[Windows] Copy your hard drive (aka migrate your data) to another computer or hard drive with Paragon Drive Copy

paragon_drive_copy_proAre you thinking about purchasing a new computer, but you don’t want to change operating systems? Maybe you just want to make sure that you can copy over your entire hard drive to your new computer? If so, then you may want to look into Paragon Drive Copy. This is a great program for Windows that allows you the ability to copy your entire hard drive!

WHAT IS IT AND WHAT DOES IT DO

Main Functionality

Paragon Drive Copy allows for the complete migration of your computer’s hard drive to another hard drive or another computer, no matter the source and no matter the target. It offers a full range of copying operations, and it is all laid out in a very easy-to-understand format. It also offers data backup features.

There are two versions of Paragon Drive Copy, Compact and Professional. This review was specifically written for Professional but we will explain the differences between the two to help you make a better informed decision.

Pros

  • Allows you to migrate the operating system and data (files, documents, programs, etc.) of your current system over to a different computer or hard drive (aka make an existing Windows installation bootable on a different computer or hard drive — can copy to dissimilar hardware). Yes, this means you can take your data and Windows installation and move it to a computer that has different hardware or you can simply move your data/Windows installation to new (larger or smaller) drive on your current computer.
  • Can choose to copy a full hard disk or just a portion of it
  • Allows you to copy from a regular hard disk to a SSD (Solid State Drive)
  • Can make a virtual copy of your operating system/data, aka virtualize your system
  • Offers the ability to create complete system backups (sector-level “image” backups), not just saving on-disk information but also the system service structures
  • Comes with a restore wizard that allows you to restore all types of backups created with this program, and even allows you to selectively restore files
  • Able to fix most system boot problems that are a result of human error or a boot virus
  • Comes with basic partition management features
  • Can create WinPE or Linux-based bootable media (CD/DVD/USB drive) so that you can run Paragon Drive Copy from outside Windows
  • Supports uEFI boot and Windows Storage Spaces

Cons

  • Only allows you to move Windows XP and above (sorry all of you who are still holding onto Windows 95)
  • Backup feature does full sector-level backups but not sector-level differential backups or any file-level backups
  • Compact version is missing two key features — the ability to migrate data to a computer with different hardware and the ability to virtualize OS

Discussion

paragon_drive_copy_pro_2Paragon Drive Copy is one of those programs that has so much to offer you simply cannot cover it all in one review. However, we will at least try to hit on some of the major features that Drive Copy offers. Before we get into it, please note that there are two versions of this program. There is Drive Copy Compact and Drive Copy Professional.

The difference between the two versions is the fact that Drive Copy Compact has fewer features than the Professional version, but it costs less. Some of the features you will miss out on when you choose Drive Copy Compact over the Professional include: the ability to migrate OS to dissimilar hardware (aka the ability to migrate data to a computer with different hardware), P2V Copy (aka create a virtual copy of your system), the ability to resume operations on virtual volumes, and support for major virtual machines. The following chart explicitly lists out the differences between the two versions:

2014-01-10_004631

Take note Compact version cannot migrate data to a computer with different hardware while Professional can. This means you cannot copy your hard drive (operating system + data) and restore it on a different computer if you have Compact version. With Compact — and Professional — you can, however, backup data using the backup feature and restore that data to a different computer or hardware. The difference is with the backup/restore feature, you can only backing up/restoring data — not Windows. With migrate/copy hard drive, you can copy Windows plus your data. So, essentially, with Compact you can move data between computers or drives but with Professional you can move Windows and data between computers or drives. Compact can also copy Windows plus your data but the target computer (the computer you are copying to) must have the same hardware as the source computer (the computer you are copying from); Professional can copy Windows plus your data to any computer — the hardware do not need to be the same.

Now that we covered that, let’s talk a bit about the features you get with Drive Copy. To me, the coolest feature is the ability to move your current operating system over to a new computer (with your Windows installation and data intact). So, let’s say that you purchased a new computer that has Windows 8 on it, but you don’t want that. You can continue using your current OS by simply using this program to copy your current Windows over to the new computer. Not only that, but it will copy over all of your documents and data as well. It will literally be like you moved everything from your current computer over to your new one. Just keep in mind, that it only allows this back to Windows XP. So don’t think you can pull Windows 95 off your old desktop and use it on a brand new laptop.

