This software is able to image your currently running system (using a facility known as Microsoft Volume Shadow copy Service) to another local hard disk, to the Network, a USB or Firewire drive, and DVD. It has a built-in scheduler, so that you can schedule it to back up your system at a convenient time by itself, has 32 bit and 64 bit versions, comes with a Linux-based bootable rescue CD as well as a BartPE plugin, etc. (The commercial full version includes the ability to automatically verify images made, password protection of your images, a Windows PE 2.0 rescue CD with RAID support, etc.)
This backup and image software is provided in the form of an ISO file, which you have to write to a CD or DVD. You then boot from it and use it to back up or restore your hard disk to another hard disk or the network. At the time of this writing, it looks like the software requires you to have a fair bit of knowledge of computers. For example, you are given menus that say “Mount local device, mount SSH server, Mount NFS server” (etc), and terms like “mount”, “remote resource”, “server” are used freely in the interface. As such, if you are just an average end-user of Windows and Mac computers, you may find the interface somewhat intimidating. It supports Windows (FAT, NTFS), Mac OS (HFS+), and Linux file systems (ext2, ext3, reiserfs, xfs, jfs) and only backs up the used sectors/blocks in the hard disk partition. There is also a server edition that is suitable for cloning multiple machines simultaneously. The server edition requires that you to set up a “DRBL server” (where DRBL stands for “Diskless Remote Boot in Linux”). The program is released under the GNU General Public License and is thus open source.
Clone Maxx copies the contents of one hard disk to another. It is run from a bootable diskette, and is useful when you want to transfer everything from one hard disk to another as you might want to do when you buy a new hard drive to replace an existing one. It supports DMA transfer, which speeds up the rate at which your data is transferred. It works independently of the existing file system or the number of partitions the drive has.
PartImage, or Partition Image, is a Linux/UNIX utility to make an image of your partitions in a file. It is able to image only used portions of the partitions saving time and space. The images are compressed. The utility supports the ext2fs, ext3fs, ReiserFS, FAT16, FAT32, HPFS, JFS, XFS, UFS, HFS, and NTFS file systems. This is a live ISO that you can burn onto a CD so that you can use it on any computer regardless of the operating system that is running.
Dubaron DiskImage backs up and restores partitions, hard disks, USB keys, floppy drives and even optical media (like CDROMs and DVDs). The image it makes may be compressed. It is for personal use only. Supported platforms: Windows 2000 and XP.
SelfImage is a utility that allows you to make an image of a hard disk partition or an entire hard disk and restore the image back to a partition or hard disk. Other features include the ability to make an image of a partition that is currently in use, as well as make an image of a partition that is not mounted, or one that Windows does not even recognise (like Linux partitions). It is also able to compress the images it makes. It saves space in your image by skipping unused sectors. Another interesting feature is its ability to make an image of disks on remote machines and restore back to them. SelfImage runs on Windows, and is released under the GNU General Public License (GPL).
Forensic Acquisition Utilities
This is basically the Windows version of the well-known (and versatile) Unix “dd” utility, which allows you to copy every sector from a device to a file (or vice versa, or from one device to another, etc). It requires Windows 2000 or XP. It is released under the GNU General Public License (GPL). This is a command line program.
nfgdump (NTFS-FAT-Generic dump) is a Windows and Linux tool that dumps (images) and restores NTFS, compressed NTFS, FAT16, FAT32 and any generic partition. Dump files (that is, the backup image) can be compressed, encrypted or split. The page file can also be omitted from the dump file / backup image. The software is released under the GNU General Public License (GPL). It runs under Windows 2000, XP and Linux. This is a command line program.
DriveImage XML is a hard disk imaging utility that allows you to backup a PC’s hard disk or partition from within Windows XP (XP Home and/or XP Professional only). It can image a partition that is currently in use (such as the system drive), compress the image while backing up, restore an image to another partition/drive and clone a drive. Note that although it is able to image the system drive while you’re working in it, it cannot restore the image to the system drive if it is currently in use (obviously). The solution is to use their BartPE plugin (what they call the “WinPE boot CD-ROM”) to create a BartPE CDROM. You can then restore your system partition after booting from the CDROM. See my tutorial on How to Create a Bootable “Live” Windows Rescue CD for more information on how to create such a CD.
g4u is a bootable CDROM, or if you prefer, floppy, that allows you to clone an image of a PC’s hard disk for deployment on other PCs using FTP. The bootable floppy and CDROM supports both the cloning and restoration process. g4u supports any operating system on any filesystem. All you need are two floppy disks or one CD-R/RW, an FTP server and a DHCP server. The bootable disk uses a NetBSD system.
Partition Saving is an MSDOS hard disk imaging utility. Place it on an MSDOS boot disk and use it to image your Windows, MSDOS and Linux partitions. It supports the imaging of NTFS, FAT32, FAT16, FAT12, ext2 (and possibly other) partitions. It can do a sector-by-sector copy or (for the partition-types listed here) copy only the occupied sectors thereby saving space and time in your backups. It is able to automatically split the backup file into smaller files of a size you specify (useful if you plan to burn the backup to a CDR(W) or DVD+/-R(W) later). The backup file may be compressed with a compression level you select. Updated: starting from version 3.50, Partition Saving now works in Windows and can be placed on a BartPE Rescue CD.
