Byword cloning, it is absolutely clear what is the purpose of hard drive cloning software in both free and paid categories. Such kind of software allows users to create an exact copy of their whole hard drive or individual portions which not only includes files and folders even the operating system. For example, if you have cloned or created an image of your Windows 10, 8 or 7… or Linux such as Ubuntu installed partition then in the future if something happened to your current OS partition, say a hard drive failure, then you can restore the disk image on your new hard drive to get exactly the state of the OS partition when you have created its image.
After creating a hard drive copy, we can transfer the image to removable devices such as USB drives, hard drives, NAS, or DVDs for more security and protection. This avoids the hassle of installing the whole OS and software over it. Furthermore, we can also use it to copy the OS its installed software, and content to multiple machines simultaneously.
What is the difference between disk cloning and disk image?
The difference between these two techniques is- the Disk Image is the process in which we use some software to create an exact copy of the whole drive or certain partition in the form of a file. That you restore later using the same software to get the exact state of OS, files, and folders. The major benefit of the Disk image we can store it on the cloud or external drive. Whereas the size of the same will be a downside because if you have large data then the image will also be large in size.
On the other hand, Disk Cloning is also offered by third-party software, in which we replicate or let’s say copy the whole drive to another drive. Thus, you will have two hard drives with the exact same data and OS. Therefore, in case of hard drive failure or OS gets corrupted, just switch to another drive without having significant downtime in your working hours.
However, unlike backup, in both Disk Imaging and Disk Cloning, there will not be any incremental or differential backup facility. Thus, the data generated on the hard drive after cloning will not be on the cloned drive or image.
Best disk cloning software to download in 2020
Most of the best cloning software mentioned here can easily be installed on Windows 10 0r 7, however, those who are looking to clone or create a disk image using a Linux system can go for bare metal hard drive cloning software such as CloneZilla or R-Linux has given in the list.
Note: We are not affiliated with any of the mentioned software in this article. The list is compiled on the basic features and availability.
1. Macrium Reflect
Macrium Reflect 7, which is the current version of this software. It is a paid one but for the Home user, the free edition is enough to complete daily requirements. Yes, the free version of Macrium Reflect is not only capable of proving disk imaging and cloning solution but can be used as a free backup tool.
It is available for Windows 10, 8 & 7 and the installation is super easy just like any other software. The thing which is really good about the software is its interface, it reflects Windows “My Computer” drive representation, thus, even a beginner can easily comprehend how to use it.
The free version comes with various features such as it allows Disk cloning and later restoring the same in case the system is not bootable or hard drives crashed; let’s boot cloned image of Windows in Hyper-V as a Virtual Machine; we can schedule backups with flexible templates; differential images backup; create images of a Live/running Windows OS; allows users to browse the backup images.
Download Free Disk cloning to Macrium Reflect from its official website. You can also see our guide on how to use Macrium Reflect to clone drives.
2. Clonezilla- Free and Opensource bare metal Disk Cloning
Clonezilla, the best disk imaging and cloning software that is not only free but open-source as well. However, it is a Linux (Debian or Ubuntu) based software thus you cannot install it on Windows to use it like any other software listed in this list. Nevertheless, the best thing is its capability of booting as a LIVE Linux which makes it a bare metal Hard disk cloning platform. Thus, it doesn’t matter you are using Windows, Linux, macOS, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, VMWare ESX, and Chrome OS/Chromium OS or any other operating system. The user can simply boot the PC or Laptop using Clonezilla and this will clone the whole disk drive of the system without modifying internal files or folders.
It supports a nice range of file systems such as ext2, ext3, ext4, brtfs, FAT12, FAT16, FAT32, NTFS, and more. However, to use Clonezilla, users need to have some knowledge of computers, file systems, and how to work with them.
Download Clonezilla free of cost from its official website.
3. AOMEI Backupper
Are you looking for the best disk cloning software for Windows 10 along with backup features in the free category? Then try out AOMEI Backupper. Just like Macrium Reflect, it is also available in two versions one is free and the other for paid users with extra features. However, the backup options it provides in the free version are more than what we can expect. The software is not just limited to Disk and Partition clone, one can also take System, Disk, Partition, File/Folder backup to restore later. File/Folder sync, Automatic, Incremental, Differential, Sector-by-sector backup are some other useful features.