Besides that, it offers a huge range of other copying operations. For example, you can choose to just copy data stored on your hard drive and not the whole Windows OS. You can also just choose a section of your hard drive to copy as opposed to it all.

This program can also be used as a backup and restore program. So even if you are not thinking about switching computers any time soon, you can still use this program to back up your computer, and restore it whenever you need to. You make “image” backups with this program, meaning you backup whole drives/partitions not individual files. The restore feature, however, allows you to “selective” restores meaning you can restore individual files from backups if you want — you don’t have to restore the whole darn backup.

CONCLUSION AND DOWNLOAD LINK

Paragon Drive Copy has a lot of great features. The ability to copy your existing OS over to a new computer is worth the price tag alone. (Note: You need the Professional version if you want to migrate to a new computer — Compact won’t do that for you, unless the new computer has the exact same hardware as the old computer.) All the other feature are an added bonus. I highly recommend this program to anyone that wants or needs it.

Also be sure to check out dotTech’s review on best free backup software for Windows.

Price: Drive Copy Professional $39.95, Drive Copy Compact $29.95

Version reviewed: 14

Supported OS: Windows XP / Vista / 7 / 8 / 8.1

Download size: 100+ MB

VirusTotal malware scan results: Too large to scan with VirusTotal

Is it portable? No

Paragon Drive Copy Professional homepage | Paragon Drive Copy Compact homepage

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31 comments

  1. Dave Taaffe

    I have a question. I bought the Paragon Drive copy Pro. My netbook hd needed backing up due to a meaage every five minutes saying the drive was faulty. It is 360GB. I decided to buy a new drive that is 1000gb. I installed the paragon drive copy , placed the new drive in a case attached it to net book and then useing the disc copy function, made a copy on the new drive. Here is my issue…it made a perfect copy…but, I cant use the remaining 619gb left over. It is shown as “unpartioned and is not formatted”. Question how do I go about formatting that rest? It shows in the prog, but has no letter attached. Any tips and help would be gladly appriciated.

  2. RobCr

    [@sgrams]
    Did a quick Google on Casper.
    It appears to be a cloning program ?
    With the Seagate DiscWizard, I just create an image of my drive (and the MBR).
    The advantages are –
    – Multiple images can be stored
    – I reckon it would be less of a chore (than cloning) as I connect to one or the other Dock, and create an image, whilst having a meal (and of course verify)

    In my description of me transferring my working/running 7 year old XP to the 2007 PC, I just used a fresh drive, and restored the image into the ‘new’ drive.
    If anything had gone wrong, with my dissimilar hardware trick, no harm is done, as I can keep Groundhog Day’ing until I get it right.

    Rob

  3. sgrams

    [@RobCr]

    Thank you for the informative reply. In the past I would perform backups and always verify either using the software’s own verification or simulating a backup with the system disc I made, I was running W98 at the time. Twice my system bonked and both times my backup didn’t work, this was around 15 years ago and I don’t recall the details but I know at least one of the times I was using True Image. Although I don’t do it every time when I do a image with Casper I find it easy to disconnect the copied drive and boot up from the backup to verify its integrity.

  4. RobCr

    [@sgrams]

    If you mean Validate it ?
    When the DiscWizard has completed creating the backup, it stays on it’s screen (the one that you booted into).
    You just navigate to the the option to Validate it (Verify or Validate – I am unsure what their latest free version calls it).
    It is not as easy to find, in the latest version.
    You have to burrow into the option to restore that image, BUT INSTEAD you can right click that image file, and choose Verify/Validate.
    If you want, I will boot into the CD and be more precise.

    Thus to the other part of your question – there is no disconnecting or ‘take out’
    The hard drive remains in the Dock, and you are still on that one session where you connected it, to create the image.
    The reason that I am rusty is, I always use their 2011 version for my XP imaging, as they had the interface (Form/Screen) just perfect.
    I was an Analyst for 20 years, but I suspect that none of the current IT companies, have Analysts anymore. They hire hot shot young programmers, and let them do the Analysing (AGH!)
    Thus we end up with flashy/smarmy screens that look pretty and are difficult to use.
    MS hasn’t seen an Analyst since the Win XP and Office 2003 days.
    Google apparently does not use them.

    I do have to use the latest version of the DiscWizard for Win7 and Win8, as the 2011 version can’t handles them.
    I rarely use Win7 or Win8 because there were no Analysts in the building when they designed them.

