Three Free Ways to Clone Windows XP in 2012: Follow-up

Like many other technology junkies I know, I have this habit of playing with operating systems. There’s always a new or improved modified Linux distribution coming down the pipe, so on any given day you might find me replacing my Windows desktop with an Ubuntu or Linux Mint desktop, or perhaps I’ll be adding another partition of Windows or some other operating system to my hard drive. Windows 8 is on its way, so I expect I’ll soon be installing the most recent preview release of Microsoft’s next operating system just to see how well it performs on my current hardware. Sometimes I simply get a kick out of modifying whatever operating system I’m currently using, usually by randomly editing registry settings on my Windows system just to see what will happen. (I’m kidding about toying with the registry settings. That would be unwise, and I do not recommend it unless you know what you’re doing. Unless you really know what you are doing.)

Since I’m messing up making changes to my system(s) so often, I need to be certain I can easily recover my original hard drive or partition — you know, the one that works properly — and I prefer to do so from a perfect image or from a clone of my system. To satisfy this need, a few months ago I tested three free imaging/cloning solutions for Windows XP. (I focused on Windows XP because at the time I wrote the article the 11-year-old operating system was still my “daily driver“.) The article focused on the process of making images or clones using the applications I tested; I’d promised I would return with a report on how well each solution restored from those images or clones. Today I’ll deliver on that long-delayed promise of describing how well each application performed in my testing of the restoration process.

Briefly: The Differences Between Cloning and Imaging

At the time the first article was published, I was satisfied with what I’d written; now that I look back on my post, I believe it would have been helpful for me to have clarified the difference between cloning and imaging. Though no readers complained about my liberal swapping of the terms throughout the text, I feel that I may have left some readers thinking that cloning and imaging are precisely the same operations. In fact, though the end result may be the same — producing data that will enable us to restore our hard drive or partition — the way that data is manufactured and stored is considerably different in both cases. Knowing how the methods differ will produce a better understanding of the testing results I’ll be reporting in this article.

So, briefly: The term “cloning” is usually applied when making a perfect copy of a drive or partition onto another drive or partition. The clone, or reproduction, is pretty much an exact duplicate of the original drive. The size and the type of the drives may differ considerably, but data on the drives is identical. Since the clone is a perfect copy of the original drive, you can restore from it — but you can also skip that part of the process altogether and simply boot from the clone. In fact, cloning is the process that is usually undertaken when moving from one drive to another (such as when upgrading to one that has more storage).

Restoring from a cloned drive simply involves cloning the cloned drive. That is, in whatever utility used to perform the operation, simply select the cloned drive as the source drive and the original drive as the destination drive. This will restore your cloned drive to your original drive. (The same goes with partitions.)

The term imaging, on the other hand, is more properly used to describe the process of making a perfect copy of a drive or partition — but rather than producing a bootable drive, the copy is stored in a data representation of the drive or partition which can be restored from. That data representation is referred to as an image, and it can be assembled and then stored in a variety of ways, depending on the application that produces it. Images can usually be compressed to a smaller size in order to conserve storage space, and can be stored either on another hard drive or partition, or on the same hard drive or partition from which the image was created. (With one of the imaging solutions I tested, DriveImage XML, the image can even be broken up into smaller sizes so that the image can be stored on multiple optical discs.)

Restoring from an image involves selecting the image as the source and a drive or partition as the destination. Since images are composed and stored in various ways, however, the process can often be a tad less straightforward than cloning. Throughout this article I’ll note some of the differences in images the utilities I tested produced.

Though I take pains to note the differences between cloning and imaging, in much documentation and discussion the terms are used interchangeably. One reason for this is because the imaging process is, in essence, a way of cloning a hard drive or a partition. That said, I’ll do my best to use the “proper” term so as to clarify the method being tested.

On to the Testing!

Clonezilla

With the first tool I tested, Clonezilla, the process of imaging and of recovering the resulting image are similar, though whether or not the process is perceived as straightforward depends on the user’s level of comfort using text-based user interfaces. (See Fig. 1.) Once I booted up Clonezilla, I simply accepted the default prompts in order to image my Windows drive:

Clonezilla modes

Fig. 1 — Clonezilla’s device-image and device-device mode selection screen

Clonezilla offered many choices, but following the default path produced an image I was able to transfer to various storage devices until I required it. When it came time to restore the image, I simply followed the default path once again until I reached the following mode selection screen:

Clonezilla mode selection

Fig. 2 — Another of Clonezilla’s mode selection screens

Rather than selecting the default (as I had done to create the image), I selected the restoredisk option to restore the image to the hard drive.

