaging/backup (it has bunch of other useful features though).

That being said, out of all seven programs, the programs that has the most features are definitely Seagate Disc Wizard and Acronis True Image WD Edition. Both are Acronis powered free tool Seagate and WD offers their customers. The only problem with them is is you must have a Seagate or WD hard drive to use it so it is hardly a freebie for everyone (since not everyone has a Seagate or WD hard drive). Additionally, I noticed that DiscWizard/Acronis True Image WD Edition was slower than I expected for backing up: when trying to create an image of ~44 GB partition, Seagate was giving me an estimate time of 3 hours at the highest compression =O. Safe to say I did not actually test to see if it in fact did take three hours, but if it does, that is very slow.

Okay so to figure out which program (bar DiscWizard and Acronis True Image WD Edition since they are brand specific) is the “best free partition/hard disk backup tool” I was used three criteria:

  • User friendliness.
  • Performance (speed/compression).
  • Ability to create a bootable CD.

Clonezilla and PING both are not very user friendly so those were out the window pretty quickly. DriveImage XML does not have the most user friendly process of creating a bootable CD so that was eliminated also.

That left me with Macrium and the two Paragons. All three of these programs did fairly well in all three of my criteria mentioned above, but Macrium impressed me the most.

Macrium Reflect is an awesome professional disk imaging software that allows you to create and compress full image backups, to explore each image backup just like you were viewing a folder (useful if you want to only restore a certain file instead of the whole backup), has a scheduler and supports the creation of Linux and BartPE bootable disks.  There are two versions of Macrium, free edition (the one mentioned here) and full version (costs $39.99). Here is a full list of features:

2009-04-10_181641

Creating an image of my C:/ partition (32 GB in size – the one with Windows on it) was a breeze: it took me less than 30 minutes with Macrium set on low priority to create an image backup. I set compression at its highest and the image file size was only 10 GB (the image created by the Paragon software was 14.5 GB). The whole time the backup was running I was using my computer and never once did my computer even hiccup (Macrium supports Microsoft volume shadow copy so you can make a full backup of your Windows partition while using Windows).

Additionally, as I already mentioned, you can create Linux or BartPE bootable/rescue CDs with Macrium:

2009-04-10_182455

These rescue CDs are helpful if your Windows screws up and you are not able to login. All you do is pop in the bootable disk and run Macrium and restore your Windows installation from previously backed up image files without ever logging into Windows. While Macrium does not have native support to create a bootable USB/flash drive, you can create an ISO of the Linux bootable disk and google how to turn the ISO into a bootable USB/flash drive.

To make everything even better, Macrium Reflect supports both 32 and 64 bit versions of XP and Vista and the size of the installation file you must download is only 27 MB.

Macrium Reflect Free Edition is dotTech.org’s free full partition/hard disk backup software of choice. If this was a formal review I would say “two thumbs up”.

Here are the download links for all the software I mentioned above:

Clonezilla

PING

DriveImage XML

Paragon Drive Backup Express

Paragon Hard Disk Manager 8.5 SE

Seagate DiscWizard

Acronis True Image WD Edition

Macrium Reflect Free Edition

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101 comments

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  2. Smock Puppet, "Faecies Evenio", Mr. Holder?

    }}} I would NOT be backing up to DVDs
    (If you put a gun to my head, I would not be backing up my IMAGES to DVDs)

    Rob, the only objection I can see towards backing up to DVDs is that modern HDs are so large it’s not practical any more — kinda like the problem when floppies, still stuck at 1.4mb were faced with 100+mb hard drives. Once the number of media needed passes 20 or so, it’s just preposterous to do.

    But short of that, DVDs have historically been the best damned backup system out there. The media are close to invulnerable if you treat them rationally (certainly they are more robust than any other direct-access system) and they’re fairly cheap — 100 costs about $25-40 bucks, for good quality media. I’ve got CDs that are more than 15 years old that are fully readable. And the DVD standard is so ubiquitous that even a change in OS probably won’t render anything unreadable for a decade or more from now. The biggest concern at that point will be being able to get the backups out of any proprietary software format.

  3. Smock Puppet, "Faecies Evenio", Mr. Holder?

    [@Muhammad Azharuddin Qadri]

    I used to be a fan of Partition Magic. Then Norton bought them and killed the product. I then became a fan of Acronis.

    I’ve given up on Acronis, which is why I came looking here. Minitool Partition Wizard is as good as Acronis DD, and is freaking free, and they aren’t constantly upgrading it instead of patching it, meaning you aren’t constantly getting gouged for 30-40 bucks for an “upgrade fee”. The thing that put me off this was finding out that the version of DD purchased more than 18 months after Windows 7 was released did not support, and was not going to be patched to support, a potential change W7 made to the disk structure (UEFI).

    I specifically purchased the software to have proper support. I don’t expect to get support for new things that come out AFTER a product is purchased, but I do expect anything in existence when I purchase it to be covered or, if not available then, made available via a patch.

