Methods to clone or image a hard drive?

We have five desktop computers with a 200G hard drive each. I understand to clone I can buy an equal or bigger hard drive and run Acronis to do the cloning. But I remember instead of cloning to an individual separate hard drive I can "image" each of five hard drives to, say, one USB hard drive of 4 TB. In case one computer's hard drive broken, I can restore from the image to a new hard drive.
Can you tell me how to do that? and what software do I need?
Thanks.
CastlewoodAsked:
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
You can create images on a separate hard drive for as many computers as you have space for. That will work. You can do this with Symantec Ghost and also with Acronis. I use Ghost.

Ghost supplies a method to make a bootable USB key so that you plug in the bootable USB key and the USB hard drive and recover the image to the computer. I have done this.

I expect Acronis has the same. Here is their article to do that.

http://www.acronis.com/en-gb/support/documentation/ATIH2014/index.html#16207.html
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Ratnesh MishraCommented:
If you are Windows user you may use "Disk2vhd" tool which will help you in converting the physical hard disk to vhd. The best part will be that you can mount the .vhd [image disk directly to any windows 7 machine to take the content].
You can download the tool from here :  http://technet.microsoft.com/en-in/sysinternals/ee656415.aspx
In case you feel any discomfort do let me know so that I can setup a test environment and can make a step by step method for the entire process.

The best part will be that you will have a virtual disk in the formet of xxxxx.vhd which you can store on a single large disk and can mount it based on your neccessity, you can use various other tools to convert it in different format such as vmdk or vdi format based on your virtualization environment if you want to use such as hyper-v or vmware or virtualbox and many other.
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Randy PooleCommented:
Acronis is still your best bet.  All their backup products allow universal restore even with different hardware.
http://www.acronis.com/en-us/business/universal-restore/
For multiple pc's use this product.
http://www.acronis.com/en-us/business/backup/workstation/
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nobusCommented:
for personal use, you can use the free paragon software: http://www.paragon-software.com/home/br-free/download.html

very easy to use. What i do is create a folder for each image, with identifying data in the name (user, PC model, Date or such) that way, it is easy to find each one later
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Natty GregIn Theory (IT)Commented:
You heard what John said I also prefer Norton Ghost
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
@Castlewood  - Thank you and I was happy to help.
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nobusCommented:
enjoy the free one..
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