Whole-disk imaging under Windows
February 8, 2014 12:58 PM   Subscribe

What is the best open-source method for imaging an entire external hard drive, and then mounting the resulting image as a read-only drive under Windows? The drive in question is an external USB FAT32 hard drive with two partitions. Is there a robust Win32 dd alternative? It would also be nice to be able to open the image under VMWare.
posted by anemone of the state to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You want Disk2vhd. It's the easiest and safest way, and works on practically any windows volume (even the boot volume of your computer).

It's not open source, but it's part of the free sysinternals toolkit. Also most of the windows disk image tools know how to deal with VHDs natively (and VMware knows how to convert them, etc).
posted by AaronRaphael at 1:05 PM on February 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

Not sure if it meets your requirements, but Macrium Reflect FREE Edition is the best overall disk imaging solution I've used. "Hot images", cloning, partition management. It's pretty great.
posted by lattiboy at 1:32 PM on February 8, 2014

Do any of these utilities include the archiving of empty sectors?

Is there a Windows utility that allows for the conversion of dd images to .vhd images, or the mounting of dd images?
posted by anemone of the state at 1:51 PM on February 8, 2014

Look into osfmount. It's free-as-in-beer but attached to some disk recovery or analysis program; I'm not sure if there are ads involved. I don't think it's the only program out there that does this (mount an imaged drive), but it's the only name I recall off the top of my head.

My usual method for making the images is to boot from a Knoppix USB flash drive, then dd it to an external HDD or freshly-plugged-in internal HDD. From there I tend to take the drive to a *nix box and mount it as loopback, but I recall there were a few Win choices like osfmount back when I looked into the problem. I admit I never had to go that far.

If you have a VM infrastructure in place, you can probably find tools from your vendor. I know VMware offers a physical-to-virtual converter that makes a virtual disk image, then you can just mount that as a new drive in any VM on the box, etc.
posted by introp at 4:08 PM on February 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Image creation has been solved: Boot a Linux liveUSB and use
dd if=/dev/DeviceGoesHere of=/mnt/WindowsPartition/c.img
To mount in Windows, use OSFMount.
posted by anemone of the state at 5:19 PM on February 8, 2014

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