    Combine that with their Nazi-esque attitude towards their products… “Yu Vill Run Zis On VUN Mashin, and ONLY VUN Mashin!!” :-S

    Seriously. I was swapping a hard drive into a brand new machine, and their software spotted the change within about 15 minutes, and it shut itself down until I “got permission” for the move.

    Screw them, I’ll find alternatives. I expect to be able to use a product around my household on one machine at a time, Microsoft (at the moment, and only at the moment) has the power to deny that, but no one else has that kind of monopoly privileges.

    Sounds like Macrium, along with Minitool, are going to replace my Acronis products… and receive all future monies and recommendations.

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  7. sys-eng

    Anyone using hardware RAID such as 3Ware, LSI, or any other brand should visit their web site of the RAID controller and verify how to backup and restore if the controller fails. You cannot simply unplug a drive that was attached to a RAID controller and plug it into a regular SATA port and expect it to work. RAID is special. If you have not taken special steps in your backup image, you will probably discover that you have to get another RAID controller exactly like the one you had before you can restore your image.

  8. Mik Quoz

    I would probably buy Norton Ghost except it would cost me US$99. However, I see that if I lived in the US I could get it from Amazon for US$20.

    If Symantec really wish to sell Norton Ghost worldwide then it should make prices comparable worldwide, not stick a huge premium on the product just because a customer lives outside the US.

    For now I’ll stick with Macrium Reflect Free and a free copy of FarStone Total Recovery Pro I was lucky to acquire via Tipradar. That program does Incremental & Differential backup.

    imquozymiklum

  9. RobCr

    @Muhammad Azharuddin:
    I would NOT be backing up to DVDs
    (If you put a gun to my head, I would not be backing up my IMAGES to DVDs)

    Read my posts (‘RobCr’ and ‘Rob Down Under’) and get the free Seagate Discwizard.
    Get an external Dock (not an enclosed one), and get a Seagate 3.5″ Sata drive to shove vertically into it.
    Get a Dock with both an eSata cable socket, and a USB cable socket.
    Do not get a fancy dock with multiple slots, and do not get one with other crap like USB hubs, and card readers built in.
    Where backups are concerned you should KEEP THINGS SIMPLE

    You probably will have to install the DiscWizard program, but immediately create a bootable CD from one of it’s options.
    Close Windows, and use the bootable CD to create images.
    (Do NOT have Windows running, when imaging)
    Immediately after you create the image, run the option to verify the image.
    (You can do that from the same session – you do not have to reboot the CD)
    If your PC has an eSata connector use an eSata cable.
    I have never had a failure since using eSata connector.

    Rob
    PS The Seagate DiscWizard will run merrily as long as it sees a Seagate/Maxtor connected somewhere (even by cable).
    For those that need to use the DiscWizard, and do not have a Seagate drive connected, you can use the ‘Tech Override’ –

    At the Error screen (message box showing), hold down the Alt key while you type t then o (for tech override), and then click OK (on that messagebox).
    The above is actually written by a Seagate Tech Support employee –
    http://forums.seagate.com/t5/DiscWizard-and-MaxBlast/Using-DiscWizard-MaxBlast-to-back-up-non-Seagate-internal-hard/m-p/25406

  10. Muhammad Azharuddin

    first thank you very much this is a awesome help who do not know how to back up. I read this 3 months before I and I download Paragon Backup & Recovery™ 2011 (Advanced) Free and make back up on two DVD’s and I use it first time it is fantastic I empress very much but yesterday I did not work I try many times but every time it say input output error. After three hours of trying I am frustrating and install window 7 again, So what is happen I am not undastand please help me. my email is azhar8058978346@gmail.com

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  12. Rob (Down Under)

    @Darrell:
    Did you try an external Dock (drive shoved vertically into the Dock), or did you try the cheap plastic plug ‘thingy’ that I gave a link for ?

    Have you tried another good drive, to see if it works in your enclosure (or works in the ‘thingy’) ?

    The more detail you give in your posts, the more chance one of us will spot a solution. I asked a lot of questions and received hardly any answers.

  13. Darrell

    @RobCr: Thank You for responding to my question. I have tried both the setup you are speaking of and a IDE enclosure. Both do not show up in My Computer or under Disk Manager. Not sure what I am doing wrong but thanks again for trying to help me.

  14. sys-eng

    @Darrell:

    Your experience is common. Windows Logical Volume Manager wants a letter such as “G” assigned to the disk drive partition.

