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I need a software recommendations to create a copy of my drive on a USB external in case of a crash.

Posted on 2012-09-21
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Last Modified: 2016-10-27
My PC recently crashed and it simply takes too long to recreate my environment. Now, that I have finally completed setting up my PC to a good working state with my chosen programs, I want to find the best software that would allow me to copy the entire drive and system settings into a file that can be saved and will allow me to copy the entire drive and settings back to my current state from a usb network or disc set. A final point, if this takes several different software packages, that is also considered a valid recommendation.

All software recommendations are appreciated and Im sure will be valid. However, the recommendation I end up choosing will be awarded the "correct" answer for the question.
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Question by:TechHelpr08210
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LVL 8

Expert Comment

by:npinfotech
ID: 38422699
I use windows 7 system restore (Control Panel\All Control Panel Items\Backup and Restore).  Choose "create system image" and the wizard will guide you from there.
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Author Comment

by:TechHelpr08210
ID: 38422714
Right, but, that doesn't help me if the hard drive is shot and I need to setup on a new harddrive.
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Accepted Solution

by:
awawada earned 600 total points
ID: 38422721
For me personally I use Windows Easy Transfer.

For customers:
PCmover Professional or Acronis Universal Restore (hardware-independent)

Note: Windows Easy Transfer will not save Software
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Expert Comment

by:Ess Kay
ID: 38422767
personally i would save the importat files and reformat the hard drive.


it may be corrupted in places through use.
you dont want to copy these corupted sectors to the new hard drive
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Expert Comment

by:Ess Kay
ID: 38422769
here are some recomendations if you still want to go your way


www.drive-image.com/
www.techsupportalert.com/best-free-drive-imaging-program.htm
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Expert Comment

by:npinfotech
ID: 38422829
I restore windows 7 images to new, different, larger drives:

http://pagestart.com/win7bckuprstrnhd072610.html
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Expert Comment

by:awawada
ID: 38422836
you dont want to copy these corupted sectors to the new hard drive
This will not be a big problem, because you can fix Windows with it's own tools.
Reformat is better but not the quickest way.
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Author Comment

by:TechHelpr08210
ID: 38422860
Have you used any of these programs?

I have a backup system for copying my files and windows doesn't destroy them anyway if I am suing the same machine. Also, I can user restore points to repair startup when that is an option.

It takes a only a couple hours to reinstall windows, when it is necessary so I dont mind that part.
The problem I am trying to avoid is the time it takes to reinstall all of the software that I use on my local PC as part of my local environment. Im happy to resetup projects but, I want to avoid all of the time I have to sit and watch each of programs reinstall.

I want to save myself the pain of reinstalling a seemingly never ending set of web servers, database servers, PC utilities, software applications, windows updates, etc that I also require as part of my PC setup.
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Expert Comment

by:Darr247
ID: 38423006
I recommend Clonezilla Live.
Here are Clonezilla Tutorials, and the first 2 there sound like what you want.

If possible, practice the imaging process and restore it onto another hard drive a few times so you know what works best (like including the MBR in the backup/restore, resizing the file system on restore, et cetera)... and test the final image like that, too, so you don't find out the image you made is broken/worthless only when you actually need it.
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Expert Comment

by:awawada
ID: 38423202
@TechHelpr08210
Whom are you asking the question "Have you used any of these programs?"
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Assisted Solution

by:shahzoor
shahzoor earned 1400 total points
ID: 38423515
Like awawada said
i would also suggest you to purchase Acronis True image with universal restore so that you can deploy image of a computer to any new machine available.

If you are afraid of the harddisk failure only then you can go for a free solution of Paragon Backup and Recovery
http://www.paragon-software.com/home/br-free/

You schedule daily backups or incremental backups
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Expert Comment

by:Ess Kay
ID: 38423639
@awadada

It also includes corrupted files,  additional crap from Uninstalled programs. In the directory and in the registry.
That's not to mention possible Infections
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Expert Comment

by:Fred Marshall
ID: 38423794
If you have Windows 7 then you can use what npinfotech suggested.  
But, in addition you will need to create a Sytem Repair Disk to boot from so that you can restore the image onto a new hard drive.  Perhaps that should be the first step.
Then, make sure the computer(s) will boot from this disk so you have confidence that your "system" is in good order.

I just did a bit of a survey aimed at Windows XP.  I used two more or less "modern" computers with XP installed (if that matters at all) and one that was "older" but of XP vintage.
The older one was a bit more problematic than the others.  
I used a live boot CD for the imaging software in every case.
Here are the results:

Clonzilla seemed to work reliably.  It's free.  It's interface is very Linux-oriented and can be a bit daunting at first.  In the end all one really has to do is a bunch of <enter> key presses and to locate and name the target for the image file.

Acronis True Image Home 13 worked almost completely.  It has a graphical interface that's easy to understand that resembles the installed version of the program.  On the "older" computer, the mouse didn't work in the first window and I had to select the desired mode using the keyboard arrow keys.  But, after that initial selection, the mouse worked fine.  
So, for the casual user, I'd likely recommend this one.