Once the process was completed, I had no problem booting right back into my now-restored Windows XP system. Clonezilla seems to create both an image of your drive and its master boot record (MBR), the latter being an essential part of the boot process. (To put it simply: without a master boot record, Windows will not boot. One of the other two other tools I tested, DriveImage XML, failed to restore the MBR, causing me quite a bit of consternation before I discovered a relatively simple fix that enabled my computer to resume booting Windows XP.)

In my first article I mentioned that Clonezilla imaged my system quickly; now I can report that it restored the image in a similarly fast fashion. One thing I noticed this time around was how well Clonezilla had compressed the image, reducing my system’s size considerably. In my most recent test, Clonezilla produced a 10 gigabyte image out of a 15.7 gigabyte system. As noted in my first article, however, Clonezilla can seem a bit disorienting at times. Once in a while the application might display some funky stuff. In my testings, strings of characters would often overlay menu items that needed to be read. If you can get past its funkiness, though, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better free solution, performance-wise.

Clonezilla funkiness

Fig. 3 — An example of Clonezilla’s “funkiness”

Clonezilla’s device-device mode (see Fig. 1) is this solution’s implementation of cloning, providing disk to disk or partition to partition cloning or restoring. Running this mode produced a perfectly cloned drive from which I was able to boot and restore from. (As mentioned earlier, restoring from a cloned drive is simply a matter of cloning the cloned drive. That is, in order to restore your cloned drive to your original drive, simply select Clonezilla’s device-device mode again, this time selecting the cloned drive as the source drive and the original drive as the destination drive.)

DriveImage XML

DriveImageXML is an entirely different beast than Clonezilla. As with Clonezilla, the software allows both image and clone creation, but the way it presents the process is considerably different. Unlike Clonezilla, DriveImage XML uses a graphical user interface (GUI) to guide the user through the operation and it delivers an image that can be worked with in a unique way. (More on that in a minute.) Though this solution’s GUI ain’t the prettiest I’ve ever seen, it’s certainly better looking than Clonezilla.

DriveImage XML's welcome menu

Fig. 4 — DriveImage XML’s welcome menu

The utility’s Drive to Drive option works much the same as Clonezilla’s device-device mode, producing a perfect clone of a hard drive or partition. You can then simply boot from the clone or repeat the cloning process to restore the clone back to the original drive. For example, if you initially cloned your C drive to your G drive:

DriveImage XML drive to drive -- first example

Fig. 5 — DriveImage XML’s Drive-To-Drive (cloning) operation

You would simply run the Drive to Drive option again when restoring the drive, this time cloning your G drive to your C drive. (Or, as mentioned earlier, simply swap your original drive with your clone.)

Where DriveImage XML truly differentiates itself from its competitors is with its Backup option (its implementation of imaging), by which it produces an image that is accompanied by an XML file. The XML file provides the ability to browse the image and extract files from it using either the DriveImage XML application (see Fig. 6) or a third-party XML reader. It was certainly a different way of working with a backup image.

DriveImage XML browsing

Fig. 6 — DriveImage XML’s image can be browsed due to its included XML file

Another distinguishing feature of DriveImage XML was its ability to clone or image a drive even while the drive was currently in use. The following video produced by the application’s developers provides an excellent demonstration of how this works:

DriveImage XML’s Drive-To-Drive operation took about the same amount of time as Clonezilla’s equivalent cloning operation, but the imaging process (backup) took longer than any of the tools I tested. This is likely due to the utility’s distinguishing feature, the XML file, which consumes some time in assembling. By default, the application also manufactures an image that is broken up into 650 megabyte-sized parts, so that your image can be spread out and burned to multiple CD-ROMs. The process of breaking up the image in this manner and storing its contents in the XML file certainly takes more time to produce than a standard, unbroken image without XML management would.