    – Reboot computer and see if the drive appears in BIOS. If USB connected drive, it may or may not show up. If not, do not worry.
    – If the partition does not appear in the lower section of Disk Manager, then rescan to find it. This may take several minutes.
    – After the disk/partition is located, assign a drive letter to it.
    – Go to this Microsoft help article for additional info: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/309000

  15. RobCr

    @Darrell:
    I had problems with enclosures in the past, and I now avoid them.
    For SATA drives, I use Docks, which you just shove the drive vertically into them.
    My Docks have both USB and eSata connectors.
    For IDE drives, I use a very cheap ($12) little plastic plug, which plugs in to the IDE socket on the drive. The plastic thingy comes with a power adapter, which plugs into the mains, and into the small power socket on the drive.
    The plastic thingy has a USB cable coming out of it, for plugging into your PC.
    http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/USB-2-0-SATA-IDE-2-5-3-5-Hard-Drive-Adapter-Cable-/190381373861

    Just making sure I am understanding you correctly.
    You have purchased a hard disc enclosure.
    Internally that enclosure takes an IDE drive.
    You have placed your WD inside the enclosure.
    (Get Seagate in the future, as they are more standard than WD)
    You have connected it (inside the enclosure) with a short IDE cable.
    You have connected a power cable inside the enclosure.
    By the way are we talking about a 3.5″ drive ?

    Do you have a spare hard drive ?
    Try placing that in the enclosure to see if it works.

  16. Darrell

    I ordered a USB Hard Drive Enclosure IDE Adapter Cable to transfer data from a PC that died to a new PC, both PC’s are running Windows XP. The hard drive is a Western Digital IDE drive. The failure of the old machine had nothing to do with the Hard Drive. I plugged the old hard drive into the adapter, powered up, can hear the drive spinning and then pluged the USB into the new PC but it doesn’t show up as a selection option in MY COMPUTER.
    Disk Manger also doesn’t show the old Hard Drive as a selection option. Is there a way to use any of the software listed using a hard drive enclosure? Or do you have any tips on what might be going on? After contacting tech support I tried changing the jumper to every option available, CS, Slave, Master and no jumper at all and it still won’t show up.

  17. Rob (Down Under)

    PPS The Seagate Disc Wizard program (stupidly) has an option to wipe the old drive after it Clones it to the new drive.
    From my memory (which just turned 70), that option is part of the cloning steps
    It may have been elsewhere (not drive cloning)
    If my memory is correct, and that option is there, then ensure it is NOT ticked.

  18. Rob (Down Under)

    Seagate created , and supplies FREE their Seagate Disc Wizard program especially for people that are buying a new Seagate Drive. Most often people would have purchased a bigger Drive, and the developer of that program would readily cater for that.
    The normal option used in that situation, is one where the program copies the contents of the old drive, into your new drive. (I believe that was Seagate’s main objective for providing this free software) The program should easily handle the move to the bigger drive. It (the program), and I, would not consider that as dissimilar hardware.
    However since I avoid laptops, and have never upgraded a drive in one (IE cloned the working old drive, into an empty new drive), I may not be ‘fountain of all knowledge’ for you.
    Because you have a Dell, the original drive may be a bit ‘special’ ? (Or is it a Samsung ?)
    Is the new drive, the same brand as the old drive ?
    I am guessing that neither of the drives are Seagate, so that means you may need to purchase True Image’s imaging software.
    The free Seagate Disc Wizard was written by True Image, but they have built a pre-check into it, that peeps around to ensure that it can see at least one Seagate drive, somewhere/anywhere.
    You can use the Free program (if no Seagate drives), by pressing alt t o when the msgbox first appears. That is a Tech Override, that I read about on the official Seagate support forum (but see my Dell attempt below).

    There is a piece of hardware readily available for approx $15
    It has a mains to low voltage power supply, and a wee plastic thing. The wee plastic thing has sockets on it for 2.5″ and 3.5″ IDE drives. It has a USB cable to connect to your PC.
    The idea is, you remove your old laptop drive, and plug it into the wee plastic thing.
    You place the new drive into the laptop, and place the bootable CD into the laptop.
    When you boot the PC, the Disc Wizard program has one or two options that you use.
    Clone Disc
    Add New Disc
    You may find that you only have to use Clone Disc
    However if the program says it cannot see the new drive, then you will have to run ‘add New Disc’ first. Add New Disc offers to format the drive, and add a partition. You don’t have to add a Partition.
    If you do use the ‘Add New Disc’ option, first turn off the laptop, and disconnect the plastic thingy. that should prevent you from formatting the wrong drive.

    I normally avoid Dell’s (desktop) because of their ‘special’ hardware.
    However I was recently given a Dell Optiplex 760, and I just fired that up with the bootable Seagate Disc Wizard, so that I could get the correct names for those two options.
    The Alt t o did not work, so you may have to purchase the True Image program.
    Or if you have an external Seagate or Maxtor drive, you could connect that to keep the free program happy. Probably not a great idea, as you then would have to use extreme care as to which drive, gets things done to it.

    The good news is, if the Clone attempt does not work out, then you can always put the old drive back into the laptop.
    If the Clone does work, then you can try booting into Windows. If it fires up OK, that means the Clone was not considered dissimilar hardware.
    If Windows stuff’s up, then you can redo the above steps, with one precaution.
    Do not boot into the new clone. Instead place a retail copy (not oem) of your OS into the Laptop CD drive, and boot into that (do NOT boot into Windows), and do a repair install.
    You mentioned XP. Will you be using that ?
    (I will elaborate more on Repair Install, if you need it, as it is not Recovery Console repair)
    Did Dell give you a copy of the XP CD ?
    The Repair install option is not offered with most oem versions of XP

    I reckon it will be worth taking a punt on creating the clone, and booting into Windows.
    There is a fair chance you will not have to do a Repair Install

    Rob
    PS If all goes well and you are attempting to boot into Windows, then disconnect the old drive first. Windows gets weird when it sees another windows.