    Rob

    PS I may be re-answering your question as I notice I am on page 1 of Ashraf’s article.
    However there is some extra info in this post, and I got something off my chest

  5. dan

    RobCr:
    Thanks for your more detailed explanation. This is the first I’ve heard that an incremental backup could be problematic. Well-known products like Acronis True Image offer it (as well as restoring to dissimilar hardware with their “Plus” upgrade). So I’m still unsure of what problems you encountered.
    Dan

  6. RobCr

    [@sgrams]
    I did that a couple of times when I first started doing ‘my process’
    But I no longer do that. But I always Verify the image immediately.
    Every time that I have had to do a restore, it has worked 100%
    Just did one a few days ago to a 2007 desktop.
    The image was of my long running XP system that was in a 2004 desktop for 7 years.
    When restoring to the dissimilar hardware I had to do my ‘Repair Install’ trick with the XP CD, and now my OS has been running for 7 years ( NOW IN my 2007 PC )

    I did have trouble in the early days, using a USB connection to my docks.
    I blame MS for that, as MS would not allow motherboard manufacturers to create the XP USB drivers. I now avoid pre 2004 motherboards, and the USB connection appears reliable, whenever I use it.
    But 90% of the time, I now use an eSata connection to the Dock. Never had a failure, as long as I verified the image immediately after creating it.
    Don’t get complex Docks (with card readers etc). Just keep it simple.

    Rob

  7. RobCr

    [@dan]
    Where backups are concerned you want the simplest solution possible.
    I am talking about image backups.
    I use the free Seagate DiscWizard, which has an option to create a bootable CD (thus Windows is not running during backup).
    Use a bootable CD, and do regular backups to alternate external docks (3.5″ Verbatim drives shoved vertically into each dock)
    Immediately after creating an image Verify that image.
    Do not allow anyone or anything to then interfere with that backup.
    I believe image programs allow themselves to open your image, and do incremental or differential adjustments to your backup ?
    Hold a double barrel cocked shotgun to my head, and I would never allow that to happen.

    Rob

  8. Horrabin

    It was mentioned once above in passing, but AOMEI Backupper does basically much of what the compact version of Paragon does, and does it well. If all you need to do is basic partition backups, whole disk imaging, or cloning to a new drive to the same computer, it’s a good fast utility. I have a spare rig I use for playing with new software, stuff from TechNet, and so on, which had an old slow 80 GB spinner as the C drive. I just cloned it off to an extra 120 GB SSD I had laying around; it did it without a hitch and took less than 30 minutes (I wasn’t watching the whole time, it may have been less). Booted right up. It’s not a large download (60 MB). It doesn’t do incremental and so on but for a quick basic archiver I recommend it.

  9. Steve

    What would be REALLY USEFUL would be a comprehensive discussion (along with readers comments) on how to transfer ones data and programs to a new system that has new hardware and a new Win OS, such as XP to 7, XP to 8, 7 to 8. AND how, if possible, to transfer those programs that one obtained with a “you have to install it today” requirement.
    (Anyone else hate the Registry?)

  10. RobCr

    Giovanni,
    Thanks

    Regarding restore to Dissimilar hardware –
    I have probably ‘soap boxed’ (preached) about it somewhere on DotTech, regarding doing a Repair Install prior to booting in to the restored image.
    I have done it many times with XP

    Rob

  11. dan

    Can you be more explicit about what is considered to be “dissimilar hardware”?

    Also, Drive Image XML is so much smaller but if all I want to do is clone my HDD and don’t require other options, is it as good?

  12. Giovanni

    Hey Ashraf!
    Do you know a FREE backup utility which supports the “Restore to Dissimilar Hardware” function ?

    I don’t, but it’s rumored that the next new version of Aomei Backupper will do.…so let’s stay tuned!!

    However, to transfer almost any installed programs of yours from one Windows-based computer to another one with dissimilar hardware, keeping the original settings of them as well, just use this magic FREE portable app:

    http://www.pickmeapp.com/pickmeapp

    Ever heard about it?

    Or better yet we could use a virtualization product like “VirtualBox” + “GoPC Backup” as backup solution:

    https://www.virtualbox.org/wiki/Virtualization
    https://github.com/GeorgeSchiro/GoPcBackup

    But why not use a FREE BARE METAL solution instead?

    http://redobackup.org

    Enjoy!