Speed aside, DriveImage XML performs very well, with one glaring exception: the application doesn’t restore a drive’s ability to boot. The application doesn’t seem to copy the master boot record, so in order to get your system booted you’re likely to have to do some extra work. DriveImage XML’s developers are aware of this issue (and may not even see it as an issue, since their solution is not advertising an ability to boot a device) and provide some hints that are supposed to re-enable booting, but in my tests the only way I found I was able to boot my restored drive or partition was by using another utility altogether, Gnome Partition Editor (Gparted). Using Gparted, I was able to flag my device as boot, making the drive active and restoring its ability to be boot from. Though I now feel comfortable recommending DriveImage XML as a viable imaging and cloning utility, buyer beware: the utility has some unique and potentially useful features, but don’t expect to be able to boot your system after restoring it without first having to use another utility to either fix your master boot record or make your boot device active.

Todo Backup Free

In terms of ease of use, the final utility I tested took the top prize in the category. Though cloning drives was a fairly straightforward process in all three of the solutions I tested — and the end result in each case was exactly the same, a perfectly cloned drive or partition — Todo Backup Free‘s graphical user interface was both easy on the eyes and easy to use:

Todo Backup Free cloning

Fig. 7 — Todo Backup Free’s Clone layout

As you can see in Fig. 7, Todo Backup Free has a user interface that is probably more familiar to Windows users than that utilized by Clonezilla. Ultimately a user’s preference for one type of interface over another is a subjective, but I found Todo Backup to be much more intuitive for resizing and moving partitions during the process of imaging or cloning. The utility also made imaging a disk or partition a relatively painless process:

Todo Backup Free imaging

Fig. 8 — Todo Backup Free’s Backup (imaging) layout

Using Todo Backup’s default settings, a 13 gigabyte Windows XP installation was compressed to just over 8 gigabytes, and it did so in a comparable amount of time to Clonezilla’s imaging process. Restoring from the image was an equally fast and painless process, and I was able to successfully boot from each drive I restored, using both the software’s cloning and its imaging operations. The only real drawback to this tool is that the free version lacks some of the features that can only be accessed in one of the software’s licensed versions, such as full scheduled backups, recovery to dissimilar hardware, and tech support. For simply imaging and restoring my Windows partition, however, Todo Backup Free does the job.

Conclusion

Ultimately, each of the three free solutions I tested offered a different experience but successfully produced the results I was aiming for: the ability to recover my drive or partition from an image or a clone. Since all three tools worked, I’m having difficulty deciding which one I’ll be using regularly; I’ve gotten used to using all three utilities and I enjoy the difference of experience each one presents.

Yet while the end result of cloning is virtually identical in each case, the imaging process of each application results in images which can be managed in quite different ways. For example, as neat as DriveImage XML’s image can be to browse using its XML file, how often will I really use this particular feature? Knowing my own personal habits, I doubt I’ll be browsing the image very often, if at all. Still, I can see how the feature would be useful to someone else.

Perhaps my habits will change, so I think I’ll continue using DriveImage XML for a while to see if I find it useful, while at the same time keeping Clonezilla and Todo Backup in the rotation. When I need a faster image I’ll likely be turning to Clonezilla or Todo Backup. Over time, perhaps one of the solutions will prove to be the most reliable, the most efficient, or simply the most pleasing to use.

The first time I wrote on this subject, several people chimed in with their opinions. I’m looking forward to hearing what you think about this report on my testing of imaging and cloning utilities, so feel free to comment away!

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  • http://twitter.com/shadowla05 shadowla05

    will these work with windows vista and 7 ?

    • http://twitter.com/Harold Harold

      Yes, they should work with Windows Vista and Windows 7. I didn’t test any of the utilities with Windows 7 but did make an image of my Vista system that I restored from (though which utility I used for the image escapes me at the moment).

  • The Nuada

    I use EASEUS (TODO) this is one utility I wouldn’t want to lose, a pal of mine had 6 PC’s to deliver and used it, he also wouldn’t try anything else now.