  19. Rob (Down Under)

    @sriadverts:
    My comments regarding using same connections (etc), were as a consequence of my problems in getting reliable images, and Validating those images, and restoring those images.
    I now realize that all those problems related to the unreliability of USB2 in older PCs.
    At the time when USB2 started appearing on motherboards, MS forbade the hardware manufacturers from providing drivers for USB2. MS instead, took it upon themselves to provide ALL the USB2 drivers.
    In older PCs (2003’ish) they may appear to work, but they can have slight errors, that the imaging software (Seagate Disc Wizard) detects, and then refuses to Restore them.
    If your PC is old, and you are using a USB connector to your external drive, then pay heed to my suggested precautions.
    If you have a newer PC, the USB may be more reliable.
    If you have an external drive (or better a Dock), that uses eSata, then you need not worry about my precautions.
    I now always use eSata, and find that the images are consistently reliable.

    Regarding using a bootable CD.
    If you install the Seagate Disc Wizard into a PC (any PC) you can then run it and ask it to create a bootable CD.
    Once you have the bootable CD, you place that into the desired PC, and reboot the PC.
    The PC then will boot into a Seage Disc Wizard OS (cough), with a few options.
    When running from that screen, Windows is not loaded in any way.

    I will post very soon on your dissimilar hardware question.

    Rob

  20. sriadverts

    @Rob (Down Under):

    Also, how do you not create the image when Windows is running? – “Don’t create your image when Windows is running” – Do you mean these imaging software will work without the OS running? Or is there a better way to do this, please? Thanks, Sriadverts

  21. sriadverts

    @Rob (Down Under):

    Rob,
    What do you mean by, “use the same physical hardware and connections that you used to create it, when you do a recovery ?” please?
    If I take an image of my existing hard drive and then transfer the image to a higher capacity (same type of) hard drive, won’t I still be breaking that rule of yours, please?
    Thanks, Sriadverts

  22. sriadverts

    Ashraf,
    I can’t tell you in words as to how useful your website and all the recommendations are, especially to Newbies like me. The hard drive on my 4 year old dell inspiron laptop (40GB IDE) has been having some issues and I have bought a replacement (a160 GB IDE) and am trying to take an image of my old drive and do a “Restore to Dissimilar Hardware” as I understand it (since the new drive is not of the same capacity). Is my understanding correct? And do you or anyone who reads this forum think that any of the the free software you have mentioned here, can perform what I want? Also, there doesn’t seem to be a detailed tutorial / step-by-step instruction anywhere, as to how to restore ‘an image’ of an existing disk to a new / different drive. Because, once I take the image and then change the hard drive, would I have to re-instal the operating system using the original installation disks first and then attempt to replace the image or would I just have to instal the imaging program without the OS (say Win XP) and be able to restore the image? If the former is required, then the whole purpose of imaging the drive is defeated since I will anyway have to use my original installation disks. Can some please help me with answers? Thanks, Sriadverts

  23. normofthenorth

    I was a happy Acronis user for a few years, until I actually used it (a couple of versions back, maybe 2009) to restore my HDD. I ended up with quite a few (300+) corrupt files and filenames. Each of these files appeared twice on the HDD: (1) Once with the correct filename, but with the file itself corrupt, unreadable, and undelete-able, and (2) Once in good file form, but with a bunch of junk added to the end of the filename extension — like note.txt turned into note.txt~@#$%&*()&) type thing. (In general, the mis-named Doppelgaengers seemed to work in place of the originals.)

    It also seems that the backup-and-restore introduced FAT mismatches in case between the filenames stored in the two FATs. As a result, I was constantly told that I had to run CHKDSK — but running it never changed or fixed anything! This problem with FAT-case-mismatches (in WXP, I’m running SP3) is well documented by MS, and has no reasonable solution. The KB articles suggests making a backup, then restore everything EXCEPT all the corrupt files, one-by-one, by hand(!). (And yes, I’d tried all the various utilities that claim to be able to delete problem files that can’t be deleted normally — no joy!)

    I was not amused, and I’ve since reformated that HDD and started from scratch (and moved on to a newer computer). And I’m using Macrium Reflect Free for backup. I’m not keen to put my faith in Acronis again, despite the power and user-friendliness of interfaith. I admit that I haven’t RESTORED anything with it yet with MRF, and I’ll be really frustrated if I end up with a similar problem!

  24. 123

    running portable DriveImage, source is undersized SSD. destination across a LAN. checked the vss option.
    i’ve never tried restoring, though.
    from accumulated impressions from reading, clonezilla looks good.