PartImage, or Partition Image, is a Linux/UNIX utility to make an image of your partitions in a file. It is able to image only used portions of the partitions saving time and space. The images are compressed. The utility supports the ext2fs, ext3fs, ReiserFS, FAT16, FAT32, HPFS, JFS, XFS, UFS, HFS, and NTFS file systems. Note that if you are not using Linux, and want to use Parition Image on a PC, look at the other entries on this page for PING.
SystemRescueCD is a bootable system rescue CD-ROM for PCs containing utilities that allow you to manage and edit your hard disk partitions (GNU Parted and QTParted), image your hard disk partitions (Partimage), a partition table backup and restore utility (Sfdisk), various file system tools that allow you to format, resize and edit existing partitions on your hard disk. It does not depend on the operating system you have installed on your hard disk – the CDROM is self-contained and is designed to serve as a rescue disk. There is also a version for the blind (it incorporates a speech reader).
Ultimate Boot CD is a bootable CDROM for PCs that contain a variety of software for diagnosing and fixing problems on your computer, managing your hard disk partitions, imaging or cloning your hard disk partitions (it includes Partition Saving, see elsewhere on this page), resetting your (forgotten) password on NT, Win2k, or XP, scanning your hard disks for viruses (it includes some free antivirus utilities), etc.
If you are moving your system from an old hard disk to a Seagate disk, you can download this free software from Seagate make a clone of your existing hard disk on your new Seagate hard disk. The version, at the time this was written, also allows you to make a backup image of your hard disk and restore it. Besides running from your Windows system, you can also create a bootable rescue CD from which you can image, clone and restore your hard disk.
Seagate/Maxtor MaxBlast is free for those who have bought Maxtor hard disks on PCs. One of its features is that it can make an exact duplicate (clone) of your existing drive onto your new hard disk. The cloning facility supports FAT32 and NTFS partitions, among others. Besides cloning your hard disk, you can also make a backup image of the disk onto another hard disk, and restore it. This is a Windows program. It also allows you to create a bootable CD from which you can image, clone and restore your fixed disks.
HDClone allows you to copy the contents of an IDE hard disk onto a larger capacity hard disk (SCSI drives are not supported). It is useful when you upgrade or change your hard disk and don’t want to reinstall your system again. It creates a bootable floppy disk and allows you to clone your disk when you boot from it. It cannot copy to another disk of the same size, nor does it support the Ultra-DMA of modern computers (it uses the old and slower PIO modes).
Areca Backup is an open source backup program that lets you back up a set of files and directories (folders). It can also perform post-backup actions, like send you an email backup report, run custom scripts (batch files), etc. Your backups can be a zip file, a standard directory containing your a copy of your original files or delta backups (where only modified portions of your files are stored), etc. The software also supports encryption (AES128 and AES256), compression (zip and zip64), incremental, differential and full backups, the ability to recover archives from a specific date, the use of source file filters (to back up according to extension, subdirectory, size, date, status, etc), file version tracking, a command line interface as well as a graphical user interface, etc. Windows and Linux versions are available.
Bacula – The Open Source Network Backup Solution
Bacula is able to backup, verify your backups and restore (recover from backups) across a network of computers. The site says that the program is an “enterprise-ready, network-based backup program” meaning that it is designed so that an administrator can easily manage the backups of multiple computers on a corporate network. (Note though that it can also be used on a single computer system.) Besides being able to back up to a hard disk, it can also backup to a tape drive (a list of supported tape drives is given on their site). This tool works on Windows, Mac OS X, Linux and other Unix-type systems (including FreeBSD), although precompiled versions (that is, ready-to-run packages) appear to be available only for Windows and Linux. (If you have the know-how, you can of course download the source code and compile them into executables for your system yourself.)
BackupPC allows you to back up your Windows, Linux and Mac OS X PCs, desktops and laptops to a server’s disk. It either uses SMB, tar over SSH/RSH/NFS or rsync. The program is written in Perl and is open source.
The Amanda Community Edition is an open source backup and recovery software for Linux. Administrators can set up a backup server to back up mulitiple host computers to a single tape drive, tape changer or hard disk via the network.
Microsoft SyncToy allows you to synchronize your data between two storage locations, so that you can keep the latest version of your files in both locations. The tool is also able to track situations when you rename a file, and it makes sure that the file in the other storage area is also renamed. The tool only works under Windows XP SP 2 and requires the .NET framework.
Back4Win allows home users the ability to backup and restore your data to ZIP and self-extracting EXE files. You can control the level of compression of your data files, span disks, predefine the disk size (to suit CD-Rs and CD-RWs), password-lock your backups, burn to CD-R/W, restore from damaged backups, etc.
Cobian Backup is a backup and restore utility that can backup your files and directories to another directory or drive on the same computer or to another computer on your network. It also supports FTP backup. You can compress and encrypt your backups. Standalone decompression and decryption utilities are also available so that if you wish, you can recover your files without having to use the backup program. Included with the backup program is a scheduler, so that you can schedule your backups to occur, say, every night when you are not using the computer. The program also supports remote backups. This is a Windows program.
Freebyte Backup is a Windows program that supports the backing up files and directories to a backup directory. It also handles incremental backups, where only files not already in the backup set is saved, scheduled backups and profiles.
Unison synchronizes files and directories stored on different hosts on the Internet. It can handle changes made to either replica of a distributed directory structure, and hence is more than just a mirroring utility. It is open source, distributed under the GNU GPL, and works on Windows, Linux, Solaris, OS X, etc.