  • Adam Smith

    Thank you for this great article, but the vocabulary is still unclear to me
    I would like to create a new partition on my hard drive, create a copy of the Windows XP OS onto that partition, and then boot up my computer from this new partition (a fresh copy of Windows XP)
    So is that cloning the Windows XP OS to a new partition, and what is the term for when you boot up using that new partition ? Thanks :)

  • tim

    Not sure about your complaint that you can’t reboot from a DriveIMage XML back up. I have backed up my C: drive many times, before jacking around with the operating system or installed goofy software….then, if needed, restored the C: drive from the back up (I keep them on a different partition but occassionally back up to a USB drive) and am back in business as if nothing ever happened. I love the ability to extract individual files from the backup. In order to keep the backups smaller, and reduce backup/restore time, I keep the C: drive as small as possible. The only hitch is that you can’t restore while the OS is running, so I had to burn a PE disc (using Bart’s PE) and boot from that to run DriveImage, on the rare ocassions that I need to restore. Sure, you can re-install ALL your software, but who wants to customize ALL those settings AGAIN…when you can just roll the clock back instead. It’s like system restore for the whole damn C: drive. Love it.

  • http://twitter.com/Harold Harold

    It’s a good utility and I’m pleased with its results. If you want more features, plus a version that’s more tailored for businesses, check out the Workstation version; it’s normally ~$40 but right now it’s being offered at a significant discount.

  • http://twitter.com/Harold Harold

    Thanks for asking me these questions, Adam. I may need a bit more clarification from you in order to answer thoroughly: Did you want to create a copy of an existing installation that you’ve already got running the way you like it? Or did you want to freshly install Windows XP?

    If you want to freshly install Windows XP, you won’t be using imaging or cloning methods; your best bet would be to perform a more “traditional” backup of your files and settings and apply them to a your fresh installation. If, however, you want to reproduce an existing installation — that is, you want to copy a drive or partition to another drive or partition — then you’ll want to follow methods I’ve touched on in my article to do so.

    Let me know which of the above is your intention — a fresh installation or a perfect copy of an existing one — and I’ll let you know the method I would suggest following to do so.

    • Adam Smith

      I wish nothing unusual. Like many users, I simply wish to reproduce an existing installation that is working well, Windows XP, that is currently running on Drive C.
      I would like to produce 1)A new partition on the hard drive for reproducing this existing installation on drive C, and if possible 2)A new partition on an external drive with the existing installation on drive C
      The intention is that if the original drive C installation is corrupted (eg master boot corruption) or infected, or damaged by a program installation, the existing installation can be replaced, or otherwise I can reboot from the clone.
      Which is the easiest method, which would include the easiest technique to reboot from the new partition, ideally NOT using linux unless you thought that was easy for novices and experts alike
      Again, as I suspect with many other readers of your article, I have an existing installation of Windows XP which is running well, but I would like to be able to have the most straight forward way to reboot either from another partition, or if possible, replace the corrupted original Windows XP on Drive C with a saved version.

      • http://twitter.com/Harold Harold

        Okay, Adam — what you want to do is precisely the reason people use cloning (rather than imaging), because what you intend to do is clone one partition to another. Do you already have that partition set up? If not, you need to do so before you can proceed. Windows XP has a built-in utility called Disk Management.

        Important: Before messing with your disk, backup your current drive using any method you prefer: by using your favorite backup utility to backup your files and settings, or by making an image of your current drive using one of the tools I’ve tested, or by cloning your current drive to another drive — whatever is your preference. You can skip this step but I wouldn’t advise doing so because this will be your “last chance” backup in case anything should go wrong. This is simply standard procedure whenever you’re going to be making changes to your disk.

        I just ran through the process on my own system today just to make absolute certain I would be providing the correct advice to you. I used EaseUS, because it seems the fastest utility, but you can use any of the tools I wrote about. Since you expressed a desire to steer clear of Linux, I recommend using EaseUS for both imaging and cloning because it is the tool that will probably seem most comfortable to Windows users. (DrimeImage XML comes in a close second to EaseUS in terms of Windows-friendliness.)

        Before I write up an entire article here in the comments section, let me know if you have your new partition set up. Search the LockerGnome articles for information on using Disk Management; if you have trouble finding the info. you need I may just go ahead and write an article about how to use the utility.