  25. Rob (Down Under)

    @tinkerddc:
    Are you saying that you would like to transfer your hard drive to another machine ? (And retain your existing OS and installed programs.)
    That can be done.
    Create an image, and ‘Restore’ it to another drive.
    (Or clone your drive to another drive).
    Put the clone in the new machine, and use the Windows (Install) CD, to do a ‘Repair Install’
    That is NOT a repair via the “recovery console”.
    You must not boot into the clone, until you have completed the “Repair Install”.
    The “Repair Install” modifies your OS to live with the new hardware.
    I have done it many times with XP.
    Haven’t tried Win7 yet, but I hear rumors that you do not have to do a “Repair Install”. You can just put the drive into a different machine.
    Whether that is correct or not, I would use a clone (NOT your original drive).
    That way, you can do no harm, nor damage.

  26. Frank

    @Rob (Down Under): Agree with that about WD disks not playing well with the NexStar external dock; recently had to RMA a 1TB Green Caviar WD and exchange for a1TB Seagate for that reason.
    I’m using Acronis WD and I write the image to a 160GB “My Book” WD then copy it to the Seagate.
    Acronis reads the image as long as the WD disk is connected and powered up.
    Tried Seagate DiscWizard but found it too slow.

  27. sys-eng

    I would like to see a comparsion of these backup programs performing both a partition/disk image backup and an incremental backup. Here are the areas that are important to me. If there is an article less than 2 years old on this, I would really appreciate a link to it. I have found nothing very useful yet.

    * Time required to perform backup

    * Time required to perform restore

    * Amount of disk space required

    * Any user intervention required

    * Ability to search and restore individual files

    * Any files that were missed from backup

    * System requirements – both hardware & software

  28. Rob (Down Under)

    @Phil K: I am a Seagate man myself.
    (I believe WD is not compatible with those external docks that I love, which are the greatest PC related invention of the last decade.)
    Did you use free WD DiscWizard, or some free version from Acronis ?
    (I keep recommending the DiscWizard version, but no one listens)
    What media/hardware do you send your image to ?
    (I keep recommending a 3.5″ drive in one of those external docks)
    If it was the DiscWizard version, did you verify it after you created it ?
    Did you follow my recommendations to never, ever stuff with your image –
    – don’t copy it
    – don’t move it
    – don’t rename it or any of it’s parent folders.
    – use the same physical hardware and connections that you used to create it, when you do a recovery ?
    – Don’t create your image when Windows is running.

    I have never had failure, when I follow those rules.

  29. Rob (Down Under)

    I have one of those Docks, and a couple of the more typical ones (Red upside down ashtray/breakfast bowl)
    I do love yours, but I have one caveat –
    The wires plugging into the rear, are not as stable as with my other Docks.
    So place it somewhere so it is not bumped nor moved.
    Rob (Down Under)
    PS Don’t be pressing the on off button on the front, just use the mains power on/off switch on your wall or power board (That is also my advice for all Docks)

  30. Rafael Vidurrizaga

    @sujo: @sujo I was amazed when I received your today’s comment in response to a question from a year and a half ago, specially because you were thinking in other people who could have the same question.- Your answer shows the kind of people you are: a decent people who tries to help.- Thank you, thank you very much for your time and for your soul.- I wish the world were full of people like you.- God bless you.- Greetings from Lima, Peru, South America.

  31. sujo

    @Rafael Vidurrizaga: I just came across this question from you today, a year and a half after the question was asked, and I’m answering it here because I didn’t see any other responses to it. In case anyone else has ever wondered about this, the answer is yes, Seagate DiscWizard and Macrium Reflect will both work on IDE hard drives. Also SATA drives. I doesn’t matter what kind of cable the HDD is attached to.

  32. Daniel

    Please consider adding GFI Home Edition Backup to your list of free personal-use alternatives.  I’ve been using it for a few weeks now, and I love how easy it is to use and modify.
    I am also using Paragon Backup & Recovery 10 Compact edition, and although that seems to work fine, the problem I have with it is once I’ve created a backup, it’s difficult to identify and modify what is being backed up (Paragon uses scripts, and within the script file is the name of another file that contains the list of files to be backed up, but this list isn’t easily accessible within the software.)
    Ashraf, thanks for your continuing help and support of users, especially with links to free software.  GFI Home Edition Backup can be found here:
    http://www.gfi.com/backup-hm

  33. RobCr

    @gear:
    What size is the drive (or Partition) that you wish to back up ?
    Are you wishing to do a differential backup, or a full back up ?
    I prefer to use KISS, particularly since a backup is very important.
    – I never stuff with an existing backup (thus I would not even consider doing a differential backup).
    – I do it from a bootable CD, and go away and watch TV (nothing else running on the PC).
    – I verify the image just after it was created.
     
