In most situations, we start pondering about making backups and copy hard drive data only when there arises a threat of losing it. It is always important to have a backup copy of your existing hard disk especially when you have the most important files stored in it.
Having a backup is handy when you want to reinstall your operating system and the softwares all from the beginning or when you want to replace your existing hard disk with a new one with all your previous data in the old hard drive. Though making a backup copy of your disk is a time consuming process, its well worth it. We list some of the free tools that will help you do this.
XXCLONE : Windows
XXClone has got a very good reputation around the web. The program copies the files one by one, so that it doesn’t copy empty space. But the advantage is that the copied data would be fragmented so files could be accessed faster.
This feature makes the utility different from other disk imaging softwares. If you have a hard drive partition that doesn’t boot, xxclone helps to copy that data too.
XXClone comes with features to make quick boot disk, clone a non system volume, make bootable copy of your hard drive, shutdown your pc after a backup is completed etc.
The hyper sync algorithm option under the its advanced tab will help you make faster backups.
The app can clone a volume into another which has a different file system ie. You can copy from FAT to NTFS file system. With these good features, the program it self is compact and small in size when compared to the size of installation files of other backup programs.
EASEUS Todo Backup : Windows
Todo backup guides you from beginning till the end to make a successful backup of your data. Easeus comes with neatly labeled big buttons and clean interface, the program wont be so complex for new newbies. It has a Universal Restore feature that lets you create a snapshot of your system which that is not hardware specific. This means you could use the same backup copy to restore to a pc with different hardware configuration.
It also comes with the feature to mount snapshot copy of your hard drive and you could browse the files and folders and pull individual files if needed. Easeus Todo Backup is for people who are willing to backup and cull backups manually.
The program also comes with a linux distro CD which help you recover your system during a crash. If you think of backing up and copy hard drive data for replacing your old hard drive with a new one, the disk cloning feature will help you do the data migration easily and you could schedule backups too so that the program will do the job in the background.
Easeus has the ability to convert the backup images to virtual drives, with which you can easily create VHD and boot from windows 7. It provides you the option to compress, encrypt and split resulting backup image.
With all these nifty features, Easeus Todo backup stands head to head with those commercial applications.
DriveImage XML : Windows
DriveImage XML is small sized utility, that will help you to make copy of all the files on the drive even if they are in use. It will help you to restore the backup images to drives without the need of rebooting windows.
The program uses Microsoft’s Volume Shadow Services to make copies of the files in parallel while the drive is being used.
The problem with the tool is that, if you want to do a complete system restore with the backup image, you need to boot into another drive because it wont allow you to restore the backup to the same drive you are booted into. But this problem could be fixed by making the target hard disk as a slave drive (may be on another pc) and you could boot into the primary disk of that machine and perform the system restore to your actual primary drive (slave on other machine). Next you need to make the restored drive as Active via the Windows Disk management tool and then reboot to boot from the restored hard disk.
It has a Drive to Drive feature that helps to create the clone of an entire partition to another free partition, and that too without the need of creating an image. Unlike other programs DriveImage XML helps you to create backup image of USB/Flash Drive.
Paragon Backup & Restore Free – Copy Hard Drive Entirely
PBR lets you copy hard drive with your important files or just specific files by setting up filters to filter out copying music, movies & other not so important files. This becomes really handy when you have a backup medium with comparatively small size. It can create backups as VHD’s (Virtual Hard Drive) for Microsoft Virtual PC, Virtual Box, Fusion & VMWare.
Like the above said softwares PBR gives you the options to compress, encrypt, split, mount and schedule backups. If you want to to restore only specific files, PBR has the option for that too.
Its unique features include the ability to create differential backups, shutdown your pc after the backup process, ability to set filters for backups, create bootable USB/Pendrives and the disk management functions such as Formatting a had drive, changing drive letters, make a partition as active, create partition, assign partition etc.
The Differential backup feature is helpful if you are in the habit of making continuous backups. Using differential backup will ensure that only the modified files are being backed up instead of copying all the files and making a full backup each time. But remember differential backups would eat up much more space than a full backup since it creates a new image file every time.
For using the differential backup feature in PBR, you need to first create a full backup of your hard drive. Afterwards you should choose the differential backup option which would ask you to point out the full backup image. Paragon compares the full backup image with the files present on the system to check whether they have been modified.
Although the program is Free, you need to get a product key from Paragons website inorder to use the program for domestic purposes.
Clonezilla : Open Source
Clonezilla stays apart from other free backup creation tools by being friendly to more advanced users. It copies and restores only used sectors in a hard drive.
Clonezilla lacks the incremental and differential backup features which are seen in most of the other free disk imaging softwares. The interface is not user friendly, users accustomed to user friendly backup programs might find it difficulty in initially creating hard drive backup’s with clonezilla.
Clonezilla comes in two flavours, Clonezilla Live – using a CD/DVD or USB to clone (single PC) & Clonezilla SE (Server Edition): A DRBI server is used to copy hard drive’s in multiple machines.
It supports a plethora of file systems and Supports Windows, Mac & Linux. If you are concerned about a program that offers backend support then, this is not for you as it is an opensource program, Clonezilla well suits you if you are looking for a solid backup program that could copy hard drive data robustly.
Macrium Reflect Free Edition – Windows
Macrium Reflect is one among the most downloaded programs used to copy hard drive data. The program doesn’t have the differential backup feature that the paragon offers, but it is very simple to use. It gives you slightly more compressed version of the backup files than Paragon and is similarly faster. With macrium xml definition files can be created which can be saved for creating backups later. Double clicking the xml file would start the backup operation without any user input.
It also comes with the feature to mount backups and restore files individually. Like most of the other utilities it creates the backup by copying sector by sector and stores the data to a single file.
- So which is the best Free tool to make backups & Copy Hard Drive Data?
All of these tools excel with their own unique features, but without making this long, the best utility to make consistent backups and suits most users will be the Easeus Todo backup and Clonezilla considering their features and usability.
Which is your favorite tool to create backup of your data ? Which utility do you recommend ? Let us know in the Comments..