        • Adam Smith

          The first stumbling block for Windows XP users is the inability to create a new partition !
          There is no way in Windows XP without additional software to create a new partition. I have the native Windows XP utility, Disk Management open, and the only options are “Format”, or “Delete partition” or “Mark Partition as Active”. I have used Windows XP continually and exclusively since 2002, and have never been aware of the capacity without 3rd party software to create a new partition.
          I then tried both freeware products “EASEUS Partition Master Home Edition” and “MiniTool Partition Wizard Home Edition”, and neither have the capacity to split an existing drive, nor to create a new partition. Please inform Windows XP users the fundamental step of creating a new partition on their system (I have a 750GB drive onto which I would like to create a new partition, and to then clone the Windows XP original installation on)

  • http://twitter.com/Harold Harold

    Thanks for your comments, Tim. Many people expect a utility that’s aimed at enabling people to image or clone their system to be able to restore it to working order using the same software and nothing else. I was able to do so with the two other utilities I tested, but I wasn’t able to get my system booted again without having to resort to another utility — in my case, Gparted — when using DriveImage XML.

    By the way, while researching how to get my system booted again, I came across reports by DriveImage XML users complaining about the same problem. People simply expect that applications advertising the ability to backup should include the ability to recover from that same backup. And the notion of recovery includes the ability to boot — what good is a system that can’t be booted?

  • http://twitter.com/Harold Harold

    So I began to compose an article today in direct response to this, just so that you and anyone else seeking how to partition their hard drive using Windows XP’s built-in tools would be able to do so. Halfway through my article, I realized that my instructions weren’t working — in certain circumstances, the ability to perform certain disk management tasks are unavailable. I realized this as I was trying to add a partition to my own drive using the Disk Management program (Windows’ GUI-based utility) and its counterpart, Diskpart (Windows’ CLI-based utility).

    The options for creating a partition are there but they are hidden by Windows XP until you are actually unable to perform those operations. That is, if your hard drive has only one partition which is using up the entirety of your drive — which is the default way PCs and laptops are set up by manufacturers — then there won’t be any free space for you to make other partitions out of. I’m so used to using a third party utility (Gparted) to resize my drive(s) that I hadn’t realized this was XP’s behavior.

    Here’s evidence of what you’d be able to do with Windows Disk Management if you actually had unallocated space on your drive:

    http://support.microsoft.com/kb/309000

    In order to display those options, what you’ll need to do is first use a third party utility to free up enough of your hard drive in order to be able to create more partitions. Either that or install another hard drive into your PC. Once you free up some of your drive using Gparted or Parted Magic or some other tool (or once you install an additional hard drive), you’ll then find that Windows Disk Management (and Diskpart) utilities will display the options you’re looking for (although you won’t even need to use Windows’ utilities once you’re using Gparted or another third party tool; you’ll simply use the third party utility to perform all the disk managing tasks you need to perform).

    • Adam Smith

      I created a partition using a 3rd party program, Paragon
      However when you do this, ie create a separate partition on an existing drive, and clone your installed OS onto this separate partition, there is no obvious way to reboot into this cloned partition on starting up your computer, which is simplest and the ideal solution

      • Adam Smith

        Before you write a detailed reply, I tried EaseUS ToDo Backup 4.5, after creating a partition on my existing hard drive with a Paragon software program. EaseUS ToDo Backup was use to clone the original/existing installed version of Windows XP from my C drive to the new/created partition. However after restarting, my computer wouldnt boot at all, and there were no recognised installations of Windows XP to be found on booting ! I was unable to boot at all into Windows. Even if this is a feature of ToDo Backup (ie corrupts the boot sequence for Windows XP to startup !) it totally rocked my confidence in this whole cloning idea. I had lost my primary operating system in the process of trying to back it up !This EaseUS ToDo Backup 4.5 also wasnt a stable program, the only unstable progarm on my computer by the way – it often didnt want to run, and often asked to be reinstalled, which I had to do if ever my computer was restarted, very unusual. (I have Windows XP wih Service Pack 3). Im not keen to try the only earlier version I could find on the internet, free version 3.0. By the way, Im not and will never be in the mood to burn >3-6 discs to back up my Windows XP, that is sooo 20th Century, so am not keen to try DriveImage XML.

        • http://twitter.com/Harold Harold

          Before applying any changes to the drive, you must make that “last chance” backup! That way you’ll have something to revert back to in case anything should go wrong. Read my prior comment:

          “Important: Before messing with your disk, backup your current drive using any method you prefer…”

          Anyway, don’t panic. It sounds like the problem you’re having is the one mentioned in the article I wrote: you’re going to need to make the partition you wish to boot active. My recommendation is to use Paragon to do so, since that’s the tool you’re already using to manage your disk. Not knowing which version of Paragon you’re using, I installed the demo version of Paragon Partition Manager 11 Professional on my own system and find that the Boot Manager is only available to owners of the full version of the product, so if you purchased the full version use that tool.