    If you are happy to do the above, why not download the free Seagate DiscWizard, and create a bootable CD from it.
    I would buy one of the Docking thingy’s ($30 Aust), and an internal Seagate SATA drive 500GB ($55 Aust).
    You just shove the drive vertically into the docking thingy, and plug it into your PC, via USB or esata cable.
    The Seagate DiscWizard WILL SEE see that you have at least one Seagate drive, and will function fully.
    If you do not have a Seagate drive connected to the PC, you can always use this trick (from Seagate Tech Support) –
    http://forums.seagate.com/t5/DiscWizard-and-MaxBlast/Using-DiscWizard-MaxBlast-to-back-up-non-Seagate-internal-hard/m-p/25406
     
    If you follow my suggestions (use the Seagate DiscWizard, for full backup), and wish more help, yell out.
     

  34. gear

    Ashraf & all other friends  helping other people that do not have sufficient knowledge. I  Appreciate your efforts. i also need your help for backup issue. i am using software “Shadow Protect ” when i make “Full “or “Diffrential” backup even after 1 hour it always make back file in GBs it should be some MBs. after few back up i have huge data in GBS plz can you suggest me the right software or method. Thank you

  35. gordon55y

    Ashraf,
    Thanks for your helpful reviews.
    I prefer Paragon Backup & Recovery.
    It has an option to exclude pagefile.sys
    and user selected folders that can be
    excluded from backup. It is under
    Tools/settings/CopyBackupExcludeoptions.

  36. Nick

    I was using Macrium for a while as it was the strongest backup solution from freebies, but finally switched to Paragon Backup & Recovery Free Edition – it’s the version Paragon released after Drive Backup Express – http://www.paragon-software.com/home/db-express/, the key reason why I decided towards Paragon is its functionality:

    • differential backup (it’s very useful for this kind of peace of software)
    • Built-in ability to create a rescue CD or bootable USB Flash drive
    • Linux/DOS bootable recovery environments
    • Automatic data exclusion
    • Backup to a network
    • Hot backup
    • Enough featured for the home user but not overwhelming

    Also, Macrium has one major bug that I couldn’t face it with – cannot restore an image from a larger hard disk to a smaller one, even if your backed up data is less than that of your destination disk’s capacity.

  37. PTLdom

    Being a user, i found drive image xml pretty friendly. Morover, I can produce a bootable file in my external d: drive without having to erase the other information on it. Try doing the same with Paragon.
    Regards, PT

  38. Tiffanie

    Just wanted to do a follow up. After everything was flashed over, I did the partition restore which is included in the .iso from my son’s computer, and it worked perfectly. She has a fully functional computer again! Thanks very much

  39. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    @Tiffanie: Ya that shouldn’t be a problem.

    In addition to that you may want to look into creating a bootable/recovery USB/flash drive instead of a bootable/recovery disk (CD/DVD) because restoring from a bootable/recovery disk is better (although not necessary) than from within Windows.

    To create a bootable/recovery USB/flash drive create an ISO of Macrium’s Linux boot disk and google how to turn that ISO to bootable USB (sorry I can’t give more specifics here… don’t have any articles on hand).

  40. Tiffanie

    Will any of these programs image onto a USB external drive and then restore to a computer? Or does it HAVE to be to a cd/dvd? My kid’s Acer netbook doesn’t have a dv drive, and I don’t have funds to purchase an external one. I have a Seagate 500GB external HD, will it work for this purpose? (The eRecovery partition on the kid’s netbook is corrupt and so it won’t restore, I want to take the clone from her brother’s identical netbook and restore it to hers.) Any ideas?

  41. Nextel2010

    DriveImage XML will preserve partition alignments upon restoring. This is a technical fact of which not many readers will be aware, but it is an important distinction when intending to image onto an SSD drive. The other software may or may not – for example, I’ve heard that certain versions of Acronis will not.

    As for using DriveImage XML to make a drive bootable, all you have to do is merely set the partition as “Active”. I’ve never imaged anything BUT bootable partitions, and have never had an issue. Additionally, there’s a plugin should you want to install this program on a BartPE disc.

  42. Clive

    I like cloning rather than imaging and use the freeware XXClone (http://www.pixelab.com/) to do this. I have a fear of hard drive failure so like to keep a couple of clones, one stored on site & one off site. XXClone will clone to any size HDD (or even a partition) as long as it’s not smaller than the original. It will also make the clone bootable. For further info follow the link I’ve included.

  43. Rob

    I have been going through hades with some of my dying PCs.
    I use IDE drives, and XP Pro.
    I have settled on using Seagate’s DiscWizard for imaging the drives, and recovering (sometimes to the same PC, sometimes to another PC).
    The two major stumbling blocks(apart from hardware glitches) have been –

    – The images can appear to be corrupted on some PCs (Googling reveals that others have that problem with DiscWizard and Acronis)

    – When restoring an image to another PC, you have to do an XP repair, and I have lost count of how many times I came up against the dreaded –
    a disk read error has occurred
    press ctrl+alt+del to restart
    Googling, reveals better men than me, have been stumped by that one.

    Regarding my first problem, I threw the offending PC into the toilet (stored it in the bathroom), and found one that did not say the image was corrupt.

    Regarding the second problem, I have converted the partition to Fat32(from bloody NTFS), and now the XP CD, can repair Windows with no problems.
    I have been suspecting for some time now, that it was that flippin NTFS that was thwarting Repair installs.