Even after generating a backup image, the browsing of the same is possible in case you just want to extract some particular folder or file from it rather than extracting all files. Last but not least is the ability of its to create Windows PE & Linux bootable media.
Furthermore, the interface AOMEI Backupper is way simpler than any other program. Therefore, if you want to protect your data then get a free copy of it, here is the official link.
4. EaseUS Todo Backup
EaseUS is another free Windows 10/8.1/8/7/Vista/XP disk cloning software with backup and restores features. Well, this software is not different than others mentioned in this best list of disk imaging software. However, just another tool for those who have already used the other software available in this category but didn’t this one.
It facilitates the users with options to take a full backup of the Windows OS running systems with provision to have incremental, differential, and schedule backup methods.
In terms of disk imaging, it uses block-level technology to backs up the entire HDD/SSD or partition and volume. Here is the official download page.
5. HDClone X
Well, HDClone X is a very straightforward software with an interface that can be comprehended by anyone, even a newbie to the PC world will not face difficulty to clone his drives. The HDClone is a free edition with a limitation of copying or cloning data of 2TB at 30MB/s, and if you want more than that then pro versions (HDClone Basic, HDClone Standard, HDClone Advanced & HDClone Professional) with high speed and other features are available. Nevertheless, for a regular user who wants to move data or the entire operating system to a new hard drive, the Free Edition of HD CloneX is ideal.
6. R-Linux or Windows Disk Imaging and Recovery
R-Tools is the company that proving different solutions related to storage and recovery; the R-Linux or Windows is a free recovery utility that is available for both Windows and Linux operating systems. If your goal is a data recovery and Imaging of disk partitions then R-Linux is the free one to go for. However, unlike Windows which has multiple solutions available above, the availability of this software for Linux gives it an upper hand. Thus, those who are using open source distros and looking for some recovery solution that can be used without issuing commands should try out R-Linux.
In terms of features, it helps in recovering the partitions that collapsed due to virus attack, power failure, or system crash. Even, if you have accidentally deleted or formatted some partition this R-tools free solution can scan and help you in finding existing partitions and restore files from the same. However, the thing is to be noted that partitions should not be overwritten.
Apart from these, creating image files for an entire hard drive, logical disk, or its part, and compress images are some other features.
For more details and to download the executable files of R-Tools for Linux and Windows see the official page.
What is OS cloning?
When we create an exact copy of the operating system installed on any PC, Laptop, or server hard disk using a backup and restore kind of software, some of them mentioned in this article, that process is called OS cloning. It is beneficial, in the case, your one drive gets crashed then the other drive where you have cloned your OS can immediately be used. Or want an exact copy of OS in multiple systems.
Does Windows 10 have cloning software?
By Default, there would not be any cloning software in Windows 10, however, we can install third-party tools such as Macrium Reflect or AOMEI Backupper.
What is the fastest way to clone a hard drive?
There is no fastest way rather a convenient one. Although you can use any of the free hard disk solutions given here in this list, the speed of the most well developed and coded software depends on the system we are using. The good configuration systems and high read and write speed of the system drive will decide how fast the cloning would be.
Does cloning a hard drive copy the OS?
Yes, if we are cloning a drive that has a working operating system then indeed it will copy the OS as well. That can be restored later to get the same OS with the installed software. One can try Macrium Reflect for Live cloning of OS drive partition.
Does cloning a drive make it bootable?
Yes, if a drive that one wants to clone is bootable then the cloned one will also bootable with the same operating system and files.
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2 thoughts on “5 Best free software for disk imaging or cloning hard drives”
I have been using Acronis True Image for about 10 years now and like it’s features. However, they have incorporated malware protection now which cannot be fully turned off. Unfortunately, it is interfering with Adobe Photoshop Adobe Camera Raw. Many people are now having problems. In the older version I was able to turn “Active Protection ” off but now this additional software even though it can be disabled after it is installed still causes problems with this Adobe software. Is there a similar product to Acronis TrueImage 2021?
I would recommend Macrium Reflect which is also best in class