          Otherwise, boot up from your Windows XP installation disc and use the Diskpart utility to set your preferred partition as active. (Since you now have more than one partition, the options that were unavailable before should now be made available.) Here’s Microsoft’s explanation of the tool:

          http://support.microsoft.com/kb/300415

          Diskpart is a command-line utility; if you prefer a graphical user interface my recommendation is Gparted, which in my experience boots up faster than the Windows XP installation disc and is far easier to work with.

          • Adam Smith

            Tim above sounds very happy with his operating system cloning technique, using DriveImageXML and also Barts PE as the boot CD – and his scenario matches what many of us would like to do – the ability to restore/rollback the C drive operating system to a previous saved/cloned version. This is the desired scenario for which I read this article :)
            Your preference for the boot CD seems to be GParted. Could you kindly suggest how it compares to the use of a Barts PE boot disk. Many of us have yet to use either of these programs. Thanks :)

          • http://twitter.com/Harold Harold

            Sure, Adam. Gnome Partition Editor (Gparted) is specifically a disk management utility; BartPE is not specifically a disk management utility but can be made into one. Gparted is essentially a miniature version of Linux which is tailored to operate as a utility; BartPE is essentially a miniature version of Windows which you can run utilities from.

            In order to construct the Gparted CD (from which you boot), you need to download the software (ISO file) and burn a CD from it.

            In order to build the BartPE CD (from which you can boot), you use a utility called PE Builder, along with your Windows XP installation CD and whatever “plugins” you wish to run from the resulting disc. A more thorough explanation, specifically for its use with DriveImage XML, can be found here:

            http://www.runtime.org/peb.htm

            Unfortunately, I couldn’t get Windows Disk Management or Diskpart to run from BartPE when I needed it, so I don’t recommend using it for anything other than to run DriveImage XML from it. I (I needed to set my partition as active after restoring from DriveImage XML. I ended up doing this with Gparted.) In other words, should you choose to go the BartPE route, you may still probably finding yourself requiring Gparted or another disk management tool. Here’s a look at Gparted:

            http://gparted.org/display-doc.php?name=gparted-live-manual

            I highly recommend Gparted, even if you have reservations about using Linux. The tool is Windows-like and simply works. (Check out the screenshots in the link I just provided.)

          • Adam Smith

            Thanks very much. A lot of readers have benefited from your insights, and Gparted has now been demystified. I will try DriveImage XML and GParted.

  • Sarah

    I may have just missed this while reading your prior post and this post, but which one of these programs will allow me to create CD’s? I also have a WD My Passport, but I still haven’t quite figured it out, seems to only allow me to store pics, music, e-mail, etc. Should CD’s be used or DVD CD’s? I got a bad virus yesterday that has now been fixed, my computer is old, and I want to be able to re-install my OS and any other software if possible if it happens again. I really don’t want to clone it to another drive on my computer. Thanks for your help!!

    • http://twitter.com/Harold Harold

      Hi Sarah. Since you’re not looking to clone your drive, imaging would be the solution you’re looking for. Since you’re interested in saving that image to optical discs, DriveImage XML is the tool to use, since it allows you to create an image that can be stored on multiple optical discs.

      That said, I seriously recommend figuring out how to use that Passport. Depending on the size of the image produced by the software, it’s much easier to save your image to an external hard drive rather than to have to burn a bunch of DVDs.

      Plus, if you use an external drive, you can use any of the tools covered in this article.

      How much space do you intend to image? Right-click on the drive you intend to image and select Properties. What is listed as the drive’s Used space?

