Feature: Zen for an Uncluttered Life

5 Free Drive Cloning Software To Safeguard Your Valuable Data

Author: Chee Seng
Published: February 12, 2012 at 5:51 am

Disks these days may be vast, fast, and 'throw-away' cheap – but the files on your drive certainly aren't. Lose your disk to a crash, corruption or theft, and you lose your digital life. And these days, what's on our computers is a huge piece of us; both our personal and work lives are meshed deeply with what's stored there. No fears though, as here are the free alternatives that are ready to take its place.

DriveImage XML

Starting off on a roll, we have one of the top-ranked drive-cloning apps that come with no purse-strings attached – DriveImage XML. This excellent tool takes the full-drive mirroring approach to its logical extreme, reproducing everything on your source disk sector-by-sector. That means not only are your data files protected from loss; so are your personalizations, all installed software and all of their configurations and settings. DriveImage XML doesn't need you to reboot, or stop what you're doing, to mirror your drive either – it can copy the disk while you're working.

Carbon Copy Cloner

DriveImage XML may offer a good cloning solution for Windows users, but what about the Mac community? Well, Apple-fans don't have to stick with Time Machine, the interesting-but-constricting back-up tool that comes with Mac OS X. Carbon Copy Cloner offers a very handy range of disk cloning, backup and restore functions – which many Mac users will find more useful. As well as letting you create exact disk-images, you can stamp out bootable Mac OS X disks, do incremental backups and stream backups across networks.


On the Linux side of things, a good open-source and free clone solution can be found in the excellently-named Clonezilla. But there's more than just a wry smile to be got from using Clonezilla. It offers both server-based cloning services – handy for those running a network of computers – and a CD/USB-based backup. OK, the latter works from a bootable disk, which can be seen as an inconvenience. But that can, in fact, be a great feature, especially when you're having problems booting up your computer.

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