Good XP disk cloning tool?
July 20, 2010 11:51 AM   Subscribe

What is the best free PC Disk Cloning Software?

I'm upgrading the security camera software at my dad's business. They run on a specially-made DVR that is basically just a custom Windows XP box.

I want to clone the boot disk before I work on it. If anything goes wrong, I want to quickly be able to revert back to the software setup I know works.

What is the best software for this? Am I better off just setting a restore point or something?
posted by chris p to Technology (14 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I like Acronis True Image.
posted by wongcorgi at 11:55 AM on July 20, 2010

posted by teraspawn at 12:09 PM on July 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

Knoppix boot CD + dd.
posted by sanko at 12:11 PM on July 20, 2010

Sorry, that wasn't very helpful by itself. If you boot into (eg) Ubuntu from a flash disk, you can run dd from a terminal if you're comfortable with it and it'll copy everything bitwise.

My boyfriend recommends Cobian and is telling me off for being mean :-/
posted by teraspawn at 12:13 PM on July 20, 2010

Yeah, it's going to be somewhat difficult to do this in pure XP - Windows doesn't actually like people being able to image their disk and then restore that image or put it on another disk (for obvious reasons). You will have to use one of these backup programs. Personally I would go the dd route (simple, easy, perfect, fast) but then Linux is my thing, and I haven't tried Cobian, so who knows.
posted by koeselitz at 12:21 PM on July 20, 2010

Response by poster: I'm actually not averse to paying for a program. I'd just prefer a free option if it is available.

Also, if it matters... The partition I want to clone is only 20 GB. The system doesn't store the recorded data on the partition with the software.
posted by chris p at 12:42 PM on July 20, 2010

If you're not tech saavy, Acronis is extremely easy. No creating boot disks (let alone rebooting, unless you are restoring). A few clicks and you will have a backup image of your boot drive (just save it on your data drive). Few more clicks and a reboot and you've restored the image
posted by wongcorgi at 12:54 PM on July 20, 2010

Free? Easy? DriveimageXML at
posted by ijoyner at 1:00 PM on July 20, 2010

Also, if you're using DriveImageXML, it will only work for system drives if it is the only partition on the disk.

If you have a "recovery" partition or anything else that is on the disk before the system partition, you will have to get Acronis True Image to properly clone and be able to boot from the new disk.
posted by ijoyner at 1:01 PM on July 20, 2010

Try clonezilla.
posted by reddot at 1:37 PM on July 20, 2010

If you know what type of drive it is, both Seagate and Western Digital offer software to clone drives: DiscWizard if it's seagate, and if WD their own edition of Acronis.

And other than that, using dd from an ubuntu disc or Clonezilla is the best bet.
posted by sherman at 1:55 PM on July 20, 2010

As well as dd, you can use ntfsclone under Linux to clone an ntfs filesystem. It only copies the blocks that are actually in use, so it can be much quicker than using dd. You can also use ntfsfix to make the filesystem operative after moving it to a different disc, which can be handy.

Both utilities are part of one of the ntfs packages IIRC.
posted by pharm at 4:10 PM on July 20, 2010

Partition Wizard Home Edition Free! -- runs on Windows XP!
Parted Magic -- Linux Live CD w/ GUI (avoid painful shell cmds)
posted by stuph at 7:10 PM on July 20, 2010

+1 for clonezilla. Free and easy.
posted by sprocket87 at 8:12 PM on July 21, 2010

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