Miray HDClone has a nice interface but the live CD didn't work on any of the computers.  It didn't have mouse function on the "older" computer and didn't create an image on the other two newer ones.  NOT at all satisfactory .. and I paid for it!

Macrium Reflect (Windows PE disk) seems to work but one has to assign the backup drive before selecting it.  Fine for techies.

DiskImageXML (Knoppix) has to assing the backup drive before selecting it.  Fine for techies.

The advantage of using a live CD is that you don't have to install it on any particular computer.  The things to be sure about would be:

1) Will it boot like it's supposed to?
2) Will it recognize the keyboard and mouse like you expect it to?
3) Will it recognize the external hard drive (it may seem that it doesn't if you have to assign the drive first)?

If you are using add-on USB interface cards then you may have driver issues using a live CD.  So, devices plugged into such cards may not be recognized or useful unless you get past this type of driver install.
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Expert Comment

by:awawada
ID: 38424093
@esskayb2d
I know that, but you can fix this after...
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Expert Comment

by:garycase
ID: 38424211
There are a variety of imaging programs that will do what you want ... I've tried most of them over the years.

I've found that Image for DOS is a superb, rock-solid utility that lets you image your drive -- or any set of selected partitions from the drive -- and very easily restore the image if/when necessary.    http://www.terabyteunlimited.com/image-for-dos.htm

Although for a long time I resisted "live imaging", the companion Image for Windows product [http://www.terabyteunlimited.com/image-for-windows.htm ]  is VERY solid, and I now use it to create my images;  and Image for DOS to restore them on the rare occasions when that's necessary.

Both are VERY simple to use -- you only really need IFD, but IFW makes it a bit simpler to create the images (no need to boot to the IFD disk).

The pair is available for a very reasonable cost:  http://www.terabyteunlimited.com/purchase-image-for-dos-linux.htm
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Expert Comment

by:Lionel MM
ID: 38424485
I use Clonezilla because its free and easy to use but it does require that I boot from a USB or CD. I do recommend Acronis to my clients--its easy to use and depending on what there needs and level of expertize are they offer several easy and powerful solutions and they can run
For Home Users
http://www.acronis.com/products/#home
For Business Users
http://www.acronis.com/business/smallbusiness/
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Author Comment

by:TechHelpr08210
ID: 38425534
First, thanks to everyone for their contributions.

Although I appreciate the concern over copying viruses into the clean copy, for this situation I'm not terribly concerned about being shut down from a virus since the point is to copy my system setup completely before anything goes wrong since I effectively have a clean setup now that I have had to re-create it from scratch. Using it for an automated backup is somthing else entirely from what I am talking about and is currently handled by a networked image.

Second, I'm currently leaning towards Acronis mainly because:
(Please correct me if Im wrong here)

1- It would allow me to setup my system image on a completely separate PC if needed.
2- It can my entire system including all the installed apps and thier configurations and settings onto a separate location.

I have a question though:

1) How would a restore from a usb drive work in acronis if windows can't load the network drivers or the USB drivers? Would I need to reinstall windows and then replace the fresh install with the image after reinstalling acronis?

Im going to install the trial and maybe I will understand it better once I look at through the software.
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Expert Comment

by:garycase
ID: 38425544
Any imager that boots to its own environment will let you do a restore without any other drivers -- no need to install anything first.      And you can restore the image to any system you want -- the only post-restore issue would be drivers if the hardware configuration was different than that of the imaged system.

The bootable Acronis restore CD;  an Image for DOS CD;  or any other similar utility will do this with no problem.     One other thing I like about Image for DOS is the free "TBIView" utility you can install, which lets you look inside images from Windows Explorer and extract any files you may need from a saved image.

I'd give both Acronis and Image for DOS a try -- both have free trials and are simple to use.
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Expert Comment

by:Lionel MM
ID: 38426170
Once you install Acronis it will give you options to create a boot CD and you will boot from this to "reinstall" using the image you created
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Expert Comment

by:Fred Marshall
ID: 38427073
At times I've done this if there's to be a different computer:
(This may be a bit of overlap between app's but I was working with what I knew)

Make the image with Acronis.
Restore the image onto a clean hard drive.
Use Paragon Drive Copy to migrate the new hard drive into a new/different computer.
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Expert Comment

by:Ess Kay
ID: 38427086
In that case use Acronis
It's simply the best and easy to use

If u want free check links I posted above
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Expert Comment

by:Ess Kay
ID: 38427090
On boot up can boot from usb
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Author Comment

by:TechHelpr08210
ID: 38478432
Thanks for the information from everyone. I have decided to go with Acronis but, after my intial install, it does not seem to back up my data when it runs.

I will have to look into it later though since I have a couple projects to finish before continuing.
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Author Closing Comment

by:TechHelpr08210
ID: 38478472
Again thanks to everyone! <br /><br />The real seller for me personally was the ability to re-deploy a onto another PC, if necessary. That alone could save hours for me. <br /><br />That was the reason the points were awarded as such.
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Expert Comment

by:Lionel MM
ID: 38480017
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