    I type all this for three reasons –
    1) It may be of some assistance to others (Seagate DiscWizard is great, provided it likes your PC).
    2) It may assist others who find that the repair install, stalls during that half way re-boot.
    3) If I decide to stay with FAT32 (to make future repair installs, painless), can I handle files greater than 4GB ?
    I know that you cannot store large files in the FAT32 partition (where XP is running),
    BUT CAN IT SAFELY HANDLE large files, on other NTFS partitions or external hard drives ?
    Let us say I have some image backups on an USB external hard drive (which is formatted to NTFS). Can I be in a FAT32 XP, and be SAFELY moving those 10GB files from folder to folder within the external NTFS drive ?

    Rob

  44. sys-eng

    It would have been helpful if you would have elaborated more on the imaging features of these programs. Some take much longer because they waste time cloning vacant space on the drive. Clonezilla clones only the used portion. Some programs can restore only to a partition of the same size or larger while others can restore to a smaller partition.

    I have customers who are computer illiterate using Clonezilla every day with no problems.

  45. Jeanjean

    Hi Ashraf,

    For information and after discussion with people of Acrium, it appears that Reflect backs up every used cluster in the file system.
    My problem would not appear with SVS, but probably with the use of EAZ-FIX (that I’m testing for the moment).
    EAZ is probably storing data in unused clusters and isn’t compatible with imaging software that backs up ‘in use’ clusters.

  46. Rob

    Jeanjean,
    Did a Google on SVS.
    I see they have a free one, for personal use.
    My PC is a bit old and only has 512MB of memory.
    Do you have a link to any nice reviews(and comparisons) of Virtualization software ?
    Have you tried others ?
    Regards,
    Rob

  47. Jeanjean

    @ Ashraf,

    Thanks for your answer (the others too !).
    I opened Reflect several times to check.
    On the first page of Reflect, I see wel my 3 drives.
    For c: it says Type (Active), Capacity (116.415Gb), Used Space (22.378 Gb), Free Space (94.037 Gb), File System (NTFS).
    I have not change the standard settings…
    Curious, no ?
    For d: there is a difference but less important : Used 67.595 Gb (My Computer says 72.579 Gb)

  48. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    I know about free Norton Ghost. However it involves rebates which is why I have not posted about it yet. Keep in mind one of the rebates is a competitive upgrade rebate so not everyone will be able to get it.

    When you go around the block as many times as I have you will pick up on Fry’s tricks :P Just kidding.

  49. Jean-Luc Picard

    Who needs an alternative to Norton Ghost?

    Ashraf, read your email- free Norton Ghost!

    *evil laugh*
    *realizes people are staring*
    *slowly waltzes away*
    *realizes putting words into asterisks on a tech blog isn’t his smartest move*
    *decides to hit “Submit Comment” now*

  50. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    That is weird. I honestly don’t know what to say. How exactly did you determine Reflect only found 22 GB while Drive Image XML found 41.6 GB? Are you using default settings for Reflect? On my computer Macrium finds all the used space on my partitions.

    The best suggestion I have is emailing Macrium support about it; I have never heard of this problem with Macrium before (if it is in fact a problem and not a misunderstanding).

  51. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    Hmm? What does My Computer tell you? 22 GB or 41 GB used? It may just be a difference in settings. For example you may have one doing a backup of just your used space and the other of your used and unused space.

  52. Jeanjean

    Hello Ashraf,

    I tested Macrium Reflect and compared it with Drive Image XML.
    Reflect found 22 Gb used, while DriveImage found 41 Gb!?
    No wonder that the backup completed with Reflect (14.7 Gb) is smaller than that achieved with DIXml (19 Gb).
    Can You explain this fact ?

  53. bkca

    Hi All,

    you can register for a free copy of Paragon Drive Backup 9.0 Personal SE at

    [Remove by Ashraf. Reason: Bkca thanks for posting about this but this offer is not for the general public; it is only for ComputerActive Magazine subscribers. I can't allow you to post it (ethically and the fact that VNUNET gets pissed when people leech off their magazine freebies).]

  54. Steve

    Hi Ashraf,

    Thank you again, for your tip.

    System:
    Biostar Mother board
    AMD 1.8Mhz
    2GB ram
    XPPro SP3
    CD/DVD burner

    Installed Macrium Reflect free without a hitch.
    Created 9.953GB Image straight to DVD
    High compression
    High priority
    Used 1 DVD plus 1.1MB of second DVD
    Time 18′:02″, includes verification

    In retrospect, I should have used medium compression (as recommended)
    I didn’t see it, but I suspect the program may figure compression out, after it knows what type medium the user will use.
    I Dislike using a DVD for 1.1MB :(

    The only “con” if it is one, was when It asked me for the second disk. After I clicked okay it took awhile to start back up, then burned at 12KBs, but fortunately went back to 93KBs.
    Methinks the program, and burner took that time to re-sync.