  13. Ed

    The sale price as of Feb. 4, 2013 is gone. But also is gone the Compact version. I could not find it on their website despite there being a web page for the compact version & with it being FREE, no longer $24.95. BUT, I could not find where to download the supposedly now free Compact version. Vaporware! It seems that there is now a “Home” version but it is not free. The Paragon site does not give me confidence.

  14. Rob (Down Under)

    @Check:
    After you install your imaging program, use it to create a bootable CD.
    Then never use the installed program again (except to browse the contents of images, if the program can do that).
    Use the bootable CD for all your image creating, and restoring, (That is ROB’s LAW, which some people break.)
    Restoring means using your bootable CD to restore an image into a new drive.
    I generally never do a clone these days. I just restore an image instead.
    Mind you I am too poor to have tried a SSD, so I am not sure if one can do an image restore, instead of a direct clone.
    You should purchase an external dock ($25) into which you should shove a 3.5 inch Seagate drive. You store your images into that dock, and you do restores from that dock.

  15. Check

    I have a notebook with a hard drive.
    I want to replace the hard drive with an SSD.

    So:
    1) Install this Paragon program on the current hard drive.
    2) Copy to an external hard disk.
    3) Replace hard drive with an SSD.

    BUT… How do I get the info from the external hard disk onto the SSD?

  16. Stan Levin

    What is meant by Data? I know where all the data from Office Programs are located but not all the data from Outlook or FlashPaste or RoboForm and others. Does the Compact version find all the data associated with all programs and move them to the new computer?

    What is its value if it just moves Office Data?

  17. AFPhys

    Thanks for this review, especially mentioning the differences between versions.

    I still have two machines with W98(SP3 – fast,USB capable) on them, though I don’t use them much. I am wondering about why W98 can not be moved with this. Is there someone reading this who knows? My suspicion is that there is some section of W98 that gets placed at a specific location of the Hard Drive which is specified and maybe even modified by the W98 installation program.

    No real huhu to me… I have install disks for W95, W98, W2K and they don’t take long to use. Hmmmm…. just realized that I probably ought to make a new copy of those CDs…

    Still, I would like to know why this program can’t be used to migrate a W98 system.

  18. Sherwood Tucker

    I purchased it awhile back and it supposedly will do this…
    Support is via the forum… and the replies by both company people and users was quick and helpful.
    In my experience, the interface is/was a bit confusing due to not being exactly clear on the terms IE “clone”, “image”, “ISO” etc and what exactly was the difference and which could be used for what exactly…
    It does make a WIN PE disk and/or Linux rescue disc(s)…
    I have never had the “opportunity” to use it to restore as yet. I purchased it AFTER having a virus/worm/trojan wipe me out twice in spite of having anti this and anti that LOL
    I was told tat if this happened again, all I had to do was run the program and restore the backup (stored on an external drive) and all would be as it was…
    I was also told all I had to do was run the rescue disk and then do the restore…
    Of course never having had to do this, it leaves one with a feeling of does this really work/am I safe LOLOL

  19. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    @Sherwood Tucker: I am. In fact, it was my favorite free system level/image backup tool when I wrote an article on image backup tools a few years ago. However, I havent looked at it in years.
    Taking a quick peek now, it looks like the ability to restore to dissimilar hardware was added in Macrium Reflect but is not available in the free version.

  20. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    @mukhi: I agree, Paragon soft are usually very big. Thx for feedback!
    @Sherwood Tucker: Yep.
    @sgrams: I’m not exactly sure how you would handle the swap of HDD from one computer to another (my guess is you would have to run the bootable media to fix the OS once HDD is placed in other computer). i think a better way would be to backup the drive, transfer the backup to the drive of the other computer (i.e. no physical drive movement), then restore using Drive Copy’s bootable media. But, yes, that is exactly what this program does.

  21. sgrams

    Am I understanding this correctly that using the professional version I can copy everything from my present system onto a new hard drive and place that new hard drive into a totally new updated hardware environment? I must be missing something…that sounds too good to be true.

  22. Sherwood Tucker

    Hi,
    You mentioned it will copy OS, and data…
    Does this mean you can copy the OS and all settings AND all installed programs and all of their settings? In others words CLONE the present HD…
    Thanks