      • Sarah

        Thank you for your response. I think I am finally virus clean after working on it for three days with someone on Norton forum. I would really like to have a backup of my entire C drive that has all of my programs, Windows XP Professional, etc. My C drive has 37.5 of used space. I have no recovery CD’s for my OS, I had to have this computer worked on well over 2 years ago, they installed the OS on it plus some other software, and did not provide me with any way to put it back on in case my computer crashed. I have no option on here to make recovery CD’s. My Passport has a program on it, when I tried to use it as the drive to clone to, it told me the Passport would be formatted. I did not want to do that because of the software that is on it and I have managed to back up pictures, documents, e-mails, geneology info, etc on it. Just no OS or software programs that I don’t have CD’s for. It holds up to 250 GB, so I know I would have plenty of room, just scared to format it and lose everything. It would be alot less time consuming than imaging to DVD’s, but DVD’s are more cost effective for me. So, imaging, not cloning, would allow me to restore everything to my computer or to a new one if I had to buy one? I’m old school when it comes to all of this. I miss the days when I could get on the inside of one and put in parts myself. Thanks for your help!!!
        Sarah

        • http://twitter.com/Harold Harold

          Either imaging or cloning would allow you to restore everything to your computer or to a new one, but imaging produces a smaller backup (or image) of your drive (or partition). Your case calls for an image that you can store on that Passport drive from which you can restore (should you ever need to).

          I recommend using Todo Backup Free, the product that is most Windows-like (in that it has a familiar graphical user interface). Once you start up the utility, look under the Backup header and select the Data backup (File, Disk/Partition) option. You’ll next be presented with two tabs, one labeled File and the other Disk/Partition. Select the Disk/Partition tab. At this point you’ll select the the disk/partition you wish to backup; select it and then set your destination (where you wish to store the image) by clicking the Destination header. Click the Proceed button once you’re satisfied that everything is set up the way you want it.

          One note about the destination: By default, Todo Backup Free is set to store your image in a folder it creates (called My Backups) on the current drive you are booted from. In my opinion, it doesn’t make much sense to store your backup image on the same drive that you’re running your system on — one of the main points of making a backup is to ensure you have a backup in case that very drive should ever fail — so make sure to move that image to your external drive as soon as you can after the procedure has completed. Better yet, plug in that external (Passport) drive before you fire up Todo Backup and set is as your destination, rather than the default.

          • Marcel

            Many thanks for this article.
            I would like to replace my windows xp hdd with an ssd
            in this case I should clone when I correctly understand from this article
            it seems that on my current hdd some files are corrupt
            which software for cloning is able to handle such viz skip corrupt files?
            thanks a lot, Marcel

          • http://twitter.com/Harold Harold

            That’s a good question, Marcel. I’m not sure what “viz skip” means…

  • http://twitter.com/Harold Harold

    Gparted is more reliable. I’ve tried BartPE and it wasn’t able to run the disk management utilities I needed to use when I needed to use them. When I run into problems with booting, I find that resolving the problem using Gparted is the fastest and easiest way to do so.

    If you haven’t yet figured out a way to boot your system, try booting from a Gparted disc and setting one of your partitions as the boot partition. This is what has been working for me.

    • Adam Smith

      Thanks very much for your help, I will definitely go with Gparted. My solution for my nonbooting computer was:
      Boot into the Windows XP installation CD, run the Recovery Console, and type “boot.cfg /rebuild” which then showed me the Windows XP installations available for booting into :)
      Will try Gparted in the next few days, my main need for a recovery solution is to protect the OS of my notebook computers :)

  • http://twitter.com/Harold Harold

    Oh, good deal. Thanks for letting me know. I’d been wondering how things went. Did you get booted?

  • David Perry Davis

    Howdy. Got a new Samsung 1TB SSD drive. Couldn’t clone the old one (tried Ghost and software that came with drive – “data migration”). After two fun-filled days, it turns out there is an error on the originating drive and, according to Samsung tech support, this makes it “impossible” to clone. Yes, I tried every disk repair utility out there – a good half dozen of them. No sale.

    So, I’ve formatted it and assigned the new SSD drive a drive letter. I can access the new drive fine.

    Now – how to make it bootable? How to get XP over to it? I have a feeling that XCOPY isn’t going to cut it. Here’s a kicker – I don’t have the original XP installation disk (life’s never that easy, eh?)

    How can I copy XP / WINDOWS directory over to the new drive? (I.e., from C:WINDOWS to E:WINDOWS ) Is there a clone program (or other copying program) that will work even if there’s errors on the originating disk? (i.e.., will copy all the good data). Would prefer freeware of course, but will pay for it if necessary.

    MANY THANKS! (Especially if there’s a suggestion that works!)