    Total time could be reduced by 5’…I was a little tardy in renewing the DVD.

    Regards…..Steve

  55. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    I have never used Acronis so I am not 100% sure what you are talking about. However from what I understand, it seems the feature you want is something you will only find in paid commercial software; usually free backup software don’t have that many “bells and whistles” (I am talking about the restore option at boot screen part).

  56. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    Paragon Drive Backup 9 Personal has more features. I am not sure exactly which features off the top of my head but I am sure if you looked on their website it would tell you.

  57. Rafael Vidurrizaga

    Your site is a very amazing one and I really appreciate your comments and reviews.- I’ve just found your site a few days ago and I am learning a lot of it.
    I have a PC, Windows XP Home Edition SP3, Pentium 4, 2.40 Ghz, 768 Mb RAM, 80Gb HDD IDE Seagate.
    Can you please tell me:
    1.- if Seagate DiszWizard and Macrium are for IDE HDD ?
    2.- Can I make Disk Image (with Seagate, or Macrium or the two Paragon programs) using DVD’s as target?
    Thank you very much for your comment.
    Rafael Vidurrizaga
    from Lima, Peru, South America.

    P.S.- Please sorry for my english. My mother language is spanish.

  58. S.Jaafar Al-Mosawi

    Hi Ashraf.
    I’m looking for a free backup software that lets me make an image and store it on the harddisk while putting the image restore option at the boot screen just as what Acronis True Image does.\

  59. sunkumarspace

    amriuculum reflect good in gui and also has speed but one think i perosonally experienced it has fuile system integration problem and also the image back up willnot compress while paragon express has compress image backup so it is far better and also should be used

  60. FR

    @ASHRAF
    Let me express my appreciation for your review.
    One of the problems I find with “Imaging” applications (read Acronis here), is corrupt images. When the user conducted the backup originally, the software verified the image and said it was fine, however, when the user is ready to “restore”, the software gives the error message that the original image is corrupt.
    If this happens when the user is in the agony of a disaster and depended on that image, then he/she is in serious trouble.
    I will try your “thumbs up” (you have never led me astray in the past) and do a restore to satisfy curiosity.
    Again, thanks for your review.
    Cheers

  61. Jeanjean

    I use DriveImage XML and I created a bootable CD “UBCD4WIN” accordance with instructions from their site (I think !).
    I got a backup-image of 19 GB for a partition c: 44.4 GB.
    I will thus test Macrium Reflect as soon as possible Thank yyyyou !

  62. Frank

    Rob,

    you can restore /anything/ /everywhere/. No restriction on any hardware component (drive, MoBo, memory, processor, whatsoever).
    Just if you restore the system partition (the one where \Windows or \WinNT resides on) to different hardware and try to boot from that restored system partition you will most likely get a BSOD “inaccessible boot device” when booting up. See my above post about Paragon Software.

    Frank

  63. Rob

    Jean-Luc Picard,
    If you can control which brand that you buy, then ONLY buy Seagate.

    Ashraf,
    Thanks for the review.
    I only use Seagate drives (have about 6).
    If you only used Seagate drives, would you use the Seagate DiscWizard, or would you use Macrium Reflect (Free Edition) ?

    When using the Macrium , and you are needing a recovery, do you boot into Macrium’s Recovery CD, and select the image that is within the XP drive (the drive that has the OS) ?
    Also, can the image be copied to (or originally saved to) an external USB drive ? (I have an external 500 GB usb drive). And can the recovery cd see an external usb drive and restore from the image on it ?
    I notice that the Pro version can Auto verify images. Does that mean you are ‘dicing with death’, hoping that the Free image is ok ?

    Thanks again,
    Rob

  64. NIghtcrawler

    Hi Ashraf,
    Thanks for this review, was looking for a comparison like this for quite some time. For some unfathomable reason, the system restore and shadow copy service does not work, was disabled, it is not even found in services. Admin says something about viruses remaining in shadow copy memory, something… I am not much of a tech person so I don’t understand all that. Do you know if Macrium reflect will work then? I am wary of installing software just to see if it works or not. And thank you for the paragon hard disk manager information. I never knew it was free :). Looking forward to more great things from you, Cheers.

  65. Frank

    JLP,

    as long as you do a full image of the disk and the disk is the mainboard of the computer stays the same any disk imaging software will restore your image to a new HDD. The HDDs brand does not matter.

    What would /not/ work was if you changed an ATA for a SATA drive, changed the main board or HDD controller etc.
    I even saw restores fail to another revision of the same mainboard.

    If I was you I used the paragon software, because it is upwards compatible. Should you, at any time, need to change mainboard (or the whole computer) you simply buy Drive Backup Personal (39.95$) and you can restore the image you made with DB Express to completely new hardware.

    Frank

  66. Jean-Luc Picard

    Ahh, thanks! I have a Seagate HDD (the samsung in my brother’s is crap, and it burned out. Now he has a Seagate!)
    But I don’t know if my new HDD will be a Seagate, so can you tell me if it would restore to non-Seagates?